The Flywheel

Next Meeting: November 11th

The Richmond Rockets

Lamar Baker, Head Coach for the Richmond Rockets visits Richmond Rotary to discuss the team’s outreach to local youth.


Meeting of Friday, November 4th

Prez EJ Shalaby rang the bell and opened the meeting. Michelle Itagaki led the club in the Pledge of Allegiance. Herb Cole asked for a moment of silence for Freedom, Peace and Justice around the world. Nobody was thinking much so here was no Thought for the Day.

Visiting Rotarians

There were no visiting Rotarians today.

Rotarians with Guests

Edgar Deleon introduced Eric Marquis from the Richmond Rockets who reminded the club that the Rockets first game at the Civic Center Auditorium will be this Thursday Nov. 10th .


  • We're in the all-important run-up to the Holiday Auction (see Don Lau's exhortations, below. Visit this page to see what we've already collected. You'll find a link there that will let you send Don and Beav your auction item description, and a photo if you have one. Do it now. It will save them calling you in the middle of dinner. (Yeah, they will.)
  • Prez EJ says he has all the $100 checks for teachers at Peres Elementary School and will be presenting them personally this coming week.
  • Cheryl Meyer, the maven of Opportunity West has asked the club for help to provide 10+ tickets to the Rockets basketball game to the tune of $300+. A flash collection was taken on the spot with an unknown amount contributed, but we’re sure more is needed so the collection will continue next week.
  • Enos Johnson, gearing up for his role as the Ghost of Christmas Past, reminded the club of the upcoming (Dec. 16th) Rotary toy collection in support of the West County Police and Firefighters which will include a visit from jolly old St. Nick (not Father Nick, he’s coming on the 23rd). Enos asked all Rotarians to bring a new toy (unwrapped) “…like you would give to your son or daughter.” No ‘live’ toys please.
  • Josh Surowitz announced the first ever Richmond Rotary Happy Hour Wednesday the 9th at the Hotel Mac from 4:30 to 6:00 PM. Bring a friend or someone you would like to introduce to Rotary in a non-meeting setting. So many Happy Hours, so little time!
  • Joan Davis our Foundation Chair noted that if did not already have enough reasons to give to the Rotary Foundation, November is National Philanthropy Month, close to the end of the tax year and “ ought to think about it.”

Special Events

Prez EJ announced that November 18th the District Governor Dave “the Rave” Dacus will be visiting Richmond Rotary and will present a program about the District’s current activities and projects. Prez EJ asked the members of the Board of Directors to please come to the meeting at 11 AM as DG Dacus wants to meet with the Board before the regular meeting.


Don ‘the Menehune’ Lau took the podium to do Recognitions but started with solid pitch for the upcoming Holiday Auction which is just a month away and the club’s major annual fund raiser. Don (& the Beav) needs you to bring in all those priceless treasures for the auction and to bring yourself, your friends and a thick wallet to bid on all these priceless treasures.  The auction will be at our regular lunch meeting n the ballroom of MVCC and will start at Noon unless you are going to take the Chauvin-Daggs Eggnog Challenge in which case it could start anytime.
Don then asked Rafael Madrigal about his recent anniversary lucky 25 if counting right? Rafael said it was a very pleasant family affair, lasting the weekend and including four generations of his family. He contributed $100 to the club as part of the celebration. Don also asked Rafael how the 23rd Street Merchants – Rotary Halloween party went. He said it was a success having raised $2,100 for the 23rd Street Toy Drive. One of the elderly participants at the event who identified herself as Auntie Oxidant was heard to say, “The Rotary participation was unnecessarily low”.

Happy and Sad Dollars

The Menehune then launched into Happy and Sad $$:

  • David A Brown ‘DAB’ was very happy his sister Susie’s bout with cancer has seen her tumors shrink 50%.
  • Rafael Madrigal was Happy about everything.
  • Josh Surowitz had some Sad $$ because of the new stop sign on the up-hill direction of Cutting Blvd on the way to the club.
  • Jim ‘the Beav’ Beaver had Happy $$ for Don Lau who ‘took one for the Gipper’ as Sid didn’t show up for the scotch Beav ordered for him and Don made it go away.

Norm's Nonsense

Three engineers are arguing about which is better, mechanical, electrical, or civil engineering. The mechanical engineer says, "God must've been a mechanical engineer: Look at the joints in the human body."

The second says, "No, God must've been an electrical engineer: look at the nervous system."

And the third says, "God had to be a civil engineer: who else would've run a waste disposal pipeline right through a great recreational area?"



Jim Young introduced John Iwawaki (Coach) the Founder of the ESCAPE Club at Adams Middle School in 1999, and now leading its rebirth at LoVonya De Jean Middle School. Coach John then introduce his supporting colleague of many years Jason Lau (no relation) and an alumnus of the Adams program Inder Kaur, who will say a few words about her experience as an ESCAPEE.

Coach John started by thanking Rotary for its many years of support for the Adams ESCAPE Club and for the renewed support now that the club was going again at De Jean after Adams MS closing in 2009. Over the 10 years of it’s existence the club has taken 30 +/-/ students on each of 96 different trips to many of the natural and scientific wonders of Central California, wonders that too often are not seen by students in the WCCUSD. The club promotes science and environmental study, school and community service and friendship and community. Meetings are weekly and include a 45 minute formal meeting followed by play and socializing mostly around the clubs new ping pong table. Once a month a trip is taken to places like Mt. Diablo State Park, Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate Bridge. In the late spring there is a traditional overnight trip to Yosemite National Park. For detailed background about the club check out , which is a historic description of the Adams ESCAPE Club. The new club is very similar, without the photography component but with a school gardening element.

The members asked Coach John about funding and his budget. He said the annual budget is $3,000+/year with a good chunk going for insurance at the insistence of the school district.  The Rotary contribution is about 25% of this total with half coming from a grant by the WCCUSD Ed Fund. The rest comes from like minded individuals and friends of the club. Coach John also said that because the club is providing an enrichment experience for students whose horizons do not extend beyond Richmond, he also makes sure that costs of participation including admission fees and proper shoes and warm weather clothing are not a factor in precluding individual participation.

Coach John then asked Ms. Kaur to describe her experience through the ESCAPE Club seven years ago. Ms Kaur said that the ESCAPE Club was a life changing experience for her as a student in an immigrant family. Her family had no knowledge of camping or the park system and while she had heard of it, the families’ attention to necessities of life precluded all other activities. Her horizons were limited to Richmond and the ‘world view’ that ‘nobody likes us’. ESCAPE Club changed all that with a much broader world view and created a personal passion for photography which was part of the original Adams program. Ms Kaur is now a CCC graduate and medical technician (currently between jobs if anyone knows of one) with the personal goal to go to medical school and become a physician.  She knows how to camp, is working on getting the family camping and volunteering in the new ESCAPE Club. She also wants to travel and, ‘…see the world…’. Inder Kaur concluded her testimonial saying, “I wouldn’t be who I am today without the ESCAPE Club.”

Good job, Coach John!

-Rotating Editor, Jim Young