NEXT MEETING: April 24, 2015

Masquers Playhouse: Gearing Up for the Next 60 Years

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the award-winning Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond has been a model of a successful community theater. With more than 100 members and no paid employees, volunteers build the sets, sew the costumes, sweep the floors, and work the box office—all the while producing five fully-staged plays a year, running a summer program for youth, producing concert-version musicals and providing live theater to Bay Area residents. In the 21st century, however, all this is not enough. Masquers Board President David Cole will talk about the theater’s plans for the future and how this small local arts organization plans to stay relevant for many years to come.



President Stoney called the meeting to order and asked Jon Lawlis to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Sid Chauvin’s thought for the day was: The biggest lie we tell ourselves is “I don’t need to write that down, I can remember it.”

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

  • Felix Hunziker introduced his guest, Oscar Garcia, who really, really likes our club!
  • Jon Lawlis was delighted to have his sweetie, Darlene Quinville as his guest.
  • Jerry Feagley introduced his guest Jim Mellander. He noted that Jim is interested in joining the club so asked everyone to treat him nicely.
  • Everyone was happy to see former member Paul Allen at the meeting.

Special Events

We are delighted to officially welcome a new member to the Richmond Rotary, Richard “Ric” Ambrose, Executive Director of the Richmond Art Center. He was recommended by Jan Brown and Don Lau, and we look forward to having him participate as a member, and learning even more about him.


  • Alan Baer announced that the Rotary District Assembly meeting is next weekend, Saturday April 25th in Vallejo at Solano Community College. He encouraged everyone to attend and to RSVP. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Rotary, and he noted that one outcome is having a handy “elevator speech” about Rotary and what it does.
  • President Stoney Stonework announced that Peres Elementary School is presenting the “It Takes a Village” celebration on May 27th at 1 p.m. Attendees, all people who have volunteered or contributed to the school, will visit different classrooms and will then join teachers and staff for a lunch and special presentations. Stoney invited members to join him for the event.
  • Prez Stoney next announced that the Bocce Ball tournament is coming up on June 20th. Pam Jones will have details soon.


Happy and Sad Dollars

Norm’s Nonsense


Cooking up American Dreams out of Kitchen@812

Stacey Street introduced Raquel Toledo, Communications and Program Manager for Business Development Center. Raquel previously worked at the RYSE Youth Center as Development Director for two years, and prior to that was Development Director for the San Mateo County Historical Association for five years. Stacey noted that Raquel is also a Herculean (she lives in Hercules) who loves bacon and donuts, she learned the most about communicating with people while serving tables at a restaurant, and, most important, she is the Mom of two energetic boys, aged 2 and 4, who believe she has super powers (and Raquel intends to keep it that way….).

Raquel provided an overview of the Business Development Center, a nonprofit agency founded in 1995 committed to helping entrepreneurs open and operate successful businesses. The BDC’s clients are primarily low-income, minority, and women entrepreneurs who benefit from individualized services, including business consulting, entrepreneurial training, assistance in securing financing, marketing support, website set-up and loan application support. They do this with help from community partners who provide not only funding but also in-kind services, such as Mechanics Bank, Hack the Hood, SparkPoint Contra Costa and Chase.

Kitchen@812 (named such since it’s located at 812 San Pablo Avenue in Pinole) is one of the BDC’s newer programs, a non-profit food business incubator enabling entrepreneurs to turn passions into profits by helping launch and develop food ventures. It provides 3,400 sq/ft of shared-use commercial kitchen space with 24-hour access to a flexible prep area, work stations, standard commercial cooking equipment, cold storage space and bilingual business support services. Currently 18 food artisans share the space, including caterers, bakers and food vendors, and Raquel highlighted some success stories. Salsa For All Seasons now has its salsa in all local Whole Foods, and Raquel had samples of this delicious salsa for all in attendance! 40 food businesses have been launched in total since Kitchen@812 opened. One of the main fundraisers for Kitchen@812 is the Culinary Clash, a food competition and festival, a la “Chopped” on Food Network, with teams comprised of a chef, corporate sponsor, community leader and youth chef (last year Richmond Rotary’s own Heather Kulp competed!), and Raquel showed a video from the 2014 Clash ( She encouraged all to attend the 2015 Culinary Clash on Wednesday, May 20th, 6-9 p.m. –a really fun and tasty event! Visit for tickets.

Stacey Street, Rotating Editor