The Light for June 16, 2020
The Light for June 16, 2020
By Katherine Peterson

President Helen Oloroso began the meeting with a recitation of “Why We Are Rotarians.”

Bruce Baumberger mentioned the power of one in Rotary, as he referred to Mike Merdinger, who came up with an important observation about child care centers in Evanston, particularly the non-profit centers that serve low income families who are very challenged by dealing with all the Covid-19 requirements as they prepare to reopen. That idea was brought to the new board who looked at a couple of options and chose to pursue the District Grant, a decision made a week ago.
Steve Carlson, who has been very involved, quickly put together the application for the District Grant. This is going to
address the PPE needs for five low-income child care centers in Evanston. The application was submitted on Friday and approved on Sunday, so we’re all set to go with this project, $10,000. Excellent example of our club in action, being responsive to community needs.
Bruce Baumberger continued that the Evanston Fourth of July Association, with whom Bruce has been involved for almost 50 years, encountered a big change in response to the pandemic. They made a decision not to do the traditional parade and celebration and began to make plans for a virtual celebration. This gives the organization a really good opportunity to lead into the Centennial year. It was founded in 1922 by the North End Mothers Club. Bruce showed an image of the postcard that was going out to all Evanston and Skokie/Evanston residents in the next week.

Chris Joyce announced that the Saturday morning virtual coffee club has been moved to a virtual happy hour on Fridays from 5:30 p.m. to about 6:30 p.m. 

Chris continued stating that in conversation with Mark Lawry, Rotary Building Manager, there is a plan to bring in architects to determine how many people can fit socially distanced in the building space. We don’t know how soon that might happen, as we’ll need to go to Stage 4. Please think about if you would be comfortable going back to an in-person meeting when we get to Stage 4. A poll will go out to all members when that time comes, with the possibly of doing a combined Zoom virtual and in-person meeting format.

Helen Oloroso announced that members reported ordering 10 meals  from four different Taste of Evanston restaurants last week. Kathy Tate-Bradish announced that we are highlighting the Alcove Restaurant (formerly Chef's Station), this week, owned by noon club Rotarian and Chef Elio Romero. Call for pick up, with 24-hour advance notice, (847) 570-9821
or (773) 099-0342. Make your reservation online for a table on the beautiful patio. We can also support other partners in Taste of Evanston by ordering from any of them; some already have limited seating. 

Susan Prout gave a community service update sharing that the other larger Community Service distributions we made outside the Community Service Grants Process were to: Evanston Police and Fire Foundation, First United Methodist Church for soup kitchen, Asian Family Services, Lula Smith Run for Jesus for sack lunches, Evanston Community Foundation Rapid Response Fund, matched with District Grant, Bundled Blessings. The Koi’s Table 23 donation to ELRC went to Rainbows for All Children.
Roasts and Boasts
Kathy Tate-Bradish boasted Patrick Mbullo for helping out at 3 a.m. his time in Kenya in a meeting about curing cervical cancer in Kisumu, Kenya, his hometown. He is also taking the lead on some of the edits on our HIV prevention Global Grant, including designing impact measurement statement using Rotary guidelines for standard measurement.


Topic: “How the Evanston Chamber is Helping Businesses Through the

Speaker: Roger Sosa, Executive Director, Evanston Chamber of Commerce

Jackie Mack introduced the speaker, who has been the Executive Director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce since June 2019. He has spent the last ten years of his career in non-profit economic development as the Director of Economic Development of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council and the Executive Director of the Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce. Prior to that, Roger had a 30-year career in sales and marketing in the information technology industry. 

The Chamber is experiencing challenging times during the Covid crisis that was revealed through a survey that found that businesses had shed 40% of their payroll within two weeks, and 45% of businesses in Evanston closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. He received a call from Mayor Steve Hagerty asking him to lead the Corona Virus Business Task Force and lead a Corona Virus Business Working Group, which he has been concentrating on over these past three months.

The Chamber began by doing a needs assessment to determine what was happening, what kind of programs were out there, what the prognosis was, and how impacted the business community was.

That phased into creating a committee that had three segments: legislative, marketing, and recovery. They tried to get information out to our businesses regarding loans. SBA had loan programs and they worked to be sure they got that information out to small businesses. The chamber also worked with the banks to make sure that the process was understood and communicated to our small businesses.
They also wanted to determine what kinds of skills were needed to move forward, and pivot in response to the crisis.  They also had to develop a system of giving information to our businesses, so they did daily e-blasts. They did interviews with businesses to stay abreast of what they were doing in response.

“Water Cooler Chats” was developed to help keep the community updated concerning business hours, etc. The Chamber also supported businesses with informational seminars virtually. Each week they offered “Business After Hours” and “Women in Business Luncheon” on Zoom and provided specific classes on topics like “How to Zoom.” They also started publishing information about the hours and specifics of businesses that remained open during the pandemic.

They also looked for alliances and found them through Northwestern, creating two programs.Through the Kellogg School of Management, a consulting program was developed for our businesses that needed support. There was also a Lend program through Northwestern that makes small loans primarily to minority businesses with $100,000 donation to the community. They went into fundraising and added $26,000 to that fund.

As we move into recovery phase, the chamber is looking at things they can do to get businesses fully functional.They have “Recovery University” starting this Tuesday. This is a six-month program with a cohort of 20 businesses offering classes on things like financial and business planning during the crisis. Also they are providing coaching and a cohort of peer businesses to talk about what issues they are dealing with and how they are responding. 

They are also addressing the specifics of opening business doors in a practical sense, such as testing people for symptoms, requiring masks, and processes to keep people safe, etc., and doing a bulk purchase of PPE to pass on the cost savings to our businesses.

The biggest hurdle they have is getting people back into the marketplace, and this will require helping people to feel safe. The Chamber will continue assessing the needs of the business community and educating them with options of business models, financials, and resources to support their actions as they proceed through the recovery phase.
Guests and Milestones

Roger Sosa

Jacob Bachman, June 19