Posted by Yvette Hohler on Oct 06, 2020
Today's meeting was hosted by Dennis Brennan, who greeted arriving members at the tent in Cafe Spiga's parking lot.  Small tables had been set up for dining -3 chairs per table.  At the tent's entrance, we signed up for our choice of meal and then took our sign-up number with us to the table of our choice.  Our members seemed to be comfortable with the arrangements made for our first in-person, mid-day meeting in a long time.  Gina welcomed and served us.
Shortly after the pledge to the flag and Sal's thoughtful offering of Grace, Dennis introduced our guest speaker, Mattea Rabeno, a senior at PJ High School and super- RYLArian.  
Mattea explained to her audience that she has been a member of the school's Interact Club since the 9th grade.  When she was a sophomore, she was invited to consider joining RYLA and was pleased to be selected to be a part of the program.  Mattea attended her 1st RYLA weekend that spring and was totally enthralled.  She especially enjoyed the opportunity to train for further leadership opportunities when she attended the 2019 Spring Conference in Riverhead.  That weekend, she joined around 500 youth, who learned more about being effective peer leaders. 
They listened to many inspirational speakers and were appointed to teams that competed in a lot of interesting, enjoyable learning events.  Coming from a class with only 100 classmates, Mattea noted that meeting so many new, different people was an especially great experience.  She made many friends.  Mattea counts herself to be most fortunate to have attended RYLA's summer camp.  No phones were allowed.  The attendees learned, among other things, how to really communicate (without the use of devices), and create goals.  They participated in activities all day and night.  The campers learned to use time wisely, and, importantly, how to pivot when original plans looked like they were falling through.  Mattea enjoyed the camp experience so much that she chose to stay on for Week 3.  She started up a project- a fundraiser for Hope House- and, upon her return home, sought help from adult advisors -Dennis and others.  She learned that she needed to contact and work with her school principal, to advertise her event, etc.  The fundraiser was originally to be a 5K run, but along came Covid-19 and the need to pivot.  Mattea was forced to adapt to the "new normal", change her original plans, and create another type of fundraiser.  During her junior year, Mattea was chosen to be a Facilitator during RYLA weekend.  She is now a Senior Leader ( 1 of 9 chosen from an area stretching from Brooklyn to Montauk), who will help plan and direct the next RYLA weekend. 
When the pandemic hit, and the enthusiasm of her peers began to flag, Mattea kept in touch with fellow-RYLArians.  She encouraged them to keep up their activities, despite Covid and closed schools.  Mattea spent another weekend with team-building training, further broadening her horizons.  She spent a very busy August working closely with peers, though social distancing and following Covid rules.  Mattea feels that this year is about bringing back energy to where it should be.  She has managed and completed a community service project, is planning 3-day retreats, and advertising the RYLA program as best she can.  She thanked our club for its continuing support of RYLA and for building confidence in the youth who participate.  This impressively poised and well-spoken youngster is planning, upon graduation, to attend a university in the Northeast, where she is considering majoring in a management & leadership program.
 
NOTES & ANNOUNCEMENTS:
Next week's meeting will again take place at noon at Cafe Spiga- under the tent.  Kindly bring your check for $22- or cash, and be prepared to take a number, write out your meal choice, and then place your number on the table where you'll be sitting.  (***If the meeting venue or time changes, Rob will let us know in a timely fashion.)
Did you know that our club members have donated over $10,300 ( money, gift cards, etc.) to The Open Cupboard since March?  Please do keep up your much needed and appreciated donations.
Yvette announced the dates for the upcoming Hope Children's Fund's 16th Annual Kenya/USA Bi-Continental 5K Run/Walk...Since this will be virtual event, participants can register at any time from now until November 1st, and will run, walk, jog, hop, crawl, etc. the distance anywhere they choose. [Larry and a small group of local folks of all ages will be using the Port Jeff-Setauket Greenway on Saturday, Oct. 24th (rain date 10/25), arriving at 9:30 AM at the PJ Station Greenway entrance -at the western end of the parking lot on Rte.112 (@Hallock Ave. traffic light-between Enterprise Car Rental and the 7-11).  He invites you to join him, if you wish. Serious runners will start first, followed by joggers, then walkers and all others, who will all record their own start and finish times.  We expect to have helpers at the beginning of the course and at the turn-around point.  All participants will receive a medal. The suggested donation for this event: $25 p/p.] *Runners/walkers who can secure pledges of $100 or more run for free. If you cannot participate, you are invited to make a pledge in support of Larry's jog. Donations are welcome at www.hopechildrensfund.org  or % HCF, P.O. Box 387, Setauket, NY 11733. All proceeds go to the support of the young residents of the Jerusha Mwiraria Hope Children's Home in Meru, Kenya, who will be running a similar event during the same time frame.
 
  FYI: Since our club is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, we can go to that office for free masks and thermometers.
 
Rob D. suggested that LISEC might be in need of additional funds to get through the year.
 
***If you have ideas or items to be discussed at our next meeting, let Rob know.  And if you'd like to join one of the club's special committees, let him know this, as well. The more, the merrier!***
         *** Watch for Rob's invitation to our next meeting and plan to join us!***                                                   
                                  MEANWHILE, STAY SAFE AND WELL!