Marana Rotary Club
Meeting minutes July 27, 2021
Yours truly is grateful to Mary for clarifying errors regarding the Cameroon Project in last week’s minutes. 
Happy Bucks
  • Harold was visibly happy to have his new flight simulator and was anticipating a smooth take-off with practice this week
  • John was happy to be living in this part of the world as his charter fishing trip in Mexico was cancelled due to a complete shut down of activities (COVID) at his destination.
  • Denise was enjoying out of town guests and the rainy weather.
  • Don was happy watching videos of the flowing Rillito River and ready to head to Rhode Island for a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Randy had to remind us of a bad joke referring to 20 of those years being happy ones.
  • Laura loving the rain, 2 and ½” over the past three days, and gardening and fence building.
  • Peter, now audible with new headset and working microphone, prepares for trip to Virginia.   His last travels for a while as he will be dog sitting for a spell.  On a sad note, Peter lost a close companion Saturday, one of his many dogs of similar age.  Tough loss, Peter.
  • Mary noted just how important dogs have become during the pandemic.  Although, disturbingly, hers has taken to jumping the fence to go visit Laura’s place.  Randy noted that the food must be better there.
  • Bob is happy that grandkids are arriving today.
  • Beckie is happy for the rain, a common happy theme today.  And happy for June coming home.
  • Sulee is happy that Jim now has an oxygen generator.
  • Richie is happy about life in general.  He is disappointed that a scouting event in Ireland next year was cancelled out of concern for the virus.
  • Dave Hinmann is happy that the school session opens Monday and that the kids got all of the courses and electives they wanted.
  • Randy heads (slowly) towards Virginia tomorrow where he will meet up with Bob.  First stop, White Fish, Montana with perhaps some fishing on a private stream running through a friend’s property.  No fishing license required (he thinks).
Mary introduced the speaker, our very own Richie Benner, to talk about the Watermark kids’ program.
Richie described his journey from scouting to becoming involved with Watermark Retirement Communities, a nation-wide assisted living program.  The scouting financial crisis led to Richie’s departure from scouting (at least in a salaried role) in June of last year; however, he landed quickly with Waymark one month later where he oversees move-ins, transfers, and about everything else where he can lend support.  No surprises here!  He has facilitated 28 move-ins/move-outs over the past 26 weeks.
Richie’s talk focused on Watermark for Kids, a non-profit foundation aimed at providing opportunities for kids to thrive and to be empowered.   The Foundation operates similarly to Rotary in its overall objectives, reaching out to make positive impacts in our communities.  It differs mostly in its ability to be a bit more agile in decision-making; not surprising given its very streamlined structure.  Watermark (a private company) provides one foundation administrator in Tucson whose salary and overhead are covered by Watermark.   Donations go 100% towards funding kids’ programs.  The only criteria, other than need, is that kids be between the ages of 6 to 22 years old under the premise that all kids deserve support. The role of the Foundation is to provide mentors with the objective of creating future leaders for our communities.
Richie went on to describe six great examples of specific cases which illustrated the diverse array of backgrounds and projects being pursued by the kids.  The examples included kids who were physically or financially challenged with dreams of becoming a softball star, a sled-hockey player, a culinary chef, and a supreme court justice.   The examples represent only six of over 300 similar stories. 
Questions asked included “how are candidates selected, how big is the foundation, and what, exactly, do you do, Richie?”  The year 2020 was only the second year after the establishment of the Foundation so the platform is still being built.  Richie would like to see more kids being presented for consideration and a more effective spreading-of-the-word to find candidates beyond the Watermark group.  Candidates are selected and matched with coaches who can be mentors and monitor the funding.  Residents can be mentors. 
Safe to say that many members learned a different dimension of Richie’s character.  Further illustrates why Richie is so involved in Rotary.
Andy Swarthout