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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May 4 Announcements

Committee Reports 

Membership Committee Chair Cari Clark Phelps reported that four people are in the new member process: Katie Balthrop, Destiny Mojica-Taylor, Meagen Burrows, and John Rodman. All are nearing completion, except John, who just started the process.
If your attendance is under 40% please contact Cari immediately. If you need attendance credit you should attend an e-club meeting, attend another local club meeting, donate $25 to one of our service partners, attend a Munch, or attend a board meeting. If you have changed careers or job descriptions, please update your classification in ClubRunner.
President Jessica Pedigo said her car was broken into and many valuable items were taken, but miraculously the perpetrator had no use for the Rotary Robe. Also, if you are interested in helping plan the end of year party, email Jessica (even if you told her at the end of the meeting as she cannot retain anything from the meetings). This is a great way to get attendance credit if you are lacking! If you want to be on the steering committee for Metro’s Legacy Project, email her as well.
Service Committee Chair Jordan Chase thanked everyone who has done bicycle and pedestrian counts with Bike Walk Savannah and said it was a great way to get kids involved in a service project. Volunteer opportunities have been extended through May 15. Sign up on the Bike Walk Savannah website.


Derek Goldfarb was the guest of Cecilia Arango.
Emily Salzer and Alyssa Harvey were the guests of Jordan Chase.

Featured Speaker Leslie Mattingly of the St. Simons Island Rotary Club

Leslie presented on the work Rotary has been doing in Puerto Rico with a Global Grant to encourage sustainable agriculture through a partnership with Para la Naturaleza, a nonprofit that focuses on conservation of natural ecosystems, and the San Juan and St. Simons Rotary Clubs. Because the majority of food consumed in Puerto Rico is imported, supplies were severely strained during natural disasters. The project trains local farmers and workers in associated industries on ways to supply restaurants and markets. Other education programs focus on teaching about nutrition and cooking with fresh ingredients. Metro was among the clubs that supported the program.


Metro Mania Challenge Update

President Elect Cecilia Arango announced that the Mighty Mighty Bruised Bones are the April Metro Mania Champions. To earn points in the May challenge, contribute to Brags, Finds, and Whines at a club meeting, bring a guest to a meeting, attend a social or service event. If you do all three, email Cecilia.

April 20 Announcements 

Committee Reports 

Membership Committee Chair Cari Clark Phelps reminded the group that 50% attendance is required. She explained ways for members to boost their attendance, including online opportunities and supporting nonprofit organizations. Also, if your spouse is a club member, attendance is combined for your household. Still, we have a number of people who have dropped below 40%. We are offering assistance for people who are having financial hardships as well as a leave of absence option for members who cannot be involved at the moment, but who do not want to leave the club permanently. She invited members to contact her to discuss options, but stressed that many people want to become members and we want to offer them opportunities to become involved in the club without the club growing too large. She announced that John Rodman is entering the new members program. He is sponsored by Lee Perry and Ariana Berksteiner.
Service Committee Chair Jordan Chase thanked everyone who helped at the Make A Wish Foundation 5K on Skidaway Island on April 17, including Jason Summers, Chelsea Sawyer, Zerik Samples, Sam Carroll and George Seaborough. The next service project is participating in Bike Walk Savannah’s bicycle and pedestrian counts at locations around town. The counts collect data on biking and walking traffic, which is used to plan for bike lanes, sidewalks, and trails. You can sign up for a date, time, and location via the BWS website. The counts continue into May, but you must register for a date in April to get service credit for this month. The May service project will also be with Bike Walk Savannah. Stay tuned for details.
President Jessica Pedigo asked members to respond to a survey on preferences for meeting and social event formats. The survey also invites input on potential legacy projects the club could fund over several years.


Chelsea Sawyer (New Members Program)
Katie Balthrop (New Members Program)
Destiny Mojica-Taylor (New Members Program)
Mary Francis was the guest of Erica Morrow

Featured Speakers: Jessica Savage of WTOC-TV

Jessica moved to Savannah when she was in middle school and she graduated from Jenkins High School, but has worked in Texas for most of her career. She called working at WTOC, a station she grew up watching, an amazing opportunity. Jessica praised the station for investing in investigative journalism as it requires a lot of time and resources. She said investigative reporting can also help solve problems in the community.
As an example, she mentioned the recent sale of the Chatham Apartments building, which required residents to find new places to live. She was able to track down a resident who was having financial difficulties. After the story aired, someone called the newsroom offering to pay for her expenses. Later, Jessica did a follow-up story on the woman, who was able to find a place to call home at Live Oak Landing. She shared another story about how her reporting helped a resident find a long-term solution after trash and other debris was illegally dumped on his property. Jessica explained that this kind of reporting can have lasting, positive impacts in the community

Metro Mania Challenge UpdateU


Upcoming Meetings

Report any munch attendance to!

April 6 Announcements 

Committee Reports

Service Committee Chair Jordan Chase announced a service project with the Make A Wish Foundation 5K on Skidaway Island State Park on April 17. We will also be helping with Bike Walk Savannah’s annual bike and pedestrian counts.
Program Committee Chair Daniel Weiner announced Jessica Savage, an investigative reporter at WTOC-TV, would be the speaker at the April 20 meeting.
President Elect Cecilia Arango announced that Danny Chase is now a Paul Harris fellow.


Amy Johnson, of the Washington-Wilkes Rotary Club, was the guest of Jamie Smith Arkins.
Rick Battinger was the guest of Laura Lee Bocade.
John Rodman was the guest of Lee Perry.
Zerik Samples was the guest of Jessica Pedigo
Emily Salzer was the guest of Jordan Chase.
Chelsea Sawyer was a guest via Zoom.
Ann Shealy was the guest of Jamie Arkins.
Meagen Burrows and Katie Balthrop, who are in the new members program, attended the meeting

Classification Talk: Meagen Burrows

Meagen lived in Tulsa and attended Oklahoma State University. She moved to Seattle for Law school and started working for a firm that dissolved and eventually became GableGotwals, a full service firm where she became an associate in 2014 and a partner in 2018. She’s worked mainly in healthcare issues including day-to-day hospital legal issues and HIPAA. She is now focused on the provider side of the equation working with physicians, labs, and radiology groups. She also does corporate and human resources work, and thinks of herself as a utility player in the transactional world. She has a fantastic husband named Andrew and the best dog in the world, Zoey.

Featured Speaker: Bret Bell

Bret presented an update on the City of Savannah’s arena project. He explained it’s a multipurpose facility designed for concerts and sporting events. Construction began on Sept. 19, 2020 and is expected to be completed in February 2022. He explained the technology and configuration of arenas has changed dramatically since the current civic center was built in 1972, and now the trend is providing different kinds of spaces for people to use, and it’s no longer just about “sitting in your seat and watching what’s in front of you.”
Bret is particularly excited about the hockey team that will be playing in the arena. He said they have been meeting with the Savannah Bananas and talking about how to make the games entertaining. Bret expects about 150 nights of entertainment to be offered when the arena opens with about 25 concerts, 50 hockey games, and 75 other events.
The arena is located 1,200 feet away from the National Historic Landmark District, but there are wooded areas, former industrial properties, and canals in between. A lot of the master plan process looks at ways to bridge these divides and there has been a lot of interaction with stakeholders. However, the plan to connect the arena and westside neighborhoods with downtown is not fully funded and will have to be done in phases. The city remains fully committed to creating these connections so residents and visitors can safely move back and forth from the arena and surrounding neighborhoods to the historic district. The project also includes other stormwater and roadway improvements, and rehabilitation of the 19th Century waterworks property.

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 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.


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.
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.    
Jessica Pedigo
Club Executives & Directors
President Elect
Club Service
Rotary Foundation
Family of Rotary
Immediate Past President