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Rotary Happenings: Rotary's District 6960 picks up a Hero Level Governor's Award
June 13, 2018

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I've been away from writing my Sanibel-Captiva Rotary column just a few weeks, but it seems like forever. It wasn't a fun vacation that kept me from writing or a lack of Rotary activities and speakers, it was knee replacement surgery. In fact, club members have been having a grand-old-time in my absence. On May 18, they traveled to the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs for the 2018 District Conference for District 6960, picking up a Hero Level Governor's Award.

The conference is somewhat of a big information gathering opportunity, along with networking activities involving new projects in think-tank mode to continuing project reports and planning. To keep it light and entertaining, a theme is selected and this year the theme was "Be The Hero." Conference emphasis was first placed on the projects and activities the district clubs are doing or have done this past year. District 6960 encompasses over 51 clubs from Palmetto and Bradenton in the north, to Naples and Marco Island in the south, east to Labelle, Clewiston and Arcadia and then to Sanibel-Captiva and Anna Marie Islands. We have over 2,300 members with more being added.

Awards were handed out to stand-out performers. Our district stepped up after Hurricane Irma and Rotarians from all over put their boots on the grounds helping out in Bonita. They also brought together a new pilot program to be tested in Bonita between Habitat for Humanity and Rotary International. The emphasis of the pilot program will be on rebuilding homes together in communities of need using the experience of Habitat for Humanity and its project building and the volunteer power of Rotarians and their resourceful fundraising outreach in the areas.

Not to miss a beat in socializing, on May 19 it was Rotary Night at the Blue Giraffe Restaurant. What began with Rotarian Bill Letendre offering the restaurant as a 2018 silent auction item for 10 people, then expanding the number to 24 - never did the chosen 24 envision what an unforgettable evening would transpire. Rotarian Roger Triftshauser reported the following:

Thanks to Bill, his wife Lisa, Blue Giraffe Master Chef Geoffrey, and their cordial and caring staff, the dinner transitioned to perfection. Beginning with our 7 p.m. welcome greetings, the chosen 24 were treated to a happy hour of fine spirits of wine and champagne and numerous beer selections, as well as savory hors d'oeuvres of crab stuffed mushrooms, pan seared scallops with mango salsa and ceviche with tortilla chips.

At 7:30 p.m. we were invited to our pleasantly set and arranged dinner tables to be seated. Geoffrey then announced the gourmet cuisine with wine pairings - clam chowder with sauvignon blanc; caesar salad with riesling; and the main entree featuring grilled filet mignon and roasted lobster tail with cabernet. Dessert delicacies of peanut butter cheesecake or chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and a splash of whipped cream topped with a cherry would be the grande finale. Needless to say, we all forgot our maladies and ills and devoured every morsel of food served. When we arrived back to our homes, we would all take double doses of our "meds," which we hoped would "kick in" as we slept.

Throughout the entire evening it was strikingly evident that this first ever Blue Giraffe Rotarian dinner was a resounding success. The camaraderie, friendship, festive congeniality and Rotarian fellowship from our opening salutations to our final goodbyes, premiered the entire evening for our chosen 24. Sandy Grogman paid tribute in her thank you note stating, "What a great night you planned for us - amazing food, awesome friends - which made our night so much fun and memorable!"

Yes, it was a SanCap Rotary Club night to remember. Importantly, it will be the kick off for our 2019 Rotary silent auction since Bill Letendre announced in his email, "Lisa and I are very pleased that our donation was so well received. I hope that it is the first of many such silent auction events at the Blue Giraffe in the coming years." Thanks to the chosen 24 who responded to Bill's generous call; the Blue Giraffe event will again highlight "Service Above Self" for our 2019.

Seems there were a few jealous Rotarians who heard about the fabulous dinner, so the club decided to have a Rotary Super Happy Hour at the restaurant on May 29 and have some amazing fun. Rotary supplied the appetizers and Rotarians paid for their own drinks.

My apologies to our speakers during the weeks I was absent. I enjoy learning about their organizations and how they contribute to our community with their services and love spreading the word.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are always welcome to attend.

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