Major life accomplishments, a passionate guest speaker and an engagement all came together at this week's Rotary club meeting to make it one of the best attended and fun meetings of the year. Sergeant At Arms Fred Schwabe kicked things off with Happy Dollars, and boy were they happy!! John Gardner tossed in a buck to celebrate his son Scott's passing the fourth and final CPA test thus making him an official CPA! Congrats, Scott on behalf of the entire club! JJ Massaro announced that his middle son just graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in Advertising. Way to go! Maria Lewis was not to be outdone and announced that she passed her CFRE exam and is now a Certified Fundraiser. We are so proud of you, Maria, and all of that hard work finally paid off! And speaking of hard work, Chris Myers announced his engagement to Melissa Salvo, and we know how hard he had to work for that! Congrats Chris and Melissa!!
 
Visiting Rotarian Jim Daniel from the Palmetto Club got to witness it all as did Monica Savage who works for John Gardner as a paralegal. The club also welcomed six guests from hands of Hope- Ethel Ward, Sheryl and Leon Bellamy, Cecelia (CICI) Mitchell and William Gaylord.
 
The club will hold its first quarter of the Rotary year service project on Saturday, August 20th from 8:00AM - noon at the Rotary Event Center to do some expansive landscaping. President Chuck announced the Charity Fund meeting will be held on August 29th at 5:30 at Roger Rivard’s office to determine the charities that the club intends to support this year.
 
Flyers for the 2016-2017 Rotary Club Fundraisers and Sponsorships were passed out. They included two new sponsorships: Community Legacy Sponsorship and Rotary Impact Sponsorship which will allow sponsors to bundle sponsorships for all four events. Our first event will be the Clay Shoot which will be held on September 24th at the Fish Hawk Sporting Clays. The club is looking for goodie bag items and help selling raffle tickets. Tickets for the event were passed out to all Rotarians in attendance.
 
Guest Speaker Cici Mitchell from Hands of Hope- a non-profit  organization whose mission is to raise sickle cell awareness, educate the community about possible treatment and pain management while building a healthier quality of life through advocacy, education, fundraising, and supporting the Tampa Bay sickle cell community.  Cici is very passionate about educating and spreading awareness of this inherited disease as she has two family members ( a sister and a grandson) who have the disease.  She explained that this inherited disease affects all ethnic types and the effects of this disease can include extreme pain, strokes, pneumonia, blindness and hearing loss. Hands of Hope holds two fundraisers  per year– a walk that will be held in September and a fashion show which features models who have the disease. The funds raised are used to purchase $25.00 gift cards which are given to patients to help ease the financial burden that comes with lengthy hospital treatments for this disease.
CiCi’s sister Cheryl Bellamy spoke about how difficult and painful living with this disease can be and is proud to be involved and have the support from Hands of Hope. It was truly an inspirational and passionate presentation!
 
This week we celebrate Ron Marshall's birthday on August 20th. Happy Birthday, Ron!