NEXT MEETING: October 24, 2014

The Las Varas High School Project

Since 2003 Berkeley Rotary has led a series of service projects in the State of Nayarit Mexico. Today Berkeley PP Grier Graff visits Richmond Rotary to discuss the next project, renovation and modernization of La Prepetoria High School in the town of Las Varas. Grier will describe Berkeley’s success co-sponsoring with the La Penita, MX and Paradise, CA Rotary Clubs, building on a decade of service with Mexican Rotarians. Grier will also describe the technical parts of the actual renovation project. Because this project has easy access through the International Airport at Puerto Vallarta, MX, Grier is hoping you might consider a week of international service in Mexico in April/May 2015.

MEETING OF October 17, 2014


President Stoney Stonework called to order the Richmond Rotary Club. Felix Hunziker was asked to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Stoney led us in the invocation. Sid provided a definition as the Thought for the Day – What is a Yawn? Possibly the only time a husband gets to open his mouth.

Sunshine Report

Bill Koziol who hasn’t been around much himself lately said his project in Oakland, Oaksterdam, is completed and he hopes to be more of a regular at Rotary.

Special Events

Prez Stoney then asked Red Badger Jerry Faegley, holder of the oldest Red Badge in club history, to come to the podium and do his Who Am I.
Jerry didn’t know where to begin so he decided to talk about who he is today and not who he was when he got his Red Badge decades ago. Born 5 days after Pearl Harbor in 1941 in Pittsburg PA, Jerry moved west because of the memorable stories his 6th grade teacher told about San Francisco. He didn’t quit make it to SF. He first landed in Phoenix for two long, hot summers and the on to Hayward. He ended up in real estate after he met Mac Hammett and Don Bartells and 45 years later he is STILL in real estate. And that is after a lot of ups and downs, developing 300+ single family homes, starting a bank (ouch), lots of laughs and lots of sweat and hard work. Jerry feels good enough about continuing in real estate that he has just opened a new office in Albany to compliment his office in Pt. Richmond and doesn’t see any reason to stop now. Jerry has been married to Jan for the past 39 year and admitted that the reason he is doing his Who Am I is because Jan just joined EC Rotary and he wants to get his Blue Badge before she gets hers. Jerry and Jan live alone now but have a blended family of 5 adult children. Jerry noted that their son Brad has Down Syndrome and has inspired their lives to be leaders in local philanthropies supporting Down Syndrome research and family support.
Keep up the good work Jerry!
Prez Stoney then asked Stacey Street where her Red Badge might be? When she said she didn’t know, Jon Lawlis asked her to come to the podium to receive her new Blue Badge as the newest Blue Badger in Richmond Rotary. Stacey has been organizing and promoting the club’s programming as Program Chair and didn’t skip a beat as she promoted the dedication of the Warrior’s Basket Ball Court at MLK Park Monday 10/20 and the CC College Hall of Fame Awards inducting Sandi Genser-Mack 11/01. Can’t keep a good promoter down!


  • Jon Lawlis announced that it’s past time to collect the club’s annual contribution to the new school year for the teachers at Peres Elementary School. This is the clubs $100 gift to each teacher to help cover their out-of-pocket expenses which are known to be in excess of $100. Checks, cash or money orders to DAB. Jon said the goal is $2,500 this year.
  • Foundation Director Connie Tritt passed out an analysis of annual fund giving for the last four years. She also said November would be a Paul Harris Contribution Match Month with PH Points being matched to every dollar given. In the past this has been done for first time Paul Harris giving. Watch for Connie’s e-mails promoting all Paul Harris giving in November.
  • Connie also said this month’s Member Mixer at the Baltic was sparkly attended and the November Mixer will be at a new location…TBD, stay tuned for a survey about Satellite Club Meetings. Josh Surowitz said the club has been talking about alternative meeting ideas for a long time because many of our members cannot spend 2 hours at a weekly lunch meeting. Member input is essential to get this planning right.
  • Jim Young announced the beginning of the Rotary –West County Reads Children’s Book Drive with the bins at the back of the meeting room. Thank you John Wilson for bringing six bags of books to start the drive off. Besides placing a book collection bin at your place of business, church or favorite hangout, here’s what every Rotarian can do to support the Drive:
    • Clean out your bookshelves and donate gently used children’s books you no longer want.
    • Volunteer to collect books once or twice a week (see Mark Howe or Jim Young).
    • Volunteer to help sort books at TBD times.
    • Donate cash. Donations will be used to purchase Spanish/English paperback dictionaries and bilingual children’s books. Make checks payable to “The Ed Fund-WCR”.

Thank you to Don Lau, Stacey Street, Tom Butt, Jerry Feagley & Mark Howe for taking bins for your places of business. Stay tuned for e-mails and suggestions on how to get kids books and who to ask first.


Happy and Sad Dollars

Norm’s Nonsense


"I walk in freedom"

Jim Young introduced new member Menbere Aklilu, owner and Hostess of Saluté Restaurante at Marina Bay. He said he didn’t know what was better in their acquaintance, the several years of lunches and dinners in the best Italian Restaurant in West County or the more subtle realization that Richmond was really lucky to have an angel among us. With that, Menbere, Menbi to her friends and customers, came to the podium.

I was born in Ethiopia and raised by my Mom, a single mother. Life was very difficult. My mother made wine and ran a small hotel & restaurant. When I was 10, on Easter Day, a thug in the military shot and killed my mother in the restaurant. In a state of shock and desperation I was taken in and raised by my older brother. While growing up I went to acting school and went into Ethiopian TV and entertainment. There I met a television producer on assignment in Ethiopia. He invited me to Rome and we got married. Unfortunately this relationship was not good and became very abusive. When I was nine months pregnant with my son I had to run away and I became homeless. Faith intervened and I was rescued by Nuns who got me into a homeless shelter where I gave birth to my son. We continued to live in Italy until my son was 11 and then, with very many difficulties, we came to this great county.

So much happened! But through friends of friends, other Italians, I met the owner of Saluté. The circumstance of this meeting is interesting as my friends, Italian gentlemen, were indiscreetly discussing me in Italian. When I told them of their indiscretion in perfect Italian they were shocked! “Oh my God”, they said, “She is not only beautiful but she speaks beautiful Italian and excellent English (which is not true). We must hire for Saluté.” So I was hired on the spot. I began working at Saluté at $7.00/hour. I began working my way up doing everything, but as you all know it is hard to live on even $10/hour.

After six years the restaurant was being sold. I needed to find another job, but my customers came to me and said, ‘Menbi, you should buy Salute.’ Oh how impossible! I have no money and live paycheck to paycheck. One of my very good customers said, ‘Menbi I will loan you the money.’ ‘Menbi I will loan you the money.’ So I bought Salute! How crazy! The restaurant was very successful. I paid back the loan in 11 months but said to my friend, ‘How can I ever really pay you back?’ He said, ‘Help other people the same way I’ve helped you.’ So four years ago I decided to invite homeless people to Salute for a real sit down Thanksgiving dinner. That year we served 300 dinners compliments of Salute. Year two we served 600 dinners. Last year we served 1,300 dinners and I asked doctor friends if they would also help the homeless people and families get flu shots. So we also ran a flu shot clinic with their volunteer help and the support of the community health department. Because last year was also my 10th anniversary of Saluté I gave the homeless people coupons for 10 take-out dinners that they can use whenever the wish.

In addition, I also invite local high school students to come to Salute for lunch and a class in etiquette. I know that many of them have never had the opportunity to learn about the finer things in life but, they need to know about them so they too can live gracefully and without fear.

This year at Thanksgiving Salute is again going to host homeless people, disadvantaged families and Veterans, but it is getting to be big event! So I have created a 501c3 non-profit corporation as a way of helping more people volunteer and donate to their needy neighbors. It is the GRIP-Salute Thanksgiving Celebration and you are all invited to donate and/or volunteer this coming Thanksgiving.

Menbi concluding by saying, “In this country (America & Richmond) I walk in freedom. Who am I among all these successful people? You make me bold! You make me special! I love you back!

- Rotating Editor, Jim Young.