June 14, 2001


TWO TO GO - WVRC on June 14th

The Pledge was led by PP HOMER NEWMAN. Since today is Flag Day, our song was It's A Grand Old Flag, led by LENNY FRIEDMAN and accompanied by PP JIM DOWNIE. We seemed to know most of the words, and it went well. TODD GURVIS reminded us of the many good and important things we as a country provide to the world - education, research in medicine and science, and as a shining example of the most successful democracy anywhere. Truly, we have a lot to be thankful for on Flag Day.

PDG ANDY ANDERSON introduced our Visiting Rotarian, Steve Bertolini, a member from Westchester. Steve is involved with Angels on the Clock, an organization which provides help to children with terminal cancer. He gave an example of a ten-year old, who wanted to be a cop when he grew up. So they made him a cop - he even flew in a helicopter watching a chase scene. He died six months later, but you have to feel that this kind of attention made his journey that much better. ANDY also reintroduced Wendy Barahona, one of our Ambassadorial Scholars. She studied in Nice, then continued there after her scholarship expired, by a series of loans, and now has her MBA. She will be returning to France shortly for employment in a dot.com operation there. Another example of the wonderful results of sending young scholars to places far away - keep those Paul Harris dollars coming! GEORGE DEA brought along what he described as three generations of Rotaract - GAEA SCHWABE, last year's President, Yvette Garfield, this year's President, and the incoming President, Jessica Lee. Both GAEA and Yvette are graduating, and we will miss them.

Our Firefighter of the Year, Ron Spiers Jr, introduced some of his fellow firefighters who were there. These included Chief Ron Leydecker, who is based in Westwood but supervises six nearby fire stations, and Captain Mike Ketaily, plus Firefighters Danny Foote, Mark Koenig, Russell Bell and Modesto Chilingar.. Several other firemen came in late, since the whole crew of 11 were invited - but they don't control their time, and thus came when they could, after handling emergency calls. They all did get lunch, Prexy STEVE called attention to JULIE THOMPSON, who hasn't been with us recently, plus BILL PIERCE. BILL has been transferred back to Westwood - and for this good move, the Bell Tolls - it cost him $100 bucks! PP STEVE SCHERER was asked about his recent eye injury, caused by pieces of sand from a divot after his swing. STEVE pointed out that you should always wear glasses when playing, seriously. (That's not playing seriously, but advice to be taken seriously, OK?) When questioned further by Prexy STEVE - "What's the color of your OTHER car?" STEVE responded by pointing out that he couldn't see well enough to tell…

YOE then formally introduced Firefighter Ron Spiers Jr, our Firefighter of the Year.
Ron is a 27-year veteran of the LA City Fire Dept, his first 19 years as a Paramedic, and 8 years ago he cross-trained in Fire Suppression. He has served in South Central, the Valley, and the last 7 years in the WLA area. He and his wife of 30 years, Cynthia, have two daughters, of whom they are very proud. His hobbies include following motor sports, and playing golf (remember, wear those glasses!) The only questionable note in all this is that his wife belongs to Upland Kiwanis - and Ron pointed out that this award would cost her money when it became known. Firefighter Spiers was chosen because of the whole person concept that he exemplifies - he is being honored for the 'every day' things that he continues to do.

CLAWSON BLEAK was nicely thanked for this seven years of service arranging for members to participate in the meetings, via the flag salute, and the Invocation. KEN KILPO stepped forward to alert us to the next Networking Mixer of the West LA Chamber of Commerce - it will be next Thursday, the 21st, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westside Family YMCA, at 1311 La Grange Avenue, corner of Sawtelle Blvd. We are specifically invited to attend, to spread the word of what WE do, and please call (310) 475-8806 so you will be on the complimentary guest list. GEORGE DEA attended a meeting of the Planning Committee for the next Paul Harris Dinner. It will be at the LAX Marriott, on October 6th, and apparently they have really been listening to our many complaints about recent P.H. dinners - there will be no speeches, a 12 piece Big Band, and Phantom of the Opera selections during the dinner itself. We should support incoming President GEORGE on this - mark it down, please.

YOE then made a second introduction, this time of our Rotarian of the Year. Now that it's announced, I no longer have to withhold the name of RALPH BEASOM, but I must confess to having some fun with keeping his name from appearing until the very end. Ralph is a twin - which is hard to believe, but true - and he and his brother Jim, who is five minutes older, are really identical. When they were both in Medical School in Nebraska, Helen met RALPH - and apparently she could tell them apart!

RALPH served twice in the Marines - for a year after his internship, and then following his specialty 3-year stint in Surgery, as a Regimental Surgeon for two years in Korea. This was 1953-55, with the War there ending in the middle of his tenure. Conditions were terrible - living in tents, no electricity or running water - and the only difference after the War ended was that there were fewer casualties. Ralph returned to LA, went into practice with Airl Lindquist, already a WVRC member. Ralph joined the club in 1957, and was an early and important pioneer in the art of emergency medicine - a specialty now recognized as trauma surgery. And we all depend on RALPH -he seems to be tireless in answering our medical questions - and we don't even have to pretend that we're asking for our brother-in-law, or whoever. RALPH, you are truly our Renaissance Man, and we take great pleasure in recognizing your many services to all of us.

TODD GURVIS, late of the Hollywood Club, introduced our Speaker, Nadia Sutton. She is the Executive Director of PAWS/LA, a really unique organization formed by her and concentrating on helping the victims of illness who cannot care for their then-abandoned pets, once they go into the hospital. PAWS/LA's first patients were victims of AIDS, and they have since expanded to include all life-threatening illnesses. They have 1500 patients, and currently care for 2300 pets - mostly dogs and cats, but even including a couple of pythons, for example.

Serving so many patients and their pets is dependent upon volunteers - and they have many, who obviously do their work with great joy and passion. These volunteers always remember that their patients are people, not numbers, and thus they are treated as individuals, which is why they are so successful in their care. Nadia gave an example of a cat, who refused to eat his regular diet while his owner was hospitalized, to the great consternation of his caregiver. This caregiver tried everything - nothing worked. Yet, when the owner returned, the cat happily resumed his regular diet. Another example, the patient who complained when he returned home that his pet was now overweight! So their services are a bit like medicine - not a science, but an art, apparently. She reminded us that with summer coming up, we pet owners should all be aware of the possibility of dehydration - keep that dish full, please.

In the Q&A, she pointed out that their organization will deliver food, or people can come by and get it at their office. What happens if an owner dies - they have a network, which provides adoptions. They have some celebrity supporters, which helps with fund-raising, of course. And they are in particular need of veterinarians in specialties, since many of the pets they handle need that kind of help - it you have suggestions, please call Nadia at (323) 848-7298. Her final comment is that their volunteer's real reward is the knowledge that if their patient dies, the patient will go to sleep with their pets sleeping alongside.

A really touching service, and one we can all agree to help.

Thought for the Day - "God created dogs to make humans feel important, and the cat to make us feel ignored " - Kokopelli.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe