Volume XIII, Issue 29: February 19, 2016

Coming Distractions … 
Feb 28RISE EVENT – RCAS Birthday Celebration – 2 to 5 pm in the Plaza View Room!
Mar 12RISE EVENTThe Force Is Strong With This One … Our Spring Fundraiser at the Arcata Community Center!
April ? – RISE EVENT – Rotaract Color Run – More info to follow …
Apr 8-9 – District Training Assembly – Ukiah Fairgrounds
May 6-8 – RISE EVENT -Arts Arcata
May 6-8 – District 5130 Conference – Marriott Napa Valley Resort & Spa
May 29-June 1 – Rotary International Conference in Seoul, South Korea 
June 18 – RISE EVENT – 26th Arcata Oyster Festival
July 4 –  RISE EVENT – Independence Day RCAS Family Comfort Station

Sunriser Shorts

  • President Howard shared some travel photos from our Sunriser Family to start last Friday’s show. We first saw images from Thailand, courtesy of Gregg Foster and Emily Jacobs. Then we were treated to pictures taken in Tasmania by our First Lady, Rebecca Stauffer. 
  • Food Update  Scott Heller reported that the recent trial changes to our breakfast menu were not favorably received. So we will enter a new phase of the trial – we will receive a “Final Friday” style breakfast each week. The total cost to the Club will be $15 per person, but we will only charge $12 each. The Club will “eat” the additional $3 for now. We will still be charged the full price of $15 on Final Fridays. We will try this for the next 2 to 3 months. 
  • We hope that you’re planning to attend this Sunday’s Sunrise Charter Day Celebration (2 to 5 pm at the Plaza View Room). Romi and Jessica have been working hard to put this together and make it an F-U-N event! Please come, and let Romi know as soon as you can. It promises to be loads of fun for all ages!
  • President Howard said that only four people have filled out the application to travel to Costa Rica this spring. The journey will include 4 days in La Trinidad – the site of the microcredit project sponsored by our Club, the Arcata Noon Rotary, the Club Rotario San Jose Noreste, and the North Bay Rotaract Club. There will also be optional tours before and after, traveling through the rainforest and touring active volcanoes. Please contact Howard right away if you want to join the group.
  • Spring Fundraiser Update  Sales and items for the Live Auction were foremost on the agenda last week. About half of the tables remained unsold, so please get the word out. Individuals who would like to attend are encouraged to buy a ticket on the Arcata Sunrise website. Also, Bob Johnson will be filling in as the Live Auction contact, since Scott Heller will be unavailable (although he will return to us in time for the Big Event).
  • You are encouraged to attend the District 5130 Assembly at the Ukiah Fairgrounds. Friday, April 8, District Governor-Elect Wulff Reinhold will host a “Chuck Wagon Dinner & Celebration”, with a no-host social beginning at 6 pm. The next morning, the District Assembly begins, with breakfast at 8 am, and breakout sessions from 9 am. The luncheon session will feature a presentation by Liz Gore, an executive with Dell Computers, and Chair of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council. 

Connecting With Macedonia
Our Featured Speaker was Karen Sack, who discussed the experiences she had with her husband Gary while they served as Peace Corps volunteers in Macedonia from the fall of 2013 through last November. Karen noted that the goal of the Peace Corps is to promote world peace and friendship – an objective that fits well with those of Rotary.

Karen told us that Macedonia is a very small country in southeastern Europe. It is roughly the size of Maryland, with a population of about 2 million. It borders Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece. About a quarter of its population lives in the capital city of Skopje. Karen and Gary lived in the small village of Zrnovci, in the Kočani valley, about 100 kilometers east of Skopke.

Zrnovci is at the foot of the mountain of Plačkovica, which rises over 5700 feet above the valley floor. Karen said that most residents are elderly, and many of the homes in the area have been built and remodeled over many years. 

The recent influx of refugees from the Middle East has impacted the Macedonian economy, adding to an already high unemployment rate. Karen told us that many Macedonians are employed outside the country, and the competition for unskilled work is likely to make things difficult for transient Macedonian laborers.

Karen said that Zrnovci and other Macedonian villages grow red peppers, which are made into a local delicacy – avjar. This is a relish made from roasted peppers, with oil and salt. It is sometimes known as “Macedonian vegetable caviar”. Avjar is “equivalent to peanut butter in the United States,” Karen said, and it is spread onto bread. 

We also learned that Zrnovci is famous for its leeks. “In November,” Karen told us, “Zrnovci just reeks of leeks.” The leeks are prepared, then loaded onto wagons drawn by horses or oxen to be sold at market. And across the valley from Zrnovci is the town of Kočani, which is noted for its rice. But Kočani is a modern town, with a population of about 38,000. The route between Zrnovci and Kočani is about 8 kilometers, or roughly 5 miles, and it includes a bridge which is in a state of disrepair. Bus travelers between the towns must disembark on one side, walk across the “Doomed Bridge”, and board a bus on the other side to continue their journey. Efforts by the authorities to block private vehicles from crossing the dangerous bridge have met with limited success.

Karen Sack

Karen said that Macedonia remains quite poor. Companies based in foreign countries (including the United States) have built factories in the country, which provide some employment. Unfortunately, the going wage rate is very low. The result is a very low standard of living. And the situation is particularly bleak for young people. While the general unemployment rate is 28%, the rate for youth is 50%. 

Karen worked with local organizations during her time in Macedonia. Among these were Mobility Kočani, EVS (European Voluntary Service) and Turkish volunteers and Crisis Management Center, the Kočani Public Hospital, and the Kočani Public Library. During her time helping the disabled with Mobility Kočani, the local Rotary Club rebuilt part of the organization’s Club House, installing accessible restrooms. The Kočani Rotary Club was chartered in 2013, and its 27 members are very active. They would like to partner with our Club to provide wheelchair ramps for public facilities.

The Kočani Public Library had several older computers that were not well-equipped for the internet and newer programs. Since computer literacy is expected of workers, the locals were at a disadvantage. Our Club partnered with the Rotary Club of Kočani to provide updated equipment for library patrons. Karen said that residents young and old are benefiting from the upgrade. She concluded by saying that the people of the Kočani Valley are appreciative of the efforts of the Rotary Clubs of Kočani and Arcata Sunrise.

For more information about the time Karen and Gary spent in Macedonia (and for a bunch of interesting photos), check out their blog:  The Macedonian Connection.

Flash Recognition: The Wizarding World!
Lori Breyer recently recognized Sunriser Randy Mendosa, and something was revealed during her “background check” that wasn’t included in the Recognition, but it intrigued President Howard. 

One of Randy’s former colleagues told Lori that several years ago, Randy attended a conference with his fellow Police Chiefs. Dr. Maureen O’Sullivan of UCSF was working with Paul Ekman on the “Wizards Project”, which studied the abilities of people to detect when someone is lying. Randy tested in the top 5 percent, which meant that he is a Truth Wizard! The project merited an entry in Wikipedia, and Randy said that it came in handy when one of his subordinates might be in a position to stretch the truth. Randy could just remind them, “I’m a Wizard!”