Volume XII, Issue 33: March 21, 2014

A Few Words From Alex
President Jessica is never lacking for a photo (or photos) to put up when she invites Exchange Student Alex Rialet to talk to us. Below is the presentation slide she prepared for last Friday’s meeting. (Ya gotta love Facebook!)

He and his host dad, Craig Reed, weathered a power outage the previous week, but service was restored before the weekend. That Saturday, he attended a basketball game, and he and Craig spent the next day with Craig’s girlfriend in McKinleyville. There was no school on Monday (which happened to be St. Patrick’s Day), but he did have a baseball game that day. He played again on Saturday. (We’ll probably hear about that game at our next meeting.)

Alex also wrote a story for the AHS Pepperbox (the school newspaper) entitled “Rotary: An Entire Life In A Year”. At least for now, if you click on the title, you will be able to read the article, which can be found on Page 8.

For Your Calendar

  • April 3 and 4  Please set aside time for the very important service project that will take place on these two days (Thursday and Friday). Sunrisers should check their emails for more information.
  • April 4 & 5  The District 5130 Training Assembly. Friday evening is a fellowship dinner, with the education in All Things Rotary beginning in earnest the next morning. Van Johnson will be driving his Bob down early Saturday morning, if you want to hitch a ride. (Whaddaya mean, I got it backwards???)
  • April 11  Our History Day Scholarship winners will give their presentations at our Friday meeting. If you’re from another Club, or if you just want to visit, you’ll have a great time.
  • April 19  District Governor Helaine Campbell asked her Rotary Clubs to take on a “Green River” project this year. The Mad River Work Day is our response to that challenge. All ages are welcome to participate in the cleanup and in the Hoe Down that follows.
  • April 24  The Mentorship/Membership Committee will meet. Details to follow.
  • April 26  The Fieldbrook Fire Department will hold an Open House to show off the expansion of their firehouse. President Jessica read a letter from the firefighters expressing their appreciation for our financial support.
  • May 16-18  We celebrate a great Rotary Year with our fellow Rotarians at the District 5130 Conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park.

PETS Update

Barbara Checks In

Barbara Browning missed the Spring Fundraiser this year, but it was an excused absence. She was in San Jose, attending the President Elect Training Seminar, along with her peers from nine Rotary Districts throughout the Far West. “You know,” she said, “everybody always says that you’re gonna love PETS – I totally loved PETS!” She didn’t realize that it would be as much fun as it was, and she said that she is now full of ideas for her year as Club President. The theme for 2014-2015 is “Light Up Rotary”, and we are looking forward to Barbara’s light shining in the coming year.

Recognitions with Tomas

Carol’s Acceptance Speech

Tomas Chavez was once again behind the steering wheel of the Recognitions Bus, and his first stop was to praise Carol Vander Meer, the Executive Director of Friends of the Dunes. Unfortunately, this was a Recognitio Oriente Solriser in Absentia, which is my pseudo-Latin for “Recognition of a Sunriser Who Ain’t Here”. But we are proud of Carol, since her organization was named Nonprofit of the Year for 2013 by the Arcata Chamber of Commerce.

Amy Bohner was also missing last week, but we talked about the new project that she and her husband Steve have undertaken – and it involves booze, er … craft spirits! The couple have put their brand on the new Alchemy Distillery, which will use solar energy to help produce high quality grain to bottle spirits, to be known as Boldt Whiskey. For more information, check out the video on the Kickstarter website – you might be inspired to help fund Arcata’s first distillery!

Hardd Hatt Gregg

At AEDC’s recent “Spotlight on Success” event, Gregg Foster was wearing a hard hat to call attention to the fact that Redwood Capital Bank is renovating the former site of the HSU Natural History Museum for its Arcata branch office. Gregg said that he would not be wearing the hat once the new bank opens up, unless “my hairline recedes much further”. The photo shows Don Ehnebuske, who succeeded Gregg as the Executive Director of the Redwood Region Economic Development Corporation (RREDC), giving his predecessor an interesting look. “He’s singlehandedly restoring the reputation of the organization I left,” said Gregg.

Bryan – Specs X 2

The photo at left shows Bryan Reeser at last year’s end-of-tax-season golf event. Bryan doesn’t think those are his shades, in the front at least. The ones on top of the hat might be his … He’s looking forward to this year’s event, or maybe he’s just hoping for the end of the tax crunch – about a month left, he noted.

Special Days
Bryan Reeser had to stand up again so we could recognize him for his March 2nd birthday. He said that he played basketball in the morning and went to a Mardi Gras party that evening. He and Donnie Rosebrook “ran the shuffleboard table … Did we lose a game? Did we lose a game?” This was followed by a dignified fist bump with Mr. Rosebrook. Apparently, they did not lose a game.

Matt Babich told his dad that he wanted to go to Larrupin’s for his birthday on Wednesday, March 19th, “Because that’s where we [Sunrisers] go, right?  So Abruzzi’s it is. My birthday, his credit card, so we had a nice dinner at Abruzzi’s, and I go home and take care of my dog.” 

Restoring Hope
Our featured speaker last Friday was Karen “Fox” Olsen, the Executive Director of the Arcata House Partnership. The Partnership is a nonprofit organization provides services to people who are experiencing homelessness. Fox has lived in Humboldt County since 1974, and she earned a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from HSU, and a Masters in Social Work from Sacramento State University. She has been with Arcata House since 2001.

Fox told us that Rotary is “very comfortable and familiar to me”, since she was part of a Group Study Exchange Team that visited New Zealand. For the six week Exchange period, “Rotary took very good care of me.” She added, “I could almost pass the Four-Way Test in my sleep.” 

She said that her organization is very appreciative of the support we have shown, most recently in donating funds to purchase laundry equipment for their Annex facility, near the Intermodal Transit Facility. She singled out Matt Babich for his help in making that happen.

After she was hired by Arcata House, the group began to redefine its mission. With help from the City of Arcata, they were soon able to add their current main facility on 11th Street, which incorporates transitional living quarters with their main offices. 

The organization is known for helping homeless people and it has provided transitional housing for about 20 years. They work with the families to determine what went wrong, so those people don’t end up back on the streets after the transition. The program contains a strong case-management element. 

Families in the transitional housing program pay “rent” in the form of savings. When they are ready to move out on their own, they receive that savings back, to help them as they begin the new phase of their lives. Fox said that although there is a 20% dropout rate, 100% of those who complete the program are able to find housing. 

About 18 months ago, the person who headed organization that had been managing the emergency shelter program in Arcata wanted to move on. He told Fox that he believed that Arcata House would be the logical organization to take on the program. That was the beginning of the “Partnership”, as the two groups merged.

In addition to its transitional housing program, Arcata House has a program called Apartments First!, which offers permanent supportive housing. Some but not all program participants are disabled and receive subsidies. There are 17 apartments available and the program has three staff members. The organization also owns a food truck, which it calls “The Lunch Box” –  a mobile food preparation and distribution service.

Matt Babich, President Jessica, and Fox Olsen

Fox said that her agency runs on good social work values. “No one really chooses to be homeless,” she said. “They’ve lost hope.” The Arcata House Partnership has provided hope for many over the years, and they plan to continue helping restore that hope for the less fortunate among us.