February 21, 2023 Meeting Report

Our guest speaker Deanna Genske, Executive Director of Ascend Services, Inc., shared her history with the organization and the good it does for adults with a disability in the community.

Welcome (Guests and Junior Rotarians)

Our Junior Rotarians this week was Kasia Kamyszek, who shared news about upcoming events at the Two Rivers High School.

Today's Program: Ascend Service, Inc.

Ascend Services, Inc. has been around since 1957, and Executive Director Deanna Genske has been with the organization for 30 of those years. In the early days, Deanna started working there while in college, under the leadership of the founder who was still the executive director. However, a few months into her job, the founder passed away. Deanna describes him as "a truly remarkable man," and someone she read everything about.

One thing Deanna learned about the founder was that he was never married to the name, "Holiday House." He wanted people to help themselves and ultimately live a full life. This philosophy led to the name change to Ascend Services, which accurately reflects the organization's goal to help individuals grow and blossom.

Ascend Services serves individuals in small groups based on their interests, skills, and desired outcomes. Their program called LINKED has 45 individuals who participate in activities that are relevant to them, such as learning about Two Rivers or working in the kitchen. The program's ultimate goal is to help individuals decide if they want to pursue a job or recreational activity in that area.

Ascend Services acquired the Brewer building in 1996 and remodeled it in 2011 to create a space for their Day Services program, which serves those in semi-retirement or who want part of their day not filled with work.

Ascend Services relies on authorization sources for about 30% of their funding, but they also do grant writing and fundraising events. As traditional sources of funding have become less reliable, the organization has been forced to be more creative in acquiring the funds they need to continue their work.

Overall, Deanna and Ascend Services want to help people live their best lives ever. It's heartwarming for her to hear a parent say, "My son couldn't get up in the morning, but now he jumps out of bed, excited to go to Grow It Forward!" Ascend Services is making a difference in people's lives, and it's an organization worth celebrating.

Club Operations

Our Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and the planning committee recently met to discuss their ideas for the occasion.

The Club has proposed a community event with a retro theme to be held in late summer at the new 365 West space in Central Park. The event will feature hot dogs and small beers from Cool City, as well as a band. All items will be sold for a dollar, or 100 pennies, to harken back to throwback prices. The event is intended to be a celebration of the community and not a fundraiser.

In addition to the community event, the Club is also looking into having a banner made to carry in parades to raise awareness of their 100-year anniversary.

Wendy has been putting in a lot of work behind the scenes, and the committee gave her a well-deserved shout-out for her efforts. Wendy will also be posting updates about the Club's plans on their Facebook page every week. Betty has also just joined the committee.

Finally, the Club received a great honor from the City Council of Two Rivers. The city declared February 20, 2023, as Rotary Day in honor of the Club's 100 years of service. Five Rotary members attended the ceremony, and the Club is grateful for the recognition from the city.
The community event and parade banner show our Club's commitment to celebrating this milestone with their community. The Rotary Club of Two Rivers has made a positive impact on our community and the world for 100 years, and we are looking forward to continuing that legacy for many years to come.

Club Events and Service Opportunities

Update on Annual Dinner. The Annual Dinner planning committee has provided an update on the upcoming Rotary Club event. They have shared a sign-up form for Rotarians who wish to attend the event and are currently seeking sponsorships from a number of promising businesses, including funeral homes, banks, and Schwartz Industries. The committee is pleased to announce that the premier sponsorship has been secured by Bank First. However, they are still in need of additional auction items and contributions to the Booze Bin. Invitations for the event will be sent out this week, and the committee is encouraging all members to help spread the word and make this year's Annual Dinner a success.
World Seminar. Club members discussed students to attend the World Affairs Seminar 2023. The club will sponsor one student which will be credited to the next year if no one is found to attend. The deadline is February 28th.
Lori continues to work on Easter Bags. The effort is going well so far! Distribution of the bags is April 1 from 9 am to noon. Lori will inform us when volunteers are needed.
Meals on Wheels. The Club is still looking for volunteers to help deliver Meals on Wheels for March 7, 8, and 10. The sign-ups can be completed online. The April dates for volunteering are also now available. For those who prefer a hard copy sign-up sheet, Colleen has provided one in the "black" book at our in-person meetings. This is a great opportunity to make a difference in the community and help those in need.
The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum the Club a sponsorship request for its annual Wayzgoose event held each November. The Club gave $500 last year. The Board will consider request at its next meeting.
The Van der Brohe Arboretum is seeking sponsorships for bike racks, benches, etc. The Board will also consider this request at the Feb. 22, 2023 meeting.
Betty also shared that International Womens’ Day is March 8th and proposed that we do something to honor that day.
Betty will step up to be the new Membership Chair.  Thank you Betty!    

District Activities

Tricon is scheduled for April 28 & 29 in LaCrosse.  Rotarians are encouraged to attend.
Faces of Rotary, Imagine Rotary Differently. Zoom 6-7:30 on Thursday this week. Betty can share the link. 
Friday 11:30 am to 1 pm, Rotary is sponsoring a Zoom meeting on business networking. Betty shared the link with members via email. 

Looking Ahead

Join us for our next meeting at the Two Rivers High School on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:00 am. Please note that there will be no Zoom link available for his meeting.