Project 3000, A Community Response to COVID-19

After receiving our club’s 2020 Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award in our November 18 meeting, our fellow Rotarian Floyd Rose spoke about Project 3000: A Community Response to COVID-19.

In response to the pandemic, most area schools last spring turned to virtual learning for the foreseeable future. This transition has presented significant challenges for children and parents, especially those limited-income families with little experience or access to computer-based education.

Dr. Rose explained that 100 Black Men of Madison, Inc., in collaboration with strategic partners in the community, launched Project 3000 to provide technical and conventional solutions to a targeted group of 3,000 low-income families in our community who have been particularly challenged by the abrupt transition to virtual learning. He noted that Rotarians Charles Tubbs and Willy Larkin serve with him on the organization’s board of directors.

100 Black Men of Madison has a legacy of helping youngsters start the school year right. Project 3000 grew out of the organization’s “Backpacks for Success” program, which has provided more than 38,000 free backpacks filled with school supplies to area at-risk youth over the past 25 years. Because of the pandemic, the organization enhanced the project by offering additional forms of support.

Through another program, partners 100 Black Men of Madison and the Urban League of Dane County already provide one-on-one mentoring and wrap-around support services for middle-school students. This year Project 3000 has applied this kind of assistance to kids from kindergarten through high school. The project works to serve the whole child in this special time, Dr. Rose explained, by providing technical support as well as mentoring and educational opportunities for parents. Nutrition is also a focus because school has long been a place where low-income children receive healthy meals.

The efforts of 100 Black Men are making a difference in our community. The Madison chapter helped area high school students win the national organization’s 2020 championship in the “Dollars and $ense” financial literacy program. Each participating student will receive a $4,500 scholarship for their first year of college.

In addition to virtual learning and financial literacy, 100 Black Men focuses on health and wellness for children and their families. Dr. Rose stressed the need for factual communication, and said the group has produced written and virtual communications by experts on such topics as: COVID-19 and high school athletics; talking to your kids about COVID-19; successful virtual learning; and the state of COVID-19 developments.

Dr. Rose said the work of 100 Black Men of Madison is predicated on the four pillars of respect for families, justice, integrity and spirituality. He said this is compatible with Rotary’s 4-Way Test and with the values of Rabbi Manfred E. Swarsensky, who wanted everyone to feel special, to feel they are valued and that they belong.

Our thanks to Floyd Rose for his presentation this week and to Andrea Kaminski for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:

2020 Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award Recipient is Fellow Rotarian Floyd Rose

Presented by Joyce Bromley – Nov. 18, 2020

Today we honor the memory of Rabbi Manfred E. Swarsensky, a beloved member of our Club until his death in 1981.  He was admired as a leader for inter-faith dialogue, religious tolerance, and civil rights.  Before coming to Madison he had a brilliant career as a Rabbi in Berlin where he was famous for his sermons, until the Nazis burned down his synagogue and sent him to a concentration camp.  Many of his family members and friends were victims of the Holocaust.  He was released.  At 39 years old and alone, he came to Madison and founded Temple Beth El.  We, as well as the Madison community, came to admire him and respect him for his dedicated leadership to peacemaking and forgiveness, for building bridges and reconciliation.  Each year we designate an award to someone who emanates the Rabbi’s ideals. 

This year’s Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award recipient is Dr. Floyd Rose. For decades his active voice in education in the Madison Community has been his avocation—always working in partnerships to help others do better for themselves.  As Dawn Crim stated, “his passion work is education and his support of the next generation.”  He seeks to find solutions with the Madison Metropolitan School District and families surrounding the persistent educational achievement gap between white students and students of color. 

As President of 100 Black Men of Madison, he sees that members of this organization are role models for the community.  They attend schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District on the first day of class to welcome students and their parents to the school year.  In preparation for school, for 26 years they have led the “Annual Back to School Celebration” campaign providing free backpacks AND school supplies for students from limited-income families.  When schools transitioned to virtual education, the backpack project promptly transitioned into Project 3000, which represents the 3000 local students in families with limited incomes.

The tasks before them were immediate.  Dr. Rose recognized that virtual learning at home requires more than a student and a laptop.  The entire family needs to be supported in their student’s academic pursuits.  Parents and caregivers require resources necessary to facilitate learning.  Families need technical and guidance support   Project 3000 works with families to ensure that each student has an internet installation and access—and a plan to sustain service and utilities.  When appropriate, parents, caregivers, and students are provided with basic computer training.  This support includes mentoring, educational coaching, and tutoring.  Dr. Rose recognized that this level of attention is important to ensure that all school-age students have the necessary educational support to be successful. 

This endeavor is in addition to the SOAR partnership with 100 Black Men of Madison and the United Way of Dane County that began in 2016.  This comprehensive program is designed to decrease truancy rates and increase high school graduation rates.  It begins with one-on-one mentoring of students in middle school and continues through high school.   These projects require a substantial commitment to the benefit of others—for the next generation.

I will conclude with a quote from Bob Sorge who wrote of Dr. Rose—he is an excellent embodiment of … the social justice advocacy, personal insight, and empathy reflected by the work and life of Rabbi Swarsensky. 

Our congratulations to Dr. Floyd Rose on receiving this year’s Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award.  Along with this award, a $2,500 grant is presented by the Madison Rotary Foundation to an agency of the recipient’s choice.  Dr. Rose has chosen our annual Community Grants Campaign to receive this grant.  

The Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award was established in 1982 and identifies individuals who have, through their voluntary efforts, made a particularly outstanding contribution to the humanitarian service in the greater Madison community, in the tradition so well exemplified by the life of Rabbi Swarsensky.   The award-winning documentary video, “A Portrait: Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky,” that was created and produced by Rotarian Dick Goldberg with assistance by Wisconsin Public Television, provides background on Manfred Swarsensky and can be viewed on YouTube, and the Rotary office also has a copy of the video for any member wishing to view it.

Honoring Our Veterans and Their “Service Above Self”

It takes a special kind of person to have the courage to wear this nation’s uniform and stand ready for whenever they are needed. One who raises their right hand and pledges to protect this country at all costs, including giving their lives if necessary to defend our republic. This week, on Veteran’s Day, Brigadier General Joane Mathews provided a look into those service members who make up Wisconsin’s National Guard – 10,000 citizen soldiers and airmen that live in and work in every county. They are your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your employees, your children’s soccer coach. Remarkably, they balance their professional careers with their family lives along with their military service. Family, community and employer support is key to ensuring the strength of our Wisconsin National Guard.

Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all of those men and women who have made such a noble commitment to their country and their communities. Brigadier General Mathews eloquently quoted U.S. Army Veteran Charles M. Provence, who wrote that it is the soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion, the soldier not the poet who has given us freedom of speech, the soldier not the lawyer who has given us the right to a fair trial, the soldier not the politician who has given us the right to vote. On Veteran’s Day we honor those soldiers for securing those rights we all enjoy every day.

Brigadier General Mathews explored the wide breadth of calls that our Wisconsin National Guard members answer. The National Guard’s roots go back to years prior to Wisconsin even becoming a state, when soldiers were called upon to fight in the Civil War. The National Guard sent servicemen to all wars following that and continue to do so into 2020, as members have been deployed to Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. They provide top levels of support for the citizens of the State of Wisconsin as well, as the Wisconsin National Guard serves at the call of the Governor. In March of 2020, the National Guard mobilized over 1,400 soldiers to help with the COVID-19 response, from staffing testing sites, calling citizens to alert them of test results, to filling in at a senior living facility after an outbreak of COVID-19 caused a staffing shortage within the facility. There is no call that the National Guard cannot or will not answer to assist the citizens of Wisconsin. To date, WI National Guard members have administered more than 800,000 COVID-19 tests statewide.

More than 1,200 National Guard members mobilized to Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay in the weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis to assist with unrest breaking out across those cities and have continued to answer calls to assist with unrest across the State over the subsequent months. Just last week, 400 National Guard members staffed polling places across the state due to a shortage of poll workers arising from the pandemic. It is truly an understatement to say that our Wisconsin National Guard members receive no call they cannot answer to support and protect and serve our nation. On this Veteran’s Day, we honor all of those who have served and sacrificed on our behalf— on each and every one of those calls stateside, nationwide and across international borders – where they were called to duty to secure and provide our country and people with the many gifts that we all enjoy as freedoms in this life.

Our thanks to BG Joane Mathews for her presentation this week and to Jessica Giesen for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:

Election 2020: The Day After

   After being glued to our televisions, radios and phones for over twenty-four hours trying to dissect and understand what was happening with the 2020 United States Presidential election, it was a breath of fresh air to welcome Professor David Canon to the Rotary stage to help put things into perspective and answer so many nagging questions that many of us had had on our minds for years – and other questions that had arisen only minutes before the presentation began (Question: Will Wisconsin have a recount? Answer: Perhaps, but an election recount has never shifted a result where the vote margin was over 20,000 votes, which was the case in Wisconsin at the time of the presentation).

   However, Professor Canon reminded us, no election is over until every vote is counted and states laws in twenty-two states allow vote counting after actual Election Day (so long as ballots are post-marked by Election Day). Why the vast difference in voting procedure throughout the country? Why not put together a unified federal system so that everyone in the country knows the deadlines, guidelines and procedures for voting? Wouldn’t that help to clear up a lot of voter confusion leading up to and throughout our election days? The answer is yes, surely it would, but our Constitution mandates a federal system of government whereby each individual State legislature is tasked with determining the manner in which electoral votes are determined and the time, manner and place of its State’s elections. So until the Constitution itself is amended, the discretion and power to direct elections will always remain with each individual state.

   As the sun set on Election Day and the country entered election night, then woke up in the morning and turned the news back on – one thing was very clear – the polls seemed to have read things wrong just as they did in 2016. Professor Canon opined that the polls looked to be off in the same manner to which they were off in the last presidential election. While only time will tell as analysts dig down into the cause of this, Professor Canon pointed out that the same pollsters were spot on in other elections that were non-presidential, such as the 2018 elections – when the polls were spot on. Professor Canon posited that one reason may have been what is being referred to as “shy” Trump voters – that is, voters who tended to shy away from pollsters for one reason or another. It’s difficult to force someone to answer a poll and if answers are non-responsive or evaded, the pollsters cannot ever get an accurate read on that portion of the population.

   Professor Canon ended his presentation with something that we can all keep an eye on over the coming years and elections – that is, “ranked choice” voting – which is already being used in many local elections. Through ranked choice voting, a voter can rank their choices of candidates without the traditional fear of “wasting” a vote if they do not vote for the top democrat or republican candidate. In ranked choice, a voter can vote for a libertarian or independent candidate, for example, knowing that if that candidate does not gather a certain number of votes, the voter’s vote is reallocated to their second choice candidate. This method could prove to be a truer expression of voter preferences and may be an excellent way of letting voters really express their views at the ballot.

   Our thanks to UW-Madison Prof. David Canon for his timely presentation this week and to Jessica Giesen for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:  We also thank WisEye for co-streaming our meeting this week.

2020 Manfred Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award To Be Presented November 18

Dr. Floyd Rose was chosen to receive this year’s Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award for his decades-long contribution to education in Madison.  The November 18th Rotary meeting will be allocated to this award, and Floyd Rose will be presenting the Rotary program that day.  We look forward to his presentation on November 18. 

This year’s Swarsensky Award Selection Committee was impressed by the caliber of this year’s nominees, and below is a listing and brief summary of each of these candidates who are also building bridges in our community:      

Paul T. Ashe:  If you wonder, “what can one person do?” think of Paul T. Ashe. In 1979, while he was in his mid-20s, he began distributing sandwiches to people in need out of a small Christian bookstore above a convenience store on Gorham Street.  That was a band-aid on a systemic problem.  From that, he formed a partnership with St. Paul’s University Catholic Center on State Street to secure space for a noon meal.  He reached out to leaders of a wide range of faith communities to recruit small teams of volunteers to cook and serve balanced hot meals.  Soon more than 50 faith communities were participating.  This became the Community Meal Program that welcomes strangers.  The Community Meal Program grew to meet the growing needs of the community.  Through the benevolence of the community, and without any government support, a commercial building was purchased and rehabilitated and became Luke House which serves guests 9 meals each week—4 noon meals and 5 evening meals.  Here meals are shared at round tables—family style.  After Mr. Ashe’s retirement, the program remains, as the model of dignified hospitality that Paul established. This nomination submitted by Ernie Stetenfeld.

Dr. Patricia Tellez-Giron Salazar:  Dr. Patricia Tellez-Giron Salazar immigrated to the United States in 1993 and settled in Madison.  She practices medicine at the Wingra Clinic and serves a very diverse and underserved population and reaches out into the community to help build bridges for the Latinx community.  She serves people, primarily Latinx, with limited access to healthcare services by maintaining extensive involvement across a variety of different healthcare organizations that include counseling at Agrace about end of life care issues; educating about nutrition and healthy eating with Centro Hispano, healthcare and family planning; serving as medical director for the Latino health summit, Teen Health Bash, and chronic disease summit; and caring for the geriatric population.  She also supports other organizations in the community including Latino advisory council to the United Way; Chair of Dane County Latino Health Council; advisory to UW-Madison professional association for Latinos for medical school; and the Metropolitan Madison School District Multilingual Guiding Coalition.  This nomination submitted by Ron Luskin.

Becky Steinhoff:  Becky Steinhoff is recognized for her vision to address an underserved area of Madison with a community center—and with her belief that people will come together to do the right thing.  Through her tenacity, the eastside of Madison has the Goodman Community Center.  She found supporters and philanthropists and marshalled other organization to create a state-of-the-art community center from the bones of vacant historical industrial buildings.  She grew the size of the staff from 3 to more than 100 to meet the needs of the 35,000 people who use the Goodman Community Center.  Becky and her staff maintain a safe place where conflict is addressed honestly and in good faith—and joy reigns.  Becky retires after 31 years of leadership, but her legacy and the foundation of a healthy community center survives.  This nomination submitted by Linda Baldwin O’Hern.

Nancy Young:  Nancy Young exemplifies volunteerism.  As a professional mental health counselor skilled in conflict resolution, she uses her training in any way that it is needed.  She has consulted with community adolescent programs and worked on women’s and poverty issues to help women achieve their potential as leaders, and she is active in several capacities in her church.  Her most profound humanitarian contributions have been her service to the American Red Cross where she has been deployed to 14 national disasters that include multiple mass casualties.  The American Red Cross selected Nancy as one of only four mental health professionals in the country to be deployed to the Sandy Hook shooting.  Nancy and her husband Ed host children of Chernobyl each year who come to Madison for relief from the aftermath of the contamination of the nuclear accident in 1986.  In addition, they have opened their home to host numerous international students attending the UW.  She also volunteers for the Madison Symphony Orchestra League and serving on its Board.  This nomination submitted by Mary Helen Becker.

Rotarians Glean Zoom Meeting Tips from Author, Speaker, Darin Harris

 It was a mere nine months ago when rumblings of a pandemic were unfolding, and the word ‘zoom’ as a communications tool was all but foreign to many people.

 That was then, this is now. Today, Zoom connects people across the globe as a way to conduct business and enjoy other people’s company as Covid-19 has reshaped how the world works.

On October 28, Darin Harris presented “This is Not TV: Networking and Best Practices in Zoom” to over 80 Rotarians.

Harris joined Rotary in July of this year. He is co-founder of Living Giving Enterprises, an organizational and leadership development company which houses He also guest lectures at UW-Madison, Edgewood College and Northland College in Ashland.

At this week’s Rotary presentation he showed some ways Zoom is used in addition to traditional face-to-face screen time. 

No matter what you use Zoom for – social meetups or for business the platform offers numerous opportunities for engagement. He emphasized this is, after all, interactive communication, not TV!

 Among some of the Zoom controls that can be useful is the survey option. In another example, he pointed out the Reactions tab if you want to show people how you’re feeling–use icons like clapping hands or a heart. Other features include CHAT, break-out groups, and Google Documents.

 In advance of dividing Rotarians into small break-out groups Harris explained, “Networking is all about getting to know each other better. Go into it with a ‘cup half-full’ attitude and then be an active listener.”

Harris then instructed participants to find something nearby that means something to them, then share it with the person on the other side of the screen.

In a break-out session with this author, Ellis Waller held up a model railroad car. On a shelf behind him he explained the 54-inch long miniature train was indicative of his interest in railroads, something he has enjoyed all his life.

 It was a superb example of how intriguing objects around you can jump-start fascinating Zoom conversations that will long be remembered.

Our thanks to fellow Rotarian Darin Harris for his timely presentation this week and to Sharyn Alden for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: and