Posted on May 26, 2020
Rotary Club of Needham Newsletter May 26th, 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 continued to meet on Tuesdays at noon. But, to maintain social distancing, our meetings have moved on-line. 
In Our Community:
Our recent speaker, Chef Mike, gave away 640 meals on May 21st to low income families and assisted living facilities in Needham. The Rotary Club of Needham contributed $250 to help pay his expenses.
Socially Distant Rotary Club Summer Picnic: at Claxton Field in Needham at 5:30pm on Tuesday, June 16th.
1.) Salsa Club members from Needham High School: "What it's like to attend a virtual high school during the pandemic", and
2.) Jeff Dineen (photo "zooming" below) describes his "Cans for Calcium" program.
 Karen Shannon, Senior Program Director, Needham Public Health Division, moderated the club's discussion. The SALSA Club, Students Advocating Life without Substance Abuse, was organized to teach students in Needham Schools how to say no to drugs and alcohol. During the "Question and Answer" section at the end, the students said that "substance abuse is a social thing", that quarantine has made parties impossible and forced a temporary reduction in youth substance abuse. So, the current focus of the club's activity has shifted to finding positive ways to stay occupied during the pandemic. Our discussion was: what it's like to attend a virtual high school during the coronavirus quarantine.
First, they addressed the current learning process. Most students said that they are devoting as much time to schoolwork as they did before the quarantine; working from home about six hours a day. Assignments are available on-line on Sundays for completion by the following Friday. Remote learning has been effective, but with two caveats: it's harder and more time-consuming now to get extra help from a teacher, and lab classes don't work well online. From the students' point of view, the most onerous impact of the quarantine has been on the social lives of the students, especially seniors. Students are connecting with their friends using Zoom, gathering separately in cars, or working out or walking while maintaining social distance. Upperclassmen rituals: Senior Skip Day, Prom and the traditional Graduation Ceremony, are all cancelled. 
Happily, there will be a lockdown appropriate "Graduation Parade" from the Trip Advisor parking lot to Needham High School on June 7th. The Seniors were philosophical: "virtual is the best we can do" this year. They advised their parents and caregivers not to be too anxious about a celebration, they're ready to move on. The discussion closed with the students asking us to join them doing something positive during our confinement. They are making a montage of short videos about positive uses of quarantine time to post on the Needham Facebook page. They are asking for people to participate by sending their videos to: by May 30th. For more information about the SALSA Club:
Jeff Dineen, who is "almost" a lifetime resident of Needham, told us about his "Cans for Calcium" program. First, there was the opportunity: recycling incentive deposits that we pay when buying a beverage. Unclaimed deposits resulted in $46mm going to the state of Massachusetts in 2017. Then, there were two catalysts: when he retired three years ago, he had been spending $1,000 per month of his own money to buy milk for the Needham Food Pantry. And then, he noticed an unused shed at the Needham Recycling and Transfer Station. Together with Sandy Robinson of Needham's Community Council, they met with Greg Smith, Superintendant of the transfer station and got permission to use the shed. Since starting to gather donated containers beside the recycling bins in March of 2019, Jeff has collected about 280,000 deposit cans and bottles, which has raised $14,000 to purchase milk for the Needham Food Pantry. When the quarantine started, the shed was closed. Undaunted, Jeff started collecting cans for calcium using bins at the end of his driveway at 1625 Great Plain Avenue. Starting this week, the shed at the transfer station has reopened, and we can again conveniently donate our cans for calcium there. For more information:

Next week's speaker: Igor Golyak, Artistic Director, Arlekin Players, on Adapting the Performing Arts to Quarantine