The Flywheel

Meeting of August 24th

The Bangkok Rotary International Convention

Jim Young will report on the high points of the convention: Rotary's International "Area's of Focus", the Future Vision Process, Rotary "Re-branding", and what District Governor Laura Day called, "the exotic and interesting aromas of Thailand".



Meeting of Friday, August 17th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President Jim Young continued his R-word welcome performance. “Rapidly rising, relatively rambunctious, rarely reticent, Richmond Rotary Club.”  Remarkable.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Doris Mitchell, the Invocation by Stoney. Henry’s thought was “the Dow was up 300! And the Giants were up 3 (this was Friday)

Visiting Rotarians

Tracy Giles, our speaker  from the El Cerrito Rotary Club joined us.

Rotarians with Guests

Sid Chauvin wife Zelpha was keeping watch with her new cataract-free eyes. Doris Mitchell introduced her guest, Nzinga Hatch.


  • Herb Cole informed us that Erle Brown was recovering from his recent back surgery. He was stiff but not too stiff to make a stiff one. Get well, Erle.
  • Jim Young announced the formation of an ad hoc committee to research and make recommendations about the use of the Carl Rehfuss fund. The committee includes Alan Baer, Jon Lawlis, David Brown, Tom Waller, Ralph Hill, and Jim Young, as the non-voting chair.  Jim requested that anyone in possession of relevant historical records please provide them to the committee.
  • Jim pointed out the misstated grant figure in last week’s Flywheel. It was $10,000 not $10,000,000. (Interesting that, apparently, no one noticed.)
  • Sign-up sheets were circulated for Rotacare, and the Solano Stroll multi-club Booth on September 9th.
  • Stoney Stonework agreed to chair our Christmas Party. He needs help.


Jim thanked David Keystone for becoming our new recognition Dude! Joe Bagley went on to recognize:

  • Henry Moe for his 13th anniversary.
  • Bob Dabney for his 20th anniversary.
  • Dan Sander’s birthday.
  • And Doris Mitchell, who was awarded her Blue Badge

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Jon Lawlis had Happy Dollars for getting down from mountains climbed.
  • Doris Mitchell had Happy Dollars for her daughter’s first day in kindergarten.
  • Ralph Hill was happy for the Petaluma Nationals. David Brown agreed.
  • Jim Young was “happy” to see his family leave. (The parentheses must indicate some kind of qualification. Air quotes. Or irony. Ask Jim.)
  • Bob Dabney asked the club to consider inviting political candidates to a meeting, as we did a couple of years ago.

Norm's Nonsense

The doorbell rang, and the lady of the house discovered a workman, complete with tool chest, on the front porch.
"Madam," he announced, "I'm the piano tuner."
The lady exclaimed, "Why, I didn't send for a piano tuner."
The man replied, "I know, but your neighbors did."


An Update on RotaVision

Tom Waller introduced our speakers,  Jack Blanks and Tracy Giles.

Back in 2007, El Cerrito Rotarian Tracey Giles visited our club to describe the life-changing experience that drove her to raise funds to establish an eye clinic in Nepal, Rotavision. She returned today, with SEVA director, Jack Blanks. Today, more than 5 years later, Tracy returned to tell us how the Rotavision project has flourished and spread with the aid of Dr Otis Paul.

Tracy started by asking everyone to close their eyes and free their minds while she “played” a Buddhist singing bowl that set the mood for the whole program. To underscore the enormity of human need in the face of a relatively simple solution, informed us that a 10-minute strabismus surgery on a child can transform a child’s life by changing how others see them. (Strabismus causes one or both eyes to cross.) That, in turn, changes how they see themselves.

Rotavision helped open Tilganga, an eye clinic in Nepal. Each year over 370,000 are children screened for eye disease. About 900 surgeries are performed annually. These numbers have tripled since 2005!

This successs, and the partnership with SEVA Foundation, whose mission is to partner with organizations in underserved communities to create successful treatment programs. Their locally-run clinics strive to end blindness in many countries. SEVA also supports Native Americans by establishing programs that lead to diabetics-free communities.

SEVA is based in Berkeley with offices in Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia and programs in 11 other countries. It was founded in 1978 and one of its more colorful members, and Berkeley resident, is Wavy Gravy. Among their more significant accomplishments is the Lumbini Eye Institute in Siddarthanagar, Napal. Here Rotavision provided an ERG machine in the Pediatric Ophthalmology Unit. Last year Lumbini treated 260.000 patients and performed over 42,00 surgeries. Lumbini provides primary eye care services to people in 14 remote districts of Nepal with no other access to eye care. They have screened more than 100,000 children.

Flush with this success and welcome funding from Bowl-a-thons and other Rotary activities, Dr. Paul decided to take his calling to Cambodia. Jack Blanks provided some global facts:
   • 284 million people worldwide live in blindness and low vision.
   • Of these, 39 million people have moderate or severe visual impairment.
   • 80% of blindness is avoidable.
   • 90% of blind people live in low-income countries.
   • 2 out of  3 blind people are female.

SEVA’s Banteay Meanchey Eye Unit currently performs a quarter of all eye surgeries in Cambodia. Of those 60% are for female patients. This clinic also trains local surgeons, provides low-cost glasses, and performs corrective surgery. To continue their work, providers need a new 4 x4 Jeep for eye camps (in Nepal), and 2 new surgical microscopes (in Cambodia). (That's the very short list.)

Do you believe there will be more Bowl-a-thons to support this valuable cause? Believing is seeing.

-Alan Blavins, Apprentice Scribe