Russell Hampton
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Bulletin Editor
Arnie Goldman
Getting to Know our Members
Getting to Know Natasha Haims
Natasha Haims was born in St. Petersburg, Russia as an only child. She immigrated in 1976 with her parents and came directly to Hartford, Connecticut where she was in one of the first five families from the Soviet Union to do so. After arriving, she studied English as a second language, but shortly thereafter she went to work so that her parents could also learn English. Before settling in West Hartford, she lived in Baltimore for a year. While working full time, she earned an Associates degree in computer studies and continued her education with a Bachelor’s of General Studies at the University of Connecticut. Later she earned her paralegal certificate from the University of Hartford, also while working full time.

Natasha worked as a Programmer Analyst at the Hartford Insurance Company. She has also worked as a paralegal specializing in juvenile, criminal and probate law. She has been appointed by the Probate Court to serve as Conservator of Estate and Conservator of Person since 1996. Natasha enjoys helping the elderly and immigrants that need guidance in America, their new home. Over the years, she has helped over two thousand individuals. She has also volunteered at Jewish Family Services and various churches to help with translation.

While her passion is helping others who need legal guidance, Natasha loves nature walks, yoga and tai chi. She also enjoys opera, knitting, cooking and making sourdough bread. She is currently learning Hebrew and also speaks Russian and English.

In 1982 Natasha married her husband Howard Haims after meeting him on a blind date. He passed away in 2010 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Natasha has two children - Barbara of West Hartford and Michael of Aurora, Colorado. Lilian, her granddaughter by Barbara is thirteen. Natasha currently cares for her elderly mother, a published author, World War II survivor and survivor of the ninety-day seizure of St. Petersburg, Russia. Natasha has a dog, Autumn, adopted in 2012 from a dog rescue. Autumn speaks English, understands Russian and is fluent in food language.

May 24, 2019
Community Paul Harris Awards
May 31, 2019
Jun 07, 2019
Installation Dinner
Jun 14, 2019
CT Inclusive Arts
Jun 21, 2019
Jun 28, 2019
View entire list
Executives & Directors
President Elect
Immediate Past President
Foundation Chair
Membership Co-Chair
Membership Co-Chair
Board Member-at-Large
Board Member-at-Large
Asst Treasurer
Interact Chair
EarlyRiser Presentations
The Annotated Guide to Ending Polio
GLO Fall 2017 Mission Trip
Eastern Europe Trip to Vienna and Prague Presentation
Avon Village Center Project Presentation
Club Information
Rotary of Avon-Canton - Founded 1973
Service above Self
We meet Fridays at 7:30 AM
Avon Old Farms Hotel
279 Avon Mountain Rd.
Avon, CT  06001
United States of America
DistrictSiteIcon District Site
VenueMap Venue Map
Upcoming Meeting Speaker
Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MPH
X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy:
Life Saving Gene Therapy for Babies & Puppies
Sergeant-at-Arms Report
February 15, 2019
Members Present: 36
Make-Ups: None  
Guests: (9, including our speaker)
State Representative Leslee Hill, Holly Blacker (speaker), Adria Girodano & Ellyn Laramie (both of Chrysalis Center), Stacy Perrone-Petta (of Patriots Day Fund), Lisa Wright (guest of Gary Hyde), Erica LaBonta & Ketil Osland (both guests of Robin DiNicola), Cole Reeder (guest of Rauf Majidiad).
Visiting Rotarians: None
Happy Dollars: $20
Raffle Winner: Chris Lamadrid
None today!
Happy Dollars
Sara Leathers was  excited to visit her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. Her son-in-law was just back from military tour in Afghanistan and she appreciates now, more than ever, the sacrifices by the men and women of the military for what they endure. She also gives her daughter great credit for managing the home front, and a toddler, while her son-in-law was away serving our country.
Paul Mikkelson was glad to be back from vacationing in Winter Park and Steam Boat Springs, Colorado and offered prayers for Nancy & Craig Nations. Paul also noted the upcoming cycling seminar he will be co-hosting to be held Saturday 2/16, which will have already occurred by the time of publication. Hope it was great Paul!
Anne Clark was happy to have participated in the ribbon cutting for a new building in Avon.
Kurt Lux was happy for the property Jolly and he bought in Uganda to build vocationally training program for women, currently training 15 women in sewing. He's been training people with and without disabilities in vocational training. It's what brought he and Jolly together.  Last June he and Jolly are supporting two epileptic children in Uganda to attend school. Little by little thanks to Rotary support we are making a difference. They will keep experimenting with new programs.
Sue Budde in her role as speakers chair for Avon Congregational Church, announced that Sara Leathers will speak to the congregation about the Healing Meals organization. Sue also reminded Rotarians about our informal prayer care line for Nancy Nation. Nancy has found a treatment program in Houston, so she will be going back and forth for that treatment, from her base in Florida.
Gary is happy for Heather Pantano and all the members of the new Rotary leadership team, who are just back from New England PETS, the Rotary leadership training program.
Don Bonner Reminded all Rotarians to actively recruit potential new Rotarians, and also that the primary reason people say they never joined Rotary before is that no one had ever asked them. Brochures are available.
Don went on to announce the slate of new officers-elect: Heather Pantano, Alicia Canning, Chris Lamadrid, Katelyn Kaplan, Sue Budde, & Dale Bronson. Salin moved to direct the Secretary to cast one vote in favor of the slate. The membership in attendance seconded en masse, and then voted unanimously to approve. Congratulations to our new officers!
Robin DiNicola welcomed and thanked our many guests.
Joann Santiago was happy with her new stationary and thanked Don Bonner for his expertise.
Mike Mehzeritskiy noted that Don Rosslers father-in-law had passed away.
Rotary Foundation chairman, Joanne Santiago, seeks nominees for our annual Community Paul Harris Fellow recognition. Please contact Joanne or any of the Rotary Foundation Committee members with your suggestions. We typically honor 2-3 citizens each from Avon and from Canton.
Gary Miller is seeks a few members to purchase Rotary website ads, at the excellent price of $100/yr. This funding supports our use of ClubRunner software and our website subscription. The ads cycle every few seconds at the upper left-hand corner of the website and are a good way to promote member businesses. Contact Gary if interested.
Calendar of Upcoming Events
March 27th: Chrysalis Center 6th Annual "Empty Bowls" Dinner, Wednesday March 27th, 5 to 7 PM. Call (860) 263-4400
March 30th: Taste of the Valley will be held Saturday, March 30 at 6 PM. 
May 3rd & 4th: The Rotary District 7890 District Conference will be held May 3rd to 4th  at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Danvers, MA. Five districts including 7890 will be represented. The event starts with the Rotary Foundation luncheon on Friday. For a full schedule and registration information follow this link: District Conference Registration
May 16th: Rotary Night at Hartford Yard Goats, Thursday May 16; Game time 7:05 PM. Contact Paul Mikkelson for details.
Induction of New Members
None this week.

Community Service Grants
(L to R: Ellyn Laramie, Adria Giordano, Paul Mikkelson)
On behalf of the Community Service Committee, Paul Mikkelson welcomed Chrysalis Center representatives Ellyn Laramie and Adria GiordanoChrysalis Center is located at 255 Homestead Avenue in Hartford, and has the mission of "providing supportive services to assist people in need to transform their lives." Housed in a state of the art building, Chrysalis Center includes a grocery store known as "Freshplace" for the benefit of its clients. The Center does an excellent job of screening people to ensure they are truly in need, and also that they are willing to invest in themselves to improve their circumstances. By charging modest fees for the food they provide, they ensure their clients have "skin in game."
Taking the floor, Adria explained that clients receive more than just reduced cost goods and services, as Chrysalis focus is in providing holistic case management services which address the root causes of why someone needs help. Included are job skills, education and employment counseling which help clients work towards self sufficiency. At any given time, they see 100 - 150 families and over 600 volunteers assist clients to shop and interact. Socialization is a key part of their portfolio of client support mechanisms. Adria stated she and Ellyn are very grateful to Rotary for our support. She also announced their "Empty Bowls" event, to be held on March 27th at the Center. Guests are welcome, with more details under "Announcements", below. In closing, Adria said: " Thank you so much!" With that, Paul presented them with a $1000.00 check, and received a brief thank you kiss in return!

Holly Blacker
Camp Wightman
(Sean Blacker)
(Holly Blacker)
Sean Blacker introduced his "older" sister Holly Blacker, who is the director of Camp Wightman in Stonington. Holly attended Avon High School, and UCONN and since graduating in 1978, had worked in the fertilizer industry for 40 years.  Holly grew up on the Burnham Farm, just across from Avon High School, which she also graduated from.  She subsequently attended UCONN, graduating in 1978 with the intention to be a farmer. Instead sheoperated a fertilizer plant in Orange County NY, where she also cultivated onions.
As a youngster Holly attended Camp Wightman herself, filling many roles over the years including as camper, junior counselor, counselor, coordinator and now, as a retired adult, serving as its director, a role she had fantasized about, but never thought she'd fill.  "Now I'm in charge and making changes!," spake Holly, to good-natured laughter throughout the room.
Camp Wightman has always been very volunteer oriented, as it's owned by the American Baptist Churches of CT - indeed all the churches share in its ownership. Many, many volunteers are needed to run it, and thousands have, for the 63 years it's been in operation. Approximately 200 volunteers are needed each year, with its mission not unlike that of Rotary, to provide "service above self. "
"They take kids who really don't want to be at a church camp", said Holly, adding, "They say: 'I don't want to be here, I hate you', which after a week, often becomes  'I love you.' "
Located near Griswold CT on a very rocky site adjacent to Billings Lake, neighbors of Camp Wightman had wondered why we would locate our camp in such a place.  Explaining that now,  50 years later Foxwoods Casino has become a neighbor and Holly disclosed that the property value is now much higher. "While we'd never sell it", said Holly,  "those same neighbors now marvel at our wisdom in buying that rocky land. Go figure!"
Camp Wightman administration works hard to keep its grounds as pristine as the nearby 27000 acre Patchoug State Park. In 1960, a singer named Paula Libby wrote a song about the camp that emphasized its special nature. Camp Wightman welcomes all faiths, and is year around now, though during its first 40 years it was a summer only camp. 
Other changes include accommodating the smaller family sizes of today, so the Camp is more open to these smaller family groups. Billings Lake has public access and 20 -30 private homes, but the Camp owns 40% of the lake front. Today's kids arrive without knowing how to fish, boat or swim so we teach all of this, as well as kayaking, standup paddle-boarding, archery, spelunking and other skills. Every year we have a fishing contest known as
"To Catch a Fisher-Person." Billings Lake is full of perch. Often the boys will hog the rods and reals, and then catch fish but are squeamish about taking them off the hook. The girls seem to know how to do this instinctively, and they will teach the boys this skill,  but then they craftily take the poles for themselves. These activities give all the kids something else to do besides electronics, which are generally discouraged in camp. With outdoor activities available all day they get tired, go to bed earlier and stay out of trouble. The kids are also encouraged to start talking to the person next to them, to take a walk, and to appreciate nature. Frogs, turtles abound in and near the lake.
The camp includes 34 buildings, with the newest over 20 years old, and which volunteers clean and paint as needed. There are 205 beds in total, with 36 of these within 12 covered Conestoga-type wagons, which are actual WW 1 era supply wagons made by Studebaker. The dining hall accommodates 150 people in one sitting. Their indoor and outdoor chapels are used daily and the youth campers run the services, and in so doing learn not to be intimidated by attending religious services, which many had been previously been.
The camp  also serves adults. Sandy runs an 'adults with special challenges camp', twice per summer. That program has been has been operational  for over 50 years.  A handicap-accessible golf cart helps with adult camper mobility and Sean also assists. Holly had personally assisted, Juanita, who is blind, to participate. Sharing a cabin with 5 others, including Juanita, a  power outage occurred one evening at bedtime.  Having a limited number flashlights and lanterns, Juanita shared her own special "flashlight" with another camper, her cane. "For me", said Holly, "this was an E.F. Hutton moment." (Ed. Note: "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.") Holly said she grew so much from having Juanita in her cabin and also learn from all the youth every year. Holly's brother, our very own Sean Blacker, also assists. The camp also does retreats for outside organizations, hosts sewing, scrapbook and antiquities clubs, hosts scout troops and invited group visits.
The recent purchase of a truckload of 128 mattresses was instructive in terms of the kids learning collaboration. The best price required the Camp to unload the mattresses on their own. Campers unloaded all the mattresses.
A "Thursday crew" has been coming to volunteer each week for 50 years. Made up of mostly retired men, some with accompanying spouses,  they do whatever varied work that is needed including exchanging smoke detector batteries, building picnic tables, and everything else. They get satisfaction and share fellowship in doing that work on our behalf.
Holly closed with: "Our creed is "Faith, fellowship and thankfulness' and thank you for the opportunity to present to you.
Rotarian Greg DeManche thanked Holly for making him feel 40 years younger, noting that in his younger days he was the aquatic director at the Camp.
Anne Clark also waxed nostalgic, noting she had met her husband at a similar camp, in her case it was a coed music camp.
From the Camp Wightman brochure: " The Bible is not just stories of people long ago but is living and alive today. Join us this summer to walk in the shoes of those who went before us, hear their stories & adventures, and explore the idea that our lives are part of "The Story" as well."


Mail Bag
No mail this week.
Photo Credits 
Photographs courtesy of Phil Worley (Ed: and occasionally blatant plagiarism off the world wide web.).
Editor's Notes
Submission Deadline: Members are kindly encouraged to submit all materials for each week's Early Riser as early as possible. Please note that some editions may be published and distributed as early as the Saturday following our meetings, and during those weeks further contributions to the Early Riser will be included in the subsequent week's edition.
“The FOUR-WAY TEST of the things we think, say or do”:

1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all Concerned?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?