Breakfast on the Beach!

Recently a delightful breakfast at the Beach Bucket restaurant in Ormond Beach was attended by 14 of our members. The food was great and we provided free beverages to those who attended. The weather was perfect and a few of our group finished the event with a short, lovely stroll on the beach. We will plan to do this again in the fall.

Longstreet School STEM Class

Approximately once a month, a number of GE Volunteers teach an after school math/science class at J.R. Longstreet School in Daytona Beach Shores . The first post Covid STEM class in two years was recently held  covering prime numbers and patterns they can make with nails and yarn. 

Athens Historical Theatre "Elf"

On December 5th we attended this delightful presentation of Elf the musical at the historic Athens Theatre in Deland, Florida. The play was a lot of fun and enjoyed by our many members which were in attendance.  It certainly put us all in the Holiday Spirit!  Sharing the spirit of the season, we also purchased additional tickets and donated them to the Deland Neighborhood Center.   

Sugar Mill Gardens

In mid-November, we had an Elfun outing at Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens with a ninety minute tour provided by master gardener Diane Sutton. We had twenty people in our group including Marty Grimshaw who tapped into her own master gardener knowledge, supplementing our docent volunteer tour guide.

Lunch followed at Peach Valley Cafe in a semi-private room with two volunteer groups sharing the space and enjoying the delicious food and great service from Brianna.

After lunch, we walked next door to the Habitat For Humanity of Greater Volusia County ReStore for a tour provided by Chief Executive Officer Lori Gillooly and her team and came away with souvenirs.

The group had a wonderful time at this half-day outing.

St Johns River Cruise and Lunch

In early November 30+ members and guests departed from Deland and enjoyed a Nature/Eco cruise on the St Johns river.   This was our 2nd tour on this highly informative and relaxing cruise. We boarded our vessel and cruised through the quiet and shall​ow backwater areas where wildlife viewing is the best. Our two hour tour took us on a trip north on the St. Johns River . We were able to view manatees, turtles and a large variety of birds while being entertained with facts and stories by our knowledgeable Captain. Following the tour we enjoyed a great group lunch at the St Johns River Grille. It was a fun day which was enjoyed by all! 

MOAS Outdoor Musical instruments

On November 2nd a group of hardy GE volunteers rose early and installed a set of outdoor musical instruments at the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences. After "augering" holes, assembling the units and pouring concrete we ended up with a nice addition to the Museum's ensemble of outdoor musical instruments . Thanks to all who helped out!

Daytona Tortugas

On June 3rd we had our first in person social event in over a year.  We had a large group of enthusiastic members and guests join us for a picnic and ballgame at historic Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Downtown Daytona Beach  We enjoyed good food and fellowship topped off  by the Tortuga's win over the Clearwater Threshers. A good time was had by all. Stay tuned for more events coming in the fall!

Recent Museum Projects

Touchless Binary Color Blender

This​ project uses infrared switches that detect the presence of an object nearby and change the state of a set of contacts to power the Light Emitting Diodes. There are three sets of six switches one each for red, blue and green. Each set forms a six bit binary number that controls the lights in both the left and right panel. The values of the binary number entered for red, green and blue are blended in the left panel and represented by individual lights in the right panel.

This project was designed and built by Lew DeWitt with a lot of help from Jim Kotas and donated to the Museum Of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach.

Olde Medical Exhibit

The exhibit contains instruments and medical devices and cures from the 1850s to the 1950s. Some items in the display were obtained from the MOAS collection and some were purchased for this display. A small screen displays a collection of images of medical devices and techniques from the Civil War era. The display was assembled by Elfun’s Lew DeWitt and Jim Kotas. The collection of medicine bottles from the early part of the 1900s was donated by Lew DeWitt. 

Virtual Meeting- Ken Willis 

We held our second Zoom speaker meetings on October 28 with Ken Willis as our guest speaker. About 20 of our members participated and I am sure everyone enjoyed Ken's comments. This event was recorded so you can always listen to it at any time (see link at the end of this article). Ken covered many topics from his participation on a GE baseball team in the 1980's to what is happening at the News-Journal with respect to the continued reduction in staff. His comments were humorous, satirical and even instructive in the proper use of grammar - when do I say "less than" as opposed to "fewer than". We hope you were able to Zoom in to the speaker event but if not, click the link below. And we hope to restart the speaker events in January.

Virtual meeting – Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood

In our efforts to stay engaged during the pandemic, on Thursday September 17th the chapter hosted its first Virtual meeting. We had 28 members participate, and it was enjoyed by all.

Our featured speaker was Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood. Mike’s career started in Philadelphia in 1988 and includes Chief of Police positions in Shawnee, Oklahoma and Daytona Beach Florida. He was elected Volusia County Sheriff in 2016. His highly entertaining presentation highlighted his years of experience in law enforcement with emphasis on recent events Volusia county. His perspective on police work in the current environment was timely and informative. Following his presentation, he answered questions from our members.

While we all would prefer to see each other at live events, this approach gave the attending members a chance for some social interaction until that is possible again. Based on the success of this meeting, we intend to schedule mores sessions with speakers of interest to our members.  If you would like to see a recording of the presentation by Sheriff Chitwood to our Elfun group please contact Jim Kotas at [email protected].

Ray Johnson Memorial Scholarship committee selects five Recipients for 2020

In 2015, the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Volusia County, Inc. (formerly Halifax Habitat for Humanity) announced the creation of the Ray Johnson Memorial Scholarship to commemorate the life, and posthumously continue the tradition of dedication and service of this long-time volunteer and friend of HFH of GVC. Through the GE Volunteers, Johnson contributed over 8,000 hours of his time over a 20-year period following his GE retirement in 1993. Johnson served Habitat for Humanity of Greater Volusia County on the Board of Directors, the annual budget committee, and chaired the construction committee. He stood on roofs and nailed trusses, painted walls, and served as a site supervisor. Altogether he was involved in building 60 habitat homes in the Daytona Beach area.

The Ray Johnson Memorial Scholarship Committee was formed in 2015 with representatives from the local HFH of GVC affiliate, the GE Volunteers, and Ray’s friends. The committee established several requirements for the Scholarship program, which is for the exclusive benefit of qualified HFH of GVC homeowners and/or their resident dependents. In late spring of 2016, the Scholarship Committee selected the first three recipients for the fall term of 2016. Scholarship awards for the fall term of 2017 were awarded to five recipients, who were publicly honored July 2017 at a reception held at the HFH of GVC office in Daytona Beach. Scholarships were again awarded to four recipients in 2018, seven in 2019, and five candidates have been selected for 2020.

The following five applications have been approved for the coming 2020 school year. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 guidelines, these recipients will not be honored at our usual reception held in prior years at the Habitat offices in Daytona Beach. However, the committee voted to provide each recipient with a small gift card, courtesy of HFH of GVC, for their use in a family celebration.

1. Ronda White (Homeowner). Ronda was a previous Scholarship Recipient and continues pursuing an AA degree in Medical Billing & Coding at Daytona State College.

2. Bernadette S. Lundy (Homeowner). Bernadette received her AA Degree at DSC in 2017and is now pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at DSC in Management. She expects to graduate in 2021.

3. Lavon Tukes (Daughter of Ms. Bichicka Hines). Lavon intends to continue attending DSC in the nursing program

4. Martisha Brooks (Daughter of Arlene Armstrong). Martisha was a previous scholarship recipient and is enrolled in the Associate of Arts Degree Program at Daytona State College.

5. Justin Bele (Son of Estella Bele). Justin is a first-time recipient of this scholarship and will continue at Keiser University majoring in Sports Medicine & Fitness Technology.

We want to thank all of you who have supported the funding for this program in the past. However, we will continue to need financial help in years to come. If you would like to make a donation for the 2020 Tax year, please make your check payable to:

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Volusia County, Inc.

and note on the Memo line that it is for the “Ray Johnson Memorial Scholarship”. Unfortunately, you can no longer apply to the GE Foundation for a Matching gift, since GE has discontinued that program.

Please mail your check to:

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Volusia County, Inc.

1030 W. International Speedway Boulevard - 2nd Floor,

Daytona Beach, FL 32114 

Embry Riddle Tour

On January 29, 2020, a small group of chapter members had the opportunity to tour some of the new technical facilities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The tour began with a presentation by Dr. Maj Mirmirani, Dean of the College of Engineering, who gave an overview of the University,  its curriculum and student body. Beginning as a small flight school in Ohio in the 1920’s, ERAU is today a premier educational institution.

Headquartered in Daytona Beach with a branch campus in Prescott, Arizona, it also has hundreds of sites around the world as part of its World Wide programs. The university offers many courses in both technical and non-technical fields, with Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees now available in many disciplines.

The tour began with visits to several engineering labs and business start-ups in the new MicaPlex facility. Students and faculty presented details of some of their advanced research and development facilities and projects, involving space exploration, hybrid aircraft propulsion, and state-of-the-art materials.

The group was then transported to the main campus, where they were provided an excellent buffet lunch in the dramatic new Student Union building. This was followed by faculty-led tours of the aircraft simulation building and the air traffic control laboratories. Chapter members, primarily veterans of the Apollo program and early flight simulation development, were deeply impressed with the advances in technology and the caliber of the instructional facilities and staff at ERAU.  Our members sincerely appreciated all the time and effort devoted to the visit by ERAU faculty, staff, and students.

St Johns River Cruise and Luncheon

On November 15th 35 members and guests departed from Deland and enjoyed a Nature/Eco cruise on the St Johns river. We boarded our vessel, “Great Blue,” which was specifically designed to cruise the quiet and shallow backwater areas where wildlife viewing is the  best.  Our two hour tour took us on a trip south on the St. Johns River into the Ocala National Forest, the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge and river tributaries.  We were able to view alligators, turtles and a large variety of birds while being entertained  with facts and stories by our knowledgeable Captain.  Following the tour we enjoyed a great group lunch at the St Johns River Grille.  It was a fun day which was enjoyed by all! 

Habitat for Humanity Fundraiser -2019

The annual Bubba Gump Building Contest fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity was held on November 3, 2019 at the Ocean Walk in Daytona Beach. At this event teams compete for a variety of prizes using plastic building blocks to build projects of their own design. Our very popular GE Volunteer Trebuchet was once again set up on the main stage at the Band Shell and raised more than $300. Thanks to the Team of Dorrie, Lew, Nate, Brent, Sarah and Diana (and a few of Jim Kotas's grandkids)  for volunteering.  

Daytona Beach Police​ Dog Training

On the evening of October 3rd, approximately 30 Elfuns, spouses and friends met at the Daytona Beach Police Station to observe the weekly training of the city’s K-9 unit. Members of the unit discussed the acquisition and training of the dogs, the various types of specialized training (tracking, search, drugs, etc.) and the relationship between the dog and its handler. 

Attendees watched as different dogs went through their paces, chasing down “bad guys” or hunting for stray objects. Members of the unit were very open to discussion and questions from the audience, and shared a lot of “war stories” to tell.  Following the training, our group traveled to Stonewood Grill for refreshments and dinner.”

Remembering the early days - GE Daytona Beach and the Apollo Program

Daytona Beach News-Journal – March 22 – print edition / March 21 online

The role that a local unit of General Electric played in the Apollo program should not be forgotten on the moon landing’s 50th anniversary.

This July will be the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. You may have noticed the wave of books and movies tied to the event. I was at a forum at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University this week that talked about the local contribution to that achievement.

Launching and testing moon-flight vehicles required components that hadn’t been invented yet, and General Electric’s Apollo Support Program arrived here in 1962 to design, test and make them. Within months, Volusia County’s economy had a high-tech sector it never had before. By the end of GE’s first year, some 500 new jobs were created.

At its peak in 1966, the company employed 2,990 people in Daytona Beach working in a complex where One Daytona and a strip mall are now. “GE played a very significant part in the Apollo program,” said Larry Kelly, a longtime Daytona Beach mayor who managed manufacturing for Apollo Support, said at the forum.

Appearing with him at the forum to recall that part were Jim Chandler, who worked on equipment to test the lunar excursion module, or LEM; Lew DeWitt, who worked on simulators for the command and service modules and the LEM; and Jim Kotas, who worked on checkout equipment.

There wasn’t much here when they arrived. The 1960 population of Daytona Beach was 37,395 and this was not an impressive place to see from a car driving into town on the main roads. Kelly recalled driving to the Sea Dip Motel with his wife, Joan, and “by the time we got up to the room Joan was crying, and she says I don’t want to live here.”

The new wave of talent brought changes here. The engineers, support staff, specialized production teams arrived and found they loved the beach and waterways, and appreciated the lack of snow, but were dismayed at the state of local government, especially the schools. They got involved as volunteers, showed up at meetings, and in surprising number stepped up and served in local governments, as Kelly did.

My family was among them, so maybe I romanticize this period. I can recall walking out to the sidewalk in front of my parents’ house on the sunny July day that Apollo 11 blasted off. Half the neighborhood was out, too, all squinting southward into the summer sky. Some watching with tears in their eyes.

Most of the nation was crouched in front of television sets, but here in our yards, we were seeing the orange flame of the rocket for ourselves. This made the mission feel closer and more real.

My dad was among the first wave of General Electric employees to arrive and among the last to take early retirement before the buildings went dark. Martin-Marietta bought General Electric’s aerospace operations in 1992 and announced it was closing facilities in Daytona Beach as part of a huge restructuring plan that shuttered operations in seven states. By the time it closed, the Daytona Beach office already was down to some 500 employees. I still run into some of my dad’s old co-workers from time to time. You’d be surprised at how many stuck around town after things shut down.

“I have GE tattooed on my forehead,” declared Kelly to the ERAU audience, speaking figuratively to laughter. The others nodded sympathetically.

Coming here as part of Florida’s Moonflight Wave predisposed me to unreasonable optimism about what’s possible. Even though Volusia County lost all but a remnant of its technology sector. Even though I haven’t stood on a bridge to get a good view of a space flight that had people in it since 2011.

Which is why I still stand in the yard, eyes up, for even the most mundane weather and mapping satellite launch. They suggest a possibility that amazing things can be ahead again.

Luncheon with Spencer Lane

On February 13th we were privileged to host a luncheon featuring Spencer Lane, a local award winning author who wrote the book “First World Flight”. He is also an accomplished pilot and has flown more than 10,000 hours over much of the world in aircraft ranging from Biplanes to Jets. He made the first recorded unrefueled turboprop crossing of the U.S. and set new Transcontinental Speed Records in single and Multi-Engine Aircraft.

He shared with us this fascinating, but little known story about about the early years of aviation featuring the role of General Billy Mitchell. He researched this book for 15 years and was able to bring to life the stories of these brave aviation pioneers. His book has won numerous awards and was chosen as one of the 5 best audio books of 2018 at the recent “NATIONAL AUDIO THEATER FESTIVAL”. A big thank you to Spencer for a very informative and entertaining presentation!

Habitat for Humanity Fundraiser 2018

The annual Bubba Gump Building Contest fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity was held on November 10, 2018 at the Ocean Walk in Daytona Beach. At this event teams compete for a variety of prizes using plastic building blocks to build projects of their own design. Through generous donations form our members we were able to sponsor two tables (at $500 per table). In addition, our very popular GE Volunteer Trebuchet was set up on the stage at the Band Shell and raised more than $200. Thanks to all who volunteered. 

Elfun Visit to Cracker Creek and Gamble Place

On a beautiful mild January Friday, a group of 20-30 Elfuns visited Cracker Creek Canoeing and Gamble Place. The group gathered at the picnic shelter at Cracker Creek before climbing onto a flatbed trailer. The trailer was towed by tractor to nearby Gamble Place, where Jill, the owner and operator of Cracker Creek Canoeing, gave an interesting and very informative talk on the history of Gamble Place. Gamble Place, owned by the Museum of Arts and Sciences, was purchased in the early 1900’s by James Gamble of the Proctor and Gamble Company to be used as a rural retreat. The group returned on foot to the picnic shelter at Cracker Creek, where they enjoyed box lunches prepared by Boston Market. After that it was on to the Cracker Creek tour boat and an hour-long ride down Spruce Creek with Jill continuing to supply details on the history and ecology of the area. We were lucky enough to see a very large alligator sunning by the side of the creek. Everyone enjoyed the event, with some admitting they had not known this little jewel of Volusia County existed, even though they had lived in the area for several decades.

Math-Science classes at Palm Terrace

The GE Volunteers continue with the math-science classes at Palm Terrace and recently held a math spiral art project with the kids after school. The students had to hammer nails into a board to form a circle with a prime number "19" nails and then used yarn to create art spirals by doing a modulo repeat of the yarn around the circle. They were then able to take their math art project home with them after class. 

Tomoka Regional Science and Engineering Fair

Again this year, on Saturday, January 28, the GE Volunteers supplied judges for the Tomoka Regional Science and Engineering Fair. We proudly helped celebrate its 50th anniversary at Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Florida. We saw many impressive projects from the middle and high school levels. Some of the creative projects which caught our eye were determination of the ideal weight ratio for a drone to carry packages, the calculation of early morning dew resistance from a golf ball on a putting green, an experiment which showed a microwave created the most interference with wi-fi networks, calculation of ideal foam density through recycled materials, and the use of painters’ tape as an insulator.  

A special thank you to the GE volunteers who gave their time and expertise to act as judges for this event. There were many first-timers to the science fair this year, and we thank you for making it a positive experience for them. See you next year!

Luncheon/Annual Meeting

On Tuesday, October 4, the Elfun Society of Florida held our well attended annual meeting at the FIG restaurant in Ormond Beach. Absent in attendance was Dick Grimshaw, who passed away late last month. Elfun President Jim Kotas described Dick’s memorial service and shared an additional memory of their slot car project at the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Police Chief Jesse Godfrey discussed preparations for Hurricane Matthew. Detective Ryan Mihalko and Victim Advocate Evelyn Rebostini gave a thorough presentation on fraud protection. At the end of the meeting the slate of Directors was nominated and approved by all of our members. 

Daytona Tortugas Baseball 

Another fun night at the Ballgame. A pregame buffet with the all the fixings, Baseball Bingo, and a great night of fun and fellowship. A good time was had by all! We are doing it again August 23rd...come join us!

Enjoying the Pregame Buffet

Swapping some stories!

The Old Ballgame

How about some Spring Training Baseball?

 On St Patrick's Day a group of 9 Elfun members attended a Spring Training game in Sunny Viera, Florida. It was a perfect baseball day with Cold Drinks, Hot dogs and Peanuts in the hot Florida Sun! A great time was had by all! By the way the Nationals beat the Braves 9-7. See you at the Daytona Tortugas game on May 11th!

Palm Terrace Elementary School

Our Math & Science Club is now in its 24th year with 5th graders at an at risk area elementary school, currently Palm Terrace Elementary School in Daytona Beach. We meet several times throughout the school year, making a variety of crafts and projects including robotic hands, circuit kits, kites, bird feeders, and our big season finale in the space region of Florida is rockets. We bring fun to math and science principles as we test, measure, and calculate results.

Local Elfuns take European River Cruise

In October 2015 Don and Sandy Hayworth, Lew and Nomi DeWitt and Dick and Marty Grimshaw cruised the Rhine and Mosel aboard the MS River Melody. With numerous stops for guided tours at historic cities along the way the trip started at Antwerp, Belgium and cruised through Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. A very informative and fun trip!

Windmill at Kinderdijk in The Netherlands

Reichsburg Castel in Cochem Germany

Cool day for a cruise through the mid Rhine Castle stretch

Dinner aboard MS River Melody

Pediatric Care Luncheon

"Children learn from the language of play" was just one of the thought provoking comments made by Jane Miller - Chief Executive Officer and Founding Chair of the Alliance for Kids at our luncheon presentation on Monday January 18th. She provided interesting insights on hospital care from the perspective of a child. The Alliance for Kids organization strives to communicate with children at their level, and make pediatric care more effective and less intimidating to young children. Some of the Programs she discussed were a Hospital welcome program call "Monkey for me", the "Bravery Bands" treatment incentive program, the "Super Serum" IV system and many others. She also discussed their partnership with GE Healthcare Systems in translating testing protocols to a child's level and animation of super hero "Tommy Terrific".  

Our second speaker and host was Ann Martorano - Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Halifax Health. She gave us a brief overview of Halifax Medical Center Programs in the Community with emphasis on and a tour of the Halifax "Speediatrics" Pediatric care unit . As a thank you for hosting this event the Elfun Society of Florida donated $300 to the Speediatrics care unit.

Many thanks to Halifax Hospital for providing us a delicious lunch and a very informative afternoon. For more information on these organizations, and how you can support them or get involved visit the following websites:

MOAS Projector Project

The Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS) is replacing the old star projector (1988 vintage MS-10 ) with a modern digital projector in the new planetarium and faced the challenge of moving the old, very heavy machine.

 Elfuns/GE Volunteers Dave Huggins, Lew DeWitt, Roy DeBolt, and President Jim Kotas