Posted by Ramona Pleva

It was a beautiful fall day for a Rotary Zoom Meeting! Here’s what happened online on Tuesday, October. 13, 2020.

President Mack opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Gratitude and Reflection. 

A Special Meeting was called for the corporate membership of the Rotary Club of Traverse City. The slate of officers for the club board and presidential nomination were presented. Nominees must be a member in good standing.

The nominees to fill three board positions for two years are:

Max Anderson

Nick Beadleston

Jen Casey

 Scott Hardy

Alexis Juett

Haider Kazim


The presidential nominee for the Club President for 2022-2023 is Marlene Bevan. The election will take place on Tuesday, October 27 during our club meeting. Please show up and cast your vote!

Rotarians rolled up their sleeves for the Jim Van Work Bee held last Friday. A great time was had by all at the beautiful Canterbury Woods site. 

Dan Buron introduced our speaker Cathy O’Connor. Cathy is the president of Step Up, an organization that helps at-risk Northern Michigan youth. Step Up began only six years ago and is having a huge impact on helping teens in our area that need a variety of support that is not otherwise available to them. Needs can vary from clothing, food and personal hygiene items. Food Rescue is one of the largest partners with the Step Up program. 

The program initially began at Traverse City High School but has expanded to TC Central and Traverse Heights Elementary. On a weekly basis, 10 volunteers shop for products that students need. Four hundred and fifty students are served each month. 

Companies like Plant Moran help with the program through their Cares Staff and provide extra hands and resources especially during the holidays. For many of these students, a gift bag at the holidays is the only gift they will receive.

A food pantry is set up at TC Central and is stocked full time with food and clothing. Donations are tailored to what teens like. But that’s not all that TC Central has for students. Maverick is a beautiful black lab therapy dog. He was initially trained as a leader dog but found his calling as a therapy dog for the students, soothing upsetting situations and offering comfort. 

The Step Up program focuses on meeting “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” but sometimes additional support is needed. Some of the students have gotten jobs but needed help with getting the correct work attire such as work boots or something as simple as khaki pants. Without this assistance, they would not be able to work. 

COVID has impacted the program. It is not funded by TCAPS yet serves 500 homeless students and families throughout the year.  The number of volunteers has dropped with COVID and shopping and storage haven’t been as easy to come by. Food for families at Traverse Heights has shifted to a curbside food pick up program.

The things Cathy has learned through this program;

  • We have a very generous community

  • Poverty doesn’t always look the way we think it would

  • Not to judge parents and students about the choices they’ve made, they are operating in crisis mode

  • Need to support educational institutions to better serve students

  • Helping others and offering compassion has real health benefits


With the program coming to an end President Mack reminded Rotarians of the Halloween Blood Drive on October 30, 11-5 at Kirkbride Hall. To sign up to donate click the link:

And don’t forget, we need baked goods for the blood drive as well. Contact Ramona if you are able to help: