Welcome back, President Frank! It was good to see Frank at the podium again, telling jokes of questionable character. Frank thanked the Club for their support and concern. We were also glad to welcome back Ed Casey, who brought his daughter as a guest. We had a smaller group of visiting Rotarians today from Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California. Visiting again and checking us out was our friend and former member, Peter Lowten.

Andy Brakebill reported that we needed to sell more raffle tickets. I think that qualifies as an understatement. We have our prize just about covered, but we need to push harder to provide for our scholarship program. Joe LaMantia and his interview team selected four students for the upcoming P.R.Y.D.E. weekend. See Joe if you would be interested in serving as a "Tribal Elder" during that weekend. A visiting Rotarian form the north was a $5.00 winner in our weekly raffle.

This was a special meeting, as it always is when welcoming a new member. Jim Dorr, sponsored by Sandy Stewart, was inducted by Helen Anderson. Jim is transferring his membership from the Rotary Club of Arcadia, CA. Many of our members remember Jim for the generous contribution of his personal saddle to "Healing Horses" at a meeting last August. Welcome to our Club, Jim.

Our Sergeant at Arms, Sandy Stewart, recognized our birthday Rotarians, including President Frank, his sidekick, Willie, Andy Brakebill and Bill Cosgrove. Bill added a little extra in recognition of a wonderful trip to Italy. He was really looking forward to seeing Florence, but then found it is a city and not a woman. Phil Rushing shared that his home club in Illinois raised $15,000 in a 24-hour marathon collection for Haiti on a street cornier in Champaign. Anyone up for an overnighter at Washington and 111? Happy Dollars were offered by Sandy Lauer (2nd place in golf tourney), Ed Casey (for being back), Tom McDermott (office move), Ben Hofheimer (good weather), Joe LaMantia (US Women's Olympic Hockey team). Sandy concluded the proceedings by recognizing LeRoy Anderson as the bested dressed male Rotarian in the house. Well done, LeRoy, but I won't follow suit.

Our speakers provided us with a reminder of how fortunate we are and how much need there is in our own backyard.

Marianne Benson described a relatively new charitable program in the desert to assist the 23,600 developmentally disabled people in the Coachella Valley. Appropriately named the Desert Friends of the Developmentally Disabled, this program is focused on providing the medical and counseling services for special needs citizens that have been impacted by the State's budget cuts. A major fund raiser for this program is the sale of tickets to the Kraft Nabisco LPGA event the end of March. You can read details of the fundraiser and order tickets on their website at www.dfddnow.org.

Greg Fisher, Development Director at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, gave us an overview of the Mission's history and service to the community. Founded in 1971 and located in the old Desert Training Center headquarters building of General Patton in Indio, the mission is providing meals, shelter and clothing for the area's homeless. On Thursday, they served 540 meals (breakfast and dinner). The Mission provided 1,800 turkeys at Thanksgiving and 5,000 gifts for children at Christmas. Editors note: I played Santa and Helen sang in our community choir when we visited the Mission last Christmas. The Mission has a building program underway to replace the current facility which will more than double its capacity as well as improve the services provided. The Mission operates several trucks that will come to homes to pick up donated items. Their biggest need - white socks. You can learn more about the Mission and their needs at www.cvrm.org.

A final note - Richard Jandt is still looking for a few volunteers to deliver lunches to the artists at the La Quinta Art Festival. The dates are March 11-14 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. It is a win-win deal. You get to see the Art Festival and the Club will receive a $500.00 donation.