NEXT MEETING: February 22, 2019
Retirement, refocusing or what?
If we’re not already retired, we’ve thought about what it may mean for us. And if we are retired, we realize the truth: life outside of the world of paid work does not match what we imagined. Projects, commitments, hobbies, sources of frustration or satisfaction—some or all of that changes. Maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. But different from what we imagined.
A panel of 3 Richmond Rotary members will consider what retirement is, is not, or can be. After the panelists share their observations, we’ll open the conversation up to floor for what we know will be a lively conversation.
MEETING OF February 15, 2019
President Jerry Feagley welcomed all to the Richmond Rotary Club. Members pledged allegiance to a framed photo of a ship adorned with two 48-star flags being launched. (Because there was not cloth flag in the room.)
Visiting Rotarians and Guests
Hank Covell invited his wife Doreen of the Pinole Rotary Club to join us today.
Tamara Shiloh introduced her guest Robert Connoly of the Mechanics Bank in Point Richmond, and Jerry Feagley introduced his guest Barbara Arriaga, a board member of GRIP.
Kathleen Sullivan, the guest speaker, introduced her own guests Larry Austin and Sedzi McNair of GRIP.
Happy and Sad Dollars
The Changing Face of our Homeless and How GRIP Meets the Challenge
Darlene Drapkin introduced our speaker Kathleen Sullivan, Executive Director of Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP), who noted her love for Richmond. Born and raised in Detroit, Kathleen met Betty Reid Soskin during her first visit to Richmond and began working shortly thereafter at the North Richmond Neighborhood House. She called GRIP the most rewarding work she has ever done. GRIP is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural coalition of congregations that addresses the war on poverty by dealing with “the least of these”. The homeless population is not the face that we often think of. GRIP has worked with victims of the Santa Rosa and Paradise fires, and they occasionally see their own family, friends, ex-classmates coming through the door. Many people are only one disaster away from experiencing homelessness.
GRIP services include a CARE Center, a Souper Center, an emergency shelter with 65 beds (transitional housing program), and veteran housing. They also operate a mobile clinic and have a collaborative healthy food effort with the local farm. Other programs include case management for veterans, a GED program with LEAP, case management for homeless children in West County, and encampment outreach. GRIP is undergoing major transitions, including opening a day center and warming center at night. However, one limiting factor to their expansion has been that county contracts require a match in funding.
In response to the regional affordable housing crisis, GRIP has used a strategy of reconnecting people to family members in other less expensive parts of the country, which requires mending relationships. Despite these many programs, Kathleen noted that very few Richmond City Council members demonstrated familiarity with GRIP.
Kathleen introduced us to two more representatives of GRIP: Larry Austin and Sedzi McNair. Sedzi shared his testimony about experiencing homelessness in an encampment and the uncertainty of not knowing where his next meal would come from. After losing his job at Blue Apron under uncontrollable circumstances, GRIP helped Sedzi to get back on his feet. He noted how “unreal” it seems to see his mother sleeping peacefully in a bed for the first time in years.
GRIP relies on community volunteers to help serve meals throughout the year. Many volunteers (including our own Jerry!) have a regular day of service, and Chevron has become known for their baked chicken. Perhaps the Richmond Rotary Club could establish a day of service! GRIP also has two openings on its 15-member Board of Directors (this would be a great opportunity for people who like to fund-raise). For more information, please go to www.GRIPCares.org.
-Pierre Thompson, Rotating Scribe