Volume XIII, Issue 25: January 22, 2016

Coming Distractions …  
Feb 6 – RISE EVENT – AHS College & Career Center Pancake Breakfast – D Street Neighborhood Center
Feb 28RISE EVENT – RCAS Charter Celebration!
Mar 12The Force Is Strong With This One … Of course! It’s our Spring Fundraiser at the Arcata Community Center (“… I have a very good feeling about this …”
Apr 8-9 – District Training Assembly – Ukiah Fairgrounds
May 6-8 – District 5130 Conference – Marriott Napa Valley Resort & Spa
May 29-June 1 – Rotary International Conference in Seoul, South Korea 

Sunriser Shorts 

  • President Howard noted that the RCAS Roster needs to be updated, and he will be working on that with Club Secretary Kyle Visser. Please let one of them know if your contact information needs to be changed.
  • The Community Service Committee is planning to distribute toothbrushes to families in need. This will take place both through the Backpacks for Kids program, and by making toothbrushes available in the lobbies of local businesses. To help, please contact Carol Vander Meer.
  • Dustin Littlefield noted that the Recognitions Committee will soon complete the long-form individual recognitions that have taken place over the past year and a half. They plan to “change things up a bit”. They will be moving to what Dustin called “Flash Recognitions” – Rotarians can provide news and information about themselves or other Sunrisers via the Recognitions Committee email address (arcs.recognitions@gmail.com). Those who participate will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Paul Harris Fellowship credit. 
  • Jeff Stebbins told us that the AHS College & Career Center Pancake Breakfast needs us – not to serve, but to be served! The event will be held on Saturday, February 6th, from 8 to 11 am at Arcata’s D Street Community Center, and Jeff said that the serving roles are filled, so please show up and have a great breakfast!
  • Dictionaries for Third Graders will be distributed this week – Tuesday through Thursday. Check your email for times and locations. It’s great fun.
  • Saturday, February 27th will be History Day at HSU. Please contact Jeff Stebbins if you can help out as a judge or in another capacity.
  • The following day, our Club will celebrate its birthday. Jessica McKnight said that we will meet in the Plaza View Room at 2 pm, and the Charter Day Party will feature a scavenger hunt on the Plaza. All ages are invited, and members of the Arcata Noon Club will be there as well. We have also reached out to Sunrisers who have left our Club for one reason or another.
  • Susan Jansson said that the first meeting of the Spring Fundraiser Committee (the Sunrise Jedi Council?) was great. “Twenty-two people showed up,” she told us, and they are very enthusiastic. There was a bit of a mutiny regarding Susan’s previous statement that there could only be one person per Star Wars character. She relented, so we may see any number of  Yodas and Obi Wans. Each of the Sunriser prize teams is asked to come up with a live auction item, two silent auction items, and one Dutch raffle item. Please begin snagging those prizes ASAP. And (of course), work on filling the room – tables are $600 for eight people. 

Aloha to the Kahuna
Last Friday was George Cavinta’s last meeting as a regular member of our Club. Kahuna Kavinta served as our Club President for the 2012-2013 Rotary year, and he has been a great leaded for us during that year, and throughout all of his time as a Sunriser. President Howard said that George is “fun-loving, good-humored, a family man, and a community leader”, as he named him as our Rotarian of the Month for January.

There are two areas where George has had the greatest impact. First, he has been a leader in all of our Youth Service activities over the years – heading up Kids, Crabs, and Rotary, working on the AIBT, leading our support of Special Olympics, and coordinating our support for the Little League field renovations. 

The Kahuna and a Friend

Second, he has been a mainstay for all of our recent fundraisers, doing everything that needed to be done, including organizing security, procuring entertainers, and heading up the decorations crews.

George said that he is not leaving entirely, but his recent retirement from the Sheriff’s Department led to a second career with the Feds. Unfortunately, his new position will not permit him to attend our Friday morning meetings, so he will no longer be an active member. 

However, our Board voted to make him an honorary Sunriser, which will allow him to continue as a Rotarian – attending meetings of our Club and other Rotary Clubs, but he is exempt from dues and attendance requirements.

We will miss George at our morning meetings, but we are happy that he will continue to join us for our special events (including our Spring Fundraiser).

The Cal Fresh Contribution
One of the many ways that Humboldt County is unique is that one of the local partners of the CalFresh program is a private business – Sequoia Personnel Services. Our Featured Speaker was Michael Kraft, who coordinates the program for the agency.

Michael has been working in economic development in Humboldt County for over nine years. He was the Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center for

7½ years, and he joined Sequoia Personnel in December 2013, where he built their consulting services division.

Michael explained that CalFresh is our state’s version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, what used to be called Food Stamps. He said that the program has changed in many ways, perhaps most notably in the delivery system. Recipients receive a card that works in a similar fashion to a debit card. It can be used at farmers’ markets in addition to grocery stores. Recipients can also use their benefits to purchase vegetable starts, so they can grow some of their own food. 

Michael Kraft

The word “supplemental” in the program’s title is important, Michael said. “Rightly or wrongly, it is not intended to be the whole food budget for somebody. It’s designed to add to it.”

He told us that the CalFresh card can be used to purchase non-prepared food items. “You can’t buy cigarettes,” Michael said, “you can’t buy paper goods, you can’t buy alcohol.” 

Michael is often asked if a recipient can “game the system”.  He said that it is possible, giving the example of someone buying hamburger for his or her cat, since cat food is not eligible. Although the system is not foolproof, he told us that research shows that only about three percent of the funds spent are wasted or uses fraudulently. 

California ranks next to last (behind Wyoming) in the percentage of people who use the system versus those who are eligible. Michael said that the reasons for that underutilization are not understood. 

Utilization in Humboldt County ranks in the middle among California counties, and Michael said that the figure is climbing. He noted that before the beginning of the recent recession, Humboldt County returned a lot of unused CalFresh funds to the state. Those funds cannot be used for other purposes, so they were lost. The County decided to promote the program more aggressively through community partners, including Food for People, the California Center for Rural Policy, and other agencies. In addition, they partnered with Sequoia Personnel – the only for-profit outreach partner in the state system. 

One reason Sequoia Personnel agreed to the partnership is because they deal with both employers and job seekers. Since the prospective employees are out of work, they often qualify for the program. Michael also lets the employers know that their current employees may be eligible for the program as well. 

Michael said that another reason Sequoia Personnel is involved is because they are paid to participate and to promote the program. “But our former boss, Liana Simpson, would not have gotten into this just to take some government money,” he said. “She is very much a champion of working people – our company has that in our DNA – and giving people a hand up as they are working, we’re all about that.”

Michael also said that employers who refer their employees to the CalFresh program are seeing improvement in their retention levels. People who may have felt the need to move to another employer seem more inclined to stay if the pressure to make ends meet is eased a bit. 

Michael also reminded us that higher local utilization levels equals more money flowing into the local economy. There is a real economic benefit to the community. He said that they try to make it easy to apply, and that potential recipients are welcome to contact him at 445-9641, or they can begin the application process online at www.c4yourself.com.

Sophia’s Stories
Rotary Exchange Student Sophia Waern-Bugge told us that she has been working on the AHS Spring Musical lately. “I don’t have a very big role,” she said. But we’ll look forward to seeing her onstage. She said that they will be staging “Chicago”in either March or April. (Sophia thinks it’s April. It will hit the Spirit’s “Coming Distractions” soon, probably as a RISE Event!)

Other than that, Sophia has been busy with school and with her friends. “It was a good week,” she said. “Every week is good.” She said that finals are going well, although that is a new experience for her. “I don’t have finals at home.” She also encountered President Howard at what he called “a fashionable coffee house” recently.