NEXT MEETING: May 24, 2013

Baton Rouge Ambassador-by-the-Bay Report

Albert Fraenkel, President of Baton Rouge Rotary in 1986-87, helped one of Rotary’s largest clubs (nearly 500 members) usher in a new era of social and entrepreneurial change that included opening Rotary membership to women. (Detail of Supreme Court decision on right.)
In 1998 Mr. Fraenkel left his home town and a thriving business to relocate in the Bay Area and was declared the “Baton Rouge Ambassador-by-the-Bay” by his former club.

MEETING OF May 17, 2013


President Jim Young rang the bell and called the meeting to order. Herb Cole led the pledge of allegiance and George Egan asked for a moment of silence for freedom, peace, and justice on earth. President Jim had this thought for the day: “It’s Opening Night!!”

Rotarians with Guests

Alan Baer introduced his guest, Gonzalo Ochoa, owner of G&O Tires and Service Center on 23rd Street in Richmond.

Sunshine Report

The Club wishes a speedy recovery to Henry Moe, who has a bad case of the flu.


  • BREAKING NEWS (a special update since last Friday’s meeting). Opening weekend for the Lost Secrets play (you’ve heard about the play, right?) was a smashing success. Friday and Saturday nights’ performances were sold out and the Sunday afternoon matinee was almost sold out. District Governor Laura Day was there on Friday night and toasted Richmond Rotary in a special reception held before the play. Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, in brief remarks made to the audience before the start of Sunday’s performance, not only praised the ongoing work of the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts but also openly thanked Richmond Rotary Club for sponsoring the production of the play.
  • There are still a few tickets available for the Lost Secrets play’s second and final weekend (May 24-26). You won’t want to miss the special “thank-you-Rotary” reception being hosted by the East Bay Center immediately after the Saturday night performance on May 25.
  • The Berkeley Rotary Club continues to support the Lost Secrets play. There has been a $500 matching grant offered, for which Richmond Rotary has raised $300. Please consider contributing in order to secure this additional outside support. (Another matching grant from Berkeley Rotary is in the amount of $1000 intended for the Richmond RotaCare healthcare clinic. Our Club’s contribution so far in this case is also $300.)
  • Teen Moms gift bags preparation will take place at Nick Despota’s house on Saturday, June 1, from 9am to 11:30am. See Nick to sign up to help.
  • The annual Richmond Rotary baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum will be August 31 at 6:05pm (Oakland A’s versus the Tampa Ray Rays, good seats on the 2nd deck behind home plate, $30 per person). Pre-game tailgate activity will start at 3:30pm in the Section “A” parking area, food provided but BYOB. There will be a fireworks show right after the game.

Special Events

New member Rosa Lara did her “Who am I?” Lara was born in Mexico and grew up in Richmond, attending Helms Middle School and graduating from Richmond High School in 2003. She attended Contra Costa College, worked for Kaiser for a while, and then signed up for the 12-week RichmondBUILD program to develop skills in the construction and renewable energy fields. By week seven of the class, she was working for the City of Richmond in code enforcement and abatement while boarding up abandoned houses. Reflecting the work-hard ethic that she learned from her father, Lara was then recognized for her many talents by being selected as Recruiter for the RichmondBUILD program. And she’s now President of the 23rd Street Merchants Association. Congratulations, Lara, and welcome to the Club!


Alas, no birthdays or anniversaries or extraordinary personal accomplishments merited recognition on this fine day. We sped along into Happy and Sad Dollars, making up for the calm in this category.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Rafael Madrigal was happy to be leaving within a few hours to Las Vegas even though it’s a business trip.
  • Michelle Itagaki had happy dollars for her approaching retirement as Executive Director of the Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and for her replacement that has just been named (Beth Javens).
  • Joan Davis was happy about participating in the recent “Culinary Clash” in Pinole, wherein four cooking teams were in competition to create a winning dish using surprise food ingredients. This was a fund-raiser for a local non-profit business food incubator.
  • Hank Covell offered some happy dollars for being involved for 48 years in the local $1.2 million Spencer Trust, which provides scholarships for deserving students to go to UC Berkeley or Stanford.
  • Herb Cole had some scared and some happy dollars. The scared dollars had to do with filling out the 40 pages of IRS tax Form 1041 as part of settling his mother’s estate. The happy dollars were in anticipation of going to the Rotary International Convention in Portugal next month.
  • Jan Brown provided happy dollars with kudos to Michelle Itagaki for her good work as Executive Director of the Richmond CVB.
  • Don Lau had happy dollars for the ceremony last week that officially changed the name of the Coronado YMCA to the E M Downer Family YMCA.

Norm’s Nonsense

A fleeing Taliban terrorist, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the mirage, only to find a very frail little old Jewish man standing at a small makeshift display rack — selling ties.

The Taliban terrorist asked, “Do you have water?” The Jewish man replied, “I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5.” The Taliban shouted hysterically, “Idiot Infidel! I spit on your ties. I need water!”

“Okay,” said the little old Jewish man, “If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a restaurant. It has the finest food and all the ice-cold water you need.”
Cursing him again, the desperate Taliban staggered away over the hill.

Several hours later he crawled back, almost dead and gasped “They won’t let me in without a tie!”


The Fine Art of Improvisation

The scheduled program speaker had a family emergency to take care of so Jim Young asked President-Elect Liliane Koziol to lead an open discussion about possible programs and projects for the coming year.

Liliane shared that one of her planned activities for next year is a literacy project in India. This will involve providing desks and other equipment to some specific schools in that country. The project will be done in conjunction with a group the Club has worked with before in Monterey, Mexico. There will be BARSHEEP Club participation, District grant applications, and in-country travel opportunities for interested Rotary members.

There was a lot of discussion about the desirability of local hands-on projects that allow Rotary members to come together for a few weekend hours to accomplish worthwhile tasks while socializing and building relationships within the Club. A well-remembered example of such an activity was the Club’s association with Christmas in April, a local non-profit that enabled Rotarians to make minor repairs and renovations to senior-citizen and other disadvantaged people’s homes.

Mike Winter has been looking into Rebuilding Together, the apparent non-profit successor organization to Christmas in April. He’s had some difficulty establishing communications with Rebuilding Together and is concerned about what he hears is a “pay to play” feature requiring fees to be paid before being connected with project work.

Several members pointed out there should be lots of opportunities for project work that don’t require paying a fee to be helpful (for example, what the Club has done with NIAD). Lynn Martin further advised that it’s important to connect with non-profits in terms of what they truly need.

There was also good interaction about the pros and cons of simple, short-term projects versus more comprehensive, longer-term projects. Short or long, a project should add value in some meaningful way.

In terms of future speaker programs, Herb Cole suggested the Club schedule a lunch at Three Seasons, the widely acclaimed on-campus restaurant at Contra Costa College where students in the Culinary Arts Management program prepare for careers in gastronomical delights.

Rotating Scribe, Tom Waller