Volume XII, Issue 41: May 23, 2014

Alex’s Week
Last week, our Rotary Exchange Student from France, Alex Rialet, spent the previous weekend at the District Conference. He said that he was happy to see his fellow Exchangers from throughout the District again. President Jessica sat with Alex and two other students for the dinner on Saturday. On Sunday, all of the Exchange Students paraded into the main hall with their countries’ flags, and some of the students gave speeches. After the event’s close, Alex had to say goodbye to the other students, many of whom he will not see again before he leaves this summer. The rest of the week was a “normal school week”

Announcements and Calendar Items

  • May 30-31  RCAS Board Retreat for 2014-2015 Directors and Committee CHairs
  • May 31 Maggie’s Wedding Reception
  • June 1 Kids, Crabs, and Rotary at the Arcata Ballpark
  • June 6 The Top 10% of the 2014 AHS Graduating Class visits at our Friday Meeting

Notes from the Board Meetings

  • Our attendance for April was low – only 59%. If you must miss a meeting, please take advantage of the many makeup opportunities available. If you aren’t comfortable going alone, call another Sunriser – someone will be happy to go with you!
  • The Club Board approved a leave of absence for Don Rosebrook, as he deals with the purchase of one home and the sale of another. Although the leave is for six months, Don expects to return sooner, and he plans to help out with the Scholarship Committee and Kids, Crabs, and Rotary.
  • The Foundation Board decided to ask the Arcata Noon Rotary to co-sponsor the North Bay Rotaract Club, with an eye to increasing that young group’s base of support.
  • The Foundation Board also authorized placing our reserve funds into a laddered CD portfolio, that will allow for a specified amount becoming available for each of the next four years.
  • Finally, President Jessica said that she has committed a portion of her discretionary funds to the Arthur Arzola Scholarship, which was established to honor the HSU Admissions Counselor who was killed in the tragic bus accident last month.

District Conference Report
President Jessica also brought news from the previous weekend’s District Conference. Attending with her were Terri Clark, Susan Jansson, Ian Schatz, and (as mentioned above) Alex Rialet. Jessica said that of the 47 Clubs in our District, 36 responded to the challenge issued at the beginning of the Rotary Year by District Governor Helaine Campbell – to take on a “Green River” project to improve a local river or other waterway. Many of these Clubs reported that they had uncovered service projects that will keep them busy for the next several years, and others said that they had established lasting partnerships with other community organizations.

The District’s process for selecting new District Governors was changed at the Conference. The Nominating Committee used to consist of the five most recent Past District Governors. The new composition of this committee will be the three most recent PDGs, the District Governor Elect, the District Governor Nominee, and three representatives from various Clubs, selected by random drawing at the District Conference.

Our Club received honors at the Conference. We were recognized for our own Green River Project, and we won awards for International Service, Community Service, and Youth Service. President Jessica thanked us all for our work as Rotarians, and she also gave “a thank you
to Julie Vaissade Elcock, Barbara Browning and Karen Burgesser for your efforts
putting the applications together.”
Our famed Recognition Meister, Tomas Chavez, put a few Sunrisers on the spot last week, starting with President Jessica. He learned that, despite the “Woo-hoos”, our leader doesn’t drink coffee. That probably reflects well on her, but if it weren’t for caffeine, there would be no Sunrise Spirit
The photo at left shows a premiere bottle of Zinfandel from Briceland Vineyards that was provided for the previous week’s Fireside Meeting that Julie hosted. Her husband Stan, the Past President of the Arcata Noon Rotary, wrote the word “RESERVE” on the bottle and had a friend put a $75 price tag on it. The actual price is “seventeen dollars or something,” Julie said, “and he thinks that’s funny”. Tomas thought it was funny, too – “I’m definitely going to write ‘RESERVE’ on every bottle of wine.”

Julie  remained standing when she was asked about some construction work being done by her family. “We bought a cabin in Trinity Village near Hawkins Bar,” she told us. “It was a fixer-upper,” but the fixing-upping should be done by summer.
Tomas (or one of his Recognitions Raiders) found some of Maggie Kraft’s school photos and brought them to share with the class. As you can see (you may have to click on the photo to enlarge it), the senior portrait features a quotation by Leonard Nimoy, while the other photo is of Maggie’s fourth grade class. Maggie said that fourth grade was “the first time I realized that school was stressful”. 
Last Friday, we also learned that Sunrisers meet – even on different continents! Bob and Susan Johnson recently attended a conference in Barcelona; while they were there, they discovered that Howard and Rebecca Stauffer were there to wrap up a trip that started in Morocco. The foursome went to a nice restaurant together, and made a pact to “do this every year”.

We then learned about “Kevin’s Climb” – a tribute to the memory Charlie Jordan’s son, Kevin Ebbert. Kevin served as a member of Navy SEAL Team 4, and was killed in action in Afghanistan on November 24, 2012. Kevin also loved climbing, and “Kevin’s Climb” is a way for Kevin’s teammates and friends to honor him by making a first ascent up Cyclorama Wall – a climb of over 1,000 up a mountain 20 miles deep in the Sierra back country. Those who make a first ascent, establishing a new path up a mountain, give the new path its name. And this climbing team will christen the path “Kevin’s Climb”. The group’s goal includes recording a documentary about the effort, and you can help finance the project via Kickstarter. To see a video about the project and for the opportunity to contribute, click on the image of Kevin below:

Kevin's Climb

A Visit From Project Amigo Founders
Last week, our featured speakers were Susan Hill and Ted Rose, who founded Project Amigo following an 1984 visit to Colima, Mexico. Ted was planning to hike up a volcano, but when he jumped on the wrong bus, he found himself in Cofradía, a small impoverished village. Cofradía was filled with poor but friendly children. He and Susan returned to the village later that year to celebrate Christmas with these kids. Two years later, the couple moved to Cofradía and set up a small school to teach the children to type. They expanded the program to help the kids learn other vocational skills, and Project Amigo was born. Today, Project Amigo continues to promote education and job skills by sponsoring students in junior high, high school, and college. Some Project Amigo-sponsored students attending the University of Colima live at Casa Amiga, the project’s boarding home within walking distance of the college. The program also works to promote literacy in the states of Colima and Jalisco, providing books (supplied by Rotary Clubs in the US, Canada, and Australia) to schools and libraries.

Susan reminded us that our Club has been a long-term partner with Project Amigo. About ten years ago, we began a dental health program in Colima that continues to the present. Sunriser Harry Johnson and other dentists in our area set up a clinic and began to provide care for many young people who suffered from poor dental health. Project Amigo has provided toothbrushes to the children of the area and volunteers have taught them how to brush their teeth and other aspects of oral hygiene. This has helped the kids immensely. “With healthier mouths,” Susan said, “children stay in school.”

In 2005, our Club began providing fluoride tablets that Project Amigo distributes to children in primary schools in five communities. Since that time, volunteers have reported a sharp decrease in cavities suffered by the children. The cadre of volunteer dentists are now filling cavities, which are fewer and smaller, rather than extracting decayed teeth that could not be saved. As Susan notes, “A child with a healthy mouth and his or her teeth intact has a much higher probability of better health, of staying in school, and of entering adulthood with a positive and attractive presentation, so important to getting a job.”

Susan also discussed three myths about world poverty that were identified and debunked recently in the 2014 Annual Letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  She noted that these myths block progress for the poor. They are:

  • The poor are doomed to stay poor.
  • Foreign aid is a waste.
  • Saving lives leads to overpopulation.

She quoted the letter’s closing statement:

We all have the chance to create a world where extreme poverty is the
exception rather than the rule, and where all children have the same
chance to thrive, no matter where they’re born. For those of us who
believe in the value of every human life, there isn’t any more inspiring
work under way in the world today.
 “Thanks to support from the Arcata Sunrise Rotary Club and its members,” Susan said, “Project Amigo has been working to eliminate one of the main causes of poverty in Colima, Mexico, and that’s lack of education.” 
Project Amigo provided 112 scholarships in 2013-2014, helping 38 junior high school students, 38 in high school, and 36 university students. These scholarships overcome part of the financial barrier faced by these students. Their registration fees are paid, they receive transportation to and from school, their uniforms, shoes, and school supplies are provided, and they receive hot meals. 
Susan shared some startling graduation statistics, stating that only 5% of students who start college in Mexico continue until they receive a degree. In the US, 39% reach that level, but Project Amigo university students have achieved an amazing 70% graduation rate! To date, there are 45 Project Amigo graduates, who are working in such fields as medicine, law, business administration, computer science, and engineering. The graduates donate 3% of their incomes back to Project Amigo, to help the progress continue.
She told us about just some of Project Amigo’s many success stories, including Belen, who graduated from the University of Colima’s nursing program in January. Mireya received a law degree in 2008, and is now serving as the Mayor of her village. Conny, who dreamed of becoming a physician, completed medical school in 2009, and is now the  Director of the Community Health Center in Tepames, Colima. They and other students attribute their success to the sponsors of their scholarships and to the many visitors to the program who encouraged them along their academic paths and expressed their belief in them.
Susan also discussed their “Service Weeks” that will take place in the coming Rotary Year. Each week focuses on a specific area:

  • Literacy: November 8-15, 2014 and March 7-14, 2015
  • December Fiesta: December 7-14, 2014
  • ESL: January 11-24, 2015
  • Spanish Immersion: July 6-26, 2014

To donate, plan a visit, adopt a student, or to learn more, please visit Project Amigo online.

Harry Johnson, Ted Rose, President Jessica, and Susan Hill