Category Archives: New Member Events

New Member Event at HotelRED

–submitted by Mary Romolino; photos by Jorge Hidalgo

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Photo 1: Charles Tubbs and Jeff Quinto; Photo 2: Haley Saalsaa, Jason Ilstrup, Karla Thennes, Leslie Lochner & Craig Bartlett; Photo 3: Leslie Overton, Jennifer Weitzman & Mary Romolino

20161213_080843It was a game of Find the Member Who… that had experienced Rotarians and new club members alike learning fun facts about each other’s unique and sometimes quirky life experiences at the new member event on December 13 at HotelRED. Thanks to Jason Beren, who organized the game, attendees mixed with literally every person in the room in order to match the experiences listed on our game sheets with the Rotarian who lived that experience. It was a terrific way to get to know our newest members and learn surprising facts about those we’ve known for years.

With members like ours, it’s no wonder our club is so dynamic! For instance, new members Jorge Hidalgo marched in President Reagan’s Inauguration Parade, Chris Rich saw a ghost at age eight, a sighting confirmed later in life by his mother; and Jennifer Weitzman has donated a kidney. Leslie Overton started at UW Madison as a music major but instead became a CPA and lived in Washington D.C. for years before returning to Madison.  Jeff Quinto’s family motto is “Often wrong, but never in doubt,” while Karla Thennes’s Minnesota-dwelling parents gave their children names beginning with the letter K. By the time Karla was due they were running low on names. Luckily Karla’s dad saw Miss Minnesota on TV and you guessed it, her name was Karla with a K.

When you meet a new club member, please extend a warm welcome and discover the experiences which led them to where they are now and to our club.  And, thanks to Jason Ilstrup and HotelRED for hosting our event.



New Member Networking Event December 10

–submitted by Haley Saalsaa; photos by Dave Ewanowski


Club President Ellsworth Brown and Haley Saalsaa

On the morning of December 10 25 of us got together for a new member event at the Blackhawk Country club. We were welcomed with fresh hot pastries accompanied by coffee and orange juice.


From left: Jorge Hidalgo, Mike Casey, Larry Collins & Carol Goedken

We took the first thirty minutes to talk amongst ourselves and then the fun really began. Jason Beren orchestrated a Bingo game deriving answers from surveys we had all previously taken. It was a unique networking event and fun to try something new. Often times networking is the same and discussions become routine. The bingo game allowed us to find out unique things about our fellow Rotarians that we may not have known before. For example, did you know that our president Ellsworth Brown played cymbals in high-school? He could put on quite a show incorporating CO2 for special effects OR that TJ Blitz is a trained stage actor?


From Left: Sandy Morales, TJ Blitz, Craig Bartlett & Tom Popp



From left: Mary Borland, Ellsworth Brown, Nick Curran

These are the types of things that likely would not have come into conversation if we weren’t playing an exciting game of Bingo! Jason threw a great event and I look forward to this spring for more events to come.


“Rotary Bingo” at The Madison Club October 21, 2014

–summary & photos submitted by Jason Beren


On Tuesday, October 21, at our New Member Event, about 25 new and experienced Rotarians attended a coffee event at The Madison Club (Thanks to Mary Gaffney-Ward for the use of the great room).

The focal point of the event was a cutting edge networking activity known as “Rotary Bingo.”  Much like a scavenger hunt played with a bingo card, attendees had to work their way around the room to fill out their card with the names of the Rotarians who matched each square.

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Prior to the event, attendees completed a survey with questions such as:

  • What is something about yourself that’s unique and people might not know about you?
  • Where were you born?
  • Who were your Rotary Sponsors?
  • What high school activity, club, or sport did you participated in?
  • What unique event have you attended?
  • Have you ever done a unique Rotary make-up international or domestic?

Attendees learned that some of their fellow Downtown Rotarian’s have:

  • Been a ski bum for a winter
  • Spent two months deep in the Amazon jungle
  • Attended a cocktail party on Malcolm Forbes yacht
  • Did a Rotary make-up on Easter Island


New Member Coffee Event January 9 at Blackhawk Country Club

–submitted by Stan Kitson; photos by Ellsworth Brown

DSC_1094Jason Beren (pictured at left) hosted a Coffee Event for 20+ new and experienced Rotarians at Blackhawk Country Club on Thursday, January 9. We started with coffee and fellowship, quickly moving to introductions and the presentation. Jason, with remarks from Past President (2012-13) Wes Sparkman, incoming president (2014-15) Tim Stadelman and future president (2015-16) Ellsworth Brown, set the expectations for the President Roast and asked that two new members step up as co-chairs.

Jason continued the presentation by reviewing many of the committees, turning to Tim Stadelman, Rob Stroud and Donna Beestman to elaborate on CECADE, Rotary International and Ethics Symposium. It was stressed that joining most of the committees is simply a matter of contacting the Rotary office and letting the staff know you’re interested and attending the meetings; there is no reason to wait until the official spring sign-up period.

DSC_1097Jeff Tews (pictured at right) followed with an interesting discussion about fellowship groups, prompting members as to why they joined the groups they participate in and how they benefit from joining. More than one commented that they joined Rotary because it brought three “desires” together… “the desire to give back to the community, the desire to create new friendships and the desire to help their businesses…” The latter results from the first two.

We adjourned at 8:45.

New Member Coffee Event October 3 at Madison Club

–submitted by Patty Struck

On Thursday morning some 25 new and longstanding Downtown Rotarians met over breakfast at the Madison Club for the first of this Rotary year’s new member events. Jason Beren chaired the event and briefed the group on the schedule for the remainder of the year’s new member events, including Rotary Bingo in Spring of 2014.

After inviting members to introduce themselves and summarize their Rotary involvement, Jason introduced the leaders of three initiatives to talk about service opportunities.

Sorensen_ScotScot Sorensen: Community Projects Scot told us about October’s collaboration with Lions on eyeglass collection; Salvation Army bell ringing and our Giving Tree around the holidays; Tri-Quest volunteer opportunities; and Summerpalooza. He explained how the committee chooses projects by thinking strategically about where service gaps exist in our community.

McGrath_MichelleMichelle McGrath: Youth Exchange
Michelle told us about the Youth Exchange program and about our current Rotary Youth Exchange Student, Kanon Ando from Japan. She stressed the ongoing need for host families and reminded us that Kanon’s experience will be enriched by Rotarians including her in plans such as sports events and field trips.

Larson_DanielDan Larson: Rotaract
Dan told us about the large Rotaract footprint around the world and then described our existing Rotaract chapters at UW and Edgewood. The committee is considering adding a chapter at Madison College. The Rotaract Advisory Committee supports the chapters by helping identify speakers, field trips and community service opportunities. We had a chance to hear from representatives of both chapters talk about their service activities.

It was a great way to kickstart the day! We finished up at 8:30.

New Member Event at Top of the Park – Message: Follow Your Passion

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(Pictured above from left; Photo 1: Yigit Uctum, Cary Heyer & Michelle McGrath; Photo 2: Mike McKay & Herman Baumann; Photo 3: Wendy Wink & Yigit Uctum) 

From left: Rob Stoud, Terry Heinrichs & Jessica Schock

From left: Rob Stoud, Terry Heinrichs & Jessica Schock

What started off as handshakes and introductions budded into the start of many new friendships at the recent new member event on February 4, at the Top of the Park. President Wes Sparkman along with veteran Rotarians passed along the secret to having a successful Rotary experience; follow your passion. Making impact in the club and community will come from your ability to get involved with those causes that you feel most passionate about. A veteran Rotarian shared a story with a newcomer about the passion he and his family have had for hosting exchange students and the impact it has made in his life for both himself and his family. It’s these shared stories that can help to ignite another’s passion and make Rotary what Rotary is all about. Based on the size of the club, it may be impossible to meet everyone and share in their passion. But it’s exciting to think that after years of being a Rotarian, the passion can still be found simply in sharing a story.
                                                                               —submitted by Jessica Schock