NEXT MEETING: June 10, 2016
Vicki Whiting: Rotary + Reading = Successful Kids!
The more kids read the better they succeed. Today our community is facing a literacy crisis. More than half of elementary aged students do not read at grade level by the end of third grade. Former teacher and now successful syndicated author, Vicki Whiting, will present the issue of literacy, why it is important and how Rotary Clubs around the country are working to make a difference in the lives of children. Vicki is also a member of the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, a past president of her club and she will be Assistant District Governor of District 5130 starting in July 2016. Learn more about Vicki Whiting at Kids Scoop News
- Don Lau explained that a very large and pretty paper doll did not belong to President Alan Blavins but was actually a special thank you card made by the Teen Moms from Kennedy High School for the special gift baskets assembled and delivered by Richmond Rotarians for Mother’s Day. He passed around thank you cards for members to see signed by all the Moms.
- David Brown announced that dues are due! David is happy to run anyone’s credit card for membership dues ($200) or the optional $100 donation.
MEETING OF June 3, 2016
President Alan Blavins called the meeting to order and asked Nick Despota to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. In Sid Chauvin’s absence, President Alan provided the thought for the day: “If love is blind, then why is lingerie so popular?”
Visiting Rotarians and Guests
- Simon Ellis introduced his guest, visiting Rotarian Josue Rodriguez, Manager of the First Bank of San Pablo.
- Oscar Garcia introduced Amit Patel, General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott in Richmond and new Chair of the Board of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. Prez Alan noted that he is also considering joining Richmond Rotary!
Oscar Garcia: Who Are You?
Members learned more about Oscar Garcia through his “Who Am I?” Oscar was born at Richmond Hospital and raised in Richmond in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and most of his family lived in the Iron Triangle. He went to Lincoln, Helms and then graduated from Kennedy High School. His mother instilled in him and his siblings the importance of education, and all of them went to excellent colleges. Oscar himself went to University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears!) and majored in Chemical Engineering. He decided when he graduated to focus on Environmental Engineering, and was a consultant for several years. His consulting work took him to Brazil where he lived and worked for four years, and was able to experience the World Cup and four Carnavals (wow!), and became fluent in Portuguese (he was already fluent in Spanish). Fast forward to 2012 when Oscar joined Chevron Refinery as an environmental engineer. He moved to San Ramon to work on a special program just last year. Oscar’s main hobbies are travel in Europe, Central America and South America (he highly recommends visiting Machu Pichu!), spending time with his very large family in Richmond and Concord, especially mentoring his two nieces and two nephews, and volunteering as a Richmond Police Commissioner, along with fellow Rotarians David Brown and Felix Hunziker.
Recognitions and Happy and Sad Dollars
Rik Ambrose did the honors …
- Surprisingly, June is a light month for wedding anniversaries, but there was one, your very own scribe! Stacey Street celebrated her 6th anniversary with recent presenter Don Benham on June 4th. Since Don was playing in a concert that night (with a great brass ensemble, Brazzissimo), a fun but not particularly romantic was to celebrate, the real celebration would happen Sunday, with a special brunch and a walk by the ocean in Alameda.
- Doris Mitchell celebrated five years in Richmond Rotary. Congratulations, Doris!
- Prez Alan was sad that so few members attended the previous week’s program featuring more than 60 Third Grade violinists from Benito Juarez Elementary School. They made an awesome sound!
- Jerry Feagley was happy that George Egan had manipulated him into attending the Kennedy-King Memorial Collge Scholarship Awards Banquet. It was fantastic and inspiring!
- Mey Saechao was happy that she would be attending an Andrea Bocelli concert that evening, and was especially happy to have found a last-minute date since her husband didn’t want to go…
- Herb Cole was both happy and sad. He was happy that the group of Rotarians who went to Mexico were able to dispense so many wheelchairs to needy individuals, but he was sad that the Club had missed the deadline for the District Grant to go back next year. President-Elect Joshua Surowitz added that the people writing the grant application sent it the day after the deadline, but said that he would be speaking to the District Governor’s office to see if there are other funds available for the project, since he has committed that Richmond Rotary will participate next year.
- Erle Brown was happy his wife wasn’t present for the aforementioned student violin performance last Friday. It would only have re-kindled her desire to pick up a violin and begin practicing. (We don’t make this stuff up.)
Touching the Lives of Veterans with Music
Lilian Koziol introduced Richard Harrell, Director of Heroes’ Voices, a service organization for veterans. Richard has had a long career in classical music performance and education, having been the Director for the Juliard and San Francisco Opera Centers (he worked at SF Opera at the same time as today’s scribe, in fact!), as well as at New National Theater in Tokyo. He has directed more than sixty opera productions around the world, has been a judge for numerous vocal competitions and has been a longtime voice teacher and opera singer. Rick added that his father was practically a career Rotarian in Oklahoma and even started a club when they moved to a smaller town in Virginia. Rick recently joined San Francisco Rotary, after starting Heroes’ Voices, and his club has been a big supporter.
After realizing the power of music to connect and heal, he started Heroes’ Voices in particular to help the more than 600,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain and other injuries, as well as other veterans from Viet Nam, Korea and even WWII in need of help. The organization brings veterans together and creates a community through free singing lessons and opportunities, guitar lessons and poetry workshops. These take place mostly at VAs, and in some prisons, but they have also formed a Guitar Corps at the Veterans Memorial Building in San Francisco, open to all community members and veterans. Heroes’ Voices also creates active partnerships with other organizations, sponsors research and provides soothing, acute and hospice care. Rick shared moving photos, stories and quotes from veterans who had participated and benefitted. He hopes as the organization grows, and develops a sustainable source of funding and infrastructure, to reach more veterans in the community. He ended with a quote from a Viet Nam Veteran: “After several years of silence, I now sing in the shower and in my heart.” www.heroesvoices.org.
- Stacey Street, Rotating Editor