Volume XII, Issue 40: May 16, 2014

Alex with his Host Sister Bella and Host Mother Alisa

Alex’s Week
Our Exchange Student from France, Alex Rialet, recently experienced an American tradition – Mothers Day.  Along with his host father Praj and host sister Bella, Alex took his host mother to brunch in Old Town Eureka. Later that day, they went to the beach, where Alex skimboarded and surfed.  

Later in the week, Alex went to the last AHS baseball game of the season – sadly, the Tigers were defeated.

For Your Calendar

  • 5/26 – Fellowship Barbeque at President Jessica’s home in Rio Dell. Check your email for details
  • 5/30 – Retreat for President Barbara’s Board of Directors and Committee Chairs
  • 6/01 – Kids, Crabs, and Rotary at the Arcata Ballpark
  • 6/06 – We honor the top 10% of the AHS 2014 Graduating Class
  • 6/10 – Board Meeting at the Golden Harvest (Jessica’s Board and Barbara’s Board)

The first full week of May was devoted to Fireside Meetings – our annual small group get-togethers, where we help the incoming Club President plan the coming year. President-Elect Barbara Browning thanked the four Sunrisers who graciously opened their homes for the meetings: Romi Hitchcock Tinseth, Dawn Elsbree, Scott Heller, and Julie Vaissade-Elcock. She also thanked all who participated, saying that she came away with a lot of great ideas, which we will soon put into action!

Since we were dark for Firesides Week, Kathy Fraser was a one-woman Backpacks for Kids dynamo! She picked up the food, bagged it, and delivered it to the two schools. Thank you Kathy!!

Two members of the Arcata High School Interact Club – Olivia and Olivia – visited last Friday. They and other Interactors were scheduled to participate in the Youth Relay for Life, which took place at Eureka High School from 9 am Saturday to 9 am Sunday. The group did a lot of work to help set up for the event, and their nine-member team raised funds to support the American Cancer Society.

We also had a contingent from the North Bay Rotaract with us last week. Ashleigh Diehl told us that their Club is very close to receiving its charter, and they are very active as well. They helped the Lost Coast Rotaract with its recent Softball Tournament fundraiser, and they also fielded a team for the recent MS Walk. Ashleigh encouraged us to join them at their meetings, which take place at 6 pm on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, at Robert Goodman Wines.

Dan Johnson and Ceva Courtemanche were on hand to distribute thank you gifts to those who were instrumental to the success of this year’s Spring Fundraiser. They also deserve a big Sunrise Thank You for guiding the event again this year!

Lori Breyer announced that the parents of Exchange Student  Alex Rialet will be in town to attend Alex’s graduation next month. There will be an opportunity to meet them – Lori is hosting a pot luck get-together on (I believe) June 8th. Watch for an email with more information.

Our reliable Recognitions Meister, Tomas Chavez, was at the clicker last Friday when we finally caught up with Matt Babich to ask him about “Babich Bucks”. Matt said that the Bucks are really old, but they surfaced recently on Facebook. They came from a holiday party that ReMax/Humboldt Realty held years ago that had an open bar. If you are in possession of a Babich Buck, it will get you any cocktail at the Ingomar Club … and they are apparently still legal tender there!

Ceva Courtemanche was in Las Vegas for her birthday, and she and her mother took in a Britney Spears show at Planet Hollywood. She said that she’s “not a huge Britney Spears fan,” but they had a lot of fun.

Tomas went to the source for information about Dan Johnson. Well, close to the source. He spoke with Dan’s Executive Assistant, Katherine Hungerford, and received this heartfelt description:

Personally, I’ve found Dan is a family man. Outside of his work, Dan is so very involved with his children. Jaden is in the eighth grade at Jacoby Creek, Carter is at St. Bernard’s, and Sydney is a freshman at Santa Clara. Dan spends most of his weekends traveling with Carter’s and Jaden’s AAU teams.In fact he is going to be taking both of the teams to Vegas on a 12-day trip, hitting a couple of the big tournaments.

Dan is the hardest worker I’ve ever met, and he’s happy to share all of his knowledge and he really likes to see other people succeed. He’s also one of the most generous individuals I’ve ever met. He donates more time and money to countless organizations than anyone I can think of. It’s a pleasure to have worked for him for the past year.

Julie Vaissade-Elcock’s most recent birthday was May 8th. She said that she hosted a Fireside Meeting to celebrate. President-Elect Barbara brought a cake for her. Julie said that there are “a bunch of birthdays in my family”, so the family got together that Saturday to party.

One week later, Bob Johnson had a birthday as well. (That’s the way it works out for Julie and Bob most years.) He said that he had some wonderful friends over for dinner, following a week-long trip to Barcelona. He was pretty jet-lagged from the return flight, but he had a great time.

Catching Up With Arcata Fire
Last Friday, our guest speakers were from the Arcata Fire Department – Fire Chief Desmond Cowan and the AVFD Volunteer of the Year, Captain Alan Davis. 

Desmond said that he started as a volunteer with the department 23 years ago, and “to the joy of some and the chagrin of others, I’m a perpetual three-year-old, because I always ask, ‘Why?'” Many times, the answer is, “Because we’ve always done it that way.” He said that, as business owners and managers, we know that answer often does not lead to success. 

The first fire crew in Arcata came together in 1857, after a series of large fires. The group lasted about three or four weeks before it was disbanded. In 1884, the Arcata Volunteer Fire Department was established, and it has served the community ever since. For many years, it was operated entirely by volunteers, who wanted to help their city and its residents. 

As the organization evolved, it went from hand-drawn equipment to motorized fire engines, bypassing horse-drawn apparatus entirely. “A very interesting little quirk,” Desmond noted, “and the quirks continue to this day – two of them might be right in front of you.”

Desmond said that the moniker “Arcata Fire Department” is a misnomer. While they were a department of the City of Arcata for many years, they are now a separate organization whose service area encompasses 62 square miles with 37,000 residents. Geographically, they get calls from  the north end of McKinleyville to Manila and Indianola, and they cover Bayside, Jacoby Creek, about 5 miles up Fickle Hill, with stations in McKinleyville, at Mad River, and in downtown Arcata. Both paid staff and volunteers are contacted by pager when needed.

Desmond said that the Department has changed its staffing structure such that no one individual drives a fire truck alone to an incident. That was a lonely duty, he told us. They dealt with 2,620 incidents in the past year, with 60% occurring south of the Mad River. They often respond with a “blended crew” – paid staff working side by side with volunteers. And sometimes the volunteers are in charge. Alan started his firefighting career in Arcata, then served for many years as paid staff, then returned home to volunteer with AVFD. As Battallion Captain, his experience is invaluable.

Apart from their primary goal of saving lives and property, the Department is working to modernize its facilities and its culture. Funds from our previous Spring Fundraisers has provided them with the ability to make the physical changes they believe will allow them to respond efficiently when the need arises. They are also trying to instill a culture that everyone works together, at all levels of the organization. Desmond emphasized that the Department continues to evolve – physically, culturally, and organizationally. 

our meeting, we posed for the official check presentation. In the final
year of their partnership with our Club, the Fire Department earned
$29,168.36 from this year’s Spring Fundraiser. As the memo on the check
says, “Awesome!”

Holding the check are President Jessica, Co-Chair Ceva Courtemanche, Fire Chief Desmond Cowan, and Captain Alan Davis.Next to Alan is Event Co-Chair Dan Johnson