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Upcoming Events
Club Service Committee - Zoom
Jun 08, 2022
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
ELRC Last Meeting of the 2021-22 Board
Jun 22, 2022
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Installation of 2022-23 Board - Dinner on June 26
Lovelace Park
Jun 26, 2022
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
International Service Committee Meeting
Jun 27, 2022
7:15 AM – 8:30 AM
Club Service Committee - Zoom
Jul 13, 2022
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
View entire list
The Light for May 31,2022
The Light for May 31, 2022
By Vaidehi Ravikumar
President Linda Gerber welcomed members to the 47th meeting of the 2021-2022 Rotary year. Ann Searles led the group in the Why We Are Rotarians statement and Ann also shared the following Thought for the Day: “True patriotism springs from a belief in the dignity of the individual, freedom, and equality not only for Americans but for all people on earth,” by Eleanor Roosevelt.
Paul Harris Fellow
Chuck Bartling was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow (Plus 3).  Linda thanked him for his continued support of the programs of the Rotary Foundation. Chuck earned this by setting up an automatic monthly contribution to the Foundation, which he said quickly adds up to the $1,000 level.
Ann Searles announced that Louis Allred recently tendered his resignation after 31 years of service, citing the difficulty of getting to early morning meetings. When Membership Chair Ann Searles suggested that she would request he be given honorary status, he was pleased since he could keep in touch, visit meetings occasionally, support club activities, and remain part of the organization. The Board approved his change of status.
Chris Joyce made an announcement about the recognition of our club and specifically of Marv Edelstein in the ROTARY magazine for his role in the RYLA Camp. Marv taught himself rap to help relate to the students and astonished them by performing as “marvelous Marv.” Marv also gave us an enjoyable performance at the club while wearing a T-shirt that explained the reason he has trouble acting his age is because he’s never been this old before.
Hillary Hufford-Tucker shared with us the initiatives on social media undertaken by our Public Image Team made up of Marissa Naujokas, Kathy Tate-Bradish, Rebecca Mendoza, and herself. Our club has a presence in Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They regularly feature the various events and activities that our club participates in. She asked that we “like” and “tag” the news stories in the media to help increase visibility to our club and promote the events. She also said that they work off a calendar to maintain a consistent schedule and asked that the members provide the write-up for the events that they are organizing so that they can be featured.
Don Gwinn asked for volunteers for this weekend (June 4) and next weekend (June 11) to help with the painting projects. So far, there are only three volunteers.
John Wertymer shared an announcement about the Rotary Club of Wilmette Harbor Trivia Night Fundraiser, scheduled for Wednesday, June 1.
Topic: Evanston Municipal Issues
Speaker: Jonathan Nieuwsma
Jonathan Nieuwsma, Evanston 4th Ward Alderman, was our special guest. John Coyne introduced Jonathan as a wonderful man, a wonderful husband, a cool dad, and a trained engineer. Jonathan has a passion for environmental issues and specifically reducing carbon footprint. He specializes in alternative energy, renewable energy, wind turbines, solar energy, anaerobic digestion, business development, distributed generation, manufacturing, supply chain, and international sourcing. 
The conversation with Jonathan was in free style in a Q & A format, with the questions lead by John.
John started the conversation by asking Jonathan about his experience with a couple of the projects they had worked on together: The Margarita Inn and the Albany Care projects, both of which required navigating through some tough municipal, public health, and state government bureaucracies as well as work with the neighborhoods and some volatile community meetings.
John asked Jonathan how he managed to be a rational, calm peace maker in those situations.
Jonathan went on to share some details about the two projects:
Albany Care is one, he said, of only 19 specialized mental health rehabilitation facilities in Illinois. It is a for-profit institution funded by Medicare patients. They took in people with mental illness and gave them the treatment that they needed, based on the guidelines of the Illinois Department of Public Health, which is the licensing agency. About a year and a half ago, Jonathan got involved and he heard some of the complaints from the neighbors that Albany Care was not what it used to be; that the residents from the facility were observed to engage in anti-social behavior and engage in some vandalism in the neighborhood. During this time, it was found that in addition to people with mental illness, patients with addiction problems (dual diagnosis) were being admitted. The care given to them had deteriorated, according to some observers.
The City Government got involved and based on the authority they had as the Evanston licensing authority they were able to get into certain parts of the building, but that was not enough. Eventually, they went through the Illinois Department of Public Health and were able to put some monitoring in place.  Albany Care is rated as a Level 5 out of 6 levels, which means they are under monitor and their license could be suspended if they get to Level 6.  Also, the number of residents at the facility has come down drastically and this is a big issue for the owners of the facility. The dilemma is that if their license is suspended, then the folks that are being cared for will need to be moved, but if they offer sub-standard care but just enough to meet the state’s minimal standards, the residents, as well as the community, will suffer.
Jonathan mentioned throughout this process communication between the neighbors, the stakeholders at the city level, the state level, and the mayor’s office have all been challenging. But he said that they are in a wait-and-watch mode to decide on next steps.
Next, Jonathan talked about the Margarita Inn and the proposed purchase of this facility by Connections for the Homeless. Margarita Inn is a boutique hotel on Oak Street just south of Davis, and very close to the Davis Street business district.
During the Covid epidemic, at the beginning of March 2020, hotels around the country were in dire straits, because of a decline in traveling. Homeless shelters around the country were facing significant challenges, and because of social distancing requirements, their capacity was severely diminished. It was these complex set of events that led to homeless people being housed in hotels all around the country, not just here in Evanston, and Margarita Inn was such an example. There are 44 rooms at Margarita Inn, and 41 of these are used to house the homeless. It is under the management of Connections for the Homeless, which has been an organization long established in Evanston doing work in this field.
Obviously, that presents some challenges to the community, our speaker said.  We have a homeless problem in the country, we have an aggressive panhandling problem and this creates some “anti-social behavior” on the street.  Margarita is part of the solution here, and it houses predominantly Evanston residents. The largest community meeting that Jonathan said he has ever hosted was a single topic meeting on Albany Care and Margarita Inn. There were 212 attendees in the gym at St. Mark's Episcopal Church with residents, some very much in support of the work being done there and some residents very much opposed to having this in their neighborhood. 
Ann Weatherhead asked Jonathan about the outcome of the meeting – whether it was a setback for Margarita Inn or a path forward. Jonathan detailed the path forward.
He said that Connections will have to go through a special use process which goes to the Evanston City Cpuncil’s Land Use Committee rather than the Planning and Development Committee and ultimately to the council for approval. At the moment, they are working on developing a specific license arrangement that would cover what Connections wants to do in a transitional medium term in a homeless facility. The city is developing a new license which is specific to what Connections wants to do, which will get into the programmatic and staffing guidelines as well. With this specific license arrangement in place, he said, the city will have appropriate oversight and authority over the operation.
Ann also mentioned that in our club she has been circulating a petition for members to sign in support of the purchase of the Margarita Inn by Connections and asked Jonathan if this is helpful and whether we should continue this effort. Jonathan confirmed that it is a very useful step!
Guests and Milestones
Visiting Rotarians
John Wertymer, Rotary Club of Wilmette Harbor
Dr. D.S. Ajit Prasad, Rotary Club of Madras Gold Coast, RI District 3232, India
President Linda exchanged our Rotary flag with Dr. Prasad for the flag from the Madras Gold Coast club.
Robert Rossini – Winnetka Northfield Club
Other Guests
Jose Lopez
Sue Murphy
Melissa Appelt
Club Anniversaries
Kate Collinson, 14 years
Brad Weiss, 16 years