Club Infomation
 
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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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.

Committee Reports 

President Jessica Pedigo announced that the Metro Mania Showdown Series was a success, raising $15,317.91 and fully funding the requests made by Bike Walk Savannah and Urban Hope. She thanked everyone who volunteered, bought tickets, or sponsored events.
 
Service Committee Chair Jordan Chase thanked everyone who volunteered at Emmaus House on Jan. 9. The next service opportunity is Jan. 18 from 5:30 - 7 p.m. at P.A.C.K. District Governor Steve Barnes will join the volunteers.
 
Program Committee Chair Daniel Weiner announced Wayne Ashford of the Ashford Tea Co. will be the speaker at the Jan. 19 meeting.
 
Foundation and Grants Committee Chair Patrick Phelps reported we are at 60% on foundation donations and getting closer to our Every Rotarian Every Year contribution goal. Donations of at least $50 are appreciated and can be made here. If you are not in a financial position to make a donation, please contact Jessica Pedigo. A fund has been established to make donations on behalf of members who are not able to do so.
 
 

Guests

Kylie Carrico was the guest of Julie Wade.
Fitz Hale was the guest of Jordan Chase.
Katie Balthrop is in the New Member Program and also attended the meeting.

Guest/Prospective Member Reminder

Metro Rotary welcomes all guests to club meetings, socials and service projects! Please introduce your guests and, if on Zoom, make sure they turn their cameras on so we can actually meet them. If your guest is interested in potential membership, please let Cari Phelps (Membership Chair) know as soon as possible. There is a vetting process for membership so everyone must go through the proper steps in order to be approved for the New Member Program. The process includes being listed in Rotary Repeats (including a headshot, preferably, their name, employer/job, and two sponsors), attending at least three meetings (including one Service Project) and submitting an application to the Membership Committee for approval. As a member of Metro, if you have a conflict with a potential new member, whether professional, personal, or otherwise, please notify the Membership Chair (Cari) or President (Jessica).
 

Featured Speakers: Katrina Bostick, Kate Blair, and Julie Wade

 
Katrina Bostick of Family Promise, Kate Blair of CASA Savannah, and Julie Wade of Park Place Outreach talked about their work and the realities faced by people living in poverty. The three nonprofit leaders have been collaborating and working to improve conditions in the community in different capacities. Members were reminded that conversations about poverty in Savannah must include discussion of racial equity and generational wealth. In addition, the myth that people choose to live on public assistance and can do so comfortably is a myth rooted in racism. 
 
They talked about the struggles of families living at or below the poverty line, and how difficult it is for them to stay housed and cover other expenses while working at minimum wage jobs. The loss of employment will throw people into poverty and right now almost 36% of working families with full time jobs or multiple part time jobs are living under the poverty line. The situation is made worse by systemic and structural racism, predatory lending, people who are unbanked or underbanked, high housing costs, undiagnosed mental health issues, substance use disorders, high childcare costs, and low wages. 
 
Those interested donating to these organizations and others working to improve conditions should make unrestricted donations, which allow nonprofits to be more responsive to changing conditions. View their PowerPoint presentation for more information.
 
 

Membership Moment: Patton Dugas

Patton shared things fellow members probably know about him and other facts they may not. Patton is market president for Truist Bank in Savannah. Before he moved to Savannah and became a banker, he founded an audio/video contracting business that allowed him to "hang out with a bunch of musicians and roadies." He described himself as a "reformed hippie" who had long hair and wore flip flops. He shared a story of attending an event shortly after arriving in Savannah and being mistaken for Robert McCorkle.
 
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
Club Executives & Directors
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President Elect
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Immediate Past President
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