If you have any questions always feel free to contact us!

Kelley Hunt Inspires Singing!

Kelley Hunt got Lawrence Central Rotarians on their feet and singing!  Her encouragement and the lyric “We let the light shine over us” inspired members to join the chorus. Hunt also peformed the title song from her most recent of six recordings, “Beautiful Bones.”

Hunt’s website describes her sound as a “refined blend of blues, soul, and R&B and root music.” A singer and songwriter, piano player and guitarist, Hunt was born in Kansas City and earned a degree in music from KU.  Although she considers Lawrence as her home base, her band comes out of Chicago, and she tours and performs all over the country. Hunt will perform at the Cider Gallery on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Hunt described being fascinated with the piano as a child even before she could see the keys.  Her mother always listened to her compositions and admonished her to think for herself in the face of setbacks and criticisms. Hunt’s success in a male-dominated industry comes from the self-assurance that that encouragement bred into her. As Hunt says, I was willing to “show up as who I am.”


Masks: Mystery and Beauty

Carla Hanson, curator of a traveling exhibit called “Spirit of the Mask,” shared her collection of masks and their stories. Masks can cover the face, head, and even the entire body, as demonstrated below by Rotarians Bob Swan and Jim Peters as they tried on masks and garments associated with the plague in medieval Europe. Created using all types of materials, masks play a role in dance forms, storytelling, ritual, and celebration.

Hanson’s collection includes masks from more than 45 countries and cultures of the world. She brought examples from Native American tribes, Peru, Nigerian, Guatemala, Tibet, Bali, Russia, and more. Many were renderings of animals, reptiles, or the faces of spirits. In addition, there were Santa Claus costumes and Halloween masks familiar in the United State and a mask of a “nisse,” a white-bearded creature from Nordic folklore.

Hanson will be teaching a course about masks for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Olathe and in Kansas City this spring .

Focus on Rotary Foundation

LCR member Janis Bunker is a passionate advocate for PolioPlus, Rotary Foundation’s drive to eradicate polio in the world.  When she attended the 2017 Rotary International conference in Atlanta last June, she joined roundtable discussions about the effort. Beginning in 1979. Rotary International began its fight against polio with a multi-year project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. Over the past decades, Rotary has partnered with the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund and implement the project.

Today, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan are the only countries where polio remains endemic. Although there were only 17 cases reported during 2017, work to ensure that the virus does not emerge once again will continue for ten years after the last case is reported.  Even as monitoring for new cases continues, the infrastructure of laboratories and immunization clinics works to manage outbreaks of new diseases in the world.

Michael Steinle, chair of the Foundation Committee for Lawrence Central Rotary, outlined the six areas of focus that define the work of Rotary Foundation.  They are (1) promoting peace; (2) fighting disease; (3) providing clean water, sanitation, and hygience; (4) saving mothers and children, (5) supporting education; and (6) growing local economies.  Contributions to the Foundation support projects aimed at these initiatives.  The Foundation is proud to be known for delivering 91% of each contribution dollar to help these efforts.


Buy A Wreath – Make a Difference – Order Holiday wreaths & decorations now from Lawrence Central

Lawrence Central continues our annual fundraiser for the work we do every year. As in year’s past, we will be selling wreaths and other holiday decorations from Lynch Creek Farms and in Lawrence Central’s partnership with them, we receive 20% back from every sale to help fund the service projects we do.  Some examples of our service activities include:

We want to continue to do this work and more with help from you and all you need to do is simply purchase holiday decorations. You can do this by talking to any of our members or there’s an even easier way – visit our Lynch Creek fundraising website, peruse what they have, an order yourself!  We’ve even set up an easy link:


If you’re not comfortable with ordering online we totally understand – you can also call Lynch Creek direct toll-free at 1-888-426-0781 and please Lawrence Central Rotary Fundraiser #100925.

Lynch Creek is a family business that started in 1980, now transformed from selling a few flowers and vegetables at the local farmers’ market on the weekends, to a full-blown year-round business that ships throughout the United States.

We could go on about how great these wreaths are, but when we were at the Lawrence Rotary Club recently,  Jennifer Berquist stopped us and told us this,

“Last year, for the first time, I purchased several Lynch Creek items as holiday gifts. Those who received the evergreen gifts were so pleased and impressed with the quality. It is a huge seller for me that the Lawrence Central Rotary Club receives part of the profits. I will definitely place another order this year!” – Jennifer Berquist – Lawrence, KS 

Lynch Creek Farms have been amazing to work with and they care about the groups that sell their wreaths and decorations. Here’s a video about the business.

Kressig and LaClair Welcomed into LCR

Kevin Kressig and Chip LaClair are new members of Lawrence Central Rotary.  President Fred Atchison inducted the two during the November 30 club meeting.  Sponsors Steve Lane and Jim Evers participated in the ceremony.

Standing left to right in the photograph:  Atchison, Lane, Kressig, LaClair, and Evers

Ramsdell and Meyer Inducted into LCR

Bob Ramsdell (left) and Kade Meyer (right) were inducted into Lawrence Central Rotary on Wednesday, November 15.  After the brief ceremony, President Fred Atchison asked both men to tell the group more about themselves.

Bob Ramsdell said that before earning a law degree at KU, he spent 21 years as an artillery officer in the Army.  He then worked eighteen years in a local law partnership.  In July 2017, Bob set up a solo law practice in Lawrence focusing on estate planning, probate, trusts, wills, and elder law.  He and his wife are originally from Maryland; they have two adult children who live in the area.  Bob was drawn to Rotary because he has many friends who have been involved in the organization.  He selected Lawrence Central Rotary Club because it is small enough for friendships and big enough to get things done.  In his free time Bob likes to read history and biography and enjoys photography.

After a six-year stint in the Army Reserves, Kade Meyer returned to Topeka where he and his two siblings had grown up.  He followed his father’s lead into the insurance industry and currently works as an insurance account representative in Lawrence, specializing in life insurance.  As Kade launches himself professionally, he knows he needs to connect to the community.  Joining a Rotary club has been an ideal way to do so, but he has also gotten involved with a number of other groups and initiatives in both Lawrence and Topeka.  Kade chuckles as he acknowledges he chose Lawrence Central Rotary because of our reputation as “the fun group.”  In his free time, Kade enjoys listening to podcasts and to a variety of other media.

What’s Up at Watkins Museum of History?

In addition to the core exhibits about Douglas County history on display at Watkins Museum, such as this 1870s playhouse, there is always something new to see, according to Steve Nowak, Executive Director.

Sometimes the “new” is an addition to an existing exhibit. For example, the story of Lawrence’s efforts to establish a Fair Housing Ordinance in the 1960’s has been added to the “Enduring Struggles—Lawrence Fights for Change.” Documents, music, photographs, artifacts, and oral histories combine in an interactive display highlighting Lawrence’s spirit of activism and community spirit in various decades.

Changing exhibits can focus attention on a particular aspect of local history. For example, “Community and Culture: the Lawrence Turnverein” tells the story of the Germans who were among the earliest settlers in Lawrence.

“Hidden Treasures: Staff Favorites from the Watkins Collection” showcases artifacts in new ways.  Find a cowboy hat signed by John Wayne and a sculpture made of the soles of shoes, as well as other treasures.

“Mass St. Magic—Weaver’s Window Displays” celebrates the 160th anniversary of the local department store by recreating some of the window displays it featured over the years. Founded in 1857, Weaver’s is one of the longest running department stores in the United States. Even in 1850’s, it was known to bring NYC fashion to Lawrence.

On Saturday, December 2, the museum will host “Tails and Traditions Holiday Festival.” Stop by between 9 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. for prime horse parade-viewing spots, snacks, kids’ crafts and games, and live holiday music. The Watkins Museum of History hosted 17,500 visitors in 2017, up from 6,000 seven years ago when Nowak began his tenure.

Lawrence Rotary Arboretum awarded Level I accreditation by ArbNet

The City of Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department’s Lawrence Rotary Arboretum that is maintained by local Rotarians and the Lawrence Parks and District Department has been awarded a Level I Accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and the Morton Arboretum, for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens.

The ArbNet accreditation program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism. The Lawrence Rotary Arboretum is now recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.

The Lawrence Rotary Arboretum was conceived in 2003 and dedicated in 2005 as a project by the three local Rotary Clubs in Lawrence, the Lawrence Rotary Club, the Jayhawk Breakfast Rotary Club and the Central Rotary Club as a fundraising activity to commemorate the centennial of Rotary International. Funds raised went toward the waterfront gazebo.  The arboretum began development with the addition of new trees having identification markers which detailed the scientific name of the tree.  Gardens were also added, including a certified Monarch Watch waystation, providing habitat for butterflies.

Additional projects such as a performance stage, bike path rest station, and Westar Pergola were completed by local scout troops and other volunteer groups.

Recently, an inventory of trees was developed through the department’s use of TreeWorks mapping software and using GIS to develop an interactive storyboard.  The storyboard creates a self-guided tour of the arboretum, detailing trees planted within the arboretum with photos and common and scientific names of each species of trees via the internet. It can also be helpful to those visiting the park and can pull up the site on a mobile device. To visit the ESRI storyboard of the Lawrence Rotary Arboretum, please visit: http://lawks.us/2xCmOih.

ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta. ArbNet facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience, and other resources to help arboreta meet their instructional goals and works to raise professional standards through the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. The accreditation program is sponsored and coordinated by the Morton Arboretum, in cooperation with the American Public Gardens Association. and the Botanic Gardens Conservation International. The program offers four levels of accreditation, recognizing arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity, and professionalism. Standards include planning, governance, public access, programming and tree science, planting and conservation. You can find more information about ArbNet at www.arbnet.org.

For more information, please contact Crystal Miles, horticulture, and forestry manager, at (785) 832-7970.

Rotary Cares about Environmental Change

Rick Randolph, M.D., knows first-hand about the impacts that changes in the environment are having on people around the world.  As a long-time volunteer and now a staff member of Heart to Heart International, he has worked in developing countries for 25 years.  Randolph recently returned from assisting with Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

Environmental events profoundly effect the way people live.  Floods are caused by hurricanes. Mud-covered roads are caused by trees uprooted or swept away in storms. Mosquito-born illnesses occur more frequent in warming regions of the world. Infectious disease rises, the cause of 90% of deaths during draught and food shortages. Diseases such as Ebola arise when humans use slash-and-burn agriculture and move to live on formerly-forested land that exposes them to fruitbats and monkeys. Increases in asthma, emphysema, heart disease, and bronchitis are linked to air pollution. Thermal expansion of the oceans is predicted to cause sea levels to rise three feet by the year 2100, threatening military installations located on the coasts of the United States.  Even civil war often has roots in the environments as draught and famine force people to migrate from farms to cities that become over-crowded and poverty-stricken.

Rotary Interantional President Ian H.S. Riseley envisions Rotarians “Making a Difference” during the coming year.  He urges that each club plant a tree for every Rotarian during the next twelve months and to include sustainability objectives in each project proposal.


Boys and Girls Club Provides “Great Futures”

Megan Hill, Major Gifts Officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, highlighted a robust history and a “great future” fof the organization.

She described the new Don and Beverly Gardner Center for Great Futures that will open in the fall of 2018 to house teen activities, replacing the small Teen Center on Haskell Avenue. Situated adjacent to the College and Career Center in southeast Lawrence, the new building will allow the school district and the Boys and Girls Club to share and maximize the spaces of each facility. The new construction includes a gymnasium, maker-space, performing arts area, a culinary arts kitchen, admininstrative offices, and classrooms. Although they have raised most of the $4.25 million capital campaign goal, fundraising will continue to complete capital donations and to raise on-going money for programming.

The local club is one of the largest per capita in the country, serving 1,500 young people each day. It partners with the Lawrence school district to provide after-school programming in all fourteen elementary schools in Lawrence. Middle school and high school students are bussed to the Teen Center on Haskell Avenue. All programming supports academic success, healthy living, and character and citizenship, fulfilling the organization’s mission: “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

Hill asked Rotarians to explain how Boys and Girls Club had impacted their households. The responses from the group echoed the reasons why others say the program is so valuable: supervision after the school day when working parents cannot be at home; tutoring and help with homework; physical activity and good nutrition; welcoming friends, mentors, and tutors.


DG Adam Ehlert Is Committed to Making a Difference

During his year as District Governor, Adam Ehlert wants to encourage healthy clubs that are engaged and enthusiastic about “Making a Difference,” the Rotary International theme for 2017-2018. The motto “defines what we do day in and day out.” Such energy will attract additional members better than any membership drive, he believes.

Ehlert’s “Rotary moment” struck during a Group Study Exchange that he led to Finland during 2011. His team bonded after an evening of “ice swimming”—repeated trips between a steamy sauna and a icy river nearby.  The experience is the epitome of local culture. As the GSE team members huddled in comradery, wet and exhilarated, after several hours of the activity, the group spontaneously voiced heartfelt thanks to Rotary and to their hosts for the powerful impact of international exchange. The emotional situation committed Ehlert even more deeply to Rotary and its work and led him to his current leadership role.

Simply Smiles Helps Cheyenne River Sioux Children

Lawrence Central Rotarian Margaret Weisbrod Morris found that her experience as an arts educator in low-income urban settings helped her appreciate of the quality work done by Simply Smiles in the plains community of Le Plant on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in west-central South Dakota.

In June, Weisbrod Morris accompanied her daughter Ruby and other high school students and adults from Plymouth Church, Lawrence, when they joined the staff and interns at Simply Smiles in welcoming about 30 children from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to a week-long summer camp.  The project, the only such effort sanctioned by tribal leaders there, aims to alleviate the high suicide rate among young people.

Not only did volunteers help conduct the camp, they spent half the day doing construction work.  During those mornings, Margaret learned how to wield a power drill as the group raised roof trusses on a new bunkhouse.  Others painted and renovated existing homes in the community and dug a trench to connect electricity. After the work, the volunteers had time to have fun with the children, playing basketball, creating huge bubbles, and swimming in the Missouri River–their one bath during the week.

The experience was the epitome of the Simply Smiles approach: ask what is needed, listen to the answer with empathy, devise ways to solve the problems together, and during the process, develop lasting individual relationships. The formula has made Simply Smiles impactful, sustainable, scalable, holistic, and successful.

Simply Smiles is a not-for-profit organization that provides bright futures for impoverished children, their families, and their communities. Founded in 2007 by Bryan Nurnberger, its first projects were in Oaxac, Mexico. The Simply Smiles’ partnership with Rotary was recognized with a Paul Harris Rotary Award from a club in Naugatuck, CT in 2012.

N.E. Kansas Rotary Clubs Raise over $38,293 for Heart to Heart Disaster Relief Efforts

The 45 Rotary clubs of Rotary International’s District 5710 (Including Lawrence Central Rotary) have come together to support Heart to Heart International’s disaster relief efforts in Texas and Florida.

Immediately after Hurricane Harvey devastated the gulf coast of Texas with over 51 inches of rain, followed by the damage caused in Florida by Hurricane Irma, Rotarians opened their hearts and checkbooks to help. Rotary clubs have been involved with the Lenexa-based Heart to Heart International (HHI) since its inception in 1992. Many of their founders and some of their board members are Rotarians so there is a natural connection and interest in supporting their mission.

Initially, 5710’s District Governor Adam Ehlert asked that each of the 2400 Rotarians in the District give at least $5.00 which was matched with District funds. Ehlert said, “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of Rotarians in our District.” “To date, over $38,293 has been collected and an additional significant amount is given directly through the Heart to Heart’s website”. “Rotary International is the world’s most significant service organization, but we are not a relief agency. Heart to Heart is, and it’s our privilege to support them,” added Ehlert.

Rotarians have also been involved in assembling and packing hygiene kits for distribution to those involved in both disasters. Nearly 30,000 kits have been distributed in the affected areas and the need continues. In Houston, HHI plans on providing medical care for the next two to three months until regular providers are able to reopen their own clinics. Some of the HHI medical volunteers are on their second tour following a short break at home. These services are provided at no cost to patients.

Likewise, in Florida, HHI is the only organization providing emergency medical care to residents and responders in the area of Big Pine Key.

Rotarians and other volunteers collected donations at a recent T-Bones baseball game series at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Baseball fans including comedian Bill Murry (co-owner of the visiting St. Paul Saints) contributed to the effort. Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self”, is exemplified by HHI’s, Ex. Director of Disaster Response, Sue Mangicaro, whose own condo in Naples, Fla. was flooded while she had responded to the Texas disaster. According to Jim Mitchum, HHI CEO, “She has not yet taken time to go home and deal with her own loss; instead continuing to lead our medical response on the Florida Keys.”

The District 5710 has 45 Clubs throughout Northeast Kansas, with some 2400 members. Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work impacts people at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. 

Vietnam POW/MIA Wives Challenge Traditional Silence

In the late 1960s, POW/MIA wives bucked government protocol and broke public silence to demand accounting for their husbands and to pursue their safe return after years of imprisonment and torture by the North Vietnamese. Audrey McKanna Coleman, Senior Curator at the Dole Institute of Politics and member of Lawrence Central Rotary, highlighted how these women worked with Congress and the Nixon administration to challenge the traditional role of “military wife.” Senator Robert Dole helped them to gather a coalition in Congress and to sponsor the 1970 May Day event when they stepped forward publically as advocates for their husbands.

The story of these courageous women is chronicled at the Dole Institute of Politics in “The League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Allies and Advocates.”  The display is the most recent of a series of exhibits conceived by Coleman that highlight the people and events with whom Senator Robert Dole interacted during his career.  Past exhibits included one in 2015 on Dole’s leadership in enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act and one in 2017 commemorating Dole’s nomination in 1976 at Kemper Arena to run for the Vice Presidency on the Republican ticket with Gerald Ford.

Curated by 2017 Dole Archives Curatorial Fellow Heath Hardage Lee, the current exhibition features 200 items that tell the story:  documents, photos, oral histories and memorabilia from the Dole Archives, personal collections of POW/MIA families, and other institutions. Lee has written a book on the subject: The League of Wives: a True Story of Survival and Rescue from the Homefront (2019, St. Martin’s Press).


Midco Connects in Lawrence

The numbers are impressive!  Midco’s core network of fiber-optic line is 8,600 miles long, forming a web connecting 335 upper-Midwest communities in five states and delivering 99.9999% network availability. In January, 2017, Lawrence and six other Kansas towns joined the customer mix as Midco acquired the WOW! market in the area.

Debra Schmidt, Business Development Manager for Midco in Kansas, is an eighteen-year veteran of the company. Her perspective makes her an ideal spokesperson for Midco.

Schmidt explained that Midcontinent Communications, or Midco, is a regional Internet, cable TV and phone provider. Begun in 1931 to manage a collection of movie theaters, Midco has evolved and matured. It is known today for delivering some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country. It also offers services such as WiFi home management, Smart Home, and Whole-home DVR. Midco Lifeline subsidizes phone and Internet service to qualified low-income households. The company’s products can scale to fit very small businesses to large enterprise organizations.

The Midco Foundation has given away $4.5 million since 1987. The impact is already making a different here in Lawrence: Midco was a major sponsor for the Cottonwood Salute fundraiser; sponsored movie nights for Downtown Lawrence; and gave away water bottles to KU students as they returned to campus. Another major gift to the Lawrence community will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Another innovation sure to please Kansas customers is the launch of Midco Sport Network (MidcoSN).  Channel 32/232 will broadcast local sports events beginning in September with prep football.  Kevin Romary and producer Kyle Haas joined Debra to talk about this exciting new program.