Minisink Valley
Serving the Children of the World
Each week, we invite a member of the community to attend our weekly meeting as a guest speaker. The speakers make a short presentation and then answer questions from the membership. The speakers come from all walks of life and talk about a wide range of topics. Below are some of the speakers that have taken time from their busy schedules to speak to our club.

Chris Butto & Theresa McDevitt: Family Matters of the Tri State Area, spoke about their new organization whose mission is to provide family services that increase self-esteem, build resiliency, strengthen families, prevent child abuse & neglect, & foster a sense of community. They are committed to improving the quality of life for those living in the service area.

Jim Farnham: spoke about Medicare, & its introduction, basic coverages, enrollment/election periods, late enrollment & its penalties. He talked about Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans, & the pluses & minuses they offer. Very interesting program!

David Morse:  spoke about his experiences on 9-11-01. He worked a four blocks from the “towers”, & gave a minute by minute account of some of the horrorifying sites he witnessed as he helped with the search/rescue efforts. It left a lasting impression he will never forget!

Andy Komonchak & Dennis Simmons: Hudson Valley Honor Flight, spoke about the creation and purpose of  the organization which flies WWII veterans to Washington, DC to see the memorials that have been erected in their honor. 88 vets went on the last flight, & were met by crowds wherever they traveled. Veterans fly free but “guardians” pay their own expenses(about $350). The next flight is planned for April 20, 2013. For applications, download on website at  A great way to honor our veterans!

Dr. David Hill: spoke about pediatric asthma which is the final part of our Gov. Project. He explained the symptoms, causes & some of the treatments. It is an inflammatory disease that has no know cure. He said 25% of all emergency room cases are due to asthma. Very educational.
Paul Halayko:  President of The Newburg Brewing Co., spoke about how his company got its start. It started with a 160 year old building behind Washington’s headquarters, was renovated, got approvals from city, & opened in June. They make 8 different kinds of beer that are sold in about 230 establishments. Their 4200 sq.ft. tap room is open to the public. For more information, please visit:

Melanie Cardona: Mental Health Association. spoke about how MHA seeks to promote the positive mental health & emotional well-being of Orange County residents. MHA believes that every person is to be treated with dignity, respect, compassion & acceptance. They have a texting hotline for teens, Text 4 Teens. The Text 4 Teens number is 845-391-1000. For more information, please visit:  

George Casale: Goshen Historic Track, spoke about some of the unique history of the Goshen Historic Track & Museum. He’s a retired attorney & also a harness driver. The track is the oldest active racetrack in the U.S. opening in 1838. For more information, please visit:

Janet Syvertsen & Michelle Evans:  Alzheimer’s Association., spoke mainly about the 10 warning signs of the disease. Their walk is Sat. Sept. 29th. Very educational program!

Sandi Jeanette: Bon Secours Hospital, spoke about some of the harmful effects of stress, & some of the positive healthy habits to fight stress. She said to better manage stress lifestyle changes are needed.

Past International President Jerry Christiano & Linda Christiano: Kiwanis International “Eliminate Ambassadors”, spoke about the Eliminate program that has partnered with UNICEF to raise $110 million to cure maternal & neonatal tetanus throughout the world. The Christiano's visited Sierra Leone, Africa recently to see the deplorable living conditions that exist. Each mother & her future babies, if immunized with vaccines costing $1.80, would be protected from this terrible tragedy. At the time of their visit, the tetanus disease was virtually eliminated in Sierra Leone, & several surrounding countries. KI has collected over $10 million at this time. For more information please visit,

Barbara Raymond: Family Empowerment Council, spoke about the difference the Aktion Club has made in the residents of the Family Empowerment. She also showed a video of the members who each thanked the Kiwanis clubs for the support they have given. For more information, please visit:
Lori McKean: Assistant Director of Grey Towers, spoke about Cornelia Pinchot, a human rights advocate who worked tirelessly for public good, helping to put an end to child labor, taking a stand against low pay & poor working conditions for women, & pursuing fair & just treatment of minorities in our country. She was married to Gifford Pinchot whose father built Grey Towers in 1886 in Milford, PA. For more information, please visit:

Clara Balacco: Association for the Visually Impaired, spoke about the private, nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve visually impaired residents of Rockland & Orange counties. Their goal is to enable our consumers to function independently & to maximize their potential. She teaches individuals to travel safely & with confidence. Very enlightening program! For more information, please visit

Katie Rudy: Founder of the RJR Memorial Fund, spoke about the not-for-profit organization set up in 2008 in memory of her brother, Richard, who was killed in an auto accident in 2005. Their aim is to help children & families, within a 100 mile radius, in need. They fundraise by having car shows & cruises, golf outings & other events. The organizations website is: 

Will Rodman: spoke about the performance of “Letters to Daddy”, a musical production that addresses universal social issues, strengthen character & encourage conscious life choices. The cast is made up of pre-teen students from Orange County. 

Sara LeMieux: Minisink Valley High School studnet, spoke about the People to People Ambassador Program that took her to several European countries. About 40 students were randomly chosen to go, after an extensive screening process. Sara highly recommends the “trip of a lifetime” to fellow students.
Delos Luther: Minisink Valley Central School Director of Transportation  spoke about the bus system that carries the Minisink students back & forth to school & other activities. He talked of the maintenance program, NYS inspections process, the total miles driven each year, & the amount of fuel consumed by the fleet of 96 vehicles.

Bob Matuszewski: Owner of Quaker Creek store in Pine Island, spoke about the history of the business. Bobs grandparents started it in 1947 as a ”general store” & with the help of the family changed it into a convenience store with many specialty items, such as smoked meats & sausage. About half of his customers come from a distance because of the reputation the business has gotten.

Lori McKean: Founder of The Eagle Institute spoke about its mission to protect the eagle & other birds of prey & to promote habitat conservation through education, research & public involvement. She said that Jan. through March are the best months to view eagles in the Upper Delaware Region. They migrate here each winter for the open water, abundant food supply & protected habitat. Killing, harming or disturbing eagles can result in fines up to $10,000 or imprisonment. The organizations website is

James Huntington: author of “Work’s New Age: The End of Full Employment & What It Means to You”, spoke about what we are experiencing in terms of numbers, trends, & social patterns, & what we can-and cannot- do about it

S.S.Seward H.S. “InvenTeam”: spoke about their portable solar-powered autoclave that they were awarded a grant from MIT’s Lemelson program. It would be used by doctors to sterilize medical instruments used in the field. Exceptional young men! NEXT WEEK: James Huntington, author of “Employment in America”.

Keziah Lain (Collier): spoke about what has been going on in her life since leaving the Minisink area. She was a former Builders Club & Key Club member, before graduating in 1997. She now lives in Rochester, NY with her husband, Ryan. She has a master degree in marketing & works for a big conglamorate. She also keeps involved in community service. Another success story!

Jerry Dunlavey:  Oroane Regional Medical Center, spoke about the 3 phase plan to expand the ORMC pediatric program. The first phase study will take about 12-18 months to complete. 

Susan Hawvermale: Orannge County Director of Tourism, spoke about some of the newer attractions in Orange County. She mentioned the motorcycle museum on Lake St. in Newburgh, several new wineries, a new brewery in Warwick, the newly renovated Bear Mt. Inn, Soon’s Orchard’s hard cider mill w/tasting room, & Museum Village’s new holiday program. Their website is:

Dave Hamilton: Minisink Tennis Coach,introduced & spoke about Amber & Ashley Mori, & Taylor Gurda, and their accomplishments this past year. Pres. Barbara presented each with a certificate. 

John Horan: Orange County Fire Coordinator, showed a power-point presentation of the Fire Training Center in New Hampton, the courses it offers to volunteer firefighters, & the modern technology that has been implemented in recent years. He offered a private tour for the club.
Jeffrey Reilly: Operations Administrator for Bon Secours Health System, spoke about some of the new advanced technology & state-of-the-art procedures that have been implemented at Bon Secours & St. Anthony’s Hospitals.

Linda Christiano: spoke briefly about KI ELIMINATE program, membership & retention. She & Past Kiwanis International Presiident Gerald Christiano enjoyed their visit & thanked club for the invitation.

Phil Chase: a retired 34 year P.J. teacher & TH-Record outdoor columnist, spoke about the Deleware River, some of its history, all the different types of fish in it, & some of the business it brings to the surrounding areas. At Hancock, it is 110’deep, & has a length of 331 miles, he said. Very interesting!

Cassidy VanDervoort: a MV Soph & Key Club President, spoke about her juvenile diabetes disease. She is a Type I diabetic, & must be tested every 2 hours. She asked club for support at 2011 Walk to Cure Diabetes on Sun. Oct. 16th at noon at the Goshen Historic Track. 

Nathan Walker: who attended Kamp Kiwanis, spoke about his week at the Kamp & the activities he got to enjoy.

Mark Beamish: Arborist, presented the G.R.O.W. project that he shows to each Minisink Kindergarten class. He explained the process he uses for the students to pick one of the trees to be planted at school. 

Mike Pillmeie: Orange County Legislative Chairman and a native Florida farmer, spoke about the status of the Valley View Nursing Home & the O.C. government center. He also answered many questions about both.

Susan Havko: from REACH, which is the “faith-based & beyond” portion of the O.C. System of Care that offers support, compassion, & friendship to youth with mental health challenges. She discussed the need for volunteers, as well as financial support.
John Henry Potter: spoke about his week at Kamp Kiwanis. He had a great time & was well taken care of by his counselors. He “claims” he didn’t get any names or phone numbers while there!

Richard Lay & Domanie Ragni: from Leadership Orange spoke about the organization & its search and development of community leaders. The Junior Leadership Orange Program was started to identify young leaders & provide them with knowledge & vision to motivate them to become active participants in Orange County civic life. Each school district selects 2 students for the program. Jillian Dolce was one of the students from Minisink Valley.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther: spoke about the “tough year in Albany”, with the $10 billion budget deficit, the unstable environment, the State aid cuts to education & many other problems we, as New Yorkers, are facing. Very enlightening!

Joe Vinette: Youth Pastor at Goshen Christian School, spoke about inspiring & encouraging leadership. He “connected” them to the Objects of Kiwanis.

Rachel Samuels: Minisink Valley senor and the NYS Barrel Racing Champion, spoke about how she & her horse, Goldie, compete in state & national rodeo competitions. She began riding at 3 years old. Oklahoma State University has granted her a scholarship. Very interesting!

Rebekah Ortiz: Key Club Past LTG installed the incoming officers & presented each with pins & certificates, with the assistance of advisor, Barnara Ewanciw. Barbara was presented with a bouquet of flowers for all her work this past year.
Rebekah also spoke about the effects of mountain top coal mining in W. Virginia. A cause she supports.

Jillian Dolce: the 12 year old Founder of One Step At A Time, a 501c3 non profit organization and a member of the Minisink Valley Builder's Club is at it again. She’s organizing a “Blanket & Teddy Bear Drive” for the Maria Fareri Children’s Hosp. at West. Medical Center. She’s collecting new blankets/teddy bears for hospitalized children, newborn to teenagers. The organizations website is:

Linda & Ed Dubin: spoke about the 1st coast to coast flight of the Vin Fiz in 1911. A competition offering $50,000 to fly a plane coast to coast within 30 days was sponsored by Armour Meat-Packing Co. to promote their new grape soft drink, “Vin Fiz”. There will be a 100th anniversary celebration at the Galleria Mall on Sept.17-18; also an antique plane/truck expo at O.C. airport on May 14th. They are trying to promote this piece of “forgotten history”.

Christopher Fortune: Executive Director of Orange AHRC, spoke about the many services for the 2,000 children & adults with developmental disabilities that they serve in Orange County. They have 18 residences countywide. They believe in integrating the people they serve in their communities to have careers, hobbies, interests & friendships.

Jack Latini: Minisink Valley Central School Superintendent, spoke about the proposed school budget that will be voted on May 17th. His purpose was to give us all the information needed to make an intelligent decision. He spoke about the NYS aid cuts, fund balances, tax levies, possible staff & programs cuts that might affect the district in the upcoming year.

Sandy Jeanette: from Bon Secours Hosp. spoke about some of the safeguards that should be taken to prevent falls around the home. She showed ways to improve balance & help prevent falls. Falls are the leading cause of death among people aged 65 & older.

Minisink Valley Wrestlers: Peter Ewanciw, Minisink Kiwanis Past President, presented Certificates of Acheivement to MV Sect. IX wrestlers & coaches. Coaches Gallagher & Hendershot spoke about each wrestlers accomplishments this past year. Wrestler parent, Lewis Dennison, made a $100 donation to club

Chris Krogslund: spoke about the current unemployment problems facing the country. He has done research & showed statistics he has gathered. He presented his personal solutions/remedies to some of the problems, & answered many questions. A sharp young man!

Jeff Ahearn: Founder & President of The Brian Ahearn Children’s Fund, spoke about the establishment of the fund whose “mission statement” is to provide financial assistance to children & their families in times of need. It has donated more than $700,000 since its inception in 1999. Jeff’s 13 year old son, Brian, who died of a brain tumor was the driving force to establish the fund. The organizations wensite is  

Peter Schwarz, Jr:. Past Minisink Kiwanis scholarship winner,spoke about his endeavors at SUNY Binghamptom. He is majoring in Elec. Engineering & Music while carrying 24 credits. He demonstrated a project that electronically opens doors by sound.

John Clausen: of Unionville Amer. Legion Post 1607 spoke about the High School Oratorical Scholarship Program whose purpose is to develop a deeper knowledge of the U.S. Constitution for high school students. They are looking to “partner” with Kiwanis to proceed to the county level.

Jack Latini: Minisink Valley Central School Superintendent, spoke about the financial challenges facing the school this year. He gave the names of the new administrators that have been hired as replacements. He also gave us some figures on financial aid & its effects on the budget & possible cuts to staff & programs. Very enlightening & interesting. 

Minisink Girls Soccer and Tennis: Art Lain, Kiwanis Program Committe Chairman, presented each player on the Minisink Valley Girls soccer & Girls tennis teams with a Certificate of Acheivement for winning the Section IX championships.

Janice Valentino: Director of Marketing & Programs for Orange/Sullivan Hospice. She said that their focus relies on the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free & with dignity, and that our loved ones will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. They focus on caring, not curing and, in 90% of the cases, care is provided in the person’s home. A terrific organization!

Debby Bennett: Vice-President, Programs & Services for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, spoke about Multiple Sclerosis. MS is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that affects about 400,000 in the US, typically diagnosed at ages 20 to 50. She said that it is not easily diagnosed because the symptoms come & go, and are different from person to person. At present, there is no cure for MS.

Jan Brunkhorst: Executive Director for “Beautiful People” spoke about the non-profit, 501(c)3 organization started in 2007 in O.C. Their mission is to provide adaptive sports to children with disabilities, ages 5-21. Their goal is to build a fully accessible ballpark at an estimated coast of $650,000. The organizations website is 

Jillian Dolce: a 12 year old young lady that founded a 501c3 non profit organization called One Step at a Time, spoke about how she organized the Lymphoma Walk on Sun. Oct.17th. She made numerous calls to county & community officials for help. Walk raised about $15,000 from 600 walkers & sponsors. Money will go to Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Brenda Travers’ name. An amazing young lady!!! The organizations website is  

Ken Hauck: Minisink Valley High School Principal,introduced himself, thanked the club for all we do in the community, & spoke about what is going on in the high school of 1550 students.

Chelsea Calnan, Jessica Spears, Caitlyn McLaughlin: seniors at Minisink Valley High School, spoke about a new club founded in the high school, Gay-Straight Alliance. Their goal is to ensure equality & acceptance for all people regardless of orientation or life-style choices.