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To protect the health and safety or our members and guests, Metro Rotary meetings will be held online via Zoom until further notice.
 
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President Jessica Pedigo announced the next service project will be participation in the Great Savannah Clean-up on March 27 on Skidaway Road. Jessica also reported that District Governor Steve Barnes has secured 250,000 medical masks. If you know an organization that can use them, please let her know. On behalf of Foundation Committee Chair Patrick Phelps, Jessica announced that the club reached its Every Rotarian Every Year (EREY) foundation donation goal and was extremely appreciative since it may be the only "official" Rotary thing we accomplish in a pandemic year!
 
Daniel Weiner announced that Bret Bell will provide an update on the City of Savannah’s arena project at the next meeting. He reminded everyone that we now have our standing Social the fourth Tuesday of the month at Starland Yard and that based on member feedback from our meeting in December, people wanted to rotate to different restaurants for a lunch meeting, so we will be doing that the fifth Tuesday when that occurs (which it does in March!). Daniel will be sending out an invite soon to get a headcount for the lunch to determine a location. Stay tuned and please respond in a timely manner!
 
Daniel was presented with an award and a Metro-branded bicycle helmet in recognition of his service to the club. He also received his Paul Harris Fellow + 1 pin. Daniel invited everyone to come see him in Arizona.
 

Guests

Meagen Burrows (New Members Program)
Destiny Mojica-Taylor (New Members Program)
Chelsea Sawyer (Via Zoom)
Galen McDonald was the guest of Daniel Weiner
 

Classification Talk: Destiny Mojica-Taylor 

 
Destiny gave a classification talk explaining her job at SC Datacom, where she works in business development. She said the firm is a physical security innovation company, which specializes in access control, intrusion detection, and closed-circuit TV for commercial businesses. The company is woman- and veteran-owned.
 
Destiny said she jokes that her goal is to “make security sexy.” She graduated from Valdosta State University with a bachelor’s degree in international business and a concentration in marketing. She’s a foodie and loves visiting restaurants in Savannah and Hilton Head. See attached presentation for pictures of Destiny being a foodie and having fun with her husband.
 

Featured Speakers: Lois Modell and Corey Brooks of the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision

Lois said the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision's clients, who are referred by physicians, are losing their vision because of illness, stroke, injuries, or any other conditions that cause vision loss. When the prognosis suggests they will lose their vision within a couple of years, there’s a definite path they are going down and the center, in essence, teaches them to be blind. They teach both techniques for accomplishing daily tasks and help them build confidence. She said the center is the first in the state to have an orientation mobility training sidewalk, which allows clients to hone their skills in a secure environment before learning to navigate on streets downtown.
 
Corey talked about his experience as a student at the Center and as a member of the board of directors. He gave some first-hand examples of how being a student had allowed him to lead a productive life when he started losing his vision in his 40s. They not only teach you how to walk with a cane but also day-to-day tasks like using a computer without a mouse and cooking at home. He shared some reactions and experiences participants have had at the center’s annual Dining in the Dark event, and encouraged people to attend when it returns next year. Overall, he said if you know of anyone who needs the services they provide to please get them in touch with CBLV as it is a state-of-the-art program that can be life changing.
 

We are nine! 

The meeting wrapped up with the announcement that Metro Rotary turned nine on March 13. We not only survived but thrived being a non-traditional club and other clubs still think we are the young, cool club. To celebrate, Cecilia brought cupcakes for everyone.
 
 

Committee Reports 

George Seaborough reminded members about the Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy take out food event and raffle fundraiser on Feb. 21 at Benedictine. The raffle remains open through Feb. 26 at 2:59 a.m. He thanked those who have already ordered. Julie Wade announced the Park Place Toss for a Cause event on March 6.
 
President Jessica Pedigo announced that we are at 80% on Foundation giving and urged members to make their contributions by the end of the month. A fund has been established to donate on behalf of members who may not be able to otherwise. Contact her for more information.
 
Service Committee Chair Jordan Chase reminded members we will be collecting running shoes for the Fleet Feet donation program. The shoes will go to local organizations that help unhoused people. Race medals will also be collected and given to children at Memorial who are completing their cancer treatments. Donations can be dropped off at the Savannah and Pooler Fleet Feet locations. Sign the attendance sheet while there to get credit.
 
Program Committee Chair Daniel Weiner will have someone from the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee speak to the group on March. 2. A representative of the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision will speak to the club at the March 16 meeting. He encouraged everyone to continue scheduling munches.
 
On behalf of President Elect Cecilia Arango, Jessica Pedigo reminded members the February Metro Mania Challenge involves participating in the shoe and medal collection effort, supporting a Metrotarian owned business, and giving a shout-out to a Rotary member on social media. She also announced Will Gruver will be the next president-elect once Cecilia takes office.
 
AV Support Needed: We had an issue with Wi-Fi at the meeting that presented unexpected challenges that we had to work with on the fly. If you have any experience in IT or audio/visual production, we welcome your assistance at our meetings! Please contact Jessica for details.
 

Featured Speaker: David Pratt

David began the presentation by announcing that he was stepping down from his position with the Savannah Music Festival to become chief executive officer at the Austin Symphony Orchestra. He explained how the Savannah festival  is different from others in that it does not focus on a single genre. Instead, it features performers from American roots music (blues, bluegrass, etc.) international music, jazz, and classical. Pratt said that in 2019, the festival resulted in $10.05 million in direct spending, $7.65 million in visitor spending, and $852,344 in sales and hotel tax revenue. The festival generated 8,916 room nights and 1,783 flights.
 
He described how festival staff worked to pivot to bring programs — especially educational programs —online so they could continue to reach participants during the pandemic. They also studied how outdoor concerts in Florida and Tennessee were able to be staged while maintaining Covid protocols. The plan for 2021 is to use the outdoor performance space at Trustees Garden at reduced capacity. Pratt said Coastal Health District Director Dr. Lawton Davis is a supporter of the festival and has offered consultation on how to maximize safety.
 

Membership Moment: Jason Nielubowicz

Jason talked about his work in commercial and residential real estate at Judge Realty. As most people know, Jason is an avid live music fan and if not for the pandemic would be out seeing music every night.
 
He has had a large collection of vintage motorcycles, which once totaled 14 machines. Now he’s down to two BMWs. He said he's lucky to be alive, having been shocked with 7,620 volts of electricity from a downed power line in 2007.

Committee Reports 

President Jessica Pedigo reminded members about the Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy take out food event and raffle fundraiser on Feb. 21 and the Park Place Toss for a Cause event on March 6.
 
Service Committee Chair Jordan Chase announced we will be collecting running shoes for the Fleet Feet donation program. The shoes will go to local organizations that help unhoused people. Race medals will also be collected and given to children at Memorial who are completing their cancer treatments. Donations can be dropped off at the Savannah and Pooler Fleet Feet locations.
 
Program Committee Chair Daniel Weiner announced that David Pratt of the Savannah Music Festival will be the speaker on Feb. 16.
 
Family of Rotary Chair Jasmine Mills said she will be taking over the secretary position this summer. She asked everyone to send attendance documentation and other correspondence to the metropolitansavannahrotary@gmail.com account.
 
Foundation and Grants Committee Chair Patrick Phelps reported we are extremely close to meeting our Every Rotarian Every Year giving goal. If you have not made your foundation contribution yet, please do so by the end of February.
 
President Elect Cecilia Arango announced the February Metro Mania Challenge involves participating in a service project, supporting a Metrotarian owned business, and giving a shout-out to a Rotary member on social media.
 

Guests

Zerik Samples was a guest at the meeting. He is CEO of Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity and, before moving to Savannah, he was a member of the Rotary Club of St. Simons.

Featured Speaker: Jackson Evans

In a presentation featuring musical interludes, Jackson Evans talked about his work at Benedetto Guitars, which Bob Benedetto founded in 1968 to build archtop jazz guitars.
 
Jackson explained the mechanics of guitars and their evolution over the years, describing the design elements that allow louder volumes while still maintaining structural integrity. He demonstrated the features and acoustics of several guitars, including an instrument built in Chicago between 1886 and 1890.
 
Although archtops are often called jazz guitars, they are used in other genres. He cited Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family as a noted archtop player. Benedetto produces 80-100 guitars per year, with the highest end models costing $20-50,000.
 
 
 

Membership Moment: Cynthia Mullally

Cindy said the highest profile event she’s managed in her role as an event planner was a 2012 event focusing on the nation’s economic recovery, featuring President Bill Clinton and President George Bush.
 
She is married to Matt Toole and her most famous relative is her cousin Tommy Norden, who played Bud Ricks on the television show, “Flipper.” Cindy also talked about how much she enjoys living in Gordonston.
 

Committee Reports 

President Jessica Pedigo said she was pleased to see everyone actively involved in scheduling Munch meetings. She also announced that Josh Yates is a Paul Harris Fellow once again. Jessica reminded members they have until the end of February to make a donation of $50 or more. At present, 64% of the club has donated. If your financial situation does not permit a donation, a fund has been established so that a donation can be made in on your behalf. For more information, contact Jessica.
 
Service Committee Chair Jordan Chase thanked everyone who volunteered at PACK on Jan. 18 and at Emmaus House on Jan. 9 The February service project will involve collecting running shoes for Fleet Feet and their donation program, as well as race medals that will go towards children at Memorial who are completing their cancer treatments.
 
Program Committee Chair Daniel Weiner told members that Jackson Evans of Benedetto Guitars will be the Feb. 2 speaker and David Pratt of the Savannah Music Festival will present on Feb. 16. Daniel announced that he has moved to Arizona, but will continue involvement in the club remotely. 
 
 

Guests

Chelsea Sawyer was the guest of Sarah Smith.

Featured Speaker: Wayne Ashford

Wayne Ashford of Ashford Tea Company explained how he built up his café business in Indianapolis. About 13 years ago he and his wife started talking about moving and created a list of the qualities they wanted in a community. Eventually they visited Savannah, explored the city, and started coming back every year — sometimes twice a year. They moved to Savannah almost three years ago.
 
He said tea has always been a constant in his life, but when he discovered loose tea, it changed his world. For the last 20 years he’s been teaching people about tea. Wayne described his business as being about a lifestyle, and not just a retail venture. He explained the health benefits of teas and said his shop on Oglethorpe Avenue now stocks more than 60 varieties.
 
 

Membership Moment: Alfred McGuire

Alfred McGuire is principal at Woodville Tompkins High School. He offered some facts that people might not know about him: Alfred is really excited about this year’s Metro Mania theme as he attended WrestleMania when it came to Tampa.
 
He also loves running, but is not able to at this time because he is recovering from foot surgery. Alfred said his son often picks out a tie for him to wear each morning.
From the President
Metro Savannah may not look like your father's Rotary Club, but we're not all that different. We're proud to be members of Rotary International, believe strongly in its mission and traditions, and partner frequently with other clubs in the area.
 
We're just a bit different, and do things a bit differently. We're younger than the average club, and our meetings are twice monthly instead of every week. We fill in the free weeks with monthly service projects and socials. We throw larger events that have become legend.  
 
Want to join us? Visiting Rotarians are welcome to join any of our lunch meetings or events. Others should come as a guest of a friend, colleague or acquaintance who is already a member of Metro. If you're interested in becoming a member after that visit, reach out to your host and they'll explain the membership process to you. 
 
Thanks for checking out Metro.    
 
Cheers,
 
Jessica Pedigo
president@metrosavannahrotary.org
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