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Club Corner


(Adapted from News story in Patch, Ossining, 11 February 2020)

An amazing local partnership came together in Ossining, thanks to the collaboration between the Ossining Basics campaign, the Ossining School District and the Ossining Rotary Club.  Through this joint spirit of community service, eight local businesses and organizations have new, fully stocked bookcases for children and families to read.

Park School pre-kindergarten teachers and Ossining Basics facilitators Dianna Langdon and Natalie Ortiz joined with the Rotary Club of Ossining to see how they could collaborate to support the community and each other's respective missions. The Ossining Basics seeks to teach parents and others, simple practices to stimulate brain growth in children from birth to 3, such as "Talk, sing and point" and "Read and discuss stories."  One of the missions of Rotary is to support basic education in communities through local involvement.

The Ossining Rotary Club donated 10 bookshelves, which children in pre-kindergarten classes at Park School helped assemble. The books were donated by various community members, (914) Cares and Molly Ness, founder of End Book Deserts.

The new bookshelves and books were delivered to laundromats, a pharmacy, a restaurant, Neighbors Link and other sites, by the organizations. Additional lending libraries are planned.

"This work happens when everyone comes together," district Community Schools Leader, Ms. Mastrogiacomo said, adding that school buildings and grounds employees also assisted. "It's really a team effort and with everybody helping out, it makes the job easier and more successful."

They originally were going to get used bookshelves and spruce them up, but the Rotary Club offered to donate new ones. The goal is to have the lending libraries throughout the community, especially in places where people are waiting for a long time, Every lending library has information sheets and bookmarks with reading tips on them.

It was not hard to convince businesses and organizations to host the lending libraries, They were excited when they received the bookshelves and books, Ms. Ortiz said. HealthSmart Pharmacy purchased child-friendly chairs, and the owner of Good Choice Kitchen planned to purchase an area rug.

"It's been a great journey that has really created some awesome results and I think that it's really going to be beneficial to the community," Ms. Ortiz said. "We look forward to adding to those libraries and expanding to other businesses as well."

Rotary Club President Marcia MacNeill-Perillo said the organization maintains a strong relationship with the school district, from high school scholarships to free dictionaries and thesauruses for younger students. "We love to assist in any possible way that we can, and that's why when Ossining Basics came to us, I thought this was a brilliant idea," she said of the bookcases.

The Ossining Basics facilitators said they are grateful to club members for their generous donation. "Without them, this really would not have been possible," they said.

Some of the district's youngest students and their teachers helped build the bookshelves. Children used Allen keys and hammers (with adult supervision) to put them together. "They were pretty easy to build and the kids had a really great time," Ms. Ortiz said.

The eight locations are:

  • Z & H Laundromat, 96 Croton Ave.
  • Deli Bagel, 238 S. Highland Ave.
  • Neighbors Link, 23-25 Spring St.
  • Open Door Family Medical Center, 165 Main St.
  • HealthSmart Pharmacy, 203 Main St.
  • Brothers Laundromat, 182 Spring St.
  • Good Choice Kitchen, 147 Main St.
  • Briar Wash n' Fold, 197 S. Highland Ave.


By Don Rizzo (Peekskill Rotary Club)
I became a father for the first time in 1992.  Complications during the birth made it an unnerving experience, and the entire process was unlike anything childbirth education classes had prepared me for.  Thank goodness everything turned out well for my wife and our newborn son.  Three years later during my wife’s second pregnancy, a different set of unexpected complications threatened the birth of our second son. Thankfully, the problems were mitigated, and our son was born during another not so standard birth.  Both instances left me feeling helpless and at the mercy of others, which was quite frightening and bothersome.  It occurred to me that in an instant, the situations could have gotten much worse and my wife and newborn sons may have needed blood.  Although it was to late for me to donate for them, I started to wonder about the people who donate blood and how incredibly generous and valuable their donations are.  I wanted to donate so that anybody who needed blood could have mine and hopefully live a long time because of it.  I wanted to be the person to save a life.  As I thought more and more about donating blood over the years it occurred to me that it is really an amazing gift.  It made me feel extremely good knowing when I donated somebody who was in life-threatening circumstances was going to live because of me.
Click here or on image above to play video
In June of 2018, I was infected by a deer tick with a parasite called Babesiosis which at the time was a permanent disqualification for donating blood.  It may no longer be the case as of Jan 2020.  By that time, I had donated over 100 units of blood, platelets, and plasma and was disappointed that I would no longer be able to donate.  In June of 2019, I was installed as the President of the Peekskill Rotary Club.  Our club was celebrating our 100th year and as President, I chose a Presidential project to get 100 units of blood donated.  Halfway through the year, our blood donation goal thermometer read a disappointing 21 donations, so I decided to create a challenge to get people to donate.  I modeled my blood donation challenge after the Ice Bucket Challenge and with the help of two very generous friends, JP Patrick, a videographer & director, and Diane Cricchio another video superstar we created the challenge video.
Donating blood doesn’t cost anything but your time.  There is a very brief needle stick which is really what deters most people.  It’s a selfless gift to an unknown person.  They could be young or old, male or female, any nationality, political persuasion or sexual orientation.  It is a completely blind gift to a fellow human being.  What more generous gift can you give than your own life-giving blood?
I believe that almost anybody would donate blood if they were standing outside an operating room when a nurse came out and said we’re out of blood, can anybody donate NOW?  We have a patient who’s going to die if they don’t get blood!  There’s a huge disconnect between the need for blood and the blood donor.
In addition to the recipient, there are also benefits to the donor.  Over the years I’ve heard that donating blood equates to losing about 500 calories.  The blood cells you donate need to be replaced with fresh new efficient blood cells making you healthier.  Cholesterol is reduced, it reduces the risk of hemochromatosis, the excess absorption of iron by the body.  Iron stores are better maintained and help reduce the risk of cancer.  More stable iron stores help reduce the risk of heart & liver ailments and this, in turn, decreases the risk of cirrhosis, liver failure, damage to the pancreas, and heart abnormalities like irregular heart rhythms.
With benefits to both donor and recipient, I hope that you will start donating regularly.  You can start now by donating soon and using the Blood-4-Rotary challenge video to challenge as many people as possible.


(News story in BERNEWS, Bermuda, 16 January 2020)
Clubs from our District have been busy collecting and distributing turkeys and meal packs to needy families across the District.  Here is a video sampling of our People of Action:     or Click on the picture



By Karl Milde (North-East Westchester)
When I was a teenager in high school (very long ago) my school had a literary magazine called The Mirror. It was published once a year in the spring, and everyone in the school read it from cover to cover. To have one’s article or poem appear in The Mirror was an incredible honor.
I was a sophomore when I finally got up the courage to submit a short poem. Those ten lines came from my inner being and revealed my deepest longings but, throwing privacy to the wind, I sent them in to the editors of The Mirror and waited. To my joy, and also dismay from my audacity, the poem was accepted for publication.
I still recall the pride I felt when The Mirror came out that year. My work was published for all to see! I was now a somebody on campus. That one poem gave me the confidence to write another, and then to write an article and eventually further poems, articles, and stories. I have continued creative writing to this day.
Although many schools nowadays have a newspaper, few have a publication to showcase the creative writing of their students. Enter the Northeast Westchester Rotary Club, abbreviated to “NEW Rotary,” with a unique project to meet this need.
Each year, the NEW Rotary publishes a book called On My Mind which includes articles, poetry, and artwork submitted by students from more than fifteen high schools in our local area. A book-launch for On My Mind, celebrated in mid-May each year, is attended by the student authors, their parents and teachers, and by the media and members of the public. At the launch you can just feel the excitement, the pride, and the sheer joy of these young people who see their work in print for the first time. Ten students are selected randomly to read their poem or story aloud to the attendees.
When these student authors and artists apply to the colleges of their choice, they can say their work has been published. This is just the kind of thing that colleges look for when making their admission decisions.
On My Mind has been published annually for fifteen years thus far, and each year it has increased in size to meet the needs of more schools and students. As the size of the book has grown, so has the cost to publish it. The NEW Rotary wishes to thank its many donors, especially PCSB Bank and IBM, for their continued generous support of this worthy project.
If On My Mind inspires even one student a year to write with self-confidence and to write well, it is a project well worth doing.