John McCoy of the Broomhall Rotary Club Talks on Rotoplast

We were pleased to welcome both John McCoy

and Seth Rosenberg from the Broomhall Rotary Club to our meeting this morning.

John provided us with an informative overview of Rotoplast (,

whose mission is to provide long time solutions by funding and coordinating surgical missions in developing countries; training and mentoring local physicians; launching public education projects; and advancing research.

Rotaplast International, Inc. was founded in 1992 by Dr. Angelo Capozzi

and the then Rotary Club President Peter Lagarias

in collaboration with the Rotary Club of San Francisco to facilitate a surgical program in La Serena, Chile to treat children with the cleft lip and palate anomaly who would otherwise not receive surgical intervention. This initial historic mission took place in January of 1993.

As a project of the Rotary Club of San Francisco, and for the first three years of its existence, Rotaplast completed one surgical mission a year. The following two years, Rotaplast completed two missions a year. In 1996, Rotaplast became a separate non-profit corporation and has since consistently expanded its number of annual missions. In February 2015, Rotaplast sent its 200th mission and to date has served over 17,000 children. Twenty-six countries have hosted Rotaplast teams, including Vietnam, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, Romania, China, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Brazil, Bangladesh, Mali, Togo, Liberia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Tanzania, Myanmar and the Philippines. Hundreds of medical and non-medical volunteers who give their valuable time, and generous organizations such as hospitals and medical equipment companies which give supplies, account for the consistent success and expansion of Rotaplast missions.

Rotaplast would not exist without funding provided by partners. Although a San Francisco-based organization, Rotaplast works nationally and internationally by partnering with Rotary Clubs, other organizations, and individuals across the United States, Canada and mission sites. It provides a vehicle for medical professionals and non-medical volunteers to actively engage in projects that build international friendships and promote goodwill and understanding among the peoples of the world.

Highlights & Accomplishments


Rotaplast becomes a separate non-profit corporation.


Rotaplast expands missions from 2 to 4 per year and hires an Executive Director.


Rotaplast operates on its 1000th child in Cumana, Venezuela.


Rotaplast expands its core program to include genetic research.


Rotaplast establishes a Prevention and Treatment Center in Mendoza, Argentina.


Rotaplast begins working in Asia.


Rotaplast facilitates its first mission to India.


Rotaplast completes its 80th Mission and reaches over 8,000 children by year’s end.


Rotaplast expands to Africa with an inaugural mission to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Rotaplast operates on its 10,000th child in Cumana, Venezuela.


Rotaplast visits Nepal and Brazil for the first time in its history.


Rotaplast travels to Egypt for its first mission in the Middle East.


Rotaplast completes its 150th Mission, in Dessie, Ethiopia.


Rotaplast travels to Chittagong, Bangladesh for the first time.


Rotaplast operates on its 15,000th child on its first Mission to Bamako, Mali.


Rotaplast travels to Monrovia, Liberia and New Delhi, India for the first time.


Rotaplast travels to Sylhet, Bangladesh for the first time.


Rotaplast travels to Arusha, Tanzania for the first time.


Rotaplast travels to Naypyidaw, Myanmar for the first time.


Rotaplast completes its 225th Mission, in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.


Rotaplast travels to Narnaul, India for the first time.


Rotaplast travels to Luxor, Egypt for the first time.

Although many of our members had heard a presentation by Paul Quintavalla, another Broomhall Rotarian and former District 7450 Governor, John, despite not being able to share his presentation on our Zoom screen, provided some additional information we’d not heard before and also related some of his reflections on the Rotaplast 2018 mission to Monrovia, Liberia, in which he participated.

Fred Edelman was able to put an even more human face on cleft palates and cleft lips of us when he related that he was born with such an affliction and required several surgeries at Columbia University Hospital during his early childhood and subsequent elocution lessons as CCNY at the age of just 7.

Since 1999, Rotaplast International has been the District’s official committee for providers of reconstructive surgery of cleft lip and cleft palate for children. Their goal is to fund and participate in medical missions to underdeveloped countries where children cannot be helped otherwise. The District 7450 Rotaplast Committee was founded by District Governor Daniel Bronson and has conducted nearly twenty missions to third world nations every year since then.

Its outreach serves over twenty-six nations in Asia, Africa, South and Central America and Eastern Europe. The medical missions are requested by Rotary clubs in nations where free medical help is not available from the government or private organizations. Rotarians are the primary funding organization of Rotaplast. The Rotaplast family is comprised of over 400 Rotarian volunteers, 20 board members and 6 paid staff. It is recognized by Charity Navigator as a 4-star Charity; it’s highest rating.

Rotary volunteers are encouraged to participate in a mission. The medical teams include up to 19 medical volunteers and 10 Rotarians. No prior experience is required. Rotaplast provides training for volunteers to become mission directors, quartermasters, medical records keepers, sterilizers, photojournalists, interpreters, and other roles needed to assist in all aspects of a mission.

During John’s Liberia mission there were between 20-24 participants; 10-15 medical professionals and 6-8 Rotarian volunteers.  He emphasized that while not medically trained, the Rotarians are fully integrated in the effort and often have an opportunity to be in operating theater during surgery and able to witness even the most delicate procedures.

These are not “vacation” trips.  Among the regular and time-consuming jobs Rotarian volunteers undertake are ferrying patients to and from the operating rooms, cleansing and sterilizing the equipment and other important jobs to help the doctors and nurses.

Normally, the first day or two of a mission is taken up with interviewing and scheduling appointments.  Local Rotary Clubs and other organizations will have “advertised” the dates Rotoplast missions and set up initial screening appointments..  While cleft palates and lips are the primary operations performed, in Liberia a number of patients with out-of-control keloids and even a girl’s hand on which her fingers were fused together we addressed.

Once surgery begins, they try to operate from around 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.  However, in some countries, such as Liberia, where the power is only on for a limited number of hours each day, schedules need to be modified accordingly. 

At the St. Joseph’s Hospital where his mission was operating, the power didn’t start up until 8:00 and went off at 6:00 PA.  During one surgery which was taking much longer than anticipated, it wasn’t until 7:00 PM before it was finished, requiring negotiating with the man in charge of the power switch to keep the lights and other electricity on.

John was frank to admit that the conditions at that hospital were poor, at best and the people on the mission had to bring nearly all of the equipment that they would require.

Patients and their parents (most of the patients are children) often have to travel great distances.  And while the medical procedures and services are free the patients and parents need to pay their own transportation.  The Mayor, upon learning that while the city had advertised the surgeries would be without costs, was influential in a local fund-raising to offset some of these transportation costs.

Apparently, the hotel John and his fellow Rotarians were staying at, while 5-star in Liberia (it had hot water, although unpredictable, spotty internet, toilet paper and even air conditioning, was a challenging place to live.  Of its 7 stories only the bottom four were finished … those above had no roof or windows.

As it was Monsoon season, it rains daily, although not all day.  However, the environment was a breeding ground for mold which was pervasive everywhere.

Some 65% of the country’s population still live in local villages.

While English is the official language of the country, the dialect spoken is nearly unintelligible to Americans and local translators are often essential.

Monrovia apparently has 9 traffic lights … but only 7 were actually working when John was there. 

As soon as we get our Zoom Share Screen capability straightened out, John will be invited back to share his presentation and photos with us.

Bob thanked John and Seth for their time and most information presentation.

Kaitlin Jeuch – Our Maple Point Middle School 2021 February Student-of-the-Month

Lou Hatfield, Student-of-the-Month Chair presented Kaitlin Jeuch with the Club's Maple Point Middle School Student-of-the-Month Certificate of Recognition and a $100 scholarship award for February 2021.

Kaitlin Jeuch

Kaitlin thanked the Club; "I am honored to have received this Student of the Month Award from the Shady Brook Rotary Club. I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. I like math and science. I find them interesting and I like how there is a right answer while also being open ended sometimes. My hobbies include art and looking into psychology; they both really interest me. I do art both traditionally and digitally. It gives me a nice escape into my own reality. I can control where everything is, even how deep the shadows can be. It’s amazing! I’m interested in psychology because I like the concept of the human brain and therapy. I like how diagnosing mental illnesses works and how it is so much more complex than people think. I like taking time to look into symptoms and behaviors and being able to pinpoint an abstract topic into a category and how that process helps people. I don’t have an exact college plan, but I do know I want to be a therapist or guidance counselor."

Kaitin with parents Joanne and Dan Jeuch

Kaelynn Snyder – Our January Maple Point Middle School Student-of-the-Month

The Club was delighted to honor Kaelynn Snyder with its January 2021 Maple Point Middle School Student-of-the-Month Award.

Presenting a Certificate of Recognition and a check is Lou Hatfield

Kaelynn thanked the Club for the certificate and $100 scholarship check.  “During my 4 years at Maple Point Middle School, I have dabbled in a few extracurricular activities such as art, debate club, and S.T.E.M.  The ways I have been involved in art is through art club and a few pieces of my art through my art classes have made it to district art shows.  Also, another form of art that I have participated in is through music.  In music, I played bass for 3 years, and flute for nearly 5 years.

While debate club was still an option in 5-6 grade for Maple Point Middle School where I was a member.  In addition, I was also involved with S.T.E.M.  S.T.E.M is the curriculum that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In efforts, just last year, I was recognized by AAUW Makefield Area Branch.  AAUW is an association where women and men advocate for equality for women and girls, and girls who excel in math and science are recognized annually for their amazing efforts in their academics. 

My aspirations for life consist of pursuing my dream of taking on the occupation of a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) Physician, going on a cross-country road trip to explore our Nation’s treasures, and living life to the fullest at all times. 

To wrap it all up, if I could give any advice to a student who is in a rough patch with their academics, remember to breathe and take a second look, the most obvious solutions are usually the ones that fly right over your head.

Kaelynn with her proud mom, Laurenand grandparents, Walt and Ruth Blichasz


William Dick School’s Principal Amy Williams Joined Us Today

For twelve years our Rotary Club has been a supporter of Philadelphia’s inner-city William Dick School.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic while we have been able to provide needed supplies, our members have been unable to have any on-site direct interface with the school, its faculty or students.  Therefore, we were delighted to have the school’s principal, Amy Williams join our meeting this morning to provide an update on the school. 

By way of background, Amy has spent 32 years working in the School District of Philadelphia, specifically in the North Philadelphia community where William Dick School is located.  Her undergraduate work was completed at Lebanon Valley College.  After leaving LVC Amy attended St. Joseph's University where she earned her masters of education and certifications including:  reading specialist, K-12 principal and later her Superintendent's Letter of Eligibility. 

Amy's teaching experience includes 11 years at the elementary school level as well as a couple of summers teaching adjudicated teenage boys.  She became principal of William Dick School in July of 1999 and has remained there for her principalship.  Amy is also an adjunct professor at Rosemont College where she teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Courses taught include:  Effective Teaching Strategies, Literacy and Society, Classroom Management, and Literacy in the Content Areas.

Over the years, Amy has taken inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s quote, "It always seems impossible until it's done."

The William Dick School’s student enrollment this year is 430 students and is situated in an area where 96% of the families are eligible for food stamps.  As with the rest of the Philadelphia schools, all classes are being held virtually.  Any while each student has been given a laptop and provided with Internet access, challenges abound.  For some it is background noises in the home during class time, others forget to keep their laptops charged, others, particularly the younger children, often have trouble logging on and their parents are unable or unavailable to assist them. These tend to be issues which are far less prevalent in the wealthier suburbs, to the detriment of the students of poorer, inner-city schools..

White the Philadelphia school district does provide technical assistance the locations are not in near proximity to the community from which the students come. 

While Amy’s staff is permitted to teach their classes from home or in school, most have opted to broadcast their classes from the school.

Another challenge has been the inability to distribute free breakfasts and lunches which was a daily ritual when the school was open for in-person learning.  However, the ShopRite gift certificates we have provided have been of invaluable assistance in providing food to some of the most needy families.

The attendance statistics have, not surprisingly, slipped from around 92% when students were attending in-school to around 87% to 88% since having to go virtual.  It also tends to be the highest for the 7th and 8th graders as they are better prepared and able to address some of the connectivity issues described above.

On January19th, there is a principals’ meeting with the superintendent at which time they will be receiving an update on when and how in-person learning will be resumed.  Amy anticipates that the youngest student will be returning to the classrooms first and that the school may not fully reopen to all students until the fall.

While there is a real concern that all students whose schooling has been affected by the 2020-2021 school year virtual classes, the so-called “slow learners” and those afflicted by autism and other diseases may be the most vulnerable.

Amy also expressed her opinion that based on how schools have operated since last March, education, we most of us have know int is likely to change forever.

The school has initiated a number of outreach programs, including having two teachers, one dressed in a school mascot panther costume, visit the homes of students with a 95% attendance ratee.

Periodically, school supplies for the students is provided in the lobby of the school for pick-up.

Mention was made of the many dollars and in-kind donations the Club has provided … and recognition to the Tollgate Elementary School in Pennington and former Grey Nun Academy in Yardley for their incredibly generous donation so the Club which were, in turn, provided to the Williams Dick School  

During her presentation, Amy referred to a PowerPoint presentation sharing some of the support the Club has provided over the years, which we were, regrettably, unable to have her share, but which can be viewed at:

Amy’s bottom line is that the Rotary Club of Shady Brook has become part of the William Dick School’s culture … and when the school district can not provide some necessities, the question is sometimes arises, “Can the Rotary help?”