Volume XIII, Issue 27: February 5, 2016

Coming Distractions … 
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

  • Sunriser Spouse (and Southwest Eureka Rotarian) Marty Lay recently retired from SHN Consulting Engineers, and Terri Clark told us about it as President Howard shared some photos. Although he retired in December, they delayed the Marty Party until the previous week. The “Most Patient Man In The World” didn’t want anyone making a fuss, but his co-workers did dress in Hawaiian attire, and they managed to sign a photo of him to help see him off.
  • Please let President Howard know if you’re interested in traveling to Costa Rica to the La Trinidad project site. The final details are being nailed down, and you won’t want to be left out. Our group will be meeting with members of the San Jose Noreste Rotary and other local leaders of this microcredit program. Howard said that there will be opportunities for hands-on work while you’re there, and if now is not a good time for you, there will be additional trips.
  • Susan Jansson asked us to get with our groups and finalize our Live Auction items for the Spring Fundraiser. We also need to sell tables to fill the house. And if you’re interested in exercising your design abilities, we do need someone to head up the Decorations Crew. 
  • Randy Mendosa and Steve McHaney said that their daughters (Janie and Zhanna, respectively) will be performing throughout the area this weekend, as the ARMACK Orchestra and the AHS Madrigal Choir provide their annual Valentunes fundraiser. The dates available are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (February 11-13). Contact Randy or Steve to place your order now!
  •  Craig Newman reported that four members of the two local Rotaract Clubs were in Bangladesh last week, working on the District 5130 Rotaplast Project. Rotaplast is the Rotary program that helps treat boys and girls born with cleft lip or cleft palate or have other deformities. The four volunteers are Cori Busher of Mad River Rotaract, and Carly Robbins, Royce Buell, and Jamie Carroll of Lost Coast Rotaract. Thanks to this quartet for stepping up and helping these young Bangladeshis.
  • The AHS Interact Club was thanked by the City of Fortuna’s Humboldt Ice Rink for their cool heads. Interactors were volunteering at the rink when a skater suffered an injury recently. They helped evacuate the ice as emergency personnel were tending to the skater, and they helped clean up and restore order after the crisis.
  • Members of the Interact Club were also on hand for our meeting to discuss the Safe and Sober Graduation Party. The event committee will be holding a fundraiser on March 18th – a Casino Night and Silent Auction. The event will be held at the Sapphire Palace in Blue Lake, and they are seeking donations of auction items and/or financial contributions. Our Financial Assistance Committee will review the request for a contribution. If you would like to donate an auction item, Craig Newman can put you in touch with the appropriate people.

Organ & Tissue Donation
Our Featured Speaker, Katie Wiens, grew up in Fremont, California. Katie worked as a Finance Assistant in the corporate office for Orchard Supply Hardware, then she worked for several years for the City of Fremont. She moved to Butte County to pursue a Masters Degree in counseling. It was there that she met her husband David. The couple moved to western New York, where she worked as a counselor. 

Katie Wiens

Katie’s health declined, and they moved to Humboldt County – halfway between family in the Bay Area and family in Oregon. Katie and David have lived in McKinleyville for eight years, and Katie volunteers with Hospice of Humboldt and the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, and she is a member of the local Mormon Church. As an Ambassador for Donor Network West, she helps spread the word about the benefits of organ donations and transplants.

Katie told us that she is a heart transplant recipient. “I received my second chance at life,” she said, “on July 2, 2014 at Stanford Hospital.” She had been diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy in 1993. She said that her health from that point was “like a roller coaster”. She experienced a steady decline, punctuated by medical interventions that would improve her health temporarily. She was placed on the transplant list in May 2013. 

“Waiting on the transplant list,” Katie told us, “was very difficult – for me, for my family, and for my friends, as they saw me decline even further.” She had to come to terms with the wait. “You never know day to day if you are going to get that call. You never know if that day you’re going to wake up.” She said that she reached a point where “I just gave my life over to the Lord, and I just had to let go of that stress of not knowing what’s going to happen”. She stayed in touch with family and friends by phone. When she became so oxygen-deprived that speaking was difficult, they would text. “It was a very difficult time,” she said. 

While Katie and her family were waiting for the call, they knew that they would need to live in the Bay Area for three months at some point. Their van was filled with supplies they would need for the stay, and they were ready. Katie worked out a signal with David – a “911” text meant that he needed to get home. When the call came, Katie told us, it was such a shock, that “the surgeon on the other end had to remind me, ‘Breathe … breathe’.” There was plenty of time to drive the six hours to Stanford, and to send the “911” text.

Before the transplant, Katie could walk about 15 feet (“from my recliner to the couch”). Her skin appeared gray, and her lips were blue. Following the transplant, she was able to take a deep breath without gasping. “I couldn’t even remember the last time I could breathe deeply.” Upon seeing her after the surgery, David’s first words were, “My gosh! You’re pink!” Katie said that they still cry every time they think about that moment.

Eight days following the surgery, Katie was discharged, “which was unheard of,” she noted. Usually, that would take 14 days, but she was doing so well that the doctors were afraid she might catch something. After a month, she was walking two miles per day, and after three months, she was walking six to eight miles each day. When she returned home, she decided to sign up for a race. Although she wouldn’t be able to run (due to two knee replacements), she entered the Arcata Bottoms 5K, and she finished, “and I wasn’t last,” she said. “I was 85th out of 94, with a record of 51 minutes and 43 seconds.”

“I couldn’t have done that without the donor,” Katie said, choking up. “Because my donor said ‘Yes’ when asked to be a donor, to register for donation. Because he said ‘Yes’, I’m here today.” Katie’s doctors had doubts that she would survive as long as she did, but her tenacity and the donor’s generosity allowed her to make it. 

We then watched this video on organ donation and transplantation from the organdonor.gov website:

Katie told us that, although that is a good website, she recommends that we visit donatelifecalifornia.org to register to donate organs and tissue, or to learn more. Katie is registered as a donor, and she encouraged us to think about it, and to discuss it with our families. 

Lori Breyer recognized Randy Mendosa, noting that he has “been in our Club for quite a long time”. He joined when Harry Johnson was Club President, “after attending numerous breakfast meetings”. Randy served two terms on our Board of Directors, and he has chaired or co-chaired many Club Committees, and he currently chairs the Financial Assistance Committee. He is also a two-time Paul Harris Fellow.

Randy was born in Fort Bragg, California, and his childhood home is near the Mendocino Headlands. It has been in his family for most of its 105-year existence, and Randy’s father still lives there. Randy’s grandfather was one of the Brothers Mendosa who founded the store bearing that name in Mendocino in 1909. As Randy grew up, activities and dinner table discussion revolved around “The Store”. One Thanksgiving, the store ran out of turkey, and his father sold the bird that had been scheduled to appear on the Mendosa family table that year. The family no longer owns the business, and it is now known as Harvest at Mendosa’s.

Randy’s childhood summers involved camping, swimming, and riding bicycles with his brother. The family cabin was located several miles up the Big River Estuary. Randy and his brother would stay at the cabin with his mother and his grandmother, while his father commuted over a dirt road to the store each day. 

Randy’s father was a member of the Mendocino Rotary Club, and Randy said that Rotary was an major presence when he was a child.  The Club sponsored his scout troop, and Randy helped out at fundraisers. Although his father is no longer an active member of the Mendocino Club, they stay in touch with him – their only living Charter Member. 

Randy’s mother and grandmother encouraged him to explore career opportunities that did not involve The Store. From his late teens and into his early twenties, Randy worked as a Park Aide at Russian Gulch and Van Damme State Parks. He also worked at The Store after school and during the winter. 

His experience at the parks led him to want to pursue a career as a Park Ranger. This led him to take classes at College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State. He took Emergency Medical Technician classes, where he was told that to be a good EMT, he should work for an ambulance company. He signed on with Arcata Ambulance.

In 1979, the Arcata Police needed a few additional members for their softball team, so they invited Randy and other Arcata Ambulance employees to take the field with them. He was impressed with the members of the department he met, and this led him to sign up as a Reserve Police Officer in 1980. This began Randy’s 34-year association with the City of Arcata. From 1980 to 1982, he served as a bus driver for the City in addition to serving as a reserve officer. 

In 1982, he was hired as a Police Officer (thus ending his bus driving career), and in 1988, he was promoted to Sergeant. Another promotion in 1990 boosted him to Lieutenant. In 2002, Randy was named Chief of Police. And from 2010 to his retirement in 2014, Randy served as the Arcata City Manager.

One of his former employees said, “I adore Randy; I loved working for him. He was very good to his staff, and very protective of them. If you were having trouble with someone, he wanted to hear about it, and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. He was also very compassionate with the public, Customer service was highly important to him, and he always treated the citizen-customers with utmost respect, and let them know that we worked for them.”

Although he misses working with his friends and colleagues, Randy doesn’t miss the 60-hour workweeks, and he really doesn’t miss the late-night meetings. He plans to continue working – but shorter hours and short-term projects will be his focus. 
He loves having more time with his wife Lisa and their girls – 16 year old Janie and Marisa, who is 13. He is happy to have the opportunity to help out with their school activities (including this weekend’s Valentunes fundraiser).