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Author: Jonah Triebwasser

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In RadioRotary’s weekly 30 minute interviews, two entertaining professional radio hosts, Sarah O’Connell and Jonah Triebwasser, chat with Rotarians and non-Rotarians, people who live by Rotary’s motto, “Service above Self.” Guests are humanitarians who work on many levels in programs that address such important issues as poverty, education, health, the environment, and employment and vocations. Each interview provides timely information that focuses on improving the quality of life for everyone, both here and abroad. Support this podcast:
532 Episodes
Pleasant Valley Recreation Director Sandy Coe and local businessman Frank Mazzella visit RadioRotary to tell about the full-day celebration that is the Pleasant Valley Festival of Lights. The event, which combines food and Santa, pets and Santa, a parade and Santa, and many other holiday traditions, started a few years ago with a simple lighting of the Town Christmas tree. Today it runs from a breakfast (with Santa) starting at 8 in the morning and concluding about 12 hours later with a parade followed by hot chocolate and cookies at the Fire House. Aside from Main Street--site of the parade of floats, fire trucks, walkers, and Santa in a horse-drawn carriage--the main action is at three important locations in Pleasant Valley: the Fire House, the Library, and the Mill Site Historical Museum. Starting with a pancake breakfast, continuing with cookie sales, a chili cook-off, food trucks, and lots of hot chocolate, it is easy to spend the day in downtown PV, enjoying readings and encounters with various animals in addition to the main event, the parade.Learn more:Festival of Lights: Valley Recreation: Valley Fire Department: Valley Rotary Club: Valley Lions on Facebook: Support this podcast:
RadioRotary interviewers visited the 2019 Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, where they found many Rotarian groups and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) doing good in the world. This radio program, the fourth in a series, covers a few of these projects. Roots of Life deals with land that has been planted with land mines, which linger long after wars have passed, and replants the land with grape vines, growing grapes for wine, raisins, or food, which not only helps save lives but also provides economic benefits to farming communities. Gift of Life offers life-saving surgery to children who were born with congenital heart disease. Both organizations work with Rotary to connect around the world. The Rotarian Action Group (RAG) Against Slavery helps rescue the millions of people still enslaved, often for sex but also by businesses, and offers programs to rehabilitate them for a life of freedom. There are many locations where the Don’t Meth With Us Foundation is fighting drug abuse—primarily methamphetamine but also opioid addiction. War Child, which has independent branches in the United Kingdom, Holland, and Canada, supports all young children who have been affected by armed conflict, with education and safe zones around the world.Learn more:Roots of Peace: of Life International: Action Group Against Slavery:’t Meth With Us Foundation: Child: RecoveryChildrenEducationHealthHuman TraffickingInternational ProgramsService Organizations--- Support this podcast:
Cara Mia Bacchiochi returns to RadioRotary to describe her continuing effort to help Poughkeepsie women who are homeless, most addicted to drugs or alcohol. At the corner of Main and South Clinton every Saturday morning and evening, sometimes in rain or snow, Bacchiochi and volunteers distribute food, clothing, and personal care items to homeless women,restoring dignity to homeless, addicted women of the streets. Ms. Bacchiochi herself drank excessively and used drugs, living in jails and on the street from 1985 when she came to school in Poughkeepsie. She then lived on the streets until 1990. Periods of sobriety after 1990 were interrupted by relapses until found herself back in jail in 2013 in the same cell she had occupied in 1990. In jail, she read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and recognized that her purpose would be to help women with lives like hers. After she was released from jail that last time, finally sobered up and living clean, she started a career helping other women kick their destructive lifestyle With Hope on a Mission (HOAM), founded in 2015. She now feeds and helps dozens of the women of the streets and homeless men as well. To donate or volunteer, you can phone (914) 456-2633 or visit its Facebook page: Hope on a Mission HOAM.Learn more:Hope on a Mission HOAM Facebook Page: Mia Bacchiochi on Facebook: Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers: Warren books: RecoveryDutchess CountyHomelessnessService Organizations--- Support this podcast:
RadioRotary welcomed two guests from Dutchess Outreach, the sprawling organization that provides healthy food, good advice, emergency relief, and even clothing needs for the needy in the County. Sarah Salem, the Director of Development for Dutchess Outreach, explains the many services and the goals of this catalyst for community revitalization, while Nyhisha Gibbs describes the Children’s Coat Closet and the drive to provide warm clothing to those who lack it. Dutchess Outreach has roots in a 1974 effort to provide emergency services in Poughkeepsie and opened its first Food Pantry two years later. Since then the services have expanded greatly, with the emphasis on providing healthy food that is accessible even in “food deserts.” Recently Dutchess Outreach has started farming to improve the supply of healthy food, a project that takes Sarah Salem back to her own roots, since she became involved in Dutchess Outreach from her experiences working at an organic farm.Learn more:Dutchess Outreach: Deserts in America: Self-Storage: CountyEventsNutritionService Organizations--- Support this podcast:
Krista Jones returns to RadioRotary with the latest developments at Sparrow’s Nest, the charity that provides food to the families of persons who have cancer. Ms. Jones started the charity in 2009 when a good friend was dying of colon cancer, Ms. Jones recognized that cancer treatment, which can wear a person out, affects the whole family, and a night off from cooking would help renew spirits. Soon Ms. Jones learned of four other friends with cancer and began to cook for them as well. The concept worked and soon more families were found that needed help. Seeing the need, she formed Sparrow’s Nest with many volunteers helping in the mission. Today Sparrow’s Nest has moved from Ms. Jones’ kitchen to a professional kitchen and office in a commercial space, now feeding about 400 families in the region within 35 miles of the kitchen in Wappingers Falls. Drivers bring healthy food for two meals a week from the central kitchen.  The food is provided free for caregivers with children 18 or under. Sponsors and donor underwrite the costs and volunteers do the work.Learn more:Sparrow’s Nest:’s Nest Facebook Page: and Cancer Treatment:’s Farm:’s Café and Catering: OrganizationVolunteers--- Support this podcast:
In 1954 when she was 6 months old, Louise Rourke contracted polio, also known as infantile paralysis. Initially she lost the power of moving either leg or her left arm, although her left side eventually recovered with medical help supplied in part by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (the March of Dimes). After several corrective surgeries, she was able to walk with the aid of a brace on her right leg. By the time she was a teenager, she could walk without the brace, but age caught up to her in 2007 and she needed the brace once more. Like some other polio survivors, she found that swimming was excellent exercise, although her right leg just dangled in the water. Living on the shore of 32-mile-long Lake George in upstate New York, she learned of women who had swum the entire length of the lake, so she conceived of a plan to earn money for polio eradication by swimming the length of Lake George herself. This RadioRotary program tells how she got through the task and what she accomplished for polio eradication, which became multiplied by a factor of 3 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.Learn more:Polio: Polio Now: and Melinda Gates Foundation: George: Lake George Rotary Club: Polio InitiativePolioPlus--- Support this podcast:
The 2019 Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, was covered by RadioRotary interviewers; this is the third report on some of what they found. A Rotarian from the Netherlands told RadioRotary about efforts of her organization to reduce human trafficking with education and empowerment of youth. Another NGO (non-governmental organization) called Medair works to provide quick relief and shelter in cases of disasters or civil conflict. A Rotarian physician from Johns Hopkins in Maryland is part of the Rotary Action Group (RAG) on Mental Health Initiatives, working primarily to reduce high suicide rates in Lithuania and India. A Rotarian from Zambia describes efforts to provide new professions for commercial sex workers; he was promoting the Rotarian shirts made by former sex workers who now operate sewing machines. And, closer to home, Rotarians from Media, Pennsylvania (Jeffrey Cadorette), and Millbrook, New York (Cindie Kish), tell about the polio eradication program known as “Drop to Zero” and the possible drop to ground level from the skies for six Rotarians, including Cindie and Jeffrey, if goals are met.Learn more:Just Ask (human trafficking prevention): Action Group on Mental Health Initiatives: Shirts, Hats, and Aprons made by former sex workers: Drop to Zero: Zones 24-32: AssistanceDisaster ReliefGlobal Polio InitiativeHuman Trafficking (new category)International ProgramsMental Health (new category)PolioPlus--- Support this podcast:
RadioRotary interviewers discovered some great projects at the 2019 Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany. Rotarians and other humanitarian groups are doing good around the world, improving hearing and sight, providing light and shelter, and preventing polio and other communicable diseases. Rotarians for Hearing work in Nigeria, South Africa, and even the United States, concentrating on ways to provide aids to the hearing impaired, while the Eye Foundation of American helps solve vision problems in newborn children. ShelterBox tents include not only the supplies needed after for a whole family a disaster but also a LuminAID solar cube that lights the night (and in some cases charges the phone). Vaccination is succeeding in eliminating polio, but simple hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent communicable diseases.Learn more:Rotarians for Hearing RAG: Polio: Foundation of America: Hygiene for Health: ReliefGlobal Polio InitiativeHealthInternational ProgramsPolioPlusQuality of Life--- Support this podcast:
RadioRotary interviews Highland Rotarian Tony Marmo and Anna Palazzo Brett about the annual Italian-American Festival on the Strand Walkway at the Roundout in Kingston, NY, also known as the Kingston Waterfront. Ulster Country, like much of the Hudson Valley, has a rich Italian heritage, much of it stemming from the skilled masons and quarry workers imported to build the mansions and dams throughout the Valley. The Festival celebrates this with emphasis on the foods and music that came to American from Italy along with the workers. The event is free, but the Ulster Italian-American Society realizes a profit from the many vendors of all kinds who rent space at the Festival and from several local sponsors such as the Reis Group of insurance brokers. The money raised goes to good causes such as the several scholarships awarded to local students who have an Italian heritage.Learn more:Ulster Country Italian American Foundation:, NY, Waterfront: Italian Heritage Museum in Albany: Group: Rotary: Valley--- Support this podcast:
RadioRotary interviews Pari Farood, Executive Director of Miles of Hope, an organization that provides aid and comfort to breast-cancer sufferers throughout the nine counties of the Hudson Valley. Miles of Hope was founded in 2004 by Dana Effron and Cathy Varunok who had already devoted themselves to raising money for the fight against breast cancer but recognized that there needed to be a more local organization. The name originates with the annual fall Breast Cancer Walk at James Baird State Park in Dutchess Country, but there are additional fundraising events throughout the year. With the money it raises, Miles of Hope provides many services to improve the lives of persons with breast cancer ranging from help paying bills and for associated medical services to college scholarships for students whose lives have been affected by the breast cancer of a relative or friend. An important service is the peer-to-peer hotline (800-532-4290) where those affected by breast cancer can exchange information on how to deal with the problems that arise.Learn more:Miles of Hope: Action Partnership for Dutchess County: York State Breast Cancer Services: Cancer: AidHealthHudson ValleySupport Groups(photo by Jonah Triebwasser)--- Support this podcast:
RadioRotary interviews Asheville (NC) South Rotarian Peter Marks, President and CEO of Seed Programs International (SPI), a global effort to improve food supplies by providing vegetable seeds and gardening advice especially to regions of the world where poverty is endemic. The nonprofit repurposes excess seeds provided by seed companies and other donors. Most vegetable seeds are tiny and many varieties have long shelf lives, so when stocks of seeds are not sold, SPI will take them, repackage the seeds, and ship them to Africa, Central American, the Caribbean, or Asia, where they can launch gardens of healthy vegetables. SPI works with many organizations to provide the seeds, including Rotary clubs, the United Nations, and the United States military services among others. Seeds include all kinds of vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, melons, carrots, and various greens (but not grains such as maize, wheat, or rice). One of the partner programs is Rotarians Against Hunger, a coalition of North Carolina clubs that package meals for places where hunger is a problem. There is much more to tell, so listen to the whole program.Learn more:Seed Programs International: Against Hunger: Club of Asheville South: ProgramsNutritionRotary Club Projects--- Support this podcast:
This week’s guests on RadioRotary were from the Pleasant Valley Lions Club—Fred De Wald and Pam Highbridge. Every year the Lions Club raises money and improves the Town’s health with its annual Bike-A-Thon, a chance for bikers of all ages to ride together on what has so far always been a beautiful fall day. In 2019, the Lions devoted the occasion to the “Ride to Rebuild” the Pleasant Valley Free Library, which suffered a devastating fire on Election Day 2018. Bikers could choose a 10-mile ride that has traffic eliminated, a ride with a break at Terhune Orchard for free apples and cider and another treat—bananas and water—back at the Pleasant Valley Firehouse. Or they can take a 25-mile along regular roads. Sponsors of riders have a chance to win a discount on a new bike or a child’s bike helmet. The Lions run several events each year, including a “Breakfast with Santa” jointly with Pleasant Valley Rotary.Learn more:Bike-A-Thon: The Ride to Rebuild: Valley Lions Club on Facebook: valley lions club&epa=SEARCH_BOXLions Clubs International: Valley Free Library: of LifeService Organizations--- Support this podcast:
For the past 12 years, Crisp Architects has presented the FineHome Source Home Show in Millbrook, NY, every September, becoming bigger and better each year. This RadioRotary interview with Millbrook Rotarian Jimmy Crisp, live from a Rotary meeting, describes it all. The show features many artisans and manufacturers displaying every possible artifact for enhancing, improving, or creating an excellent living space. In addition, the show offers free samples of local food and drink, demonstrations of blacksmithing, fly fishing, and other crafts, including book signings by local authors and an antique auction. Parking is free, and the small suggested donation per person goes entirely to paying for a ShelterBox, the amazing tent and supply source that can house and provide for a family of 10 for up to 6 months, deployed for disasters around the world; a ShelterBox will be among the displays. The whole event takes place under and around a large tent in front of the town bandshell on the main street in Millbrook.Learn more:FineHome Source Home Show: Architects: https://www.shelterboxusa.orgRotary Club of Millbrook (NY): ReliefEventsQuality of Life--- Support this podcast:
Diana Bellissimo, owner of the Lilymoore Alpaca Farm, visits the RadioRotary studio (sadly without an alpaca) to describe the activities that the farm celebrates on National Alpaca Day and to tell the RadioRotary cohosts about the pleasures of raising 25 alpacas (and a llama) on a 40-acre farm in Pleasant Valley, New York. While alpacas are primarily known for their amazing wool, the sweet-tempered and terminally cute animals are just pleasant to be around. Learn more about this delightful South American relative of the camel and about the wool products and outdoor activities available at the farm.Learn more:Lilymoore Alpaca Farm: Alpaca Days: About Alpacas: Assisted Therapy: Support this podcast:
Once again RadioRotary interviewers haunted the halls of a Rotary International Convention, which in 2019 was in Hamburg, Germany. Our team found many fascinating stories about the projects of Rotarians and representatives of other organizations that are trying to do good in the world. These include fighting hunger in third-world nations; uncovering the roles Rotarians played during the Nazi reign inGermany; providing dictionaries of all kinds around the world; and raising money to end present-day slavery. The program concludes with an in-depth interview with Barry Rassin, Rotary International president for the 2018-19 Rotary Year, focusing especially on his work in providing water to Haiti.Learn more:Rise Against Hunger: in National Socialism: Dictionary Project: from Chai to Hamburg: Rassin: International: ServiceInternational ProgramsLiteracyNutritionRotary InternationalWater Projects--- Support this podcast:
RadioRotary co-hosts Sarah O’Connell–Claitor and Jonah Triebwasser interview Millbrook High School student Joe Richard about his year spent in Germany as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Participants are generally high-school students and are sponsored by a Rotary Club to spend a school year abroad in a country with a different language from their native tongue, living with local families and attending a local school. Mr. Richard lived with three different families and attended school in Lüneburg, Germany, a small city 35 miles southeast of Hamburg. Mr. Richard, who plays the tenor saxophone, not only joined his school’s big swing band, but also became a part of several local ensembles, helping him assimilate as he also learned German, his coursework, and the customs of Germany.Learn more:Rotary Youth Exchange:üneburg, Germany:üneburgMillbrook Rotary (sponsor of Joe Richard): https://millbrookrotary.orgCATEGORIESEducationInternational ExchangesTravelYouth--- Support this podcast:
Highland Rotarians Steve Laubach and Tony Marmo tell about the glories of eating barbecue (and listening to music) at the fifteenth annual Ribfest, Ulster County Fairgrounds just outside New Paltz.  In addition to great food and music by local performers, the Ribfest has many activities for children and some special events. The $7 admission--$5 on Friday night with free parking always-- allows you to experience all the music and an opportunity to experience ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, roasted corn-on-the-cob, and a variety of other great foods.  Those who opt for the VIP all-you-can-eat special on Friday and Saturday evenings, also get the best seats for the shows—mostly country music by local bands. The adult-beverage tent specialized in local craft beers, but also has wine and soft drinks. In Competition Alley, barbecue chefs compete for cash prizes and a grand prize of entry into the World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City.Learn more:Hudson Valley Ribfest: Rotary Club: BBQ Society: City Barbeque Society: Series of Barbecue: ValleyNutritionRotary Club ProjectsVolunteers--- Support this podcast:
For 100 years, the villages of Red Hook and Tivoli, New York, have been served by their respective volunteer fire departments, so they are jointly celebrating the anniversary in 2019. RadioRotary gets the whole story of the history and of the celebration from guests Stephen Fell, Chief of the Red Hook Fire Company, and Marc Hildenbrand, Chief of the Tivoli Fire Department. In the 19th century, fire companies were mostly privately owned, often specializing in a particular aspect of fire fighting, such as a hook-and-ladder company or a hose company. Near the beginning of the 20th century, the villages moved to consolidate everything into two volunteer fire companies—both villages are part of the Town of Red Hook. In this program, you will learn about the training and equipment a fire fighter needs; the other services of a fire company, including EMT-staffed ambulances; duties of the fire police; and much more. You will also learn about the recent disaster when the Tivoli Fire Station burned and how the community is coming together to rebuild and re-equip it. Learn more:Red Hook Fire Company: Fired Department on Facebook: County Volunteer Fireman’s Association: to Become a Volunteer Firefighter: Support this podcast:
The dynamic duo of Doris and Ken Obremski, both Past District Governors of Rotary District 7210 and both members of The Rotary Club of Goshen, New York (Ken is once again president of the club after a long hiatus), come to RadioRotary to be interviewed by old friends Sarah O’Connell-Claitor and Jonah Triebwasser. Much of the interview consists of reminiscences of Ken’s 50 active years in Rotary (by January 2020) and Doris’ 26 years joining her husband in its work-- from immunizations for children in the US and against polio abroad, international exchanges, to disaster relief after Katrina. RadioRotary started during Doris’ tenure as District Governor and might not have made it through its early years without her help and encouragement. The pair joined Rotary because they wanted to be part of something important and it changed their lives and their family’s lives for the better. Learn more:The Rotary Club of Goshen, New York: Rotary, NY, on Facebook: District 7210: Fights Against Polio: and the United Nations: ReliefInternational ExchangesPeacePolioPlusRotary District 7210United Nations--- Support this podcast:
RadioRotary interviews “Mr. A,” also known as retired Red Hook math teacher Nick Ascienzo, founder of The Ascienzo Family Foundation, a unique resource for helping to alleviate poverty, provide educational services, and serve senior citizens. Many of Mr. Ascienzo’s former students have become Ambassadors for the Foundation, people who seek out local needs and write grant proposals so that the Foundation can support these good causes. Among the examples around the nation are Fresh Truck, a mobile farm market that brings produce to underserved neighborhoods; the Sunflower Bakery, which trains and employs the developmentally disabled in producing baked goods for sale in their store or online; and We Care Solar, a provider of solar-power on backpacks , enabling access to renewable electricity for people in developing regions. Although Mr. Ascienzo’s former students range over the world, the Foundation is based in Red Hook, NY, and many of its projects are local as well.  Learn more:Ascienzo Family Foundation: Family Foundation on Facebook: Truck: Bakery: Care Solar: Hook, NY: DisabledEducartionFiancial AidNutrition--- Support this podcast:
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