Volume XIII, Issue 19: November 14, 2014

On The Calendar
November 20 – A Taste of the Holidays
November 21 – We are Dark (No Meeting)
November 28 – We are Dark again
November 29 – Beer & Cheese Pairing Party – a fundraiser for the AHS College and Career Center
December 4 – Foster Family Dinner
December 4 – RISE EVENT – Arcata Chamber Mixer at Coast Central – 5:30
December 6 – RISE EVENT – Arts Alive in Eureka, featuring Caroling with Ian Schatz!
December 11, 12, & 13 – Arcata Invitational Basketball Tournament (AIBT)

Exchange Student Mozara Abdalla told us that she had traveled to Seattle with her host family the previous week. She wasn’t at the football game (the Washington Huskies lost to UCLA), but she did have a good time. She reminded us that she dressed as a Brazilian “football player” for Halloween. The Word of the Day was “Barco”, which is Brazilian for “Boat”.

Congratulations to Lori Breyer, who won a Paul Harris Fellowship in our second Participation Grid drawing. The next Grid is expected to fill up at least as quickly as the first two did, so be sure to get your name up there. Remember, you qualify for a square each time you:

  • Attend a RISE (Rotary Involvement Strengthens Everyone) Event
  • Participate in an Arcata Sunrise Committee Meeting
  • Work on a Service Project
  • Attend a Rotaract Meeting or Event
  • Make a “date” with our Youth Exchange Student, Mozara

Special Daze
November 8th was Susan Jansson’s birthday, and she said, “You know how as you get older, these birthdays kind of get …” “Older,” someone interjected. Susan told us that she received nice gifts and that both of her kids wished her a happy birthday. “I had a good time with friends and family,” she said. President Barbara asked about Susan’s puppy. Susan explained that the puppy is not due to arrive until December 3. Her older dog has thyroid cancer, and was not expected to survive this long, but “he seems to be getting stronger. I have a feeling I’m going to end up with two dogs.”

Alyson’s Craft Talk!
Alyson Hunter gave her Craft Talk last Friday. She told us that she was born and raised in Claremont, California – in eastern Los Angeles County. She described it as “the home of exciting colleges that I couldn’t afford to attend”. She said that it was a great place to grow up, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. She noted that when she was young, those mountains were not visible, due to the smog. The situation has improved since, and “now, it’s really nice”.

Alyson is the youngest of four children. Her mother was a dental hygienist, and her father was a city planner. Her two sisters are now dental hygienists as well, but Alyson followed in her father’s footsteps. However, her original dream career was to be an architect, a plan that was modified when she realized the amount of math that would be involved. Instead, “I became a social scientist”. 

Growing up, she loved horses. She also was involved in gymnastics “for a long time until I became too tall”. And she said that her “life of service” started in the Girl Scout program. She started as a Brownie and continued all the way to Senior Girl Scout. “I made it cool,” she explained. “I feel like joining Rotary is the next logical step.”

After high school, she wanted to go to college in a location as far away from home as possible while remaining in California. She started at Humboldt State without a major, but she graduated in 1993 with degrees in Geography and Social Science. She intended to become a high school teacher, but “I decided that would be too hard, so I became a regulator”.

After graduating from HSU, Alyson (“like everybody else”) wanted to stay in the area. She was a barista, a summer camp worker in Colorado and Washington, a “yogurt pumper”, and she worked at the Co-op and other jobs to keep going. After about four years, she was ready to give up and leave Humboldt County. She had been accepted to a graduate school in Southern California and was ready to move when she received an entry-level position with the Humboldt County Planning Department. After 11 years there, she tried being a consultant with LACO Associates. However she realized that “I was totally not bad-ass enough to be a consultant”, so she returned to working for the government. She joined CalTrans just in time for the beginning of the furlough period. She was there for four years, but she realized that she was happier working for local government, and she has been working for the City of Arcata for nearly two years. 

Alyson’s hobbies include caring for her two dogs, traveling, and community service – she came to the realization a few years ago that she doesn’t have the “normal” hobbies, and that caring for her community qualifies as a hobby. She has served on several local boards, and she is a Make-A-Wish granter, a role she has served in for eight years. She said that she also enjoys preservation of historic buildings and architecture.

Her Craft Talk was Alyson’s last step towards transitioning from Red Badger status, so President Barbara presented her with a sparkling new Blue Badge.

Kyle Visser presented last week’s tribute to Ed Christians, and he echoed President Barbara’s statement that “Ed is a really interesting guy”.

Ed grew up in the Midwest, in Michigan and Iowa, and he moved to Austin, Texas. He and his wife Beth moved to McKinleyville in 2013, and Ed says that he “loves the rain”. 

Ed is really into technology, and he is especially passionate about the ways people interact with it. He is also interested in leadership and in helping developing leadership qualities in others. He enjoys scuba diving and he is a licensed divemaster. He also loves to read, especially non-fiction and sci-fi. 

Ed is very active in his church, and he is currently a leader in the search for its new pastor. Ed and Beth are also passionate about fostering animals, and many of the photos that accompanied the tribute showed Ed interacting with dogs. Ed derives a sense of accomplishment in helping young people develop into leaders.

Ed holds a BSEE from Kettering/GMI and an MSEE from Purdue University. He also earned an MBA from St. Edwards University in Austin. 

Ed’s first car was a “bright yellow Chevy Citation”. Ed told us that the previous owner wasn’t able to stop the car. Ed discovered that it had the wrong brake pedal – one for power brakes, which the car did not have. No worries. Ed installed a power system, and it was fixed … well that part was. “The car got me to college,” Ed told us, “but it did so only because I spent all my working time underneath the car.” 

Committee News
President Barbara reminded us that one of her top goals for the year was to ensure that every committee is engaged. That goal has been met and is being surpassed every week. All of our Club’s committees have been very active. 

Vocational Service Committee
We heard from Vocational Service Committee co-chair Jessica McKnight (Jeff Stebbins is the other co-chair) last Friday. She reminded us that “Vocational Service is really at the heart of what Rotary is and why it came to be”. She said that the committee is taking three approaches to honor that history of Vocational Service.

First, they want to help Sunrisers know what vocational resources are available. “We have a real wealth of knowledge,” she noted, “wealth of professions, wealth of experiences that exist within the Club.” Sometimes, we don’t always realize or recall what vocational strengths are there to be tapped. We have past and present local government officials, financial consultants, human resources managers, and a forester among many other areas of expertise. The committee is planning to compile a database of the vocations and avocations of our members. 

Second, the committee plans to work with Jim Ritter, who serves our community in two capacities – as the Executive Director of Humboldt Live!, a youth leadership organization, and as the Director of the College and Career Center at Arcata High School. They are discussing the best ways to help support his efforts. They will be collaborating on job shadowing and panel presentations throughout the year. Jim has also asked us to continue and expand our role in the College and Career Center’s main fundraiser – their annual pancake breakfast. The event will take place on Saturday, January 31st. We will be working on the event in cooperation with the Arcata Noon Rotary, the AHS Interact Club, the two local Rotaract Clubs, and the Soroptimist Club. More information will be available after the first of the year. 

The third focus of the committee is to revive the long-dormant Vocational Service Award, which recognizes a person or business in the community, not affiliated with Rotary, for exemplifying the ideals of Rotary, in the ways that they conduct business and the ways that they treat their customers, their employees, and their community.

Foster Youth Committee
Ceva Courtemanche heads up our subcommittee that works to help young people who are in or who have recently “graduated” from the foster youth system. (Several of these young people have expressed a dislike for the term “foster youth”, so hereafter, this article will not refer to them in that way.)

The group hosted a “Meet and Greet” on Friday, November 7th. Ceva told us that about 15 young people attended the event. “Some of them are at HSU,” she said, “some of them are homeless, some of them are part of the foster program – in the foster system.”

Ceva said that her assistant manager from Hensel’s Hardware (Rachel) spoke, frankly discussing her difficult youth. After the event, several of the young people in attendance told Ceva that telling their stories might help others, and they expressed their desire to be involved in the program.

The Rotarians earned the trust of the young people quickly, she said, because we are not part of the system and we provide a different type of opportunity. We are asking them what we can do to make a real difference in their lives, rather than presenting a ready-made “solution”. 

The next phase will be a Roundtable discussion to be held on Friday, January 9th, 2015. It is scheduled to take place at the Samoa Women’s Club, starting at 5 pm. We will team up with Humboldt Live! for the event, which will be similar to the discussions that organization holds for high school and junior high school students. However, this event will be focus on the needs of this specific population. 

The roundtable is expected to generate a list of needs. As Sunrisers, we will be expected to meet the needs that we can – providing guidance to young people in a panel setting or in one-on-one sessions, helping with connections. 

The current plan is for the Roundtable to generate a framework for a 12-week program of workshops to help these young people lead productive, meaningful, happy lives.