Volume XIII, Issue 18: November 6, 2015

Coming Distractions …
Nov 14RISE EVENT – Foundation Dinner North in Ferndale – “An Evening in the Enchanted Forest”
Nov 19A Taste of the Holidays at the Arcata Community Center  
Nov 20(?)RISE EVENT – Enjoy the Living Rooms (with Sunriser Bob Johnson) at Chapala Cafe (date may need to be corrected …)
Dec 5RISE EVENT – Christmas Caroling for Arts Alive in Old Town Eureka
Dec 10-12 – The Jerry Paul Arcata Invitational Basketball Tournament (AIBT) at Arcata High School 

Sunriser Shorts  

  • Our Transitional Youth program, which we present in conjunction with Humboldt Live!, wrapped up last week. Ed Christians said that the number of participants varied a bit from week to week, but there was a core group of young people who were very involved. They were enthusiastic about the program, and they felt that it was  very worthwhile.
  • Our annual Cross Country Championships were held on October 30th, and Scott Heller reported that there were about 250 kids, and “probably twice as many parents”. President Howard said that he enjoyed shaking the hands of the children as he handed out the awards. Although Rebecca Crow was not at the meeting, we appreciate her hard work in organizing the event again this year.
  • Several Sunrisers attended the recent celebration of Steve Brodhag’s life. Romi Hitchcock Tinseth noted that “there was a lot of love and a lot of laughter”. Our thoughts are with our fellow Sunriser Rina, Steve’s wife.
  • Congratulations to Sunriser Carol Vander Meer, who was elected to the Manila Community Services District Board of Directors last week!
  • A group of Sunrisers participated in “Spirits & Spirits” on the day before Halloween. The event is a fundraiser for the Lost Coast Rotaract Club, and our Exchange Student Sophia had a role as one of the ghostly presences.

Sophia’s Stories  
Speaking of Sophia, she told us last week that she enjoyed Halloween. In addition to portraying a ghost, she and others dressed up as Waldo and Friends. She said that she went trick or treating for the first time, and she went through a haunted house. With all that activity, she said that the week “just flew by”!

Committee Report
Nick Torres and Tomas Chavez provided an update on the activities of the Membership Committee. They recapped their goals – maintaining a Club size of about 65 to 70 members, adding 5 to 10 new Sunrisers this year, and involving the whole Club in the membership process.

The strategies that they propose involve having all Club members invite guests whom they think would make good Rotarians. The Club will pay for breakfast for these prospective Sunrisers, up to three visits. Guests will receive a follow-up letter from the Membership Committee, thanking them for attending, and inviting them to discuss moving forward in the membership process.

If you have a potential Rotarian in mind, please invite him or her to a meeting, but also invite them to one of our events or service projects. The Committee has provided a wallet-sized card that explains “What’s Rotary”, and a brochure (“This Is Rotary”), which gives more detail. We also have a RCAS brochure available at the badge table that contains much of this information, along with a partial list of many of the projects we have undertaken and supported. 

Dustin Littlefield presented last week’s recognition of Carol Vander Meer. He told us that Carol was born in Nebraska, where she grew up. She loved spending time on the farm in Western Nebraska, where she learned to ride horses. At 11 years old, Carol had her own horse, and she considered herself a cowgirl.

She was the oldest of the children in her family, with a brother, a stepbrother, and a stepsister. She has three nephews “whom she adores”, and an adopted niece. 

Carol attended Iowa State University, with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. Eventually, however, she found that her love of the outdoors and her desire to teach others about nature were pulling her in another direction. She received her B.A. in Biology, and she was hired as a Naturalist by Fontanelle Forest Nature Center in Nebraska. 

After a time, Carol grew restless, and she returned to school to work toward her Masters Degree. She received her M.S. from the University of Nebraska Omaha, and she planned to get her Teaching Certificate. Working three seasons of the year with summers off held a strong appeal. However, after teaching Sophomore Biology for two years, she realized that it was the toughest job she’d ever had, and she retreated to Northern California. 

In Humboldt C0unty, Carol worked as a Park Ranger and as the Education Coordinator for the HSU Natural History Museum before starting at the Friends of the Dunes. 

Carol considers herself a Naturalist, Educator, and Nonprofit Consultant. She was the Executive Director of Friends of the Dunes for 15 years, and now serves the organization as its Special Projects Manager. This new position allows her to participate more fully in hands-on projects.

Dustin pointed out that Carol is a “very proud cancer survivor”. In 2001, she underwent chemotherapy.  She now lives at the edge of Humboldt Bay with her husband Steve. She met Steve in 1998 at a St. Patrick’s Day party, and six months later, they were engaged. They were married in 1999 at Patrick’s Point. 

In her free moments, Carol enjoys spending time with her nephews, paddling on the bay, singing in the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir, hiking on the coast, camping along Redwood Creek, and being in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. 

Thank Yous
President Howard had planned to announce his selection for “Unsung Rotarian of the Month”, but that Sunriser was not in attendance last Friday. However, Howard was able to publicly thank several members for perennially going above and beyond in support of our Club. This list (which Howard acknowledged is certainly not exhaustive) included Scott Heller, Carol Vander Meer, Jessica McKnight, Dustin Littlefield, Joyce Hinrichs, Julie Vaissade-Elcock, Craig Newman, Barbara Browning, and Janice Newman. An impromptu thanks was given to Tom Tellez, who noticed and fixed a problem with our display/storage cabinet!

Honduras Project Update
Last year, our World Community Services Committee helped fund the Children’s Surgery Project in Honduras. Sandy Schultz, who heads up that program, was our Featured Speaker last Friday.

Sandy Schultz

Sandy was born and raised in New Jersey. During her senior year of nursing school, she traveled to Haiti to work at Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which fed her passion for helping those in need. In 1998, after her own children had grown, she joined the Peace Corps and “found a life of medical service” in Honduras, according to her website, Sandy in Honduras. She works to find needy children in very remote areas of the country, connecting them with the medical help they require, which sometimes means bringing them to the US. 

Sandy said that she relies on Maria Isabel (“Maribel”) Garcia Garcia, who is her “mom”, her advisor, her protector, as well as her valued assistant. She also has Maribel’s husband, Cristobal Nelson, who she can count on. Sandy said that Cristobal can repair about anything. Rounding out the crew is Reina, who is the “cook, housekeeper, and friend”. Their farm produces coffee, beans, and corn.

Sandy shared the stories of some of the children she has helped. One girl needed to have both legs amputated very high, because she was born with deformities that caused her legs to cross. Before the surgery, she had to be carried from place to place, but now she can use a walker to get around. 

Reina was born with club feet, but she came to the US for corrective surgery. Sandy showed a photo of Reina all dressed up after the procedures – she was standing tall, and looking proud.

Nelle had a deformed leg, which could not be surgically repaired. The leg was amputated, and she is now walking very well with a prosthetic leg and foot, without using crutches.  
Kellyn had a similar problem and she has achieved similar results following her amputation.

Claudia was “a pretty normal kid – except for her legs”, which were both badly deformed. She underwent a double amputation, and after she was fitted with prosthetics, she was able to walk for the first time using a walker. “She was pretty tickled to be on her feet,” Sandy said.

Sandy told us of a few cases of children with tumors on their tibias. Josue could only walk by using crutches from the time he was one year old. Sandy sent him to Arizona, where he chose to have the leg amputated, due to the severity of his condition. He is now a full-time student at the university, studying Civil Engineering. He no longer requires a cane to get around. Sandy discussed three younger children – Jefferson, Maria, and Jesus – who are suffering from the same condition. They will be coming to the US soon for treatment. 

We saw before and after photos of Bryannaun’s back. He suffered from scoliosis, and the difference is remarkable. A steel rod was inserted alongside his spine to straighten it. Two other young people also had scoliosis. Doris and Silvia also underwent surgery recently, and both were quite successful. 

Not everyone who needs to travel to the states for treatment is able to do so. One young girl is ready to go, but her father is withholding permission for her to leave the country. 

Sandy also coordinates efforts with Operation Smile to help children born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate. Sandy told us to try talking in complete sentences without touching our tongues to the roofs of our mouths. It’s very difficult to be understood. People with cleft palates deal with that all the time, in addition to the resulting disfiguration.

If you are interested in helping to fund Sandy’s efforts, please visit her website (Sandy in Honduras) to contact her. Once you are there, you can also see profiles of some of the many children her organization has helped. 

Special Daze
Karen Burgesser’s birthday on October 12th was nice. “My youngest came by,” she said, “and he treated us to takeout Mexican food for dinner, and we had a nice visit with him.” 

Two days later, Joyce Hinrichs celebrated her birthday, starting with breakfast with her husband Steve Watson and her daughter Lacey. She then drove to San Francisco to have dinner with her other daughter, Kayla. The following weekend, she ran a marathon with her sister-in-law. More birthday celebrations followed in the days, weeks, and months that followed.

Claire Ajina also had a recent birthday. She said that it was quiet – it fell on a work day, so she met with the teachers who are implementing a special curriculum. It was a nice way to celebrate the event.

President Howard said, “What an amazing coincidence – two of our members have an anniversary on the same day!” That would be Lisa and Chris Hemphill. (They have also been married for exactly the same length of time – 35 years!) They decided about 15 years ago to alternate responsibility for their anniversary activity. This year was Lisa’s turn, and she got tickets to see Neil Young at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, along with a two-night stay at the Claremont Hotel. They had a great time.