Russell Hampton
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Salin Low
Getting to Know our Members
Getting to Know Lauren Gardner

Lauren Gardner was raised in Farmington, Connecticut in the same house her father grew up in, graduating from Farmington High School in 2011. She pursued her Bachelor of Social Work with a minor in psychology at Southern Connecticut State University, graduating magna cum laude in 2015.

At the age of sixteen, after being encouraged to strengthen her resume for prospective colleges, Lauren began volunteering a few days after school at FOCUS Center for Autism. What she once viewed as an easy way to enhance her resume, rapidly turned into a passion that she followed into a career. Lauren quickly fell in love with the FOCUS clientele, adoring their individuality, honesty and unique perspectives. She also fell in love with the FOCUS organization, its approach and how it transformed lives, including her own.

While in college, Lauren continued to work part time at FOCUS alongside her mom and fellow Rotarian, Yvonne and part time at J. Timothy’s Taverne with her dad Greg, the restaurant’s General Manager. (You could say they are a pretty close family.) In the end Lauren chose the non-profit lifestyle over a potentially lucrative career in the restaurant industry.

After graduating college, Lauren was offered a full time position with FOCUS. August of 2019 will mark her tenth year with the organization. She often finds it difficult to describe what she does at FOCUS, as the non-profit requires her to wear many different hats. She can find herself marketing one day and substitute teaching the next, while fixing toilets or filming content for their television show in between (just to give a few examples). “Every day is different and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Lauren is a proud advocate for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other related disorders. She is constantly working towards her dream of increasing services for this underfunded and underserved population in our community.

Currently living in West Hartford with her boyfriend Justin, Lauren enjoys spending time with her friends, family and their dogs Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. She also enjoys bargain shopping, traveling, skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer and eating all year round (she is a total foodie!)

Aug 16, 2019
Guiding Light
Aug 23, 2019
Aug 30, 2019
Haitian Water Project
Sep 06, 2019
Meeting and Tour at FAVARH
Sep 13, 2019
A Promise to Jordan
Sep 20, 2019
"Greatest Hits"
View entire list
Executives & Directors
President Elect
Immediate Past President
Foundation Chair
Board Member-at-Large
Board Member-at-Large
Asst Treasurer
Interact Chair
EarlyRiser Presentations
Promoting the Golf Tournament
The Annotated Guide to Ending Polio
GLO Fall 2017 Mission Trip
Club Information
Rotary of Avon-Canton - Founded 1973
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
Fresh Start Pallet Products, LLC
Steve Erie
Special Presentation
At the beginning of the meeting, incoming President Heather presented a certificate to Bob Cave recognizing his 45 years in Rotary. Bob, who was a founding member of the club,  was away from Avon-Canton for a few years, and we are glad he found his way back home. He was not able to attend the President's Dinner when other milestone certificates were presented.
Sergeant-at-Arms Report
June 14, 2019
Members Present: 34
Make-Ups: None  
Guests (5): Jeff Borges (Prospective Member); Erica LuBonta and Jane Woodcox (Speakers); Eva Pandiscia and Jane Lewton (supporters of CT Inclusive Arts).
Happy Dollars: $ 111 (The $20's were flying!)
Raffle Winner: Jolly Lux
Happy Dollars
Paul Mikkelson started things off with a $20, and several others followed suit. Paul was happy that Nancy Nation was at the meetings He congratulated the Toronto Raptors for winning the NBA championship and comforted the Bruins for losing the NHL championship. Paul also put a silly True/False quiz on the tables to remind members of things not to do when seeking support for the golf tournament.
Larry Sullivan was glad to see Nancy, too, especially since she brought in three ads. He encouraged other members to follow her example.
Nancy was happy to be at the meeting. She talked about a golf tournament that is being held to honor her grandson Connor. The tournament is sold out far ahead of time. Nancy thinks that happened because the organizers believe in work being done to fight drug addiction. She says our golf outing could be sold out if we believe in what our club is doing to help the community. We shouldn't be afraid to ask for ads or golfers. Nancy said the cards and notes of support for her have meant so much. Se doesn't have the energy to thank each person individually, but it's not because she doesn't appreciate our encouragement and concern. She also thanked the club for the bench given in memory of Connor. It is in a place where Connor sat, which makes it even more meaningful. The bench has given Nancy and other members of her family comfort in their loss.
Gary Miller thanked the rain gods for holding off showers during the Canton Chamber's golf tournament. The tournament was a success and made some money. He also read an email from Michelle Traub, the member who leads the Interact Club at Canton High School. She tells us that three of the club's members participated in RYLA's (Rotary Youth Leadership Academy) conference this year and that one of the students, Nadia Gorbeno, was chosen to take part in the national summer trip. Michelle is expecting a big year for Interact in the fall.
Bob Cave was happy about the wonderful trip he took to Yellowstone with his granddaughter. He takes one grandchild on each trip, which works out very well.
Hank Frey was happy to be at the club after being away for several months. In fact, he was gone so long that someone asked if he is a new member. Hardly. He's been in the club since 1982.
Jimmy Ssekawaabe to be at the meeting. He can't imagine Friday without Rotary. (Neither can some of us "old dogs!")
Jolly Lux was happy that her fundraising event raised $ 8,000, although it prevented her from attending the President's Dinner. She was getting ready to leave for Uganda to oversee the building of a vocational center. She was proud that Global Orphans recieved the only international grant from the district this year and hopes to win it next year, too.
Carrie Firestone was happy that her dad enjoyed last year's tournament so much that he has been bugging her about getting signed up for this year - and he lives in New York state! The tournament is more than a local draw, and we should reach out to golfers beyond our immediate area.
Jeff Borges was happy to be at the meeting.
Ann Clark us that it was Flag Day on Friday.
Nancy Nation asked whether the club wants to continue providing pencil boxes to a grade school in Hartford. The consensus was that the club thinks this is a great project! Phil and Beth Ferrari have agreed to take over leadership of the project. We usually pack the boxes in August, and it's a fun way to do service. Stay tuned for details.
Calendar of Upcoming Events
June 7th:  President's Installation Dinner, 6 PM, Golf Club of Avon
June 10th: Canton Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament at the Farmington Woods Golf Club. Contact Gary or Sue Budde for more information or visit the Chamber's website for registration: Canton Chamber Golf Tournament
July 18: Seniors' Luncheon for seniors of both Canton and Avon. Canton Senior Center - our work begins about 9:30. See Salin Low or Alicia Canning for details. Sign-up coming soon!
July 19th:  Rain Date for meeting at the new FAVARH building.
September 9th: Annual Rotary Charity Golf Tournament at the Golf Club of Avon. Please contact Gary Miller if you are interested in working on one of the golf committees.
Induction of New Members
None this week.

Community and International Service Grants
None this week.

CT Inclusive Arts
Robin DiNicola introduced Erica LuBonta and Joane Woodcox to talk about CT Inclusive Arts. This program is based on one in Richmond, VA which is designed for students of all abilities culminating in a major public performance.The CT program was established in 2018 and went through a pilot year which was very successful. Eight students participated in the program They work with kids from Grace Academy with youth in the 5th-8th grades. The main idea is to determine how to do arts when there are physical or intellectual limitations.The program also wants to bring diverse communities together to complement various abilities.Students from Watkinson School in Hartford also participate and provide a presence of subtle leadership without requiring a large adult presence. The goal is to have a group that is 50% disabled. There is also an expectation that there will not be an "expert" in the room. Team members are supposed to help each other.
Community involvement is important as a way to show the talents and abilities of disabled youth who tend to be marginalized. One of the supporters of the program is a professional musician and has been able to bring in various notable performers. This won't necessarily happen with each  year's program, but it di get things off to a good start.
The plans for the coming academic year include an 18-week program for capped by a public performance in March. They want to have classes in four locations in order to provide better accessibility. They have some space at American School for the Deaf and Hartford Stage and need two more locations. I order to have the program grow and to put on a high quality performance, they need $60,000. They have been granted a provisional tax exempt status to raise this money. Their program in Tuition based, although there is money for scholarships. Most families will have to pay part of the tuition.
A theme of the presentation was "We all matter!" This certainly relates to our support of FAVARH and to the idea of Service Above Self.

Mail Bag
None today
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?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?