Volume XII, Issue 37: April 3, 2015

On The Calendar 
April 14:  Board Meeting at the Golden Harvest Cafe
April 18:  “Run For A Cause” – North Bay Rotaract’s Fun(d)raiser to benefit the La Trinidad Project in Costa Rica
April 22:  Earth Day Adopt-a-Highway! Meet at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center at 3 pm
April 24-26:  District 5130 Conference at Yosemite!
May 4-8:  Fireside Meetings (no Friday meeting)
May 7RISE EVENT! – The Living Rooms perform at Chapala Cafe
May 22:  Progressive Dinner
May 31:  Kids, Crabs, and Rotary at the Arcata Ballpark 
June 2-9:  Rotary International Convention at Mozara’s place (aka Brazil)
Last Friday, we learned that Rotary “Kid” Kate Breyer will be part of a relatively new Rotary Youth Exchange program – STEP. That is an acronym for Short-Term Exchange Program, which provides students with the opportunity to spend a few weeks with a host family in another country. Kate will be visiting Spain this summer, which sounds like a great lead-in to college!

Our Inbound Exchange Student – Mozara Abdalla – talked about Brazilian Easter traditions last week. She said that they celebrate the holiday with a four-day weekend, starting on Thursday. Mozara said that her mother still puts out chocolate on Easter mornings for her children. “She doesn’t really hide it,” Mozara noted, “cause we know where it is.” Later in the day, they enjoy a family lunch/dinner. Mozara said that there is no traditional food for the meal. President Barbara told her that “we have ham a lot here”. Mozara said that Brazilian Easter Eggs are huge – most of the stores hang these large eggs from their ceilings. She sent her family a gift basket with chocolate. Her Easter plans included a trip to the beach with her fellow Exchange Student Michelle, who is hosted by the Calistoga Rotary. The Word of the Day was “Boa Pascoa”, which means “Happy Easter”.

President Barbara showed photos from recent events, including the District Training Assembly in Ukiah, the previous night’s RISE event featuring Bob Johnson’s “Living Rooms” at Chapala Cafe, and the Special Olympics Basketball Tournament, which our Club supported. 

She also reminded us that our SWOT project is coming soon. We will be painting and refurbishing the Arcata House Partnership’s Night Shelter on Boyd Road. Once we see a stretch of good weather on the horizon, we’ll grab rollers and brushes and have at it. We will also be redoing cabinets, installing a new heating system, and making several other improvements. 

The renovation of Rotary Park on South G Street is another project where we are waiting for the go-ahead. The City of Arcata is installing new playground equipment, and we will be called upon to spread wood chips and spruce the place up for the Grand Re-opening.

Barbara and Carol, with Mozara and Ron looking on

Carol Vander Meer has completed her Red Badge goals, so last Friday, President Barbara provided her with a shiny new Blue Badge. Congratulations!

Special Daze
The status of visiting Rotaractor Nick Torres is likely to change soon, and part of the reason may be his recent birthday! Nick said that he “celebrated” by doing homework. He will be graduating in December, so his homework days are limited.

We also celebrated the 11th birthday of Rotary Kid Mary Crow. Her birthday party included gymnastics and tumbling.

Rotarian of the Month
President Barbara named a very deserving Sunriser as Rotarian of the Month for March – Susan Jansson! Barbara reminded us of the many reasons for her selection. Susan serves on our Board as the Director of Community Service, she co-chairs the Financial Assistance Committee (with Kathy Fraser), and she will be our Club President for 2016-2017. 

Susan volunteered to chair our Spring Fundraiser Committee, leading us in our first year without the support of the Arcata Volunteer Fire Department. “She believed in our Club,” Barbara noted,”and she knew that we could do the Spring Fundraiser on our own. She provided extraordinary vision and leadership for the event, and helped create a fun, fabulous, and hugely successful event!”

Speaking of the Spring Fundraiser …
Although we’re not quite ready for a final recap of the Spring Fundraiser, Susan acknowledged the work that each member of her Committee put forth:

  • Bob Johnson coordinated the initial fundraiser survey of our Club, and served as the Event Emcee
  • Howard Stauffer was at every meeting, reminding Susan that the event needed to raise funds
  • Barbara Browning provided support at every stage of the event, from planning to execution
  • Charlie Jordan coordinated the Live Auction
  • Kathy Fraser stepped in to help with the models
  • Orrin headed up the clean-up efforts
  • Brenda Bishop wrangled the entertainment
  • Rebecca Crow was in charge of greeting and seating guests
  • Lori Breyer ran a “seamless back room”
  • Laura Montagna and George Cavinta created fantastic decorations
  • Craig Newman handled ticket sales for tables and individuals and served as general troubleshooter
  • Janice Newman prepared the slide show, and followed up with thank you letters to everyone who donated to the event
  • Dustin Littlefield ran the bar, and concocted special Wonderland-themed drinks
  • Ray Noggle was a one-man rescue team, getting needed supplies at the last minute and he bribed Ian into doing all the dishwashing that night
  • Cam Appleton coordinated the Raffle
  • Romi Hitchcock Tinseth put together the Silent Auction
  • Gregg Foster handled publicity
  • Scott Heller was everywhere and did everything, including securing the SmartCar donation and hanging the ceiling decorations. 

Susan closed with a question: “Let’s do it again next year – are you up for that??” The answer she received was a resounding “Yes!”

The Return
Although he had “been away for a while”, Bob Goodman returned for last Friday’s meeting. He spent quite a bit of time in the Bay Area recently, visiting his two daughters who are attending school there. He said that they are all “healthy and happy”. 

Bob realized the difficulty in running five businesses simultaneously, so he sold his restaurant and his juice bar (to different buyers). He said that the new owners of the restaurant are enthusiastic, and they have interesting plans for moving forward. Bob acknowledged that the experience was fun, but he would never do it again. 

A1AA Volunteer Driver Program
Our featured speaker was Dan Birmingham, who runs the Volunteer Driver Program for the Area 1 Agency on Aging (A1AA). The agency provides services for seniors and people with disabilities, and it helps their families, caregivers, friends, and neighbors as well. It also serves as an advocate for the needs of seniors. Funding for the A1AA comes from local government agencies, foundations, and individual donations. There are 33 Agencies on Aging in California, and the A1AA serves Humboldt and Del Norte counties. 

The organization started the Volunteer Driver Program in 2011, when it noted that our community has gaps in filling the transportation needs of seniors. The volunteers take riders to medical appointments and trips to the store, covering Humboldt County from Scotia to Trinidad. 

Dan noted that the program benefits drivers as well as riders. The riders receive transportation that is safe, reliable, and provided at a low cost, and the drivers provide a level of companionship. They also don’t have to wait for the driver to return after the appointment or errand, since the driver remains with the rider. Drivers receive the sense of satisfaction that comes with providing a valuable service that helps their community. They receive reimbursement for their mileage, and they develop new skills. 

In 2013-2014, the program provided 35 drivers for 183 riders, logging a total of 1,872 rides. Over 32,000 miles were driven, for a total of 2,014 hours provided by volunteers. This year, the program has expanded to 40 drivers serving 310 riders. Dan said that the program is always seeking additional drivers. 

To be eligible for the program, riders must be at least 50 years old, or disabled, and they must not require physical assistance getting in and out of vehicles. Dan does an intake interview with each prospective rider to assess their suitability. Riders pre-purchase ride tickets, and provide advance notice of at least one week. 

Drivers must have a valid California drivers license, with a “clean” driving record. They also must pass a criminal background check, and their vehicle must be safe, clean, and insured.

One driver who has been with the program for quite a while is Sunriser Kathy Fraser. She told us that she is actually a second generation driver – her parents once served as volunteer drivers in a similar program. Kathy said that she has met many interesting people while volunteering, most of them older than her, but some were younger. She reminded us that the population served by the program needs help. When you can no longer drive, your independence is limited. 

Kathy said that she appreciates the flexibility of the program and the fact that you can sign up for shifts online. Although she and her husband Bill will be leaving the area in July, she plans to look for a similar program in their new home of Reno. To thank Kathy for her service, Dan presented her with a chocolate bunny with a cart.

Dan with Kathy’s Bunny

To volunteer, or for more information, contact Dan at the A1AA Volunteer Driver Program. His phone number is 707-442-3763 x306, and the email address is vdp@a1aa.org.