Volume XII, Issue 31: February 28, 2014

Foundation Final Friday!!

Checking In With Alex

Alex at the Cages

He joined the Arcata High School football team, and in his quest to experience all things American, Exchange Student Alex Rialet recently played in his first baseball game. “I had my first swing, and my first hit,” he said. He later went to the batting cages to continue to work on his form. On Wednesday of last week, he watched “Batman – The Dark Knight”, which he thought was a very good movie. The next day, he played in another baseball game. Even though Alex didn’t get a hit in that game, the Tigers still won. Alex told us that his weekend plans included the Junior Prom on Saturday – we will be eager to hear about that at our next regular meeting on March 14th.


  • There will be no regular meeting at 7 am this Friday – we will be busy preparing for and executing the Pirates’ Ball at the Community Center. You know when your shifts are, and where to be. Let’s show our friends that we know how to throw a great party!
  • After our event this weekend, you’ll probably want to watch someone else raise money. The Arcata “Noon” Rotary will have what C.J. Ralph called “our one and only fundraiser” on March 22nd. It’s their annual “Arcata Rotary Wine Festival”, to be held from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at HSU. The Nooners have always been staunch supporters of our events, so let’s return the favor.
  • Grab your sunscreen and/or your umbrella – we’re doing another Adopt-A-Highway clean-up on Saturday, March 29th. We will meet at 9:45 that morning. Watch the Spirit for more details.
  • RI President Ron Burton will be in Sacramento on Saturday, March 30th. If you’re interested in attending the dinner, hosted by the Rotary Club of North Sacramento, please let President Jessica know.
  • Closer to home, the District 5130 Assembly is coming soon to Mendocino College in Ukiah. The event will kick off with a dinner on Friday, April 4th, followed by fun and informative sessions the following day. For more information and to register, click on this link: http://www.rotary5130.org/news-events/events/district-training-assembly
  • You’ll then have a couple of weeks to rest up for the Mad River Clean Up Work Day, scheduled for Saturday, April 19th. And that’s gonna be followed by the Earth Day Volunteer Hoe Down at the Friends of the Dunes HQ building (the former Stamps House).

Bubba Frog’s Craft Talk  
(Oh, you had to know that was going to happen …)
For non-Rotarians reading the Spirit, a Craft Talk is a short presentation by a relatively new Sunriser. These help us get to know our new members better. Last week, it was Praj White’s turn. 

He told us that he was a native of Humboldt County, born in Garberville in 1972. This occurred not long after his parents graduated from the College of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley. Thanks to “an endowment from my grandfather on my mother’s side” the couple bought a boat and a piece of property in Southern Humboldt County. He said that his full name is Praj Olam Managa White (I hope that’s all spelled correctly). “I’ve had to choke that down through the years,” he said with a chuckle. 

Praj White

He said that he “bounced through many schools”, attending Equinox School for a short while after his family relocated to Arcata when he was ten. He was at Jacoby Creek School for sixth through eighth grades, and he graduated from Arcata High School in 1990. He then attended HSU for four years. The first two years he “became very good at having a great time”. However, he soon decided to declare his major – Environmental Resource Engineering. He started seriously pursuing science and math courses. 

During his years at HSU, Praj met with Bryan Reeser at his sister’s house. When Praj walked in, he was introduced to Bryan’s father, who misheard Praj as “Frog”. Soon after, Praj began dating a woman named Lisa, whose family has a history in the Armed Forces. Lisa heard the call and joined the Air Force, and she was stationed first in Colorado, then in Texas. It took about six months, but Praj realized that he needed to follow her. So he dropped out of HSU, and moved to San Angelo, Texas, where they were married. Praj said that his name was a bit out of place in Texas, so “I accepted Bubba “for quite some time”.

In lieu of being ordered to the Middle East, Lisa was stationed at Elmendorf AFB, in Anchorage, Alaska. Although Lisa was a bit worried how Praj might react, he said that he was “ecstatic – I mean, someone’s going to pay me to move to Alaska?” He was very excited about the University of Alaska, and the natural beauty of the area. He earned his degree in Civil Engineering there, and he and Lisa had two children.

But Praj said that the year in Texas and four years in Alaska helped him really appreciate Humboldt County, and upon his graduation, he got a job with CalTrans District 1, where he worked the next four years. He didn’t see himself as a lifer with CalTrans, so he availed himself of a few moonlighting opportunities. Praj transitioned from CalTrans to running his own firm – White Engineering. As his own boss, he learned that “you do whatever it takes in Humboldt County to keep going”. He worked on building permits, small subdivisions, etc. 

Following the economic downturn in 2008, the work was harder to find, so when Praj was approached by Manhard Consulting in 2010, he signed up. He worked under their contract to construct a wastewater treatment plant in Ferndale, and to provide the city’s engineer. He has been with Manhard for the past four years as an Area Manager. He said that he feels that he helps the community with what he does, and that’s a big part of the reason he joined Rotary.

World Community Service Committee Report
Last week, members of our Club’s World Community Service Committee reported on their recent activities. The group’s budget has averaged $10,000 for the past two years, and they (and we) have gotten a lot of bang for our bucks. Here is where we are making an impact:

  • Pakistan – $1,000 is helping the Swat Relief Initiative (SWI) build a water filtration plant to provide safe drinking water to residents of the Swat Valley.
  • Cambodia – $3,000 is helping to expand and maintain the Cambodia Academy, a project started by Rotarian Hans Eide.
  • Project Amigo (Mexico) – $2,500 is our latest contribution to the organization. We have provided financial and hands-on support to this South-of-the-Border Rotary project for several years.
  • Botswana – $3,000 is pledged to kick off a proposed Rotary Matching Grant (which will total $35,000) to support efforts to help reduce the effects of clubfoot. Last year, we supported the Bore Hole Project, another water project. The wells will allow community members to irrigate their crops and feed themselves.
  • Russia – $500 went to support ongoing efforts to help in Siberia, spearheaded by Rotarian Kim Bauridel. This year, he plans to provide medical equipment to the Uyo Teaching Hospital. Last year, we helped provide a place for kids to play and we raised the awareness of the needs of the children in the area.
  • Nicaragua – In 2012-2013, we supported yet another water project, this time working with Engineer Without Borders to supply water to a hospital. Currently, the hospital relies on water carried in by hand. The engineers are performing flow tests and the city of Camoapa is purchasing the property so the project can proceed.
Does Rotary Make A Difference? You Could Ask Her!