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Getting to Know our Members
Getting to Know Peter Vignati

Peter Vignati has fond memories of growing up in East Hartford. He says he is “the classic middle child” amongst five siblings. Peter attended the East Hartford public schools and went on to Bates College, where he majored in chemistry and biology. At Bates he really enjoyed playing golf and was the Maine intercollegiate champion one year.

After graduation, Peter went to work for Enthone, a West Haven, Connecticut manufacturer of specialty chemicals for the plating, electronics and aerospace industries. He started in sales, first in Wisconsin and then returned to Connecticut. Later he became an International Marketing Manager, traveling worldwide establishing relationships with overseas companies to license Enthone’s technology to them and also to license some of their technology. Being single, it was an exciting time for him to see and experience different people and their cultures. He went on to earn a Master of Business Administration from the University of Connecticut, taking classes at night.

In the meantime, Peter was introduced to Susanne “the love of my life” on a blind date and now his wife of almost thirty years. “Best thing I ever did”, he says. They lived in a beach condo in East Haven after they were married and then relocated to Farmington to raise their family. Peter and Susanne lived for two years on the Miss Porter’s campus rent-free as “house directors”. It was a fun time for them and they met many great young girls attending the school, including Oprah’s niece who lived in their house. Oprah later delivered a commencement speech at graduation.

Peter then spent seven years in Marlboro and Freehold, New Jersey working for a chemical company with a colleague that he had known over the years. That company was bought out by a Cleveland firm, but he didn’t want to relocate again for work. They now had three little boys and had enjoyed their proximity to New York City and New Jersey’s great beaches. So it was time for a career change and a move back to Connecticut where he started a business for Edward Jones, which he continues to run today. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he would become a financial planner, but he does enjoy helping families achieve their goals and get on a path to a secure retirement.

Peter and Susanne have always been active in their church, whether it be the Church of Saint Ann in Avon or their current church, Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield, where they relocated three years ago. He says “I’d like to think that we are generous with our time and talents to help those in need and my children are also engaged in similar activities.” None of their boys are married yet, but he is thankful that all are in school or gainfully employed. Peter and Susanne enjoy hiking with their two Jack Russell Terriers, Bailey and Finn. They also enjoy biking, skiing and travelling. They look forward to trips to the Canary Islands and Iceland this year.

Peter is in his seventeenth year with Rotary and is a Past President and Paul Harris Recipient.

Read more...
Speakers
May 31, 2019
Jun 07, 2019
Installation Dinner
Jun 14, 2019
CT Inclusive Arts
Jun 21, 2019
TOUR ROTARY SPONSORED BUILDING
Jun 28, 2019
Foodshare
Jul 12, 2019
The Hope Foundation
View entire list
Executives & Directors
President
 
President Elect
 
Immediate Past President
 
Treasurer
 
Secretary
 
Sergeant-at-Arms
 
Foundation Chair
 
Membership Co-Chair
 
Membership Co-Chair
 
Board Member-at-Large
 
Board Member-at-Large
 
Asst Treasurer
 
Interact Chair
 
EarlyRiser Presentations
The Annotated Guide to Ending Polio
GLO Fall 2017 Mission Trip
Eastern Europe Trip to Vienna and Prague Presentation
Avon Village Center Project Presentation
Club Information
Rotary of Avon-Canton - Founded 1973
Avon-Canton
Service above Self
We meet Fridays at 7:30 AM
Avon Old Farms Hotel
279 Avon Mountain Rd.
Avon, CT  06001
United States of America
DistrictSiteIcon District Site
VenueMap Venue Map
Upcoming Meeting Speaker
Elaine Chagnon
Africa Education Partnership in Nigeria
 
 
Sergeant-at-Arms Report
March 8, 2019
 
Members Present: 39
 
Make-Ups: None  
Guests: (5): Stan Krzanowski (community service grant recipient), Shawn Elizabeth George (speaker), Ketil “Oz” Osland (prospective member), Stacy Perrone-Petra (prospective member)
Visiting Rotarians: (1) John Ackenhusen (IPP, Ann Arbor, Michigan Rotary), guest of Sue Budde
Happy Dollars: $32.00
Raffle Winner: Josh Gillooly
 
Birthdays
 
Sarah Leathers (March 7)
 
             [Sarah Leathers, March 8, 2019]
 
Acknowledging her birthday and the passage of time, Sarah said: "I'm definitely older, and hopefully wiser. After my illness, I knew I needed to get involved with groups. I explored many, including several Rotary clubs, but I found every time I left here (Rotary Club of Avon-Canton) I was so full of joy. I am so grateful to be a part of this group."
 
                                                                                                                   
 
Happy Dollars
Gary Roman donated $5.00 in acknowledgement of the Community Service Committee, which he chairs. The Committee spent 99% of our budgeted $27,000.00, divided among 25 local charities. "Thank you to Hank Frey and all others who bring the community organization requests forward, and thanks to those whose fundraising work allows us to be a positive influence in our communities."
 
Linda Pendergast was happy to have heard from Nancy Nation the day before, informing her that Nancy was "thrilled with my team doctor, and feeling good about my decision to go forward with immune therapy." Nancy receives 3 days of therapy every 28 days and asked Linda to convey "I can do this, and thanks for all your support”. Nancy's also happy to now be staying in the Rotary Hotel, which is attached to the hospital. Finally, Paul & Linda P. just spent 2 weeks in Portugal, "which is beautiful, delightful and has friendly people."
 
Larry Haber is happy he'll be visiting Branson Mo, in the Ozarks, next week.
 
Tom Voorhees warned of an arrest warrant issued by nationally-known groundhog Punxatawny Phil, for our own Avon Al, on the very serious charge of spreading fake news regarding the onset of spring. BOLO for Al: He's furry, furtive, armed and dangerous. Do not approach, but call your local Nature Center!
 
Sue Budde is happy for the good news about Nancy, and also that her longtime friend John Ackenhusen is here today. John is married to Sue's friend Ruthie. Sue is also happy that her stepson is moving out, and up, tomorrow.
 
Phil Ferrari was happy to have run into Len Dunstan, who is doing well and recovering from a recent, minor stroke. "Len was looking so good I thought it was his twin brother," said Phil! [ Editors Note: Hmmmm. I don't know how good a complement that really is, Len.]
 
Gary Miller reported his Club Runner email experiment was successful, and that Mike Mezheritskiy replied within 2 nanoseconds. 11 additional responses also came in during the first ten minutes. Other trickled in throughout the day and night.
 
Bob Cave recently left 80-degree temperatures in Florida, where he scored a "two" in golf, as in he lost just two balls in various hazards. He noted he didn't get Gary's email test. [Editor’s Note: Look in the rough, sand traps, water hazards or Junk folder, Bob!]
 
Ted Cowles reported that with the cold weather, maple syrup season has been slow. Nevertheless, 1000 gallons have been boiled to date, but it is still too cold to package it.
 
Rollie Sterrett is planning a visit to Tucson, where he will visit with a USAF buddy.
 
Stacy Perrone-Petra reported this was her 3rd visit to our Club, which for her has been a "feel good" experience when here, and noted that then "the rest of my day is bright." She also reminded those present that the Patriots Day initiative will be held on 3/23, and benefits Wolcott Historical Society.
 
Rick Heath father's ashes were recently interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
 
Robin DiNicola reports her father is doing better and, she's also happy for Nancy and for all our family and friends now doing better with their health.
 
Capri Frank was happy to now be Mrs. Brighenti (since January!). Capri noted her surprise at how meaningful her older kids found their new family structure, and it seemed to mean even more to them, than for the adults. It was a big deal to them, to be a part of a new, larger family.  She continued, saying that while life is not always so smooth, she was amazed to read a text from her 21-year-old son, who on a train to Amsterdam, texted: "I am so thankful, I am so thankful." It was just so stunning to read, as kids rarely express that pure degree of gratitude." Her son continued, saying: "This is going to be a great year", while listing the many things that are going right! Capri was pleased that "This 21-year-old is 'getting it'. Finally, Capri stated, "This group brings out what matters most in life, and we all have gratitude. Hugs all around."
 
Josh Giloolly was happy that the TOTV effort is progressing nicely. The goal is to sell at least 300 tickets and urged members to redouble their efforts as time is short.
 
Mike Mezheritsky, reported Alicia Canning's daughter had a 4 1/2-hour surgery last Tuesday, was doing well and that her lymph nodes were free of cancer. Mike also thanked all those who filled in for Alicia at our meetings.
 
Announcements
 
Rotary Foundation chairman, Joanne Santiago, seeks nominees for our annual Community Paul Harris Fellow recognition. Please contact Joanne or any of the Rotary Foundation Committee members with your suggestions. We typically honor 2-3 citizens each from Avon and from Canton.
 
Gary Miller is seeks a few members to purchase Rotary website ads, at the excellent price of $100/yr. This funding supports our use of ClubRunner software and our website subscription. The ads cycle every few seconds at the upper left-hand corner of the website and are a good way to promote member businesses. Contact Gary if interested.
 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events
 
March 22th: Club meeting at BEANZ - behind New England Pasta on Rt. 44 in Avon.
 
March 30th: Tastes of the Valley will be held Saturday, March 30 at 6 PM. 
 
May 3rd & 4th: The Rotary District 7890 District Conference will be held May 3rd to 4th  at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Danvers, MA. Five districts including 7890 will be represented. The event starts with the Rotary Foundation luncheon on Friday. For a full schedule and registration information follow this link: District Conference Registration
 
May 16th: Rotary Night at Hartford Yard Goats, Thursday May 16; Game time 7:05 PM. Contact Paul Mikkelson for details.
 
Induction of New Members
 
None today
 
 

Community Service Grants
 
[Hank Frey, Stan Krzanowski & Gary Roman]
 
Hank Frey introduced Stan Krzanowski of Canton Little League, with whom he played baseball in the 1960s. Stan and he attended Canton High School together and also played together on the championship Canton High School baseball team. Community Service Committee co-chairman Gary Roman presented a grant check to Stan on behalf of Canton Little League. In accepting our donation, Stan said:  "I thank you, the league thanks you and most of all the kids thank you."
 

 
Presentation
Shawn Elizabeth George
"Our Struggles Have Purpose"
 
Sara Leathers introduced Shawn Elizabeth George, who lives in Avon with her husband and three children. Shawn is committed to letting others know that they are not alone in their personal struggles. She is a cancer survivor, the author of three books and is currently leading a discussion group on mental health, in Avon.
 
  
Opening her comments, Shawn recited the Rotary creed, "Service above self", which she said made her feel she was "with my people." Continuing,  Shawn said "I believe my struggles have given me purpose, which is to help others in need."
Shawn had met Sara Leathers through Healing Meals, from which she and her family received support during her illness. Shawn's experience with cancer started when she and her husband noticed she'd been snoring, and after seeing an ear, nose and throat physician received a "CT scan" [Ed. Note: CT=CAT=computerized axial tomography]. The imaging revealed an intranasal tumor, diagnosed as an "adenoid cystic carcinoma", which is extremely rare. Over the next several months Shawn's hard palate was surgically removed, and thereafter she had to learn to use a device called a palatal "obturator", in place of her now removed, natural palate. She's since used the device for two years.
 
After surgery she spent 5 days a week for 35 weeks in Boston, receiving proton beam radiation, which spares normal tissue, and also chemotherapy. Healing Meal's immune broth was essential for her, as she couldn't eat solid food. Shawn characterized these meals for her and her family as a blessing and noted that "there was beauty in the darkness, because you could see the power of love in their (Healing Meals) assistance". Now Shawn feels "it's her job to 'love on others'."
 
Originally employed as a health and physical education teacher, Shawn had earlier observed the aftermath of her grandmother's stroke and in that experience, learned about the real person who her grandmother was, a person who had also struggled with anxiety and depression. That experience and her own health challenges, led her to become a writer and begin publishing books. Quoting Shawn again: "My journey to live from the inside out for her (my grandmother) was a walk back to faith. My hope is that I can come beside others and help them transcend their challenges."
 
Shawn said: "I get to infuse hope into struggling hearts." Later she described how she spoke to groups of middle school children and, using an actual jigsaw puzzle to communicate the message that each child was an important piece of "life's puzzle." That experience turned into her next book, a children's book entitled, "A Place For Sam."
Continuing, "We see that our struggles in life are heavy and we don't like to share them. But we can either be weighed down by them or take the lessons we've learned and rise up to achieve the best person you were meant to be, by celebrating life, joy and gratitude.We don't know how long any of us has. Why not harness our lessons of today to serve others.”? Communicating that message led to another book, this one for adults: "Our Struggles Have Purpose: 50 Life Lessons From My Struggle With Cancer."
 
Concluding Shawn stated: "I want to speak into your heart: If you have a struggle, the unknown can be daunting. But if you can look up from the problem and see how you can still love someone else today, there is such healing in that. Life will not be struggle free, but we can have greater purpose in our struggles."
 
Noting that her efforts are not merely words, Shawn reported she had recently organized a dodge ball tournament that raised $10,000.00 for cancer research, through a concession stand. Another tournament is upcoming.
 
Finally, she explained a program known as "211 Counts" which identified that identified that the greatest need in Avon is for mental health services, especially for young people. Of 189 mental health assistance related "211" calls received over a year, 121 were for young people aged 18 and under. She thereafter initiated a "mental health matters" conversation at the Avon library to raise awareness, identify resources and share information. That effort has led to the impending creation of an informational 5 x7 note card, summarizing the collated resource information for eventual distribution in the community. If any of us are interested or can help, meetings are held the 1st Tuesday of the month, 7 pm at Avon library. More information is available at:  https://avonctlibrary.info/event/mental-health-matters-6/
 
Learn more about Shawn, her books and her messages at her web sites:
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Mail Bag
 
No mail this week.
 
Photo Credits 
Photographs courtesy of Phil Worley unless otherwise noted.
 
Editor's Notes
Submission Deadline: Members are kindly encouraged to submit all materials for each week's Early Riser as early as possible. Please note that some editions may be published and distributed as early as the Saturday following our meetings, and during those weeks further contributions to the Early Riser will be included in the subsequent week's edition.
“The FOUR-WAY TEST of the things we think, say or do”:

1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all Concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?