Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 08.10.2017

August 9, 2017

Today’s Program | Thursday, August 10, 2017

Today: Katie Arnold, Rice County Dispute Resolution Program (Morlan)

Next Week: Vicki Dilley, District Grant — Bunk Beds in Tanzania (We’ll meet at Community Resource Bank.)

Birthdays: Luis Dominguez (8/2) and Brent Nystrom (8/7)

Statement of Purpose: Northfield Rotary Club is dedicated to promoting peace and understanding through service and shared experience. We invite people from all corners of the community to join us as we partner with others to support youth, build sustainable infrastructure and preserve our planet. 

Last Week:
Scott Wopata isn’t much of a musician, but he’s a pretty good coach. Scott joined his high school marching band to be near the drum major, Allyson, and he wouldn’t leave even when he was asked to quit the band in 10th grade. Scott and Allyson married right after his high school graduation. These days they’re raising three beautiful blonde “little marshmallows” – Lily, 7, Clara, 5 and Levinia, 2.

Scott took a circuitous path to his current role as Executive Director of the Northfield Union of Youth, which runs The Key. He’s had a lawn business and a roofing business (remember that 2006 hail storm?), been a general contractor and an insurance claims adjustor. But it’s his experience as a coach and a youth minister that drives his work at NUY. “I love working with kids and youth. There’s a lot of need – and also, it’s fun – to stand as an advocate for youth.”

NUY’s flagship program, The Key youth center, has seen great growth in recent years, serving 654 youth in 2016 who made 10,000 visits to The Key during the year. That’s up from 374 youth in 2013, and a 90 percent increase from 2015.

NUY is tackling some big problems here in Northfield. Here’s a sample:

Hunger: Kids who get free/reduced lunch at school often miss out on dinner. So NUY built a kitchen at The Key with donations and help from Just Food Co-op, Carleton, and Northfield Shares. In three months, 120 kids ate 750+ meals there.

Mental health: About 75 percent of The Key’s core users have mental health issues (including substance abuse/addiction). NUY is looking at ways to increase access to care, especially for youth who don’t have parental support and can’t get health care on their own as minors. The goal: free, anonymous care from mental health professionals.

Homelessness: About 20-25 “Key kids” are homeless – a problem that tends to be invisible and often snowballs as youth lose support from friends and have fewer, more dangerous options. NUY has applied for a state grant to launch an “intra-Northfield host-home stay program” modeled after Rotary’s Youth Exchange. One part of the plan: Hire a social worker to engage with youth directly and early, before problems compound.

So, what’s good? In the second quarter of this year, 75 Key kids volunteered 200 times. Fifty kids participated in 200 leadership-building activities. Sixty kids did 135 health/wellness activities.

And a whopping 82 percent of Key kids report that they feel good about themselves – compared to 46 percent of low-income kids in Northfield and 62 percent of all Northfield youth.

What keeps The Key turning? Youth, leadership, and partners, Scott says.

“The level of collaboration in the Northfield community makes all of this possible,” he said.

Well, it helps to have a good coach, too.


Mini-Classification: Keith Covey kept it short: A Rotarian since 1978, he appreciates the connection to the wider community that Rotary has provided him.

Jean’s leadership quote of the day: “All empowerment exists in the present moment.”

Guests: Brent Nystrom (Reese) – accepted as a member, not yet inducted; Bella Mosqueda (Wopata); Jo Dunn-Foster and Amanda Botrel of Brazil (Dunn-Foster) .

Scholarship Enhancement: Dave Brown

Registration is open for the DJJD Run on Sunday, Sept. 10 (the day AFTER the Bike Tour). Northfield Shares hosts the 5K/15K run. Mike Krance says individual runners and teams are welcome!

— Bike Tour is coming together. Brett Reese, who is co-chairing the event along with Matthew Rich, reports that 120 riders have registered so far, a 60 percent increase from this time last year. Brett says if that 60 percent increase holds, we’ll have 1,400 riders. Hmm, we’re gonna need a bigger boat. If you haven’t signed up yet for your spot on the volunteer roster, look for Rick Estenson and Shelley Holden in the lobby before or after the meeting. Invite a friend or neighbor to volunteer with you!

— The District and Rotary International are hosting a vaccination trip to West Africa, October 3-12. Cost is $17,000 per person (Jean Wakely can confirm that number for you).

Our 2017-18 outbound students are:
Madison Asp — Finland

Joan Erickson — Argentina

Annika Fisher— South Africa

Bergen Hoff — Czech Republic/Slovakia

Emma Iverson — Spain

Alex Kovach — Japan

Joseph Kreis — Italy

Benjamin (Ben) Mohlke — Brazil

Piper Nelson — Germany

Jenna Olien — South Korea

Jack Overstreet — Brazil

Gregory Pelletier — Argentina

Espen Richardson — Norway

Elizabeth (Betsy) Schuerman — Denmark

Allison (Al) Weise — Thailand

Coming Up

August 24 — Charles Richardson, Experiences in Cuba (Prowe)

August 31 — Andrew Oftedal, Parks and Trails Council (Prowe and Schulte)

September 7 — Bike Tour Chalk Talk (R&R, Rich and Reese)

September 14 — Superintendent Matt Hillmann, The State of Our Schools (Heineman)