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Bulletin Editor
Avis Hardy MPH
MEETING RECAP - 7th February 2022
Submitted by Will Arscott 
Guest Speaker: Club Member Marc Cheriyan on the Freedom Writers
This meeting was held by Zoom and we were a smaller but still enthusiastic group. Wendy Cooper was our capable MC for the meeting and Paul Gauthier was our Zoom host. Wayne Palmer was cashier. Thanks also to Avis Hardy for setting up the meeting and the roster.
The meeting began with the playing of ‘O’ Canada.  The blessing was asked by Marc Cheriyan.  Marc started from the two great commandments of the Christian Bible - to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves.  Rotary is the perfect outlet to allow us to practice the second of these commandments.
Visitors and Guests
Was to be handled by Gary Rusu but there were no visitors or guests present.
Health of the Club
There was no report at this meeting.
Friendship Inn:   We are volunteering again next Monday. It is Valentine’s Day, and the Inn has promised an especially fun day for the clients and for the volunteers. This is always a good way to serve in our community and those who do it feel rewarded. Gary Rusu promised eight volunteers but only has six to date. If you can help, please contact Gary. Maybe Covid is causing members to be concerned about serving. Gary reports that the Friendship Inn has had no Covid issues to date.
Local Community Service: Avis Hardy talked about a new project that is being suggested to our club. The program is Hope Restored Canada. The program seeks to help girls coming out of being trafficked. Often these girls start in the trade at ages as young as eleven to fourteen. They have developed a program built around class attendance and reaching goals. They need help with rewards for the girls as they complete the levels in the program. A typical reward is a $100 gift card. Avis will be bringing it to us as a club local community service project. In the meantime, individuals can contribute through our charitable trust.
Grocery Cards: Donna has them available. Please contact her to order your cards. $500 worth were spoken for at the meeting.
Happy and Sad:
  • $25 Tim Squires not sure if these were happy or sad but Tim announced he had been locked out of Facebook. It may have been the result of an attack from China.
  • $20H and sad for Paul and Donna Gauthier whose family have Covid. The good news is that to date everyone is doing well. It seems that many families are experiencing Covid at this time and we may be done with Covid, but it is clear it is not done with us.
  • $100H Graham Pearson for good Canadian results in the start of the Olympics. He and his dog are enjoying contributing to the Polio Walk project and becoming healthier.   Also, spring is coming to Penticton, and they are having a real melt. [There was nobody available this week to match Graham as Mark G is in Hawaii and it appears that Jack B has gone off to explore the beaches of Northern Manitoba.]
  • $20 Steve Wilson for the Canadian athlete who won a gold in slope side snowboarding after a fight with cancer.
Marc Cheriyan - The Freedom Writers
Our guest speaker was club member Marc Cheriyan. Marc needs no introduction in our club, and none was forthcoming.
Prior to taking his current position with the Salvation Army, Marc was a middle school teacher particularly in Lloydminster. Marc spoke about a program he introduced in Lloyd which has had significant success and recognition. Mark began by showing a short video trailer for a movie made about the program.
The Freedom Writers program is a program that originated with one teacher in Long Beach California. The school she was in was riff with gangs and violence. This made good learning outcomes difficult, and the peer culture did not support learning. We are starting to have many of the same problems here though the gang life is not as harsh here as in Long Beach. The program involves students exploring their problems through journaling. The outcomes were outstanding with the students finishing high school and going on to college and beyond. The level of conflict in the school was also reduced.
Marc began to use this program in a special needs classroom he was teaching in Lloydminster.  The plan was to look at the journal entries and discuss these entries in class. Marc planned that this would be a short section of the day but found that sessions could go on for hours. Serious concerns such as abuse were disclosed in these sessions. The program worked for his students.
With the encouragement of the school administration, Marc applied to travel to Long Beach to study from the program’s originator – Erin Gruwell. The program was to accept about one hundred teachers from all parts of the United States and beyond. The application process required significant work to talk about yourself and your connection to the program. Marc was astounded when they chose to accept a teacher from Lloydminster, and they were treated very well when they were at the program. At the end they were presented with a new laptop computer and told that they were to undertake a journaling project to have the students talk about the program from the teacher’s perspective.  Marc showed a second short video about the teacher’s project. Finally, Marc read from his submission.
It was a story of a student named ‘George.’ George was troubled and in serious trouble with the law following a stabbing. Over time George opened-up and came to identify with the program. Marc helped George negotiate the legal system and get the legal problems behind him. In the fullness of time George has gone on to university and now is a social work intern working for the Salvation Army in Saskatoon. Without the Freedom writers project George’s future would have been uncertain at best.  
Marc hopes that, going forward, the program will be available to more students. Following his presentation there were several questions.
In recognition of Marc’s talk the regular donation will be made to Bethany Homes.
Next Meeting:  Moved to February 28th because of the Family Day holiday. Presenters will be club members Jenny Lawrence and Maureen Torr.