Category Archives: 1. President’s Messages

Staying Connected

submitted by Club President Andrea Kaminski

Because it is unlikely that we will be able to hold luncheons with 200 Rotarians in one room for some time to come, several of our directors, officers and committee members have been reaching out to club members to find out how people are doing and how Rotary can best serve our members and keep folks connected in the coming months. As part of this effort, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with several Rotarians about how the pandemic has affected their personal, family and professional lives, as well as how they are feeling about Rotary in this new environment.

We have not yet heard officially about any club members who have personally become ill with Covid-19. However, we have members who are working on the front lines to provide health care or elder care or to keep people safe. We have educators teaching children online and bankers  working around the clock to administer the federal government relief package to assist small businesses. We have business owners and directors of nonprofits who are struggling to maintain their workforce despite drastically reduced demand for things like restaurant meals, new cars, consumer goods and the performing arts. And of course we live in a community where many service workers and gig workers have lost their jobs.

Yet the dozen or so Rotarians I have spoken with have been generally positive despite the challenges, and they value what Rotary has to offer. Most have been viewing the online weekly meetings, and a few have participated in the fellowship groups or committees that have been meeting online.

Longtime Rotarian Karl Gutknecht said,  “Although our lunch meetings have built many friendships, I find enduring value in our Four-Way Test. When we apply our resources, abilities and energies into bettering our community and our world we will continue to make a positive difference!”

It is clear that our Rotary meetings will look different in the future because there are likely to be restrictions on large gatherings for some time. Also, we know that many of our members, for good reason, will not feel safe attending a big luncheon. The board and our executive director are looking at a number of options to address these concerns. For example, one possibility might be to have the weekly meeting at the Park Hotel with a speaker and a program, which would be live-streamed to smaller gatherings in community rooms on the east and west sides of the city. In this scenario, members who are more vulnerable to the virus would have the option to view the streamed meeting online from home.

Let us know if you have any suggestions for how to continue Rotary’s tradition of providing fellowship opportunities, excellent programs and service to the community through the pandemic and beyond. Send an email to or give me a call at 608-957-2865. I look forward to hearing from you.

New Digs for Me, New Options for Rotary

submitted by President Andrea Kaminski

You may notice as I introduce the May 6 online meeting that my background will be a little different from that of the past few weeks. It won’t be a tropical isle created by Zoom, although that sounds nice! It will be my new home in downtown Madison. Before the coronavirus outbreak, at least in Wisconsin, my husband Tom and I made an offer on a condominium at Metropolitan Place and had it accepted. When the Governor’s Safer at Home order went into effect shortly afterward, it exempted moving services so we decided to go forward with our plans.

We lived in our house across from Edgewood College for 35 years, and it is where we raised our three kids, housed their grandmother for a few years, and hosted some 30 foreign students and professional visitors. The result was an excess of twin-size sheets, plastic hangers and board games, not to mention our family photographs.

Downsizing while social distancing presented a particular challenge, in that thrift stores, Habitat ReStore, and homeless shelters were not able to accept donations. On top of that, many of the items that seemed priceless to us seemed worthless to our kids!  We have had to move things that we will donate in the future.

Then there was the moving itself. We did it in stages: 1. Close off one bedroom and a bathroom in our old house while the movers were there; 2. Oversee the placement of furniture and boxes in the condo; 3. Go back to the house and disinfect the kitchen and the main floor; 4. Live there with almost no furniture for three nights to allow for any viral contamination in the new place to die off; 5. Finally move in!

Through all of this it has been a pleasure to be able to continue to facilitate our weekly meetings, something that would have been impossible without huge assistance and support by our Executive Director, Pat Jenkins, and the volunteer technical expertise of Brian Basken and Jason Beren. In addition, our Club directors and directors-elect, who will meet online for the second time on May 4, continue to be active leaders in guiding our Club through the new challenges facing our membership and our community. And our committees and fellowship groups continue to meet online for business and fun.

LHS April 13 2020 2

Screenshot of first time ever Virtual Scotch Whisky Lew Harned Society event held on April 13.

If you haven’t yet viewed one of our weekly online meetings, I encourage you to do so. The programs have been terrific, our committee chairs have been reporting on their activities in support of our club and the community, and the live Q&A sessions with our speakers are particularly informative. Find instructions and links for the weekly meetings and other innovative, online member connections on the home page of the Rotary Club of Madison website.

For Tom and me, the challenges of moving to a downtown condo in the time of social distancing have given us a better insight about what’s important in our own lives. The same could be said for the way the Rotary Club of Madison is creating new ways for members to connect, serve and grow.  I hope every member will stay engaged, serve the community and find fellowship through our Rotary Club, while remaining safer at home.

Keep Up the Good Work

submitted by President Andrea Kaminski

Social Distance

Are your hands chapped from so much washing? Do you miss your colleagues? Wish you could hug your grandchildren? Miss seeing your friends at Rotary luncheons?

Yes? Then keep up the good work!

As community leaders, Rotarians need to practice and model assiduous social distancing to the extent that our jobs or family needs allow. In fact, without widely available protective gear, testing and, ultimately, vaccination, physical distancing is the only way to contain the coronavirus threat and minimize infection.

While we look forward to a time when we can safely ease up on the restrictions, there are lessons we can learn from this experience. And I’m not just referring to my enhanced ability to connect with people online!  For example, while I have at times been frustrated by the difficulty of shopping or ordering groceries online, I’ve learned that the brands we normally buy are less important than the actual family meals in our house that bring together our kids and granddaughter.

For life to go back to “normal” we will have to keep social distancing for the foreseeable future. We can’t let our guard down before our first responders and healthcare professionals are adequately equipped to do their essential work. Here are some resources to help get us through these challenging times:



COVID-19 Efforts

–submitted by President Andrea Kaminski

Many of our members have asked what they can do through Rotary to contribute to COVID-19 relief. We have an opportunity coming up, and that is our club’s fund drive for The Rotary International Foundation, which supports sustainable projects including fighting disease and responding to disasters. You will be receiving a letter in the next week from our Rotary Club office encouraging you to participate.

Of course, this year COVID-19 is having a global impact and is devastating many communities around the world as well as here at home. Grants for COVID-19 relief efforts come from The Rotary International Foundation’s Disaster Response Fund and are helping people in need of food, supplies, shelter and much more.  Our Rotary district has requested support from The Rotary International Foundation for COVID-19 efforts here, and we expect to receive funding for local projects for people in need in the coming months.

In addition, The Rotary International Foundation is now applying the vast infrastructure developed to fight polio to protecting vulnerable people from COVID-19, especially in polio-endemic countries. From Pakistan to Nigeria, the program is drawing on years of experience fighting outbreaks to support governments as they respond to the new virus. Read more about this effort:  

Maybe the best part is that contributing to The Rotary International Foundation stretches your philanthropic dollar. If members of our club contribute a combined total of $50,000 by June 30, 2020, our club will be eligible for $75,000 in district and international matching dollars for future international projects such as our club’s Change HERstory project in Ghana.

I hope you will make a contribution, according to your ability, to The Rotary International Foundation. Your philanthropy will support COVID relief or other worthy projects locally and internationally.

By the way, to be sure our club is credited for your contribution, please make your check payable to The Rotary International Foundation and mail it to our Rotary Club of Madison office, 2 S. Carroll Street, Suite 255, Madison, WI 53703


Applying The 4-Way Test to Serve Our Club and Members

submitted by Club President Andrea Kaminski

4 Way Test LogoLast week, I wrote about how the Rotary Four-Way Test is a wise guide that can help us limit the spread of COVID-19 while we safeguard ourselves, our loved ones and community. Here are some ways our Rotary Club of Madison members are applying this principle to serve our own Club and its members:

Because our weekly luncheons have been canceled, the members of our Rotary News Committee do not have speaker programs to write up, so some of them are using their journalistic skills to produce a new weekly feature called “Connecting With Members.” The first installment was in last Friday’s newsletter (page 2) and it featured an interview by Rich Leffler in which Paul Hoffmann described how his family had to leave Europe ahead of schedule to escape the coronavirus. Be sure to open your Rotary Newsletter every Friday to keep up with our Club and individual members.

Members of our Club’s Caring Committee are keeping track of RCM members who may need assistance in getting groceries or other daily supplies while they are staying safe at home. Committee members are arranging for Rotarians to meet these needs.  Contact the Rotary office at 608-255-9164 or if you need assistance.

These are just a few ways Rotarians are helping to keep members of our Club and our community connected despite social distancing. We also have Club members who are on the front lines as health care workers, public safety officers, grocers and election officials, just to name a few.

Let us know about your experiences so if you can fit in an interview, we can share it in our Rotary News or in a post on our Rotary Blog.

The Four-Way Test Is Our Guide In This Challenging Time

submitted by Rotary Club of Madison President Andrea Kaminski

In this uncertain time, Rotarians have a time-tested guide to help us limit the spread of COVID-19 while we safeguard ourselves and our loved ones and strengthen our community.

The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do: 

#1.  Is it the TRUTH?

It seems we are bombarded all day, every day with COVID-19 information from many outlets. To prevent anxiety or panic, we need to be critical thinkers and act on reliable information from trustworthy sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

#2.  Is it FAIR to all concerned?

While it’s always true that what is good for all of us is good for each of us individually, this is even more true in a pandemic. Whether or not you are in a high-risk population group, you probably know, love and care about someone who is. Before this is over, we might all know someone who has been affected, and maybe has succumbed to the disease. We all need to abide by the orders from local, state and federal government officials to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, keep a safe distance from others, and wash our hands frequently and well.


While we need to exercise “social distancing,” it is still important to maintain a sense of community. We need to take comfort — and bring it to others — in any way we can. At times we will have to exercise patience with the uncertainty of the times, while we watch out for more vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors. Check in with them to see how they are doing and whether you can drop off a meal or a book at their door. There are many safe ways to reach out to people including phone, email, social networking and video conferencing. In the long run, your family and our community will be closer as a result.

#4.  Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

This is not a time to pull back and not be civically engaged. Participating as an active citizen in an election is a fundamental step toward a better future. Wisconsin elections officials are working to ensure that residents of our state have an influence in our national leadership as well as in important statewide and local elections. The April 7 ballot includes the Presidential Preference Primary as well as an election for Wisconsin Supreme Court, local judicial, school board and county board races, and a referendum on a proposal to amend our state constitution.  The best way to vote while social distancing is to vote by mail before the election. There isn’t much time, so act now. If you live in Madison, the City Clerk’s website is your guide. Or, you can enter your address into the MyVoteWisconsin website and find reliable information, including contact information for your own municipal clerk.

If we keep in mind the Four-Way Test — with its emphasis on truth, fairness, goodwill and mutual benefit — we will come through this challenging time as a stronger nation. Rotarians can lead the way!