Posted on Mar 10, 2020
Rotary Club of Needham Newsletter March 10th, 2020
Special Note: on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. As of this morning there are 118,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in 114 countries with 4600 new cases yesterday and 4300 cumulative deaths. Last night, President Trump banned travel from Europe into the US for a month as confirmed cases in our country reached 1215 with 36 deaths. And, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared an emergency in our state as confirmed coronavirus cases here almost doubled overnight to 92. Most of our volunteer opportunities and community support activities (except our funding of local charitable organizations) have been postponed indefinitely. This is a rapidly developing story, and you should check meeting dates and details with the hosting organization. Club members are having lively debates about how best to continue with our charitable activities, given the restrictions posed by the social distancing that's required to slow the spread of the virus.
At our Tuesday luncheon meeting, instead of serving ourselves unprotected, we chose some servers who wore gloves to ensure our safety. We still managed to have fun, celebrating the February-March birthdays of Ken Davis and Tom Savino (see photos below).
Volunteer Opportunities
Meal Packing
TBD presumed postponed
In the Community
NEF Spelling Bee
TBD presumed postponed
League of Women Voters Civics Bee 
TBD presumed postponed
Flowers for the Elderly
TBD presumed postponed
Speaker: Kenny Raskin, Artistic Director, Hearts and Noses Hospital Clown Troupe (photos below)
Kenny has built a career as a physical comedian and actor. He originated the role of Le Fou in "Beauty and the Beast", and he was the lead clown in Cirque du Soleil. Jeannie Lindheim founded a hospital clown troupe in Boston in 1997 after touring in Russia with Patch Adams' troupe. The name changed to Hearts and Noses in 2006. Kenny has been with the troupe for 23 years, the last four as Artistic Director. His job is to train the volunteers in clowning and to make sure that they're funny.
Hearts and Noses engages and empowers children in a medical environment. Last year, the troupe visited 3,500 hospitalized children in five Boston hospitals: Tufts Floating Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Franciscan Children's Hospital and Mass General. Most importantly, the child gets to choose whether to participate in this type of "therapy". They don't have a choice in their medical care. Clowning makes the child the center of attention by following their lead. The power of clowning is that it briefly transports the child and parent to another place where the child rather than the illness can be the center of attention. The troupe's website cites medical studies showing that humor reduces anxiety and reduces length of stay.
The troupe, now 21 clowns, started as an entirely volunteer organization. They have professionalized their staff by adding two paid clowns, which will increase to four next year. The mission has broadened as well with some touring clowns now focusing on refugees, veterans and elderly. A benefit for Hearts and Noses, starring Kenny and his band, Superchief, scheduled for April 4th at the Center at the Heights was postponed due to the new coronavirus restrictions. So, it becomes even more important to join our club in supporting Hearts and Noses with a donation: