Posted by Keith Reed

Our new Chair Barb Tubekis called the meeting to order and reported that our other new Co-Chair Patti Van Cleave, is doing better with her Covid problem. There were about 15 members present at the meeting with no Zoom participants. There were no anniversaries but Mary Lou Bilder-Gold had a recent birthday. Liz Taylor had the “thought of the day”.

“Dig N Grin” was handled by Bob Baker who listed all the famous events that occurred on past July 14s—such as U.S. landings on Mars in 1965 and the moon in 1969—plus Henry Aaron hit his record breaking 500th home run on this day, but not sure the year.

Announcements—this is the last day our Club can make donations to the Highland Park July 4th victim funds through our Foundation—such donations have been significant to date; Rich announced that our annual benefit (this year benefitting Operation Warm), will be held at Valley Lo Country Club on either October 7 or 14; it was announced that our Club now has a “budding” R n R singer with Amy Skalinder being featured with a band at one of the WCH garden “Thirsty Thursday” evenings which are held once a month with the next one being August 4th. In addition to this musical career, Amy is in charge of our Club’s survey of members regarding their assessment of our Club’s performance. This survey needs to be completed by members ASAP so that the Board can take action on the results—so far only 22 out of 40 members have responded.

SPEAKER ELISE LARSEN, Executive Director of Special Gifts Theatre based in Northbrook.

This is the only educational and therapy based theatre in the Chicago area. It deals with all sorts of disabilities including cognitive, physical, social and emotional. It has 12 programs operating in 7 locations on the North Shore with about 330 students participating and about 32 part time staff including special education teachers and therapists.

It operates throughout the year primarily through 4 activities/programs: Creativity in Motion is for students age 7 or older who engage in embodied storytelling using music to tell stories through movement; Musical Theatre is for 10-22 year olds with its purpose to enhance social skills, develop emotional literacy and increase self esteem; Musical Theatre Winnetka actually produces a musical play performed at Skokie School in Winnetka; there is a Peer Mentor Program for those 10 years and older who work with experienced peers on educational activities, choreography and stage work; and then there is the Creating Outside the Lines for those over 22 years of age to develop team work, public speaking and self confidence leading to employment readiness.

The overall organization operates with about a $500,000 budget provided by donations from several organizations like Rotary clubs and the New Trier Township, benefit campaigns/ activities, ticket sales and government grants. There is no required tuition payment, and any such payment is usually based on ability to pay. It uses training and performing space at local grade schools and studios located primarily in Winnetka, Northbrook and Northfield. It does draw students from at least 8 North Shore suburbs as well as some Chicago schools such as Edison Park in Chicago.

We were treated with a presentation by Ruthie, a junior at New Trier who has been an active mentor in the program specializing in teaching musical numbers and communication skills to non-verbal children. She thanked our Rotary Club for its contribution to this very important community activity for special needs young people.

At approximately 1:25 Barb adjourned the meeting and lead us in Rotary’s 4-Way Test.