Providing Dinner and Entertaining the Guests at Hope Lodge

Ten Club members were hoored to be able to provide an Italian-themed dinner, complete with salad, rolls and more than a dozen dessert choices to patients and their caregivvers at Hope Lodge this evening.


While this wonderful American Cancer Society/Astra Zeneca facility provides free rooms for individuals requiring week-long cancer treatments in the Philadlephia area but who live more than 50 miles away and their spouse or primary caregiver, meals are not included.  To fill that void, organizations from across the greater Philadlephia area, including our Rotary Club, volunteer to provide dinners, often several times each year.

Our Rotary Club members, several of whom are themselves cancer survivors, again sat and talked with the residents who came from as far as Memphis, Tennessee for their cancer treatments at local Philadlephia hospitals.

As it was Halloween, one Club couple took advantage of the date

Fran Zeigler and husband Fred Edelman

After dinner, we hosted another Trivia Night with the first person correctly answering each question receiving a gold dollar coin.  Hosting the event were regulars Ed Carne (with his love of the theater and sports trivia)

and Dick Newbert (with his questions on centered on U.S. history and presidents).

(l to r)  Ed Carne, Assistatn District Governor Chris Potter, Fran Zeigler, Dick Newbert and Fred Edelman

Participating were Fred Edelman & Fran Zeigler, Ed Carne, Jerry Redington, Irv Perlstein, the Club's Hope Lodge chairperson Alan Agree,

Syd & Shelley Baron

and Dick & Debbie Newbert.

Debbie Newbert

At the end of the evening, the patients and caregivers gave the Club members a warm round of applause and thanked our members for their time, conversations, the meal and trivia fun.

Our next visit to Hope Lodge will be on June 4th, 2020.



Kristin Smedley – Author of “Thriving Blind”

This morning the Club was privleged to have Kristin Smedley, one of the most inspirational speakers to ever join us.

A prolific and obsessive planner, as she self-described herself, Kristin's fun-loving spirit and energetic personality had guided her life in the direction of a becoming a dedicated and an stimulating third grade teacher, and after earning her degree.  In time she added a husband, SUV, McMansion home and finally th etitle of "mom".  Kristin was living her dreams.  Both athletes, she and her husband thought ahead about Michael's sports opportunities.

But life doesn't always work out as planned

When her first son, Michael was four months old he was diagnosed as legally blind, the result of a genetic mutation shared by only 300 children in tth United States. 

Once known for her smile, Kristin found herself devastated and angry.  Yet fate wasn’t finished.  Three years later, Kristin received another blow when her second son, Mitchell, was also diagnosed as legally blind at four months of age.

Before the birth of her babies, Kristin had never known a blind person.  Her son's retina specialist informed her family that both children would need white canes to navigate the world, and that neither of them would likely ever attend a normal school, pitch a baseball, drive a car, or be able to secure a great job.  With her drams for her two boys seemingly crushed and no idea how to navigate their needs, Kristin saw little hope for their future.

Nearly suffocating from her own fears, Kristin knew she needed to overcome the anxiety, worry, and obstacles for the sake of her sons, but she had no idea how to  proceed.  Yet, knowing that Michael and Mitchell needed their mother to fight for them, Kristin began advocating for the tools her blind children needed.

As Kristin found and equipped her boys with the resources to help them thrive, they not only took on the world, but changed Kristin’s perception of blindness.  With the right foundation and a multitude of resources and tools, her children have become popular, accomplished athletes, high-achieving students, talented musicians, and International Braille competition finalists, as well as typical big brothers to their sighted sister, Karissa, both teasing and supporting her as big brothers do!

With her sons in Council Rock schools, she refused to let the District set mediocre goals for them, ultimately forcing the District to provide equal opportunities and expectations for both Michael and Mitchell. 

Both played on championship baseball teams and were named to their respective All-Star teams.  Michael became Valedictorian of his graduating class and has since gone on to Penn State where he is a junior with a double major.  Mitchell is a Junior at Council Rock while Karissa is a Freshman.

In 2011, Kristin launched a mission to fund research and resources for children living with the rare eye disease her sons have. In less than eight years, the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation has raised over a million dollars and achieved the first legislation in US history to be submitted in Braille—legislation that advocates for better resources for blind and visually impaired Americans.

In 2016, Kristin’s blog about changing people’s perceptions of blindness went worldwide and was followed by her 2017 TEDx Talk (“How I Learned to See Through the Eyes of My Sons”) on setting extraordinary expectations.  She partnered with Comcast media to spread awareness of the inclusive X1 product. Kristin was one of twelve people in the world invited to testify before the US Food and Drug Administration to advocate for the approval of the first-ever gene therapy to reverse blindness.  Kristin is currently the Pennsylvania Ambassador for the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD).

Kristin, Michael, Mitchell, and Karissa now mentor families living with blindness, and Kristin’s public speaking engagements, book, and social media outreach teach others to move past their fears and obstacles to achieve extraordinary outcomes.  You, too, can set extraordinary expectations and achieve your dreams.

In her groundbreaking book, "Thriving Blind"

readers will see blindness in a whole new light.  In fact, the compelling and entertaining stories will not only change perceptions of blindness, they’ll make readers forget the people featured are actually blind … or other seemingly impossible challenges which can interrupt and drastically change peoples lives and plans.  It is available on Amazon and worth the read for anyone who has faced adversity.

(l to r)  Michael, Karissa, Kristin and Mitchell

Kristin shared that there are several genetic advances being made, some of which hold the hope for reversing the genetic mutations which caused her sons' blindness.  And, while such medical miracles are highly unlikely to ever help Michael or Mitchell, she hopes that research and genome editing technologies such a CRISPR-Cas9 (short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR-associated protein 9) will give scientists a means of ultimately saving other parents the heartache she experienced when she discovered her sons were blind. 

Further, she hopes her book and TED Talk will provide people facing life-changing crisis some tools to cope, regroup and reorient their lives to make such apparent setbacks as challenges to be overcome rather than an excuse for despair.

Kristin is truly a remarkable woman!

Kristin with Club President Jeff Revak



Laura Jones – Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County

Jeff then introduced our speaker, Laura Jones,

Director of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County.  A lifelong Big Sister, Laura gave us an overview of the organization’s Mission (to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth) and Vision (that all youth achieve their potential).  Their program is based on 1:1 relationships between an adult and a child where new experiences help the Little Brother or Sister become more self-confident, improve school performance and enjoy time with a new and caring friend.

She went on to describe that adult volunteer mentor typically spends time with their mentee 2-4 times a month, on weekend or after school to do things they both enjoy. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters offers several programs:

The Community Based mentoring program is what most consider to be the traditional mentoring program. Bigs and Littles meet twice a month to enjoy one-to-one outings and activities like:

  • Attending a sporting event
  • Going to get ice cream
  • Going fishing or hiking in a local park
  • Working on a school project
  • Just hanging out and talking

Some matches meet on the weekend while others meet during the week.  It all depends on what works best for everyone.  Children are initially matched at ages 6-16 for at least 15 months, though we often have matches that stay together for much longer.

Included in this program is the Hispanic Initiative. Children who are of a Hispanic background are matched with adults who may be bi-lingual or bi-cultural – or may just be open to exploring their Little’s culture with them. Our Bigs help their Littles learn to balance being a part of the community while embracing their cultural heritage.

STEM School Mentoring – Sometimes the best place to help a child realize his/her potential is at school. Kids enjoy having their Bigs meet with them weekly, so they can get help with school work, do a STEM activity, or just spend some time talking about life.

It’s teacher-approved!  Some of the biggest supporters of our STEM School Based Mentoring program are teachers. They see their students come back from time with their Big filled with confidence, big smiles, ready to learn and eager to succeed.

BBBSBC provides each school in our program with a bin filled with age appropriate STEM focused games and activities.  Our goal is to build their interest and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics while they also build friendships.

They learn about life. Although it takes place at school, this mentoring program isn’t limited to the classroom. Of course, some Littles do talk with their Bigs about class, or do homework, or read together, but it’s perfectly fine to shoot hoops in the gym or play on the playground if it’s allowed at the school. Bigs offer Littles a judgement-free zone in which they can share both their feelings and their goals for the future.

Kids in grades K-8 can be referred and matched in our program. Bigs may come from one of their Corporate partners or may be retirees or volunteers who have flexible schedules.

Young adults can also get involved as mentors. High school students can mentor elementary students within their school district in the High School Bigs program.  The high school students receive leadership, education and training, and experience the value of community service. The younger students benefit from having role models who encourage and inspire them.

Developed by BBBSBC and launched during the 2015-2016 school year, the Bigs and Littles Autism Support Team (BLAST) is an extension of the High School Bigs program. Each match has two specially trained high school students matched with one elementary aged Little who has been diagnosed with having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Goals of this program include improving both the Littles’ social communication and interaction skills and their flexibility regarding interests and transitions.

Options Program – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County partners with Bucks County Juvenile Court, Youth Aid Panels and Children and Youth to provide more intensive professional guidance and support for higher risk youth.  The kids in the Options program are called “clients” and range from ages 7 – 17.

Building on our Community Based Mentoring program model, each youth meets with an assigned professional Case Manager who provides personalized one-to-one support. Meetings are goal oriented and may take place weekly or bi-weekly. Activities may include:

  • Individual or group life skills building
  • Learning from inspirational speakers
  • Going fishing, hiking or taking pictures in a local park
  • Working on school projects
  • Employment and career exploration
  • Individual and group mentoring activities through sports, arts and nature
  • Sharing a meal while discussing things that are going on with the client

If a client has community service or other probation requirements to complete, the case manager will aid him/her to ensure everything has been completed in timely manner. Each individual client has a program developed and tailored to meet his / her specific needs as well as their families, with the Case Manager serving as a guide, mentor and advocate.

The Options program is also evaluated under the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) through the Pennsylvania State University EpisCenter. SPEP is a scoring system used to estimate the impact of juvenile justice programs on reducing recidivism. Case Managers utilize motivational interviewing and behavioral contracting to guide youth to improve attitudes, behaviors and peer relationships.

Laura described the positive impacts the Big Brothers Big Sisters programs have had on the children that have been mentored.

Their program are about doing fun stuff together, but it’s also about achieving goals and helping children succeed in life.

Each time Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs a child with a role model, we start something incredible: a one-to-one relationship built on trust and friendship that can blossom into a future of unlimited potential. Thanks to the following studies conducted by independent research groups, we have the facts to prove it!

In a study funded by the Lilly Endowment, the Commonwealth Fund, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and an anonymous donor, researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in our program, were:

According to the study, Big Brothers Big Sisters programs were found to “focus less on specific problems after they occur, and more on meeting youths’ most basic developmental needs” – our one-to-one matches are the driving force behind making an impact on children.

A Big Brothers Big Sisters’ match is carefully administered and held to the strictest standards. Agency staff strives for matches that are not only safe and well suited to each child’s needs, but also harmonious and built to last. The entire matching process, from the initial screening to the final pairing—and beyond—is made possible by corporate sponsors and individual donors.

Don’t just think of us as simply matchmakers. We provide ongoing support and supervision to the Big, the Little, and the Little’s family. We offer training and advice to help ensure that the match is working for everyone involved. It is this web of support that helps maximize the likelihood that a Big Brothers Big Sisters relationship will thrive.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County measures the impact of services for at-risk youth through a survey known as the Youth Outcomes Survey. This survey shows us that our mentoring programs result in proven, positive short-term and long-term outcomes for youth in three main areas: educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, and increased social and emotional well-being.

  • Educationally, youth in our mentoring programs have higher grades, better scholastic competence, and a greater desire to graduate from high school and attend a four-year college.
  • Socially, youth in our programs feel more accepted by their peers and more connected to their family. They are also more likely to say no to drugs, alcohol, skipping school, or getting into fights.
  • Emotionally, youth in our mentoring programs have greater feelings of self-worth, and therefore more hope and higher aspirations for the future.

She then presented some extremely interesting statistics for 2018.

  • Community Mentoring Program:  232 Bucks County youth were served (140 females and 92 males) – Average time for Matches:  38 months
  • STEM School Mentoring:  69 students served – Average time for Matches:  44 months
  • High School Bigs Program:  140 students served – Average time for Matches:  12 months
  • BLAST Mentoring:  10 students serves (2 females and 8 males) – Average time for Matches:  23 months

Success Metrics of the youth served:

  • 92% improved their self confidence
  • 82% improved their relationship with their families and peers
  • 88% less likely to use illegal drugs
  • 86% improved their outlook on the future

For people interested in becoming a “Big” mentor; he first step to getting involved is to attend “Intro to Mentoring”. The Intro to Mentoring serves as both an orientation to our program and a training session. It is after this session that you will leave informed to make a decision for yourself if this opportunity sounds like a good fit for you.

The Intro to Mentoring session focuses as an overview of the program and the different opportunities available to get involved in our agency. It prepares you for what a mentor is, what a mentor does, and how to build a good mentoring relationship. It will help you become aware of personal expectations while exploring the roles and responsibilities of a mentor, the match life-cycle and steps to successful volunteering.

Volunteers must attend this mandatory training before beginning the process. An application will be given out at the end of this orientation. We ask that you take what you have learned in the session and decide if this is the right time for you to begin a life changing journey! Return the application at your convenience when you are ready to begin. Once we receive the application, you will be contacted to begin the enrollment process!

The Rotary Club of Shady Brook Recognizes its Students-of-the-Month for September and October

At its dinner meeting at the Bella Tori restaurant in Langhorne, the Rotary Club of Shady Brook recognized two outstanding Maple Point Middle School eight graders as its Students-of-the-Month.  Both of these young ladies were nominated by their teachers for their academic achievements and many extra-curricular activities both in and out of school

Olivia Hughes was the Club’s September Student-of-the-Month.

In thanking the Club for her award, she related how she had worked hard make the honor roll every marking period.  She plays both basketball and softball for the school and softball for the Newtown Rock Athletic Association.  Olivia has participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service for three years, helped out in her church with younger children and making Christmas boxes for members of her church who are less fortunate than she and her family.  She hopes to attend Penn State University where she plans to major in elementary education and play softball.  Eventually Olivia would like to teach 2nd or 3rd grade children.

Her mom, Rachel, then spoke briefly about the pride she had in Olivia, her dedication, accomplishments and incredibly infectious smile.

Miriam Cakir was then recognized at the Club’s October Student-of-the-Month.

Miriam has also been a honor roll student for every marking period since entering the 5th grade.  She has joined several school clubs, including No Place of Hate, in which she has been active for three years and participated in the Walk Against Hate as a 5th grader.   Miriam was chosen to represent Maple Point Middle School at the annual Delaware Valley Conference for excellence and equity as a 6th grader.  Outside of school Miriam is a cadette with the Girl Scouts where she enjoys helping younger girls become active in their community.  During summers she has volunteered at the Attleboro Nursing Home, OLG Vacation Bible School and Bucks County Community Library.  After graduation, she hopes to attend a university in Europe and pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

Her mom, Martina, spoke briefly about the pride she had in Miriam … talking in both English and her native Yugoslavian language.

Both Olivia and Miriam were presented with Certificates recognizing their selection a Rotary Club of Shady Brook Students-of the-Month and a $100 scholarship check.

(l to r)  Olivia with sisters Grace and Ella and her mom and dad Rachel and Scott

(l to r)  Club Secretary Lou Hatfield, Miriam and her mom Martina and Student Chari Augie Adrid

The Club Again Supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night” Walk

Several members of the Club and their spouses/significnant others joined hundreds of other Bucks County residents who met at Central Park in Doylestown tonght to participate in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk.

to raise monies to help the Society in its fight to cures for blood cancers … which have personally directly affected the families and friends of a many of the Club's members.

Through its various fundraising efforts, the Club was able to present teh Leukemia & Lymhoma with a check fot $10,330.

(l to r)  Club members Ira Sherman, Art Issadore, Irv Perlstein, Alan Agree and Jerry Redington

(l to r)  Art and Debbie Issadore and Robin and Ira Sherman

Our Club continues to actively supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and its mission  to, "Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families and serve as the voice for all blood cancer patients and we work to ensure access to treatments for all blood cancer patients."

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - (logo)

The LLS has special meaning to many of our members as several of their children or grandchildren have been diagnosed with blood cancers.  Should you have an interest in donating to this extremely worthwhile initiative, please click on

At a recent regional dinner by the LLS, the Rotary Club of Shady Brook was recognized for having more than doubled its contributions and was signled out for is "Most Creative Marketing" programs.


Dawn Wright and Mary LaMere Slack – Day-to-Day Financial Management

The Co-Founders of

Dawn Wright

and Mary LaMere Slack

joined Club members for breakfast this morning and provided a very informative overview of their company which specializes in bringing financial order to their client's lives.  They pride themselves on being trusted, insured professionals dedicated to understanding each client's individual needs and to help then understand what services Daily Money Managers can provide. 

Their formal presentation began with an all too telling slide

to which many people can relate when it comes to the financial and other records.

Dawn and Mary are dedicated to making people’s lives easier.   Meeting privately with prospective clients, the explore their goals and outline the services Day-to-Day can provide which will be tailored to assist them in keeping your financial life in order.

Among the many services which can be tailored to meet clients with differing age and demographic profiles and needs are the following.


Mail Management: The can sort, open and review a client’s mail, throwing away the junk and shredding sensitive information.  The can also file those items that need to be kept.

Bill Payment: Bills can be paid online or with handwritten checks which are signed by clients of their designated legal representative. W hen appropriate, Day-to-Day can arrange for automatic payments of bills.   And, in conjunction with a client’s CPA the can make sure all tax payments are made on time.

Reconciliation of Checking and Credit Card Accounts: Mary and Dawn will see that all accounts will be balanced monthly.

Fraud Review: Day-to-Day can accounts for unusual activity and review monthly statements.

Personal Banking: They can make timely deposits at a client’s financial institution.  Working with a client’s financial planner they can make sure that any required distributions are taken from your retirement account and that those distributions are placed in the designated accounts. 

Budgeting: Day-to-Day can analyze and track income and expenses so that sound and accurate financial decisions can be made. 


Financial Calendar: Day-to-Day will create a financial calendar making sure that all bills and financial deadlines are set out for a client to follow.

File Management: They will clean out and organize a client’s files and set up a filing system that works for them, shredding a discarding any unnecessary documents.

Organizing Your Tax Documents:   Tax documents can be organized throughout the year. They will help complete the tax organizer provided by a client’s CPA and work with them to make sure that tax returns and taxes are prepared properly and on time. 


Medical Claims Submission: Day-to-Day can help make sure medical claims are submitted on a timely basis. They also review benefit explanations and work with a client’s insurance company or Medicare if there are any complications.

Documentation for Personal Property Insurance: Dawn and Mary can arrange to have all personal property photographed and appraised for insurance purposes.

Medicare Planning: They will work with insurance agents or consultants to make sure that clients have the Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage plan that is right for them. 


Special Projects:  Day-to-Day can collect and organize financial data for meetings with other financial professionals and assist with organizing the paperwork necessary for applying for Medicaid or if necessary, for moving to a retirement community.

Develop A Financial Organizer For Emergencies: Dawn and Mary can gather all of a client’s important financial papers and create a list so that their client or their client’s family can readily access important documents in the event of an emergency.

Notary Services: They can assist in getting important documents notarized.

Referrals: Day-to-Day can refer and liaison with legal, investment, insurance and tax professionals or even help find professionals for a variety of other services. 

At the end of the meeting Club president invited both Dawn and Mary to consider the advantages of joining Rotary where they personal and professional lifetimes of providing services for others can be enhnaced …