Monday, December 31, 2007

Elder Financial Abuse Discussed At MV Rotary Meeting

"Elderly abuse comes in many forms," Bea Stankard told the Merrimack Valley Rotary Club. Bea said that Elderly abuse is also the result of mishandling a person's funds.

Bea is a representative of the Elder Services of Merrimack Valley. She works for the organization's Meals On Wheels and Money Management Programs.

Bea told the Club about stories where people were handling seniors money but was actually sealing money from them. This included a niece that and elderly aunt was trusting but was actually writing checks to herself. She was eventually caught with the help of the Money Management Program.

She said that one of the services her agency provides is matches volunteers with elders to help them keep track of their day-to-day financial activities.

According the the Elder Services Web Page: "Household budgets, checkbook balancing and bill paying can become difficult due to poor eyesight, deteriorating health, mobility limitations or depression."

The Web page mentions two key points about the Money Management Program:

  • Volunteers assist low-income older adults with the tasks involved with routine bill paying, budgeting and check writing.

  • The Money Management Program is jointly sponsored by AARP and the Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs.

Elder Services is a private, non-profit agency incorporated in 1974 to serve older residents who reside in the 23 cities and towns comprising the Merrimack Valley. They are federally designated as the Area Agency on Aging and manage the State Home Care Program.

If you have questions e-mail the agency at or write to Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, 360 Merrimack St., Bld.5, Lawrence, MA 01843. 800-892-0890.

MV Rotary Learns About Greater Lowell Foundation

David Kronberg, Executive Director of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation recently told the Merrimack Valley Rotary Club that the Foundation " is a tax-exempt public charity that enables people to establish charitable funds."

He said that the funds are commingled with other funds and managed professionally. The assets grow over time and individuals are encouraged to continue giving to the fund and help it grow. Funds are awarded from the fund to support local non-profit organizations, in accordance with the individual's interests.

The Foundation is overseen by a volunteer board of leading citizens and run by professionals with expertise in knowing community needs. David said, "they go beyond simple making grants that advance charitable activities. They also identify current and emerging issues, stimulate resources to address those needs and help the region prepare for the future."

The Foundation services 24 communities in the Northern Middlesex area in Massachusetts. Each year they distribute more than $ 1 million to local organization and scholarships.

For more infomation: Greater Lowell Community Foundation, 169 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852-1723, 978-970-2444, email:, Web Page:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa Makes Rotary Members Jolly!

Santa arrived at the Merrimack Valley Rotary on December 19. And fortunate for all the members, they were all on his "nice" list. Every one had a jolly good time and many ho ho hos were heard! Thanks for dropping by during your busy schedule Santa, you can join our club any time you want. Is there a classification for elf management? Say hello to the misses!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Final Day Is Spent Visiting Rotary Schools For Handicapped Children In India

Merrimack Valley Rotary's Carl Good has spent the last two weeks in India and Bangladesh working to eradicate polio in the area. This is his final report from the area.

This is our last day in India as we leave for the 15 hour trip to Newark NJ tonight at midnight. While it will be great to be home I am not sure that I am ready for the cold and snow. Today we visited the Rotary supported school in Delhi for poor and handy caped children and they presented this dance. I have a great video but it is too large to upload to Youtube so I will have to wait until I get home to edit it down. This school is a mixed normal and "differently abled" children. The idea is that the handy caped children were not in a handy caped only school but were with other children that were not so challenged. The school was outfitted with ramps and busses with wheelchair lifts. The school included regular studies as well as computer, sewing and mechanical classes.

Carl Visits Rotary Sponsored Schools

This is the second part of today's notes. After visiting the Akshay school we drove through town to a slum near the airport to see another Rotary sponsored school "Education for Livelihood". This school includes a sort of day care where workers go through the slum looking for small 2 yrs and up that have been left at home because their parents are working. They get care and food. Older children, especially girls, are given classes and a lunch with the focus of providing them with skills such a sewing, hairdressing and computer techniques so that they can bring themselves out of poverty. Many are from villages. A study was done and they found that many had gone back to their villages and were very respected because of their skills. Again there is a focus on girls as they believe that educating them will lead to the next generation being educated and more stable and smaller families. The fellow in the turban who is standing beside me is one of the major drivers in the polio eradication effort in this part of the world. Another Rotarian.

It will not be long until we leave for home. This has been a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it to others; Rotary members or not. In this program we didn't see many of the typical tourist sites but have an extensive exposure to the local people at all levels. This program allows one to contribute to those who very much need help and to those who are actively helping their own countrymen and women. I must note that most of the work and money comes from local Bangladesh and Indian Rotary members and others in country. They don't just take our money but especially when it comes to personal involvement, do they majority of the work themselves. The local Rotarians contribute very substantially to these programs. I am filled with hope for the future as they are making great progress in bringing millions of people out of poverty. One key is the focus on women. Another is the rapid introduction of technology. Cell phones are everywhere, even outside the major cities and the Internet is providing massive exposure to the rest of the world.

I am filled with hope.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Carl's Final Days With His Fellow Rotarians In Bangladesh

Merrimack Valley Rotarian Carl Good has spent the last two weeks in India and Bangladesh on a Rotary mission to eradicate polio in the area. Today he returns to the U.S. Below is his latest report:

In the morning we visited a flower market in Calcutta and then checked out of our hotel and tried to fly to Delhi for a dinner with Captain Kumar who is a Rotarian and very involved in the polio eradication effort. However, our plane was so delayed that we missed the dinner spending most of the rest of the day in the Calcutta airport. We were booked on Jet Light (a low carbohydrate airline). When we finally boarded the plane I noticed that it was labeled Air Shara. Even with such a name it did take us to Delhi. Tomorrow we get up at 6:30 am to visit some Rotary projects in the Delhi area, have dinner with Captain Kumar and then at midnight fly home to the US. It will be a long day and a difficult change from balmy 70s to freezing snow. See you soon


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Carl And Other Rotarians Visit Mother Teresa's Tomb

Merrimack Valley Rotary' s Carl Good's latest report from his trip to Bangladesh to immunize indidual's against polio.
Today is Sat the 15th of December and we are still in Calcutta (Kolkata). After breakfast we took a picture of the Rotary National Immunization Day group in our yellow shirts. We started the morning with a visit to the Sisters of Charity and the tomb of Mother Teresa. We participated in a prayer service by the nuns. Then we visited their orphanage at a different site close by.

Our Rotarians provided many gifts donated by the various Clubs represented in the NID group to the great pleasure of the children. I have some excellent video of the children receiving the gifts but it will need editing at home before I can put it on the web. An Indian Rotarian, A.J. Bhandari, led our group to the orphanage and provided background information about his past association with Mother Teresa which included being a pall bearer at her funeral. I presented him with a red socks T-shirt donated by a Merrimack Valley club member as shown in one of the photos. Another T-shirt was previously given to the head of the Polio Plus program in Bangladesh.

We then visited a hospice run by the Sisters of Charity to provide comfort and some times recovery for the very ill poor. It was a sobering sight with several beds containing the shrouded bodies of those who had died in the morning.

After lunch we took a bus trip to Humanity Hospital at Ghosepukur outside Kolkata. This Rotary supported hospital was started by a poor woman whose husband died for lack of medical care. Eventually one of her sons became an MD and runs this small charity hospital in the country. I presented him with one of the battery free flashlights provided by our club.

Later in the afternoon we went shopping and Ann Lee, one of our leaders had her arms painted as is done by Indian women for major occasions such as weddings.

Tomorrow we fly to Delhi and then on the next day return to the snowy US.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Carl Learns More About Rotary's Efforts in Bangladesh And India

Last night we had a talk and dinner at the fancy Bengal Club left over from the British Raj. We heard about Rotary's efforts to reduce poverty. One technique is to concentrate on educating women and they then educate their children and are empowered to have more control on their reproductive status. At the dinner I had a very extensive discussion with an Indian radiologist who has a PET scanner and accompanying cyclotron at his facility. There is such a contrast between this technology and what we saw later in the village. A picture is included of a member of a California Rotary club who is also here, who had her hands painted as is done for weddings in the area. They say that the design will eventually wear off.

Today we had a very bumpy two hour bus ride to a village outside Kalkata in which the South Berwick ME Rotary club has a sanitation project where they are installing toilets ($5,000) adjacent to the homes. As in Dhaka, the traffic is incredible with our bus driver having close calls by the minute. Also, most of the ride I thought I would need my barf bag but as the day wore on my internal composure improved. On arrival we saw another beautiful rural setting with meager home and very pleasant people. A Rotary club from Italy in a joint program with a local club is providing water pumps and garden tractors to help mechanize the farmers in the village. I noted the emphasis on women in the program. In this village there was a still with the men getting drunk, not working and beating their wives and children. The women revolted and destroyed the still and things are much better. Alcohol now requires a long walk.

One of our leaders, Ann Lee Hussey, has started a joint program to improve sanitation in the village by building toilets in the homes ($5,000) in an effort to break the cycle of infection. We toured the facilities and met with many of the villagers and children in a small school. Candy and gifts were distributed to much appreciation. The bus ride back was faster as the traffic was less but the ride was still thrilling. We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant and then met at the Rotary building to hear a report on their polio plus activities. Polio is on the rise again in India and they are not sure as to why but hope to have it stamped out in a few years. It is mainly in the northern Muslim regions where there has been some resistance to immunizations due to fears of a loss of fertility. However progress is being made with the mullahs. By the way Saudi Arabia will not allow anyone to got to Mecca unless they have been vaccinated for polio to show their support.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Carl Arrives In Calcutta On His Rotary Trip

Today was a travel day with our group getting up at 4 am, traveling to the Dhaka International Airport and finally leaving on the hour flight to Calcutta (Kolkata) at 11:00 am.

They said that it would probably be late and it was. The flight allowed some viewing of the landscape which was a flood plain with patches of green land interspersed with brown rivers. Once at the Kolkata airport we boarded another bus for a slow ride to a late lunch (3:00) at the Calcutta Metropolitan Rotary club.

Kolkata is one of two regions of India that has a Communist government. At the club we heard presentations by the club president and a visiting Rotary group from California on their various projects and ways to reduce poverty in the area. A big challenge.

For Rotary readers, all members of the club are three time Paul Harris Society members with the current lady ophthalmologist president being at the $25,000 level. This is not a poor club. We were to visit a Rescue Center and a cardiac Sciences / Eye Hospital but our travel problems prevented this. Perhaps we will visit them if our schedule can be adjusted but the next two days are already full.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Carl Takes Boat Trip Down River in Dhaka

Carl Good's Latest Posting..for more information and photos go to Carl's Blog:

On the 12th we drove outside Dhaka and took a boat down a river to a small village where one of our Rotary host's mother owned some land. It was just like a travellog with people on the shore washing, cattle grazing in the fields and rice paddys in the distance. In the village we visited a home and school. All very picturesc but very mninimal. Although this is their winter it was hot and in some ways life is eash. However, they live on the edge and if anything goes wrong it can be a tragedy.

One of the purposes of our being taken to hosptials and sites like this is for the local Rotarians to sell us on establishing joint projects to provide support. I means a lot more to see these places "in the flesh" than to read a brochure.

During our trip we have seen many people including women breaking bricks in to small pieces. At first we though that they were recycling old bricks but many seemed new. On our ride to the river and village we saw massive chimnies and kilns with bricks all around. It turns out that being a tidal plane they have no rocks. So, the make bricks from local clay and then break them up for morter used in construction and and for road surfacing.


700,000 Volunteers Immunize Children In Bangladesh

Carl Good's latest report from Bangladesh
Others are waiting to use the computer so this will be short. We have finished our program in Bangladesh and will fly to Calcutta tomorrow for more visits to hospitals, orphanages and a hospice that was run by mother Teressa. The experience has been fantastic.

I have stayed with a Vet. who is a Rotary member and president of his club to minimize expenses. During the day we would do the immunizations. The first day the whole country was tackled seeking out every child under 5. This required 700,000 volunteers!!! Has any thing like this ever been done in the US? Our group is a small part but Rotary in Bangladesh is the major driver and participant in this program.

Before the NIDs one in 20 children in Bangladesh had polio. For four years due to this program, there were none. Then, several cases were seen in 2006 that were imported from India. Since then there has been none. The only way to keep polio in check is to make sure that the children continue to be immunized. We have met with WHO and UNICEF leaders in Bangladesh. They are expanding the program to other childhood immunizations.

The pictures attached show me doing an immunization, the cooler carried by the volunteers and paid ($1.30 per day) workers, some of the children in a slum being helped and the Rotary family that have put me up an taken care of me during my visit. Bangladesh is full of people. I have so much more to show and tell but time is limited tonight so this is it. My going was spur of the moment decision but one of the best decisions I ever made.

Monday, December 10, 2007

CarL Good Begins Immunizing For Polio In Bangladesh

Carl's latest posting from Bangladesh.....


Everything is going very well and the people have been extremely friendly. I should mention the great work done by our two leaders, Dave Groner (Michigan) and Ann Lee Hussey (Maine). They have been on over 10 of these Rotary polio immunization programs including sites in Africa and India. For these efforts each participant pays his or her own way to work in what can be dangerous environments.

On Sat. the 8th we did the main immunization participating in the Bangladesh National Immunization Day where they try to immunize every child under 5 in the whole country. They have immunization booths with a small cooler containing a few vials of vaccine all over the country, many staffed by local Rotary members. The organization is very impressive. There was a time not too long ago when one child in 20 had polio in this country. Before last year, due to this program they had several years in which the country was polio free. Last year however, polio was imported from India and a few cases were identified.

I immunized children at several booths staffed by local rotary members and others. The process is simple as one just squeezes two drops of oral vaccine in to the open mouth of the recipient. A lot of our job is to give the NID participants our support, encourage their efforts and sort of show the flag. I believe that we are the first American Rotary group to participate with the program in Bangladesh. Sunday the 9th I went house to house with a couple of young girls, Sumi and Lizu, (18 yrs old) looking for children that were missed on the NID (National Immunization Day). They are paid about $1.30 a day. The purpose of the house to house effort is to find and immunize children that were missed on the NID. We would go to an apartment complex or slum and knock on every door to see if there was a child inside that had not been immunized and ask if there were other children in the building.

After a home had been visited the girls would write the date and our team number on their door with chalk to indicate that the location had been visited. Some doors still had the chalk mark from the last visit earlier in the year. Most children at our locations had been immunized but I did another 6 in this effort. This clean up program lasts 4 days but is only done in the morning. Our base was a women’s health clinic that was also a polio immunization site. After our immunizing I talked to the director who showed me her small laboratory that does HIV tests along with a few other types of test such as pregnancy.

To my very pleasant surprise they were using the Capillus rapid HIV test developed by one of my groups at Cambridge Biotech in the 90s. It was very fulfilling to see this product now made by Trinity Biotech in Ireland helping people half way around the world. In the afternoon we drove out of Dhaka and visited a weaving plant owned by a Rotary member, a Bangladesh Rotary financed free housing project on a river and a Bangladesh Rotary financed arsenic free water system at a boy’s orphanage. This trip shows one what poverty really is. In the evening we had a dinner with the district president and other Rotary members. I went in native dress. Today, the 10th, we did house to house immunizations again, I worked with the same two girls. Each was dressed in a sari that would make you think that they were well to do.

However, after our work was complete I visited Sumi’s home, an apartment, that was very small and seemed to house a number of people. We would consider it a slum. I gave the children gifts and enjoyed some tea while we talked. By the way, most of the people are very clean but their homes and living environment is not. In the afternoon we visited a free woman’s hospital hearing a presentation and seeing some of the wards. It was minimal. They provide each mother with a plastic ware table setting and food box when they go home. The food box, enough for a few days, is provided once a month for 4 months. They hope to provide more food in the future.

One must remember that this is the capital of the country and that things are worse outside the cities. I am on a dial up connection and cannot send any pictures but will do that at a later date. This is sad because the pictures really tell the story. All the best Carl

Saturday, December 8, 2007

MVR Rotary Rings The Bell For Salvation Army

For decades the Merrimack Valley Rotary has been proudly ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. This years event occurred at the usual location, Walmart in Chelmsford. Past year's have been highlighted with blizzards, sub zero temperatures and seagulls. This year event was held on December 8 from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm and the temperatures were in the barmy 30s and the skies were sunny and cheery! Show are the kick off crew: Debi Farnsworth, Bill Callahan and Liz Cleaves. Many thanks to them and all the other MVR who gave up a part of their Saturday for this important event.

MVR Has Awards Paul Harris To Past President

We are proud to announce our newest Paul Harris member. Gordon Neiville, Merrimack Valley Rotary President 2004-2007, was awarded his Paul Harris pin, medal and certificate at a recent meeting. Gordon earned his Paul Harris as a thanks from the club for his many years of service above self. Thank you Gordon. Shown are Gordon (left) and Club President Ken Masson

News From Bangladesh

Lastest posting from Carl Good:

Hi all,

I have spent the day immunizing children against polio and have great pictures and movies. Unfortunately, I only have dial-up and will have to wait to send them.

The size of this one day, whole country immunization is astounding. There were immunization booths all over the country, many maned by Rotary and Rotorac (students) members. I went to many booths to do an immunization or two, congratulate and thank the participants and then move on.

Also, My host Salim provided introductions to WHO officials and the head of a major hospital and local physicians. I will never complain about waiting for a doctor again.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Carl Has Busy Third Day In Bangladesh

Carl Good's latest report from Bangladesh:

Today we visited the WHO polio headquarters in Delhi and heard a presentation from the head of the program. Then we went to the airport and flew to Dhaka Bangladesh. They said that we had to be at the airport 3 hours before the flight and they were not kidding. The process took a long time. The baggage limitation was less on this flight than the international flight so we had to pay ~$350 in excess baggage fees. But we are now in a hotel in Dhaka and tomorrow will go to the homes of Rotary members who will host us for the rest of our stay in Bangladesh.

The trip from the airport was similar to that in Delhi with incredible traffic and many beggars who would attack our bus when we were caught at a light or stopped by traffic. However, here many we selling popcorn. I didn't know that it was so popular here. Many of the buses and taxes run on compressed natural gas as in Delhi to reduce pollution.

Flying in it was amazing that there was so much water considering that we are about 200km from the shore. This is certainly a wet country.

During each immunization effort 176 million children are immunized in 3-4 days
200 million houses visited
1.1 million house to house teams
2.7 million vaccinators deployed
155,00 supervisors deployed
800,000 booths set up

This is indeed a massive effort that is done several times a year, partially because of the high birth rate in the effected areas which are primarily in the north of the country. The country of India is now bearing about 70 % of the cost which was not the case in the past.
since the program started the incidence of polio has been reduced 99% but it still exists.

Rotary has contributed over 633 million dollars to the world wide effort over the years not to mention the in country and visiting Rotary volunteers that have participated in the program at their own expense.

The Gates matching grant of 100 million is large but not as large as what has already been contributed by Rotary members.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Carl Good Continues Bangladesh Project

Latest post from Carl Good's blog.....pictured is Carl with some heart repair patients.

Hi all,
Today we started out with an orientation meeting in the hotel lobby with more cautions with regard to the immunization process and our own intestinal health. While I am optimistic about the immunizations, my intestinal health may be another matter. We were told to bring our own toilet paper as well as avoiding anything that is not bottles or is steaming hot. Tomorrow we start by visiting the World Health Organization headquarters in Delhi and then fly to Dhaka. Tomorrow night will be in a hotel but from then on we will be staying at the home of a Rotary member in Bangladesh. There will be 2.4 million immunizations using the oral Sabin vaccine in this effort with the participation of 4,000 local Rotary members from 52 clubs. Our group will be doing some of the immunizations which require us to get the drops into the child's mouth.After our orientation meeting this morning we were bussed to the Escorts Heart Institute that has Rotary support and met with doctors and patients. For children the most common operation is closing a hole between the two sides of the heart which costs about $1,600. A man from the Netherlands was there who funds one operation a month from his own funds. Rotary provides support through the "Gift of Life" project. It is amazing how many Rotary clubs there are in India and Bangladesh and how active they are in this and the polio immunization program.In the afternoon we went to St. Stephens Hospital, the oldest in India, and visited the polio ward, talks to patients and doctors. It is heart wrenching to see these deformed children knowing that the disease is preventable. The hospital performs surgery to correct some of the deformity and provides braces and training for dealing with the disease. Again, Rotary provides support and most of the costs are not borne by the patients many of whom cannot afford the trip to Delhi for treatment. The program is being extended to outlying hospitals. In Bangladesh polio has been eradicated but has come back due to transmission from Nigeria through Pakistan and India. I suppose that the organizers scheduled this hospital visit so that we could see what happens if immunizations are not carried out. An interesting tidbit is that many children have chronic diarrhea which since the vaccine contains live virus and sanitation is poor, the immunized can actually provide immunizations to those they come in contact with that have not been officially immunized.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Carl Good Lands In India

Below is Carl Good's, Merrimack Valley Rotary, first posting from his trip to Bangladesh. Carl is in India as of December 4. The report below is from his Blog.

After much snow, wind, earlier flight and harry landing in Newark, part of the group assembled for the flight to Delhi. Others are coming from Canada and Europe on separate flights. The guy next to me on the Boeing 777 flight to India was a native who is living in Albany NY for his children's education and returns to his home in Delhi three times a year. Soon he will go back for good.The 14 hr flight was pleasant as was the bus to the hotel.

We all got wreaths of real marigolds. However, Delhi has a significant pollution problem with odder and haze. Supposedly it is much better than before.

Tomorrow we have an orientation, WHO meeting and a hospital visit. The plan is to fly to Bangladesh the day after tomorrow to start work on vaccinations. All the best

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Best Of Luck Carl In Bangladesh

Best of luck to our member Carl Good, who is leaving with 17 Rotarians from the United States, Canada and Europe to Bangladesh on December 3. He will be in Bangladesh for two weeks immunizing for polio in that area. This project is funded by each individual and they will be staying with other Rotarians in the area to help defray costs.

Eradicatin of Polio is one of Rotary International's major projects and Bangladesh is one of the last area's in the world were cases of polio still exist.
The four countries including Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are still considered polio-endemic.
Two hundred and ten countries, territories and areas are now polio-free (including China), and 134 of these, which contain half the world’s population, have been certified polio-free by independent commissions.
Our hopes and prayers are with Carl and the other Rotarians who are taking on this important mission.
May it be a tremendous success!

The Lunch Bunch Serves A Meal At The Lowell Transitional Living Center

The Merrimack Valley Rotary had the pleasure of serving lunch at the Transitional Living Center in Lowell on Saturday, December 1. The meal consisted of a pork sandwich, cole slaw and dessert. Almost 100 member came through the line, and the MRV members enjoyed meeting the members of the Center. Thanks to John Carroll, Carl Good, Mike and Susan Peterson, Steve Hamilton, Dan LeBlanc and Ken Masson for volunteering their time. Even thought the lights went out at the beginning of the lunch and there was some quality control issues on the food line, the event was enjoyed by all.