The meeting was called to order by President Gordon Fell. Abraham did the invocation. Dressed in his native colors due to Elliott Turner, and responding to the questions from other Rotarians by saying “Not everyone is Baptist.” His prayer started with the phrase “Thank you G-d for the gift of friends.”
Mark Block led the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag, followed by the Four-way Test. All Rotarians participated, and several people at our table made mention of the fact that audience participation has substantially increased since President Gordon first started this ritual after the Pledge.
President Gordon did what he does every week and every President before him for generations; he called upon the Great Maestro Lenny Friedman to lead us in “You’re a Grand Old Flag”. As we have to expect, he did it with class and reminded all of us why we should be grateful to be living in the greatest nation-state on earth.
President Gordon also announced that there will be a meeting of the Community Service Committee immediately following next week’s meeting (8/26/10).
Following our songfest, President Gordon introduced the front table;
Mike Yousem, Past Rotarian of the Year, Paul Harris Fellow and originally born in Omaha
Past President Bob Wessling, John Sandman Fellow; Paul Harris Fellow+1; Past President; Benefactor and born in Chicago
Past President Mike Newman, Rotarian of the Year; John Sandman Fellow; Paul Harris Fellow+4; Past President; Benefactor from Santa Monica
Past President (New Jersey) Rick Brous, Paul Harris Fellow; President-Madison NJ Rotary Club from New York,
Mark Block, Paul Harris Fellow+1 from Passaic, New Jersey
Abraham Carons was asked to introduce his guest, who was very special. His guest was Dr. Prince Bolu Akin-Olugbade, who’s title is The Aars, Ona-Kakanto of Owu-Kingdom in Nigeria. Not to mention, he has numerous academic achievements, including being an attorney, a PhD from Cambridge, a corporate executive, and more. We just all decided to call him “Dr. B” at the suggestion of Abraham.
And now the part of the program that cost the author of this report $5.00, President Gordon asked Terri de Sousa to look through the room and identify those Rotarians who were not wearing their pin! Shame on all of us! She collected quite a roll of bills, which was dutifully turned over to Terry White.
President Gordon moved on to Past President Mike Newman (who really had it coming!). Dressed in his best, PP Newman was sporting a new shirt, new tie, new jacket, and of course the new shoes; brown and white Oxfords. Fined $25.00!
Next on President Gordon’s radar was Mark Block, who wasn’t in attendance last week and was fined $5.00 for a “storage charge” for his birthday gift.
PP Steve Day came up to announce the upcoming “Houses of Rotary”, scheduled for November 7th, Sunday, from 2:00 to 6:00PM. It’s our annual event for the Paul Harris Foundation, this year at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood and promises to be a very special event. Everyone was handed an envelope with a book of raffle tickets in it, and the encouragement from PP Day to send them in with their check. Donated items will be at the House of Rotary with incredible opportunities from all over the region. Proceeds will benefit the Paul Harris Foundation.
PDG Andy Anderson announced that Sally Phillips has sent a $20,000 donation to Rotary from Howard Phillips Trust. PP Newman provided some background on Howard Phillips, starting with his involvement on a Rotary project in India, which he went to several times.
President-Elect Ed Jackson reminded everyone that the Auxiliary’s annual party will be at Peggy Bloomfield’s home on August 28th, with a western theme! Dust off those cowboy boots, bring out the checkered shirts and be sure to check your guns at the door! Tickets are still available.
PP Mike Newman is our Membership Chairperson this year, inheriting a very important position from PP Steve Scherer. After showing off his 25 year perfect attendance membership pin, PP Newman reminded all of us that this is “Membership Month”. But his reason for this focus became clear. There are new statistics that show Rotary membership declining in the United States, while it’s rising throughout the rest of the world. “Bring a friend. Have fun. It’s Membership Month!” says PP Newman! New members stood up and introduced themselves and gave reasons they joined and the name of their sponsor (Scherer, Scherer, Scherer, someone else, Scherer, Scherer, Scherer,…)
NEW MEMBERS; Abraham Carons, John O’Keefe, Terri de Soursa, Jack Paul, and others.
PP Sean McMillan talked about “Angel’s Flight” and the ground transport arm called “Earth Angel”. This was a program PP McMillan instituted several years ago, along with the Santa Monica Rotary Club, for the benefit of indigent and sick passengers coming in through the Santa Monica Airport from Angel’s Flight. Since January, over 300 missions accomplished, and now they’re expanding to other cities and airports. “We are going to export his program,” says PP McMillan.
PP Mike Yousem took over the podium, after being introduced by President Gordon. PP Yousem is the inspiration behind the annual Christmas Shopping Program, and an inspiration to all of us. It’s my favorite event of the year! PP Yousem coordinates an evening with the Salvation Army Relocation Center on Sepulveda Blvd in Westwood. Between 25 and 30 kids are matched up with Rotarians, who act as their “chaperone” for the evening. Each child boards the bus with his chaperone, they have dinner together on Islands and proceed on the bus to Big Lots in Culver City, where the Rotarian helps his protégé choose gifts for their brothers and sister for the Holidays. WVRC donates $50 each to the chaperones, but each Rotarian finds himself digging into his own pocket to make the dreams of a young child come true. This year it is scheduled for December 9th, and interested Rotarians are encouraged to talk to PP Yousem.
PP Newman talked about his involvement with Chris Gaynor, and about 25 students, through the scholarship program.
PP Chris Bradford took over the podium, much to the delight of President Gordon. He reminded us that the Rotary International’s scholarship program is the world’s largest privately funded scholarship program. Over $470,000,000 have been awarded in scholarships over time, to over 700 recipients throughout the world. “To further understanding and world peace”. The recipients are serving as Ambassadors of their countries and promoting Good Will. In October, PP Bradford and others will be participating in the UCLA Study Abroad Program on the 5th and they are looking for volunteers to be on their committee.
Now to the podium comes Ann Samson, past Rotarian of the Year. She talked about Rotary’s participation in PLLUS for Parkinsons and the PLUUS Foundation Board, several members of which are Rotarians. Developed in 1997 in collaboration with WVRC to expand the program. Hopefully it will expand to Santa Monica and Chinatown RC in San Francisco. Singapore and Thailand were the first rotary clubs to join the program. The program focuses on Parkinson patients, helping them thru their physical problems and working with them in support groups.
Now to the podium comes PP Ron Lyster and PDG Peter Moore. They talked about several of the “fellowship” clubs available for Rotarians to join. PP Lyster has been instrumental in the motorcycle club and PDG Moore in the Pilots Fellowship. The Flying Rotarians are all over the world now, with over 1,100 member. It’s open to non-pilots, just as long as you have an interest in aviation. It should be noted that PDG Moore is the International Chairperson.
John Singleton and PP Steve Scherer were next to the podium to talk about the past relationship this club has had with the Guadalajara Rotarians, starting in 1986. It was an interesting start, beginning with Yosh Setoguchi and the donation of a kidney dialysis machine to a Guadalajara Hospital. They become friendly with Rotarians in the area, sought matching grant funds from Rotary International, and discovered a number of very worthy projects throughout that part of Mexico. One of those needs was met with a donation of over 200 hearing aids for deaf kids, donated through a local school for the deaf. They also had Braille paper and books donated for blinds children, and a Braille typewriter. Then there was an ambulance donated from UCLA.
PP Newman summed it all up for Membership Month: “We have a great history of service in this club.”
Next week is Dr. Paul M. E. Bunje - Paul is the Executive Director of the UCLA Center for Climate Change Solutions