Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 10.23.2014

October 21, 2014

Today: Char Carlson, chair of Northfield Library Board (Bill Carlson)

Birthdays: Mark Gleason (10/20), Barry Carlson (10/22), Rob Martin (10/23) and Doug Crane and Brett Reese (10/25).

Next Week: Sam Daly, Sniffing for Bombs in Afghanistan (Fossum)

Last Week:

Wokie Daboh is attempting to improve the educational system in Liberia, one classroom at a time.

She sees education as a pathway to a better quality of life. Through her nonprofit “Project Blackboard,” Wokie, a human resources executive for Target Corporation, is investing time and money in rehabilitating schools, training teachers and providing resources for students.

A graduate of Cooper High School in Robbinsdale and the University of Minnesota, Wokie has a strong familial connection to Liberia. Her mother immigrated to the United States from there before Wokie was born. Her father is an emigrant from Sierre Leone.

Liberia is still reeling from 14 years of civil war. The majority of the population cannot read or write, government support for education has dramatically eroded and now the Ebola epidemic has forced schools to close.

But Wokie is undaunted. She selected Bushrod Island School in one of Monrovia’s poorest neighborhoods for her initial project. She traveled there in July, refurbished the classrooms and held a teacher training. She hopes it will have a positive impact on the school’s 325 students.

Measures of success, she said, will be improved student performance, more parental and community engagement, established academic standards and more resources.

Wokie also provided heartfelt testimony to the powerful influence teachers have on students. Her host, Richard Maus, was her eighth grade math teacher. When asked what made him such a positive influence in her life, she said he pushed her to do her best work and never gave up on her. And then came the tears.



Richard Maus said the book he wrote about his polio experience — Lucky One — proved to be a therapeutic exercise. After committing his story to paper, he said he rarely thinks about it anymore. And life now goes on.

Guests: Philipy (Rich)

Scholarship Enhancement: John Fossum

First Job: Chris Weber makes a mean 500-egg omelet. He acquired that skill managing a Boy Scout dining hall on summer assignment in northern Wisconsin. He provided food for 200 three times a day. He is now a big proponent of automatic dishwashers.


— President Rich announced the three local service projects recently adopted by the board.

We will be contributing $5,000 to the Save the Depot campaign, and we will work with both the Musical Playground Project for Way Park and the Northfield Skateboard Coalition to help raise $15,000 for each project. The board evaluated six proposals before arriving at this mix.

— Rob Bierman updated the order on the re-engineered Turkey Trot. This year it will begin and end at the Carleton College Weitz Center at Third and Union. It will also, for the first time, be a vehicle for collecting non-perishable food items for the Northfield Food Shelf. Runners will be invited to bring an item to the race. If are not able to attend the event, please bring a food item to our November meetings. Rob said we still have room on the shirts for a couple more sponsors.

— There is a Rotary Foundation event Saturday, Nov. 1, in Oakdale at the venerable Prom Ballroom. If we send eight or more, we get a discount on registration fees. Let President Matt Rich know if you are interested in attending.

— Todd Thompson said he picked up on a suggestion from Jean Wakely and has launched a “kickstart” campaign to fund music education in Guatemala. For more information, write to: todd@

Past Northfield Rotary Club meeting videos on Youtube: NorthfieldRotaryVideos

Coming Up:

Nov. 6 — Jonathan Adams, RESTORE Project Director (V. Dilley)

Nov. 13 — Nick Frohner, Asian Carp (Anderson)

Nov. 20 — Stacey Zell, Northfield Hospital Sleep Center (Schlichting)