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Bigs Change Lives – Mia Gonzales Explains Why Big Brothers Big Sisters Is So Important

Mia Gonzales | Lawrence Central RotaryA “Big” can change a life of a “Little” when matched up in a mentor relationship.  This was the message Mia Gonzales, Development Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, brought to the September 31 meeting.  Bigs are caring adults who volunteer  to spend at least an hour a week for a year building a friendship with a “Little”—a child in need of some extra guidance and encouragement.  These kids come from single parent homes, from alcohol and drug addiction backgrounds, and are living at or below the poverty level.  Kids enter the program as walk-ins or are referred from schools or social agencies.  Participating families are assigned a case worker who makes a complimentary match with a carefully screened volunteer.  Research shows that kids benefit significantly from a mentor relationship and show growth in skills and confidence.  Youth with Bigs are less likely to skip school, be involved with violence, or use drugs.  They are more likely to improve academic performance, improve self-esteem and attend a 4-year college.  Adult mentors also find great satisfaction from these relationships.  The organization also provides programs and mixers for Bigs and Littles.

There are 250 active matches presently in Douglas county and there is a waiting list of 75 to 100 kids. The organization also faces financial challenges as grant sources for non profits disappear.  Find out more about Big Brothers Big Sisters, or volunteer by going to the web site:  Douglas.KansasBigs.org.

Mia showed a powerful video that is a true story of how being in a young person’s life can have amazing outcomes, we’ve posted it below.


Walk (or Bike) To School Day is Wednesday, Oct 7th

WalktoSchoolDayFlierMark your calendars! Wednesday Oct 7th is the official day that Lawrence Schools are encouraging students to walk or bike to school.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department had a great website with information about finding the best routes to your local school and even has maps.

From the website: “Be Active Safe Routes is a local movement to create safe opportunities for children to bike and walk to and from schools. The goal is to get children moving again and to reverse the growing rate of childhood obesity.

In 1969, approximately 50 percent of children in the U.S. walked or biked to school. Today, fewer than 15 percent do. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent and less healthy.

“The research is pretty clear that kids who walk and bike to school are more active. They will be healthier and perform better in school.” – Community Health Director Chris Tilden.”

New LCR Member Margaret Weisbrod Morris Talks About Arts Education

Margaret Weisbrod MorrisMargaret Weisbrod Morris is an artist, arts administrator and advocate active in the arts education and non-profit community. As the Chief Program Officer at the Lawrence Arts Center, Morris leads an extensive community arts education program that delivers over 500 classes a year to over 9,000 students in all arts media to students age 3 to 103. Since her arrival at the Lawrence Arts Center, she has pioneered the development and implementation of a model STEAM education curriculum, underwritten by the energy industry and recognized by the Hearst Foundation. She serves as the lead contributor and editor for major agency publications and grants, and serves as the public liaison for the Arts Center on matters of education and cultural policy. Before moving to Kansas, she started her career working as a prop artist for children’s television, eventually creating studio art and art therapy programs for non-profit organizations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and provided training on the use of art with people affected by violent crime. Ms. Morris is an active presenter and author, presenting in national forums such as the Arts Education Partnership’s National Forum, the National Association for State Arts Agencies National Assembly, National Art Education Association’s National Conference and the Americans for the Arts – Arts Education blog salon. She has served as a panelist for the US Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, Mid America Arts Alliance and the Oklahoma Arts Council. Margaret Weisbrod Morris holds a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and studied with Edith Kramer, the founder of the field of art therapy, to get her M.A. degree from New York University.

Margaret Weisbrod Morris | Lawrence Central RotaryShe works with six people on her team at the Arts Center, along with three full time artists in residence as well as a variety of visiting artists and faculty. Morris pulls all this together while also giving talks such as the one she gave as a new member of Lawrence Central Rotary.

“Research shows that children who regularly study the arts are likely to show much higher academic achievement and be concerned, voting citizens of their communities,” she said.

“A Gallup poll showed that 91 percent of Americans think the arts are essential to building imagination and 73 percent believe the arts are as important as academics.”

In Kansas, one school credit in an art form is required for graduation. The most common art form found in public schools is music. Morris and the Arts Center staff work to compliment what students learn during the school day in out-of-school arts education. They present classes in art, theater, sculpture, digital media, photography, printing, film, to name a few. “In a regular class room, teachers don’t always have the time spend hours trying to figure out solutions,” Morris said “so we fill the gap by constructing a place where there is the time, setting  and support for people to test ideas, make mistakes, persevere, and realize a goal. These are the fundamental skills of innovation and invention. Since more and more of our economy will be driven by innovative thinking in the future, we do our part to help foster this.”

Lawrence Public Library Summer Reading Program is a Solid Success

Lawrence Summer Reading proramLawrence Central Rotary (and the other local Rotary Clubs) sponsored a hole for the Lawrence Public Library’s Caddy Stacks Mini Golf fundraiser event.

From Library Executive Director Kathleen Morgan, “Summer Reading is an important annual program for our entire community. Not only does it provide great summertime entertainment, but it also is essential to preventing summer learning loss in Lawrence’s kids. Numerous studies show that students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities over the summer. Low income students who do not have access to these important summer learning activities are particularly at risk. Thanks to your help, 4,176 of Lawrence’s kids, teens, and adults chose to spend their summer at Lawrence Public Library and read nearly 35,000 books and attended 258 library programs.”


Library TY

Fall Lawrence Community Bike Ride – Enjoyment by All

September-CBR-Flyer-2015-TYThe rain finished the night before, there was a sigh of relief when we could see the final rays of sun through the clearing skies to the west on Friday night.

Our latest ride held Saturday September 19th starting in the Haskell Indian Nations University stadium parking lot delighted more than 100 guests riding along the Burroughs Creek Trail. Members of Lawrence Central Rotary with the help of our sponsors and though applying for grants and fundraisers were able to hand out all of the 80 bright neon safety vests we purchased and fitted 42 brand new helmets (mostly to children) to keep them safe while riding their bike not just that day but for many days, weeks, and months to come.

But, that just speaks to the numbers. Everyone who attended had a great morning and the participants had fun… and that is the key thing. People having fun, being active, using their bikes, possibly seeing new trails, and meeting new friends along the way.

We look forward to seeing even more people again next summer for more Lawrence Community Bike rides!


Get To Know Some Of Lawrence Central’s New Members

New-MembersFour new members of Lawrence Central Rotary engaged in a panel discussion at the September 16 meeting and, while they work in very different professions, it became obvious that they have a lot in common.

Serving as moderator, Rotary President Kate Campbell asked each of the four, Steve Mason, Margaret Weisbrod Morris, Janis Bunker and Paul Radley, three questions:

  1. How did you get involved with service organizations
  2.  What are family traditions in your family, and
  3. Describe what you think is a perfect day.

Three of them, Radley, an architectural engineer with Professional Engineering Consultants, Mason, a programmer for Lawrence Parks and Recreation and Bunker, senior vice-president and trust officer of Trust Company of Kansas, all said they were invited by friends to join a service group. Both Mason and Morris , program officer for the Lawrence Arts Center, said they were influenced by their parents who were active volunteers in service organizations.

“I come from a family where community service was important. My parents were early workers in the civil rights movement,” Morris said.

Family traditions all involve get-togethers with extended family. Bunker’s family has a Christmas eve tradition, Radley’s family times are during summer vacations at a family compound in Minnesota, while Morris’s family goes to an island near Seattle. Mason’s family times all involve music. “Birthdays, any time we get together, turn into a jam session,” he said.

A favorite day for Radley, Morris and Bunker begins with sleeping late, while Mason is up and out—preferably on his bike.

President Campbell said she plans on more panels like this one that will include long-time members.

New Lawrence Central Member Paul Radley Discusses Problem Solving By Design

Paul Radley | Lawrence Central RotaryPaul Radley provided a vocational talk for the September 9, 2015 program.  Paul is an architectural engineer with Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A.  Paul explained that architectural engineers do the detail tasks of making the building design work.  This includes designing mechanical and electrical systems and dealing with structural issues.  There are often significant challenges to coordinating these systems and dealing with unique site requirements and surroundings.

Paul grew up in Wichita and got his training at Kansas State University.  His first big project was in Saint Louis where he worked on a performing arts center.  It was a huge project with beautiful circular elements.  Paul also worked in New York for a company that built cable and membrane structures.  The structures appear to be tent like and are very popular in Europe.  He worked on one of these projects in Houston and it was used as a performing arts venue.

Paul stated that he mostly does design work and very much enjoys overcoming site and design problems. He sited a multi structured office building with corner offices  constructed without columns as an example. Clearly, Paul is a creative person who loves what he does.

The Lawrence 2015 Fall Community Bike Ride Is Set for September 19th

Fall-Bike-RideMark Your Calendars, Tell Your friends and Neighbors, the Lawrence Central Rotary Club is hosting the fall 2015 Lawrence Community Bike Ride on Saturday, September 19th, at the Haskell University stadium parking area and using the Burroughs Creek, and recently refinished bike Trail south of Haskell.

The event is open to anyone and there is no cost to participate.

Other activities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. include:

  • A Training Wheel Takeoff. Experts will help children who are ready to take off their training wheels in a safe environment.
  • Bike Rodeo. Kids can practice and improve their riding skills
  • Bike Helmet Fitting and Giveaway. Safe Kids with LMH will help outfit kids with helmets, while supplies last, along with providing cycling safety tips for kids of all ages – and for adults too!
  • Inflatable Bounce House and Slides for the kids!

“One of our goals as a club is to get more and more people discover cycling and an active lifestyle as a fun and healthy activity,” said Steve Lane, a member of Central Rotary Club. “This event is a great opportunity for families and individuals to enjoy cycling in a safe and scenic area on Lawrence’s east side.”

If it is raining September 19th, the ride will be rescheduled for on Sunday, September 20, at 1PM.

Registration for the event is required and can be done before the event.

Releases will be available at the event or you can download one HERE to fill out ahead of time.

Thanks to all our sponsors and partners who help to make these events happen in Lawrence.

September CBR Flyer 2015

New Lawrence Central Member Jay Holley talks Architecture in his Vocations Talk

Jonathan Jay HolleyIn his Rotary vocations talk on September second, Jay Holley said as a licensed architect he wants to be well rounded and include all aspects of architecture. He said some architects are visionaries, some emphasize the technical, some are business people, and some are project managers., depending on the person’s strengths. He believes a combination of these skills is the path for him.

Becoming an architect involves three to six years of school, a professional internship that can be from three years to “forever,” and becoming a licensed architect (which means, he said, you are through with tests forever—unless you practice in California.)

Jay worked as a summer intern for an architect and in his last semester at KU was in a program called Studio 804. They built modules in a warehouse that were then installed in Kansas City, KS. “You are, literally, in the trenches,” he said. “The jobs involve long hours and hard work.”

After school he went to an architecture fair to find a job, showing projects and hundreds and hundreds of sketches. He is with GouldEvans architects and several years ago took the advanced tests to become a licensed architect.

He showed pictures of his projects including the new Lawrence library.

“Architecture,” he said “is more than just going to a builder. Some things as small as where the coffee pot is will influence a whole design.”

Crystal Swearingen Discusses the State of Residential Real Estate in Lawrence

Crystal Swearingen - President, Lawrence Board of RealtorsCrystal Swearingen, a realtor with McGrew Realty and president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors said her job is both rewarding and challenging.

The ups and downs of real estate, tied in with both the health of the community and of the economy and the development of technology  keep realtors on their toes, she said.

“The first half of 2015 from January through June finished strong,” Swearingen said.

Seven hundred seventy homes sold in the period compared to 633 homes in the same period in 2014 and 698 home sold during the entire year in 2011.”

The $150,000-$300,000  price range for single family homes has been the sweet spot for the Lawrence market and the measure of inventory levels, the “Months Supply” of homes, is at the lowest it has been in many years.

“Lawrence realtors work to build better relations with home owners and to have Lawrence continue to be a place of good jobs and good wages,” she said. “We work with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.”

A new generation is used to doing everything on line and this has created a problem for realtors when prospective buyers do their shopping on the internet.

When asked where she predicts the city will expand she said she really doesn’t know. A lot of it depends on school placement. She said she believes the South Lawrence Traffic way is going to be  good for the market.

Questions for the future, in addition to expansion, she said, are affordable housing in Lawrence, how many rentals are too many, and  what the economy will do next.

Meeting Information:

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Eldridge Hotel
All American Room
701 Massachusetts
Lawrence, KS 66044

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