President Randy Donald
Randy Donald

President Randy Donald

Randy Donald had the pleasure of serving as the 2012-2013 and 90th President of the Las Vegas Rotary Club. What a great year it was. The International theme was “Peace Through Service” with Sakuji Tanaka as Rotary International President. President Randy was honored to meet RI President Tanaka and get his picture with him at President Elect Training. Without much on the job training, (PP Sharon McNair showed up for almost every meeting), President Randy’s second meeting was a little challenging, as he had 2 powerful ladies scheduled as speakers: Mayor Carolyn Goodman and District Governor Sylvia Whitlock. Well, with a little schedule manipulation it turned out great. He also was saddened to share the news that long time member LeonardPatGoodall had passed away.

With the realization of the many, many great things our club does and the desire to keep this work going President Randy set forth his main goal to make 2012-2013 a Fun Year. He began each meeting with a brief, humorous spiel on relative (sometimes not so relative) topics. After Invocation, song and honoring our country through the Pledge of Allegiance he would share information about the 2 members joining him at the Head Table. His crack team of researchers provided him material not as well-known about these individuals and soon most members were clamoring to sit at the Head Table and with all this attention were more than happy to provide information. And for those that were not as forthcoming with information, they were at the mercy of Randy as to what he would present. A special thank you to Francesca Gilbert and Gina Gentleman for seating the head table. It wasn’t long before he had members expressing how much they looked forward to the end of the meetings…………which he attributes (hopes) to the Dr. Seuss quotes he shared as he closed the meeting.

Our administrative Committee Fund Raising was led by President Elect Ginger Anderson with a successful golf tournament chaired by David Young and Steve Dixon. The honoree was past president, Jim Hunt.  The event was a lot of fun and raised $14,479 for our annual programs. March Madness raised $625 and Cigar Fellowships raised $1,005.  Our Superbowl Board raised $2,500 for the Las Vegas Rotary Foundation Permanent Fund. Deb Granda and Glenn Meier co-chaired our 2nd annual Valentine’s Gala which was held on February 9th.   Our partner and beneficiary was Shade Tree and we honored KLAS-TV Anchor, Paula Francis as a great friend to our community.  The event resulted in a donation of $5,000 to Shade Tree and $17,594 to the Las Vegas Rotary Foundation.

We enjoyed many great activities headed up by Director James Bradshaw, Administrative Committee-Fellowship, with Cigar Fellowships, Alpine Picnic hosted by Bob & Deanna Werner at their home on Mount Charleston, and even a Halloween Party at President Randy’s home. The Christmas Party was the perfect way to end the day after the always exciting Santa Clothes project. Our own Gary Miller and his band performed and enticed several members out to the dance floor.

A great big thank you goes to our hard working Membership Committee guided by Directors Mary Ann Avnet and Richard Jost. Our Club increased our membership by a net of 12 members; reaching the goal set by President Randy. We started out the year with a pledge that every interested person would get attention and feel welcome at our Rotary Club.  President Randy stressed to the club all year that Membership was everyone’s responsibility, and tried to encourage all the members to get involved and feel responsible for membership.   We formed a Membership Committee and agreed to hold regular monthly meetings before our scheduled meeting on the third Thursday of each month.   Although we had a core group of members who had expressed an interest in participating, we always invited anyone to attend and get involved.  We welcomed visitors to our club, and developed a list of Rotarians that were interested in sitting with visitors who were interested in learning more about our club.   During President Randy’s year we also developed a brochure that could be used as marketing collateral with potential corporate members.  We developed procedures and best practices for identifying potential candidates for corporate members and shared these with our members.

Richard and Mary Ann agreed that the responsibilities for membership do not end with someone’s induction into the club.   We wanted the whole first year to be a rich and welcoming experience.   So we introduced the following activities:

  • President Randy introduced the idea of providing a Mentor for every new member, in addition to having a sponsor. Randy created an “ABC” of mentoring sheet which was distributed to every new member, every sponsor and every mentor.   A mentor was one more person to help them feel welcome and serve as a resource to answer questions and help them meet more of their fellow members.
  • The Membership Co-Chairs took an active interest in the 25 Club to ensure that each new member was reminded to attend and felt comfortable participating and volunteering.
  • A member of the committee was assigned to reach out to the new members after 6 – 8 weeks to see how things were going. Was Rotary what they expected?  Did they feel welcomed and did they need anything to help them get involved?
  • We watched the membership attendance records so that we could identify members who had missed 4 of the last 6 meetings. We would call or email those members to make sure they knew that they were missed at Rotary and to check and see if they needed anything.
  • One of the members of the committee also volunteered to review the guest register to look for guests of the club who had attended at least two meetings. We asked the host if their guest was showing interest in Rotary and they anticipated that they would have an interest in joining our club.

Karen Whisenhunt continued to keep in touch with the family of Rotary and helped coordinate a couple of great social events including our second annual St. Patrick’s Day party.

We finished the Rotary year with 162 members, which represented a net gain of 12 new members.

Our Special Projects Committees were led by Director Paul Maffey. After attending last year’s District Conference, it became apparent to President Randy that having a large attendance at District Conference would be a great way for our club to extend our camaraderie and enjoy the fellowship of Rotarians throughout District 5300. He immediately called upon Past President Caty Crockett and she graciously accepted the task to encourage as many members to attend, organized a great hospitality suite and we had over 30 members and spouses attend this year’s conference. David Thorson took on the responsibility of creating a 90th Anniversary celebration. He and his committee partnered with the UNLV Library who archived all of our historical material, creating a very special event with many VIP’s attending; including, District Governor Sylvia Whitlock, incoming DG Miles Petroff, Thalia Dondera, Judge George, Dr. Neal Smatresk and many more. A nice array of hors d’oeuvres, wine and soft drinks were served. President Randy shared many of the club’s accomplishments and recognized past presidents, read proclamations sent by the Governor and the Mayor and made a formal presentation of the club archives to Dr. Smatresk and the UNLV Library.

Matt Christian as board of director responsible for Public Relations, worked hard with his committee chairs including Jim Tucker and Gloria Gorlin on the Wheel, Club Photographer Jim Jones, Program committee of Francesca Gilbert, Carolyn Sparks and Bob Fisher, Public Relations at the Club and Community and Social Media, Melanie Muldowney and the 25 Club who organize the Sergeant at Arms, Invocation and Song Leader for each meeting. Prior to the start of this year, Gloria Gorlin offered to create a new look for the Wheel and presented an outstanding new look that Randy immediately approved,

Board of Director, Matt Nelson managed an active group of committees including our Canned Food Drive and as customary we met with the Kiwanis Clubs to share in friendly competition for the most cans. Although our club outpaced the Kiwanis again this year, the real winner was the Salvation Army and the deserving people they support. Opportunity Village work night chaired by Brock Fraser, SOAR chaired by Janie Lynn, Nellis Nights chaired by Deb Harris, Students to Sports chaired by James Bradshaw, Wetzel Awards chaired by Stuart Levy, Steve Linder and Bruce Quinn, Sole Power Award chaired by Christina Roush, Walter Bracken School Liaison Kathy Mahon, Community Grants chaired by Ginger Anderson, and Beckley School Liaison Marie Walsh. Our most popular local project, Santa Clothes provided warm clothes and shoes to over 300 deserving children for the 17th year and was chaired by Jim Hunt, Tom Krob and Randy Donald. This endeavor involves the coordination of 450 volunteers, three JC Penney’s stores and UNLV. After the shopping experience the children were transported to UNLV where they enjoyed the beautiful weather on the practice fields with UNLV athletes and cheerleaders, then scurried into the auditorium for an inspirational message and a light lunch. As they headed toward the busses to head home, each child was given a sports ball to take with them.

Dave Thorson was not to be outdone as he guided the Youth and Vocational Service Projects. We started off the year with sponsorship of 16 children to attend the TLC camp and another 16 teens to attend RYLA. Numerous Rotarians were involved in organizing and participating in both camps with Gwen Hall as chair of TLC and Cory Brooks as chair of RYLA. We sponsored the 4-Way Speech contest and our club’s winner placed first at the final competition held at the District Conference. Another fabulous performance was turned in by participants in the Dan Stover music competition at our club and ultimately a Las Vegas entrant (although not one that competed at our club) won the finals of that competition at District as well. We continued our support of Kideract program at Bracken and Beckley Elementary Schools, Interact programs at Del Sol and A Tech high schools and a Rotaract program at UNLV. We also set the table for launching of a Mideract program in the coming Rotary year. We continued our broad support of Bracken and Beckley Elementary Schools ranging from financial support for teachers to Rotarians participating on-the-ground in judging, reading, career day and shoe distribution events at both schools. We were extremely proud that Katie Decker, the principal at Bracken, was awarded National Principal of the Year by a magnet school association.

This year we also launched a new program at both elementary schools called Artsbridge. Las Vegas Rotary Club subsidized tuition for two UNLV students from the fine arts program who worked with teachers at Bracken and Beckley to develop programs that use fine arts to teach core subjects. One student used comics to help teach math and the other used music to teach math. The experience was fabulous for the elementary students and teachers and ended up being an unforgettable growth opportunity for the UNLV students as well. Both schools intend to take the concept forward as part of their standard curriculum, even if the UNLV participation is not continued in future years.

We culminated the year with our annual Valedictorian Lunch where we invited the valedictorians from every high school in Clark County for lunch. Our guest speaker was Neal Smatresk, President of UNLV, who was so caught up in the moment that he offered completely free schooling, including tuition, room, board and books, to any valedictorian who elected to stay home and attend UNLV! Many accepted his offer. All-in-all Las Vegas Rotary had another great year supporting the youth of Las Vegas!

Service Projects Committees were led by Director Major Robert Lloyd. Steve Parikh chaired the World Community Service. Past President Karen Whisenhunt had a busy year; she chaired SuperBuild, Mayors Cup, Sister Clubs and Blindness Prevention. International Youth Exchange was chaired by Kimberly Brodeur and Bob Werner continued his tradition of Introducing International Guests.

Michael Gordon, Director oversaw International Scholarships chaired by Karen Whisenhunt, Group Study Exchange (GSE) chaired by Caty Crocket, Open World chaired by Karen Whisenhunt and Matt Christian. Steve Parikh chaired International Grants and arranged with matching grants for over $28,000 to be provided for a computer lab in Soke, Aydin, Turkey and to provide dictionaries in Punjab India. Our club presented 43 Paul Harris Fellowships awards ranging from the initial PHF to PHF + 8. Past President Irwin Kishner became the latest Major Donor in our club bringing the number to 24 major donors in the Las Vegas Rotary Club. Our club’s all-time giving to the R I Foundation is $1,362,269.21.

Past President Sharon McNair organized an “over the top” debunking party, themed “Dr. Seuss Wild Harley Ride” The efforts of the debunking committee showed in all the details and the great attendance by members. Everyone was wearing motorcycle “do-rags” inscripted with “Dr. Suess’ Wild Harley Ride”, tattoos were provided and many were wearing full motorcycle attire; some had not even bothered to shave! Russ Swain, Jim Hunt and Bob Patton with Edy Seaver on the back actually rode their Harleys into the crowded room, (why the smoke detectors did not go off is a good question). With a great cast of a muted Cat in the Hat, Russ Swain, narrator Pat Carlton, Thing One & Thing Two, (Melanie Muldowney Makenna and Teagan), Jim Hunt, Tom Krob, Bob Patton and a host of others; Randy’s demise was certain. After sitting in a grand chair and enjoying the show, he was offered the pedal powered Harley, (Tom Krob’s ride) which was placed in a plastic pool and instructed to sit and enjoy (or endure) as everyone seemed to get in on the tradition of soaking the President. Randy presented the Rotarian of the Year to Gloria Gorlin in recognition of her dedication and hard work. Although she did not get an award Randy also thanked First Lady, Sally Donald for her support.

“I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.”         ― Dr. Seuss

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