Category Archives: Programs

Fred Gaffney visit–Columbia Montour Chamber Update

Fred Gaffney, president of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce recently visited the a Berwick Rotary meeting.  Fred gave an update of how the annual  “Celebrate Berwick” event has been changing over the last 3 years.   The event is held each spring and includes events along Rt. 11 in Berwick from Briar Creed to the Downtown. The 2016 should be even better next year. 


Berwick Rotary President Karen Murdock poses for a photo with guest speaker Fred Gaffney.


Berwick Pool Project Update–Jim Meighan

This week’s meeting, March 19th,  featured an update on the Berwick Pool from Jim Meighan, a member of the Berwick Area Swimming Pool Association, and current Berwick Town Councilman. Jim is a long time resident of Berwick, graduated from Berwick High in 1956 and is now retired from the Berwick Police Department after 25 years of service. Jim has also served on the Berwick Council for 12 years.

Jim brought us an update on challenges the Pool Association has been dealing with in getting the Berwick Pool back up and running. The pool was originally built in 1972 and consisted of 3 sections, a toddler pool, intermediate pool and adult pool. The pool have seen much use over the years. Government regulations have mandated that the pool needed to be ADA compliant by 2012, so it has been shut down since then until it can be made compliant.

The Berwick Pool Association is currently applying for a 501c-3 non-profit status so that they can conduct fund raising activities to raise the 1.4 million dollars needed to complete the pool renovations. The plan is to do the renovations in 3 phases, first make it ADA compliant with a long entry ramp, then add splash pads and sliding boards in later phases. The United Way has been serving as their fiscal agent until they can get their non-profit status.

At this point the Pool Association has raised enough money to complete phase 1 by doing fund raisers such as clothing collections, and sponsored breakfasts. They also have many “in-kind” donations from businesses throughout the area that are helping to make the pool opening a real possibility later this summer. The Health and Wellness Foundation has also offered a matching grant for any funds the Pool Association raises which will be a great help.

Very informative meeting, good to see our community rallying around this project.

Rotary Foundation Update. 10/25/12

ROTARY POST 10/25/12

Our speaker was Richard Drukker who is the char of the District Paul Harris Committee, president of the Ringtown Rotary and a 36 year member of Rotary. Dick shared a history of the Rotary Foundation starting with its founding in 1918, 13 years after the founding of Rotary International. In the wake of World War I, the focus of the Foundation was world understanding and peace and the first donation was $26.50, profit from the first International Convention. Over the years, the Foundation continued to raise some funds but didn’t have a focus for its projects. In 1931, it made its first donation to the Ohio Society for Crippled Children, a precursor to Easter Seals. The Society was founded by Paul Harris and Danny Allen and continued to be a Foundation project.

In 1947, the Foundation made the decision to create the Paul Harris fellows program designed to send 16 American scholars to other countries to promote peace. In the mid 1950s, the name of the program was changed to ambassadorial scholarships but the purpose remained the same. Dick described the Foundation’s extensive pin program with various levels and jewels which raise funds for the program. Our Tom Kowalchick a diamond pin.

President Rev. Chad Hebrink and PDG Richard Drucker

The Foundation has three program areas: 1) annual program which includes GSE, matching grants and scholarship support, 2) Polio Plus which includes the immunization program, and 3) permanent fund which encourages Rotarians to include the Foundation in their estate planning. Dick described the every Rotarian, every year program and passed out materials encouraging us to sign up for regular contributions to the Foundation’s projects.

Rad Wood future in Nescopeck

Our speaker was Josh Cantor who, with four other partners, recently purchased Rad Wood in Nescopeck, closing on the transaction in September. Mr. Cantor had extensive business experience before becoming an ordained rabbi. He continues to serve a small congregation in North Jersey but was looking for a business opportunity to continue to use his experience and skills. Drawn to rural communities, he is excited to be involved in re-invigorating an established local business and the chance to save 75 local jobs and potentially add 25 more.

Rad Wood produces wooden floors for tractor/trailers and butcher block tables using local lumber suppliers. In the few weeks Mr. Cantor has been running the company, he has expanded production into plain, wooden coffins and residential flooring products. Business is expanding throughout the country and into Mexico as he has sent the sales team on the road. Sales overall have increased by 15%. He has changed many of the management processes he inherited including hiring a local accountant, promoting the controller, keeping employees informed as decisions are made and re-negotiating medical coverage.

Mr. Cantor feels confident about the future of the company and believes that the work ethic and dedication of his employees will ensure the company’s future. Welcome to the community and thanks!


Sue Younker shares Berwick Lions info

Program Chair Joy McGinnis introduced Berwick Lions member, Sue Younker

Sue was excited to meet with the Berwick Rotary to talk about the Lions Club and share information about their community outreach and priority areas. She believes that many of our service organizations like the Lions Club are the best kept secret in Berwick. Sue found that once she described the club and shared her enthusiasm for its work, she was able to build membership. Currently there are 40 members of the Berwick Lions Club and most attend the meetings. We discussed the possibility of holding a joint meeting of the local civic organizations to learn about each other and perhaps identify ways we might work together to have an even greater civic impact on the Berwick Area. Sue ask that we stay in touch to share any ideas we might have about any opportunities to pool our collective manpower on a program or project.


Thank you to Joy and to Sue for helping to make these civic connection!

Children’s Counselor/Advocate at Beyond Violence

For the March 15th club meeting, we thank Matt Turowski for inviting Betsy Szpynda to speak. Betsy is the Children’s Counselor/Advocate at Beyond Violence, the family shelter located here in Berwick.

  Betsy works with children up to 18 yrs. of age who are staying at the shelter and may be having difficult times in their life. The children of today are very different than past generations. They have to deal with divorce, drugs, dysfunctional families, domestic violence and sexual assault, among other things. Many children are also being raised by their grandparents, which can create a financial strains and crowded living conditions. It can also cause the children to ask why their Mommy or Daddy doesn’t love them? The children are also prone to behavioral issues. Some of these causes include the parent(s) being in rehab., working or attending school. Either way, the children have insufficient time with their parents. They also face a social stigma being around other children, especially in school. They must know that they are not alone, that there are other children having similar issues and need to realize that they are a good person.


  Other issues these children face are sibling rivalry, especially when there are different father’s involved, bullying and poor parenting. Betsy uses many help aids such as booklets, coloring books, self improvement guides and crafts. She also plays games with the children to help gain their trust and be more open to discussing what is happening in their lives. The children are first afraid to talk and it may take up to a year for a child to open up. Even though the parent(s) may be mean, the children still love them and tend to cling to that family member.  Betsy may help them with their homework and talk to them about making critical decisions. The children need to learn that they are important, smart and have worth. Families are allowed to stay at the shelter for 30 days and during that time is when Betsy get to spend time with the children, but also talk to the parent(s) as well.  

  Betsy also gets involved in the Protection From Abuse (PFA) process. She said that this is very interesting and that defendant’s can be so different in court. The school district can also become involved, as well. If the district suspects abuse, they notify Children and Youth who then may involve the police. Betsy loves her job and states that it is very rewarding. Donations to Beyond Violence are always welcome and she noted that she can always use art supplies.

  Thanks, Matt, for a very interesting and informative program

The Rev. Mary Kisner visits with Berwick Rotary

Program Chair Tom Kowalchick introduced The Rev. Mary Kisner, Rector for
rev_kisner-1Christ Episcopal Church in Berwick.  Rev. Kisner graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Nutrition and Foods.    After working for 25 years as a Registered Dietitian, she found herself called to the Episcopal priesthood in 1990 and was ordained in 1995.    Mary enjoys researching and learning new things.  She spoke to us about a positive approach to organizational leadership called Appreciative Inquiry.

Appreciative Inquiry is an approach that helps to build or move an organization to be at its best.  It is an approach that focuses on what is working and asks how do you keep it working.   While doing research for his PHD in Organizational Development,  David Cooperrider completed an internship with Cleveland Clinic.  Performing his research at Cleveland Clinic he found his Problem Solving Approach to his research did not fit.  He was encouraged to turn it around to focus on what was working and how it kept working.  This began his understanding of Organizational Development that asks the questions:  What is working?  Why is it working? and How do we keep it working?    Using this positive approach to keeping good things moving forward, organizations have found real success in motivating individuals through personalized positive goals and emphasizing the positive values of an organization.  Rev Kisner cited organizations like Pixar and the Partners in Health Program as good examples of the amazing outcomes that result from using Appreciative Inquiry to continue to analyze that which is working and build on these.

Thank you, Tom, for inviting Rev. Kisner!

Columbia County Family Center Presentation

Program Presenters: Columbia County Family Center – Michelle Welsh and Peggy Sterner

During the January 5th club meeting, Michelle Welsh presented the club with a wide amount of information regarding the Columbia County Family Center. The Center provides a home visiting program for children ages 0 – 5 and living in Columbia County or a Columbia County school district. Some resources provided by the Family Center include: play groups, screenings, fatherhood activities, parenting classes, baby basics classes, and an adolescents class that focuses on goals.

Other programs offered through the Columbia County Family Center include:
· Parenting and Budgeting
o Presented to area high school students
o Grants from United Way make this program possible
· Divorced and Separated Parents
o Training and support for child-focuses parenting
· Family Group Decision Making
o Program to empower families to solve problems together
o Involve and include children and adolescents in defining the issues and possible solutions

Referrals to the program come from Children and Youth, school districts, the court system, local hospitals (first-time parents), and word of mouth. There are no fees and no income guidelines for the programs offered by the Columbia County Family Center.

Funding for the programs is provided by: PA Department of Public Welfare, Columbia County Children & Youth Services, area school districts, Berwick Health & Wellness, Berwick United Way.

There is a great need for these programs in Berwick and the local area. Currently there are waiting lists for some of the programs.

Thank you to Art Naugle for arranging this informative program.

McBride Library update – Alice Zaikowski

This week we were pleased to have Alice Zaikowski join us to share information about the many and varied programs at the McBride Library. She began by expressing her sincere appreciation to the Rotary Club and the entire community for their commitment to building such a wonderful facility for the Berwick area. She is very proud to have been a part of the Berwick Library system for over 23 years. There have been many changes as community needs change. The lending system is now totally computerized and there is a computer room with 22 computers that are for public used and also a computer training center. The Children’s Library is upstairs and self-contained so that the children can enjoy fun activities without disturbing other Library patrons. It has become a wonderful gathering place for story time, puppeteers and children’s fun! There are many interesting community programs that are open to the public, these are listed in the newspaper weekly and open for anyone to attend.

This year there was a great emphasis on outdoor landscaping. Judy’s Garden is the Back Garden with trees, benches and flowers. The plan is that this garden, built as a memorial to Judy Chesney, will provide a peaceful and inviting outdoor haven to sit and enjoy a book or magazine from the Library. The garden is accessed through the Library café. On the 5th Street side of the library is the tree garden including donated trees as memorials to Budd Beyer, Al Strausser and Dave Vaughn.

Thank you to Neal for inviting Alice to share great information about one of Berwick’s greatest treasures!

Berwick Rotary Welcomes Steve Phillips from the BIDA

Last week’s program was a presentation by Steve Phillips, Executive Director of the BIDA, BIP & SPIRIT.  Steve earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wilkes University and his Master’s Degree from Bloomsburg University.  He is a lifelong resident of Newport Township in Luzerne County, but has devoted most of his career to his work in planning and Cindy and Stevedevelopment, as well as industrial development in Columbia County.

As Director of the BIDA, Steve works with a Board of Directors of key leaders in the community.  They have maintained a conservative view of the operations of the BIDA complex.  In its heyday, the complex employed over 7,000 people. Today there are 247 people employed by 17 companies in the complex, which is nearly full.  A new recycling company is considering space in the “shell” building and has the potential to bring in 30-40 jobs.

Steve defines his job as matching the needs of our area with the business opportunities that are out there.  We are located on a convenient transportation corridor, but our population is aging and the educational background of many of our citizens doesn’t support the new technology companies that require more experienced technicians.   One  recommendation he would give to students is to consider 2 year technical education.  A four-year degree may not always offer the educational training to connect graduates to jobs of the future.

Steve is very proud of the work he has been able to accomplish in his many years working in our community.  He always shares a new nugget of information about our community!  Thank you to Steve and to our Program Chair, Joe Scopelliti.