Notes From The Meeting…
by Beth Storaasli
The meeting was convened by President-Elect Branden Robinson who advised us that he was stepping in for President Holly who is in France for 3 weeks for the World Equestrian Games.
In his invocation, Dan Mundt told a story of a Duluth Rotarian who attended a Rotary meeting in Rochester while at Mayo, and was asked by a Rotarian where he came from, then pointedly "when did you become a Rotarian?" Dan shared that the answer is when you "live" service above self, and for his part although he joined Rotary in 1961, he says he actually became a Rotarian by living service above self in 1980. Thanks for the reminder, Dan!
Jon Ohman gave the fellowship report, noting that Chris Francis was listed as a new member of the Hermantown Chamber, Jeff Woolverton was pictured receiving a check for the Boys and Girls Club from Raymond James, and Skeeter Moore was interviewed about the upcoming Inline Marathon. BTW, he needs volunteers for September 12 and 13 to help with that race. Our dragon boat team had 3 captains, Pete Weidman, Lisa Pratt and Suzanne Anderson, but even so was edged out by the Fargo team by only 1/100 of a second. The new Club 25 officers and Board members paid for their listing in the paper.
President-Elect Branden exchanged banners with John Hawley, a former Duluthian who was visiting from Portsmouth, Dominica. When Branden was unsure of the pronunciation, John told him to just remember the "singing nun" song: "Do-mi-nic-i-nic-i-nic".
Bob Sherman introduced a new member Jim Green, the General Manager of Duluth Steam, for the classification Steam Distributing. Jim retired after 27 years as a Navy Engineer, and says operating the steam plant with 80 year old pipes piping water uphill is his "dream job". He and his wife have already plunged into Rotary by paddling last weekend at the Dragon Boat festival. Welcome Jim and Sandy!
Rob Hofmann announced the Rose Sale kickoff is next week, and asked us to prepare to help with distribution on Friday, October 10 and Saturday, October 11. Pete Weidman reported on a successful Dragon Boat race and Range Shoot and Barbeque. Apparently David Pollard had the most shots. Members Mike Vandenberg, Jeff Fifield, Shari Swenson and Jerry and Chris Pelofske were thanked for helping with the Superior Man Triathlon last Sunday as part of Youth and Community Action.
Renee Mattson came from St. Paul to model the "Light up Rotary" District Conference shirts for the District Conference in Duluth next May, and showed us the document brief from Duluth Pack with the Rotary logo. Order now, as few are left and they will be good advertising for the conference! Dan Mundt sent in $53 for his 53 years in Rotary, and Lisa Pratt sent a thank you for the successful completion of the Pavilion Project at the Jean Duluth soccer fields in memory of Bob Pratt.
We sang happy birthday to several, including Jack Soetebier with 52 years of service and 52 years of perfect attendance. That is amazing! Congratulations, Jack!
Tom Hustad introduced Maude Dornfeld, the Executive Director of Life House, who spoke to us about human trafficking in Duluth. Maude has been at Life House for 1 1/2 years, having been previously at Safe Haven and has lengthy experience with abuse issues and a background in criminology. In the U.S. every year 100,000 children are subject to trafficking, and shockingly Minnesota is the 13th highest state for child prostitution. Duluth is a major hub in a pipeline to the Twin Cities of these young children. The one Duluth police officer handling these cases has an active caseload with the same number of cases as the whole St. Paul Police Department. The risk factors for trafficking are immature age (13 is the average age and 85% are female), a history of abuse in the family, LGBT, Disability, Color, and Homelessness. Sixty percent of kids forced into commercial sex are homeless. When kids are homeless on the street, according to the kids who come to Life House, 1 in 3 are approached by a pimp within 48 hours of when they are on the street.
The good news is the legislature took action this year with the Minnesota Safe Harbor legislation to treat these kids as victims of crime, not delinquents. Funding is available for shelter, and Life House is partnering with Safe Haven for 2 dedicated beds in the shelter for trafficked kids. PAVSA is receiving funds to help with support services, and many community organizations are working together to provide seamless services.
These facts are shocking, and we thank Tom for bringing this program and Maude for sharing an awareness of the Duluth situation. We are thankful Rotary has connected with Life House for the past six years both with hands-on projects and also with grants.