September 14 Meeting West Bay Rotary

Posted on Sep 18, 2017
September 14, 2017
West Bay Rotary Meeting
 
Committee chairs – If you have an event that you would like to share with the club, please send event details to George so he can add them to calendar.
Buckets on the table for Rockport, TX Rotary
 
Speaker:
Peter Berke
Strange Things that Have Happened to Me
Grew up in garment & textile business
 
As a kid Peter packed boxes, inspected fabrics, etc.  The job wasn't a good fit for Peter so he transitioned into a business that rented tropical plants to trade shows.
Sometimes this business was challenging because of teamsters – in NYC the teamsters were asking for $1,500 to back his small truck up to the convention center.
 
Peter connected to a guy through his father - after several phone calls, this guy gets Peter into the convention center without the $1,500.
 
A couple of months later he gets a call from the FBI/DA doing an investigation on the teamsters.
He follows the FBI to the meatpacking district – they want him to testify against the teamsters in front of a grand jury. 
He was nervous about his safety – the FBI offered to provide protection or a wire he declined.
 
4-6 years later he went back to the family business.  He oversaw 17 “sweatshops” in NY & in the Caribbean.  In NY – he traveled around to all the factories.  He was working with a Korean factory and they messed up a project so they were not going to get paid. They wanted their money.  They called his house and threatened his family.  He went to his father about it – his father asked the factory owners to come into the showroom.  Father meets with them and they continue to threaten Peters family - but Peter's father didn't seem to care.  His father negotiates a decrease in the rate of pay.  The rumor around the shop was that Peters father had discounted him so they should be careful because who knows what the father would do to them.
 
He traveled to Columbia and it was dominated by drug cartels.  He travels to this area and everyone is armed.  He goes to the factories – he inspects the work.  You go to these factories and it seems like a very small operation.  It was all set up as a laundering situation for the cocaine industry. After the tour – they take him up to a room – he found that his father had bounced a $50,000 check.  They wanted him to call his father on the phone.  Father is out of town – out of reach.  The Colombians tell him that they need the $50,000 and he’s not allowed to go home.  They tell him that they are going to lock him in his hotel room until they get paid.  Once he returned to the hotel room - he could arrange for a payment within 24 hours.  After 24 hours, he received a call that they had received the money so he could go.  His flight was cancelled – he had to fly to Cali instead – he arrived at night drove past cars on fire. 
 
He started painting houses in college - that’s how he ended up here in the business.
 
In the late 90’s his father was bought out by his partner – it was a forced buy out and the rug was kind of pulled out from under him.
 
He was most afraid when he was in Columbia because he wasn’t sure that he was going to come home.
 
We have been invited to the AIO food pantry get together – 9/24
Rotary Club of Bangor has invited us to their Century of Service events on Friday, October 13.
 
Welcome into membership Bruce Peel
 
Committee reports
Mary Sargent – Foundation application is on the website. 
October 1 is the deadline for application for donation requests. 
If you know of any organization that is looking for a gift let them know. 
If they received in the spring – they are not eligible until next spring.
 
Sandy Cox – October 21 – Rotary Walk in Belfast more details to come. 
Our goal is to raise $2,000 for each club.  There will be a cost to participate – for polio.
 
Mark Coursey
Meeting on Wednesday
 
On October 7 & 14 – will be working on the PAWS puppy trail.
 
Ron Hall EREY
Rodney Lynch, Barry King & Peter Berke
 
After you’ve accumulated $1,000 you are eligible to be awarded with a Paul Harris Fellow
Congratulations Suzanne Scott for becoming a Paul Harris Fellow
 
Susan Dorr - International Committee
Grant was submitted to the Rotary District for 4 more water fountains in the Yucatan.  Grants awarded – money held up because of another club in the District
Found out that the money finally went through.
 
October 31 – Susan, Peter and Heidi Karod will be traveling to the Yucatan to visit the locations. Heidi will spend some time at the school.
 
Next Week - Rick Tasker – Classification Talk