Posted on May 12, 2020
Rotary Club of Needham Newsletter May 12th, 2020
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and mandatory social distancing, most of our volunteer opportunities and community support activities have been postponed. In response, we've continued to fund local and international charities. We've maintained our regular club meetings on Tuesdays at noon. But, to keep everyone safe, our meetings have moved on-line. 
Speakers: 1.) Dr Jeff Giles, Highland Animal Hospital (photo just below), and 2.) Steven Levine, Let There Be Light, International
Dr. Giles spoke about animal-to-human transmission of the coronavirus. We don't know the exact source of the current outbreak, but the Center for Disease Control states that it originally came from an animal. Some coronaviruses that infect animals can sometimes spread to humans. Then, there can be human to human transmission. Animal to human transmission is rare. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person by respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking. People who are infected but who don't display symptoms also play a role in the spread of the disease. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus. So, the risk of animals spreading the virus to humans is considered low.
On the other hand, Dr Giles noted that there are a handful of documented cases of people infected with COVID-19 spreading the virus to their animals. Here are his guidelines for caring for your pets during the pandemic:
  1. Don't let your pets interact with people or animals from outside your household.
  2. Keep cats inside.
  3. Walk your dog on a leash while maintaining six feet of distance from other people or animals.
  4. Avoid parks or dog parks where large numbers of people or animals gather.
And, if you're sick:
  1. If possible, have another member of your household take care of your pets when you're sick. If you must care for them, then wear a face mask and wash your hands before and after interacting with them.
  2. Avoid contact with your pet, including: petting kissing, sharing food or bedding.
Highland Animal Hospital has reconfigured its services to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. They ask their clients to call the clinic on arrival for an appointment. A staff person will meet the client at their car and bring their pet inside. Following the examination, they'll call to discuss any findings and to bring the pet back to the car.
For more information about Highland Animal Hospital:
For more information on caring for your pets during the coronavirus pandemic, search for: cdc/ corona virus disease 2019 (covid19)/ pets and other animals
Our second speaker, Steven Levine (photo just above),  from Let There Be Light, International (LTBLI), addressed this organization's efforts to provide basic lighting to vulnerable off-grid communities in sub-saharan Africa. Steven is an attorney specializing in private power generation, energy services and renewable energy technology development. He is managing director of Encap Development, a leading US renewable energy project developer, and he is on the Board of Directors of LTBLI. Steven told us about energy poverty: 600 million people in Africa have no access to electricity. Instead, they typically light their homes with kerosine lamps. They are dirty, dangerous and expensive to operate. Children are vulnerable to burns, accidental poisoning, respiratory illnesses and death. Without proper lighting, health clinics are limited to providing care only during daylight hours.
Working together with established local partners, LTBLI distributes solar lights to vulnerable families. They also use solar energy to electrify off-grid health clinics. They completed the electrification of their 39th clinic during their ten year history over the  prior weekend. A solar light is inexpensive to purchase and to operate. It costs about US$10-12, can be charged in daylight and the battery lasts throughout an overnight shift at a clinic. Solar lights can be used for about three years. A solar storage battery system to light a clinic costs about $3500 and lasts about 20 years. Each clinic serves about 15,000 people. In addition to the electrification of 39 health clinics, LTBLI has donated 15,000 solar lights to 81,000 people. Their geographic focus is in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
LTBLI has a successful history of working together with US and in-country Rotary Clubs: the Rotary Club of Moorestown, NJ donated 670 solar lights, the Rotary Club of New London, CT donated 100 solar lights, and Buffalo's Sunrise Rotary Club helped electrify a clinic in Uganda.
For more information: There's information on the website about volunteering, fundraising, and there's a donation tab.
Next week's speakers: 1.) Terry Katsiroubas Stamm from the Katsiroubas Brothers Wholesale Fruit and Produce Company on food security and the food supply chain, and
2.) State Senator Becca Rausch on the mail-in voting initiative.