What's New at Lansing Rotary
When:  Friday, March 23, 2018
Where:  The Country Club of Lansing, 2200 Moores River Drive
Speaker:  Joan Jackson Johnson, Director Human Relations & Community Services
Topic:  "Homelessness & Poverty in the City"
Chair of the Day:  Jenn Dubey
Invocator:  Manny Garcia
Chair of the Month:  Jenn Dubey
Greeter:  Rich Howard
Remembrance:  Irv Nichols
Microphone:  Tyler Parsons
Editarian:  Pam Miklavcic
Joan Jackson Johnson, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and principal owner of the East Lansing Center for the Family, has been the Director of the Human Relations and Community Services Department (HRCS) for the City of Lansing since 2006, whose purpose is to foster community connections, coordinate local human services, uphold principles of equal opportunity, and pursue innovative funding and federal mandates that address homelessness and other community social challenges. Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Edward Waters College with a Masters and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Joan, and husband Vern, are the proud parents of five children and two grandchildren. They have also served as foster and adoptive parents.
Joan found her calling early in life, and has dedicated herself for many decades to the struggles of the poor and vulnerable. Through her own experiences growing up in inner city Jacksonville, Florida, she knows firsthand the obstacles of disadvantage, discrimination and under-privilege. Her personal passions focus primarily on poor children and families, food security and homelessness. Her work at the City of Lansing HRCS Department has been marked by innovative programming directed to the most needy citizens, including the monthly Mobile Food Pantry, monthly meal with Loaves & Fishes, Advent House Breakfast 2-3 times a month, the Children Feeding Program, Weekend Survival Kits and Kids Connect (for school-aged children), Lansing Community Connect and One Church One Family for homeless families and individuals, facilitating service opportunities between the Spartans Giving Back Program, Pre-eviction Prevention Program with Public Housing families and the local community, and matching the Faith based community’s resources with human services needs through the Meet the Need Program.
Currently, Dr. Johnson serves on the Boards of Directors for the Community Coalition for Youth; Capital Area Health Alliance, Tri-County Office on Aging, Capital Area Community Services, Ingham County Child Death Review, Ingham County FIRM, Ingham County Investors Steering Committee, Capital Region Community Foundation, Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Steering Committee, Ingham County Change Initiative, and One Church One Family just to name a few.
Among her many honors Dr. Johnson cherishes the KC Family of the Year Award, Advent House Volunteer of the Year, State of Michigan Volunteer Family of the Year, Michigan Women Hall of Fame, Father Mac (Lansing Diocese) Award for Community Service, the NAACP Citizen of the Year for Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Diocese of Lansing Community Service Award, the Greater Lansing Homeless Resolution Network the Power of One Year Award, MSU School of Social Work Award, the NANBPWC, Inc. Sojourner Truth Award and a host of others too numerous to mention. Dr. Johnson works tirelessly to serve the citizens of Lansing and to cultivate a community culture of diversity, equity and non-discrimination.
“Triple J”, as she is known to her friends, works tirelessly, 24/7 for all her causes, with a contagious enthusiasm, passion and zeal, enlisting family, friends, co-workers, businesses, and yes, even innocent bystanders to join her.
The following story is from one of your fellow Rotarians.  We want to engage the club, so read the story, correctly guess the Rotarian and win a prize!  If there isn't a winner, the Rotarian providing the story wins the prize!  Send your guesses to Kevin at:  Schumacher@glassenrhead.com   Send me just a few lines of a memorable life experience or brush with greatness and we'll work some Rotary magic on your life to include it in an upcoming Rotogram.
Fiddler on the Roof got nothin’ on me.  My father didn’t have to go to Tevye for permission to marry, he had to go to Rome (you know, where the Pope lives).  Apparently parental permission to marry isn’t enough when the groom is a Catholic Priest and the bride to be is Jewish.  The canonical term of the day is “special dispensation” and it is what you need when you’re a Priest and want to get married.  On top of that, it is rumored that Thomas Edison did the actual wiring in this Rotarian’s Boston Edison district Detroit childhood home.  Having worked since age 14, this child of a papally approved union has sorted and rolled change, washed dishes (professionally), scooped ice cream, sold china and stemware and flatware door to door (back in the day when you used last year’s high school graduating class to find possible customers).


President Darwin called the meeting at the Lansing Center to order at 12:30. Laurie Baumer led us in a thoughtful invocation. Our patriotic song was “God Bless America.” Tyler Parsons carried the microphone for the introduction of visiting Rotarians and guests. Among our visiting Rotarians was Mr. Matts who was moving to Lansing from Fairbanks, Alaska and checking out changing his membership to Lansing Rotary. President Darwin said that he would be in good company since we currently have 5 new incoming members!
Irv Nichols reported that the health of the club is good. While Irv and his sons have several University of Michigan degrees, Irv has cheered on MSU for years. But if they should ever meet Irv’s beloved Duke, all bets are off.
Kevin Schumacher announced the “Unknown Author” – the person about whom an interesting story appeared in the Rotogram. Last week’s “graduate of a one-room school house” was easy to guess once Kevin gave the clue. “Who’s the Rotarian you’d want to sit by if you wanted to sound good when you sing?” Yes. Mark Hooper.
This week’s social media winner, getting the prize in recognition for being a member who interacts with Lansing Rotary on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, was Pam Miklavcic.
John Dale Smith introduced Adam Woolsey, Theatre teacher from East Lansing High School who in turn introduced two outstanding singers who were performing in the school’s version of “High School Musical” over the weekend. Ajah Montalva as Gabriella Montez and Nicholas Stephens as Troy Bolton sang two songs that displayed some of their wonderful talent.
Jenn Dubey, on behalf of the Lansing Rotary International Committee reported that in 2017 Lansing Rotary provided funds for nine projects in eight countries. We provided clean water to more than 300 people. One of our projects last year was in a small village in Thailand. Jenn became connected to missionary teachers Mike and Sandy Lynch through Trinity Church in Lansing. Sandy wrote Jenn about the rusty and unsafe playground in the village where they taught English and how it “would enhance the community to have a public playground where families can gather and children could just be children.” The children in the village are only able to attend a couple years of school and are forced to grow up very fast.
Lansing Rotary had the privilege of seeing a short video Sandy sent to Jenn last week, not even knowing that Jenn was giving this update on the International Committee’s year. We saw the colorful, safe playground equipment we made possible and a lunch party attended by the community to celebrate and thank Lansing Rotary for making it possible.
A few of Lansing Rotary’s other projects for the year include funding a dental clinic in Guatemala, providing funds for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, putting in two wells in Ghana that will provide clean water for several communities and several of other projects which we will hear about later.
Many in Lansing Rotary know that Nyaka has been an organization we have sponsored many times over the past few years. We have helped them with solar generated computers in their schools. We have now taken on an international project and found a way to make it a project for Lansing Rotary’s Special Projects committee and hopefully many other Rotarians.
In Uganda, it is not uncommon for students - children, to walk up to 7 miles each way for school. Jenn said, “As you can imagine, that takes a tremendous amount of time out of the child’s day, and is not always even a safe option to get to school. Nyaka has been attempting to get bikes to these children, which has proven to be a challenge. As part of our special projects committee, we are going on a mission to collect 200 bikes from across the state to ship to Uganda for these students.” Lansing Rotarians are urged to get behind this project and donate to make it a success. Thanks to our own Irv Nichols who has been a supporter and connection to this Ugandan school.” Thanks for the inspiring report Jenn and International Committee. As you said, this work reflects the Rotary International quest “to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.”
Jenn, as the Chair of the Month and Chair of the Day introduced Cindy Alwood who had an amazing story to tell. Cindy told us that the $10,000 Lansing Rotary Foundation grant to the Women’s Center of Lansing made a huge difference in the lives of dozens, if not hundreds of women (and therefore their families) in the Lansing area.
Cindy and a couple other women realized that the impediments to women getting and holding a job were often, 1.) Being a survivor of domestic violence or 2.) Being a survivor of sexual assault. - Sometimes the sexual harassment comes at work and causes a woman to lose or have to leave a job. Cindy and her three co-founders of the Women’s Center could find no resources to help women to become self-sufficient outside the centers at Lansing Community College and Michigan State University.
Through a series of crazy circumstances, including developing a business plan, becoming a non-profit organization, being denied a loan by any financial institution, etc., the three co-founders began “self-funding” the Women’s Center. They raised what money they could and dug into their own pockets more than once. One sold her home and used the money to fund the important work of the Center. Economic self-sufficiency for women and their families. Cindy “wiped out” her own retirement accounts to fund the Center. The Women’s Center opened in 2005. Their work was multi-faceted; helping women overcome barriers to jobs and self-sufficiency like employment issues, relationships, transportation, etc.
The Center has struggled for years to raise funds. They needed money in order to train their clients, (some cannot complete an on-line job application because they have never used a computer.) And to clothe their clients (some had to leave abusive relationships with nothing but the clothes on their backs.) They need funding to provide clients appropriate psychological and other counseling, (because the Women’s Center does not take health insurance, they are often the place hospitals and others refer patients who have lost their insurance since the Center has a “sliding scale” that starts at $0.)
Then the founders had an epiphany! Once a person successfully apprentices in the skilled trades, they are in for life. They earn more than just a “living wage.” They can provide stable housing for themselves and their children and can look ahead to the future.
That began “Better Lives for Women Through the Skilled Trades” and a collaboration with the Michigan Construction Consortium. That is where the $10,000 grant from Lansing Rotary comes in. Women attend “Women’s Building Days” at places like LCC West where they get to tryout six skilled trades. They work with the Ironworkers, with the Operating Engineers, the Carpenters and Millwrights, and the Electrical Workers, and the Plumbers unions. Then the women choose a trade in which they are most interested. They take a 12-week course, two nights a week - at night (so they can work during the day), which prepares them for everything from physical training (upper body strength especially) to the other skills related to being a successful apprentice. Cindy had wonderful and inspired statements from women who completed their program and then were welcomed into the skilled trades apprenticeships, which are facing a dire need for skilled trades workers.
Women's Center current fundraisers: The Capital City Dragon Boat Races that happen in September. The “In Her Cups Bras for a Cause” Art Auction. The “Man Up” fundraiser established by supportive “men for women” which will be held at the Unicorn in Old Town in June. The Comedy Night at the Cadillac Room in ReoTown this Friday, March 23. The Women’s Center of Greater Lansing is making our community a better place. Whether it is with the Women’s Center’s counseling services, their clothes closet, career training, or training for a lucrative lifetime career in the skilled trades, we all benefit from more success in our community. See: http://www.womenscenterofgreaterlansing.org/
Next week Lansing Rotary meets at the Lansing Country Club our speaker will be Joan Jackson Johnson, speaking on “Homelessness and Poverty in our City.” President Darwin gave the traditional coin and donation in the speaker’s name to clean water in the Dominican Republic and gaveled us adjourned at 1:30 p.m.
Helen Micken's email is:  hpmickens@gmail.com
Upcoming Speakers
Ken Boyer, Professor of Economics at MSU
Apr 06, 2018
"We Are Eating Our Highways. How to Improve Michigan's Road Diet"
Father Riwa
Apr 13, 2018
Friends of Kenyan Orphans @ the Lansing Center
Robert Hoffman
Apr 20, 2018
ePIFanyNOW at the Country Club
Robert Beekman, Special Agent
Apr 27, 2018
Detroit FBI at the Crowne Plaza
Club Information

Welcome to the Rotary Club of Lansing


District 6360
Club ID 2939

We meet Fridays at 12:00 PM
The Lansing Center
333 E. Michigan Avenue
Lansing, MI  48923
United States
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