April 2024 and May 2024 have been busy months for the GCARA. 

In April, I had the pleasure of going to the 85th Anniversary of West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group up in the Cox Center in West Palm Beach. Barry Porter K1PB, representing the ARRL, was sitting next to me at the entrance greeting all the ham visitors which included those from West Palm Beach and Broward County. I met some snowbirds from New York and New Jersey and welcomed them to check out our Website W4BUG.org and catch a Zoom meeting or two at their convenience. 

It was nice to see visitors like Jan Wheltan KK3W, who is a member of many of the clubs in North Broward and WPB, including ours. His Satellite set up is impressive and he shares his talents at various clubs during Field Days and has attended our Winter Field Day in the past. 

Also, surprise, surprise, I talked to Mark Blanchard KQ4RRG, an enthusiastic new GCARA member who is making the rounds to various clubs, lunches, and picnics and making new ham friends. Way to go Mark! One of the best ways to enjoy and learn in this hobby is by total immersion in the culture and meeting various hams with specialized interests. It makes for a well-rounded experience, and I wholly advocate sharing the wealth of information in this exciting hobby. Before any of us is a club supporter, we are hams, after all, and there should be no limits to who or what we know.

I also had a good conversation with our club member, David Pomerantz KO4DKN, a Boynton Beach resident, who has made a mark by supporting many clubs and in particular, the Palmetto Club in Davie by serving as their VE Leader for testing. Here is another example of full immersion in the hobby being enjoyed by this delightful and positive ham.

I was excited to talk to our old friend, Robert Molledo of the National Weather Service in Miami who manned a booth for the NWS at the Cox Center. He, as always is bright, articulate, and very full of good information for all South Floridians. He is one of the dedicated people in Meterology who makes good information available, whether on Hurricanes or Space Weather. He is one of GCARA’s favorite and steadfast speakers and we have enjoyed a long association with him. Whether a weather lecture or teaching a SKYWARN class to us, he has been a stimulating and excellent speaker. Thank you, Robert, for all you do, for and with the ham community.

The Red Cross of PB County was represented there as well as CERT, and the PB County Shelter Volunteers who were also explaining how the animals are cared for during the storms at the shelters. The whole tour of services was indeed fascinating and populated by the best and brightest young volunteers of Palm Beach County. I was very impressed and felt very hopeful by the number of young volunteers in the community.

My favorite display was the gentleman (I am sorry I did not get his name) that manned a Morse Code key and let everyone use CW to send their initials to a dummy load. He was so interesting and very helpful in letting people know how they can still learn Morse Code and use it for emergency communications or rag chewing. The Morse Code Hams are generally older and are among the most interesting hams I have met because of their place in history as well as their occupations in life. Dedicated to amateur radio, they have been integral in radio communications in the armed forces as well as civic groups in times of distress. Talking to this gentleman, rekindled my excitement for learning and using CW again. I highly recommend that we continue to learn and maintain this method of communication.

Special thanks to Jo Cummings N2QDT, who invited me to this event and worked hard to pull it off, as well as introducing me to the President of the WPBARG, Michael Mathis K1WX, who is a younger, enthusiastic ham who has served as the President for 2 years now, making a positive mark on this older club. His positive and cheerful attitude has been an asset to keeping the club on track and in focus for its future in the world of amateur radio. 

May 4, 2024, was GCARA’s Spring/Summer Picnic at Vista View Park in Davie. The weather was gorgeous with white puffy clouds and a nice, continual breeze that cooled off the 84 degree day. Thirty hams attended and many were newcomers to the club and I was so excited to meet and talk with them as well as watch while they pitched in to help us with set up and serving. Special thanks to Mark Blanchard KQ4RRG, who jumped right in from the get go, helping carry ham equipment for Mike Wolf KD4QVP, who brought his radio and antenna to the park to operate, and also to help Ben Echavarria NB7BBE unload his car of all of the equipment he had brought to show and tell. 

What an amazing group of men and women in this venture. Highly social couple, Jerry KN4UPI and wife Terry Tyler, were there cheerfully making conversation with everyone and supporting the effort with Jerry’s sense of humor. Terry pitched in and helped with the food service, helping to set up and break down at the end. Thank you, Terry, for your assistance.

Tom McClain N3HPR (or “Dr. Tom” as he is affectionately known to me) brought goodies baked by his precious wife, Sandy McClain N3LKW, but who was under the weather from medical treatments on the day of the picnic and could not attend. Thanks, Sandy for those Um-m-m Good treats!

Also, in attendance, with her county wide known CHILI, was Ricki Witte KJ4FSJ, who was gracious enough to prepare and serve up her chili. It was crazy good, not spicy, and is always requested at our gatherings. Thank you, Ricki!

Chef de Jour was Mike Wolf KD4OVP, of Traffic Net fame, and he perfectly cooked up some of the tastiest burgers, hot dogs and organic chicken breasts to the group of hungry hams. With Mike present, you not only have a cook, but you get entertainment throughout the process. 

His side kick, Kenny Hollenbeck KE4NC, who faithfully stores and maintains the grill for our club, was there assisting in preparing the grill for use and cleaning it up and breaking it down after the picnic. We are so lucky to have Kenny’s help with this aspect of food preparation because without the grill, we would not be able to offer such tasty treats to our membership. Thanks, Kenny for all you do to help us out!! (and Sally).

We would not be able to purchase food and transport it to the parks without our Hospitality Team, in the persons of Gerald Deitch W4LST and David Warner KB4ICU, who generously give of their time and body strength to help me shop, store safely on ice, and bring the food to the venue. These two gentlemen are also cheerful volunteers in many other efforts and support the Parrot club as well as ours. If you have an Explorer sized SUV, or large covered truck and you are able to help the Hospitality Team out on our shopping excursions, kindly contact me, Melanie, (954-560-3706) and let me know. This club moves on its belly and there are plenty of goods to haul. Jerry has been my partner in the shopping and hauling of goods for over 8 years and without him, I could never have achieved the food service we provide. Thank you, Jerry, from the bottom of my heart, and also, thank you to Dave Warner who is a whiz as a human calculator and can cube out the van very efficiently. They have been in it with me to the bitter end and it is time to give Jerry a well-deserved rest. We are also looking for a convenient place to store our two large coolers and supplies. If anyone has room in their garage or storage facility, also, kindly give Melanie a call. Thanks.

This month’s message is so long because I did not get out the April message in time and decided to combine these two messages. I sincerely hope I do not cause a digital overload on the readers.

In closing, whether I mentioned you publicly or not, I saw you and noticed your role in our effort and please accept my thanks. Without gracious people like you, GCARA would not be the club it is. It is full of the most generous and positive individuals who are so supportive and giving to the club. Many hands make light work and I encourage those who have not yet volunteered to do something, to join in and feel the good feeling of being a help to others. Whether for the club or the community, the feeling is a reward in and of itself. Thank you to all!

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