Volume XIII, Issue 3: July 24, 2015

Coming Soon …

August 6RISE EVENT – Arcata Chamber Mixer at Coast Central Credit Union on Giuntoli Lane

Sept 13: RISE EVENT – “Out of the Darkness” – Arcata Community Walk Against Suicide. 
Sept TBA: RISE EVENT – Welcome Party for Inbound Exchange Student Sophia

Rotarian News
  • Exchange Student Mozara Abdalla was on her way home to Brazil last Friday. Host Mom Julie Vaissade-Elcock said that Mozara had a very good Exchange Year, and she would be missed by all of us.
  • Karen Burgesser’s grandson “Mr. Henry” is on his second round of chemotherapy, and it looks like he will be spending his third birthday in the hospital. We’ll be thinking of him.
Craft Talk

Last Friday, we had our first Craft Talk of the new Rotary Year – Tom Tellez provided his life story (so far). Tom said that he is 55 years old, with a full head of hair, and “I own a bar company”. He noted that those facts do not define him. 

“I am a family man,” he continued, “with two kids.” Those kids are his passion. His son Marco is 21 years old, and his daughter Danielle is 32. Both still live with Tom, and he said their house is filled with laughter. 

Tom said that his father’s family has a European heritage, mostly British and Polish. His mother’s ancestry is Mexican and Spanish. 

Tom was born in Southern California, and his family moved around quite a bit. In 1977, two weeks out of school, Tom joined the Army. He mused, “I don’t know if it’s the smartest thing I ever did, but I did nonetheless.” He was stationed in Panama, part of the Airborne Infantry, and he served from 1977 to 1980. He trained with Special Forces at the School of the Americas. During that time, he was married “to a smoking hot Panamanian woman, and by 1980, I was discharged from both”.

He drifted a bit after that, hitchhiking across the country, “trying to get my life back together, but I screwed up more than I buckled down”.  When he was 23, his daughter Danielle was born. He says, “She’s the best ‘whoops’ a dad could have.” He worked for the National Park Service as a ranger, a firefighter, and an outdoor educator, in locales ranging from Santa Cruz to Pinnacles National Monument.

In 1987, Tom moved to the North Coast to attend Humboldt State University. He planned to live here for a few years, but “in 1990, two things happened,” he told us. “I got married again, and I started with Wallace and Hinz.” When he started with them, he was sanding wood for a bit above minimum wage. As Tom continued school taking a few classes at a time, and Wallace and Hinz started having him help with installs. The new job duties changed his life, allowing Tom to travel all over the world.

When he was 33, his son Marco was born. Two years later, Tom graduated from HSU, receiving “a B.S. in B.S. (Natural Resources)”. By the time he was 36, Tom was a foreman, and from then until 1990, the company was earning record profits. 

Tom Tellez

However, when he turned 40 in 2000, he realized that he was “making someone else a lot of money – it’s time I started doing this on my own”. He left Wallace and Hinz, opening his own installation business. Tom said that they had a lot of fun. “Maybe too much fun,” Tom admitted, since by 2002, Tom’s marriage ended.

In 2004, Wallace and Hinz closed its doors, but later in the year, Tom was able to purchase the company. He credits the counsel of David Hitchcock for his ability to complete the deal. Tom found himself as a full-time parent as well as a full-time businessperson. “And wow,” he said, “it became exciting!” Tom moved the business to Blue Lake, and soon after he purchased the property there, the economy crashed. However, he was able to keep the business going.

And the business always fueled Tom’s passion for travel. He loves going wherever the work takes him, even though he doesn’t always know where that will be. 

Recognizing Charlie

Joyce Hinrichs reminded us last week of how special Sunriser Charlie Jordan is. She informed us that Charlie was born in Upstate New York, and raised in Southern California. She moved to Humboldt County in 1989, and she has been here ever since, and this is where she raised her two children, Kevin and Samantha.

Charlie Jordan (Shamelessly Lifted from Facebook)

Charlie inherited a love of music – especially jazz – from her father, who was a drummer with some of the greats in the 50s and 60s. Charlie was a member of a local all-woman band in the 1990s; the band was called “BB-Queen”. 

She loves to travel, and she’s been to Bangkok, Patagonia, Venice, London, and Cinque Terre in Italy. Charlie also enjoys bicycling, hiking, and long walks on the beach. She has also been involved in the infrastructure of the Kinetic Sculpture Race. 

She has held management positions at many prominent local businesses, including Yakima, Tomas Jewelry, Los Bagels, and now at Mad River Brewing. She originally founded Kinetic Coffee as a fundraiser for the Humboldt Kinetic Association. Now she and her husband Mark Ritz have built the company into a nationally-known brand. 

She is active in Rotary, as you know, but her influence and contributions extend farther. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Arcata Chamber of Commerce. 

Ellen LeBel wrote that her friendship with Charlie began when she accompanied her husband Bruce on a company rafting trip when Bruce and Charlie both worked at Yakima. After the trip, Charlie confided to Ellen that she was not a swimmer, but she was determined to experience the whitewater. Ellen later participated with Charlie in the Kinetic Sculpture Race – first as friendly competitors, then as teammates. Ellen says that “few people are as loyal, reliable, and fun as my friend Charlie”.

Sunriser Susan Jansson told Joyce that there are three things that she especially appreciates about Charlie:

  1. She can put up a tent, build a fire and hang out the food so the bears don’t get it. She can fix anything, and she is someone I would want on my ‘Survivors’ team.
  2. She is a hard worker who can fix and grow businesses.
  3. She is a good friend and Rotarian. When I asked her to help with the Live Auction for the Spring Fundraiser, she said she didn’t have time, and she did a fantastic job!

Joyce then noted that Charlie lost her son Kevin Ebbert in 2012, when he was serving as a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan. She described Kevin as a loving, caring man who shared his mother’s high moral standards and many of her interests. One of the ways Kevin has been remembered include “Kevin’s Climb” – an effort by his fellow SEALS to find a previously unclimbed route up the face of Cyclorama Wall in Kings Canyon. Although the first attempt, in 2013, was unsuccessful, Kevin’s friends succeeded the following year. 

Other memorials for Kevin include a memorial garden in front of the Arcata Chamber of Commerce and the just-announced designation of a one-mile stretch of Highway 101 as the “Kevin R. Ebbert SO1 Navy SEAL Memorial Highway”. Donations are being accepted to fund the commemorative signs.

Thanks, Charlie, for being such an amazing Sunriser, and such an inspiration to us all!

About Redwood Coast Montessori
Our Featured Speakers last week were Bryan Little and Terri Vroman-Little, both with Redwood Coast Montessori. Bryan is the school’s Director, and Terri is the Program and Education Specialist. She also founded the school, which was chartered in 2012. 

Terri provided an overview of Maria Montessori, and the educational philosophy she developed in the first half of the 20th Century. Montessori was born in 1870 in Italy, and she defied the prevailing cultural norms by attending medical school. As the 19th Century waned, she was working with children who were physically and/or mentally disabled. 

In 1907, she was asked to oversee the education of children living in a large apartment building in Rome. The first class at the Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) was about 50 students. As she learned the most effective ways to teach, she realized that three basic concepts were essential:

  • Follow the child
  • Prepare the environment
  • Provide freedom within limits

The Montessori method is based on these ideas, as it also encourages cooperative learning and the use of physical representations of conceptual information. Montessori found that when the materials used by the students are inviting, they engage more fully in the learning process. The curriculum also encompasses a strong emphasis on service, interpersonal skills, and “real world” activities, which help the children develop life skills.

Bryan and Terri

Bryan told us that the school is part of the Arcata Elementary School District, and its mission of the school is “to serve a diverse population of elementary and middle school children (K-8) in the Humboldt County area by providing children with a high quality educational option based on the Montessori method”. 

The school’s complementary Vision Statement reads:

Redwood Coast Montessori maintains as part of its mission a commitment to a specific vision that emphasizes the needs of the child, the community, and the earth.

 The school and its staff are dedicated to fulfilling the school’s mission by providing enriched educational, social, and recreational opportunities for local children and families. They intend to be a good community partner by making efforts to protect and enhance the dune ecosystem, and they are working to build partnerships with local organizations, other schools, and businesses.

Bryan said that the proposed Manila Family Resource Center and the school will complement one another – serving the students and the residents of Manila at many levels. He is confident that the proposed redesign of “Building A” on the grounds of the Manila Community Center will provide space for a number of enriching activities for all ages. (However, Bryan did note that a name change might be in order.) The current plan includes a meeting area, computer stations, library shelves, and office/storage areas. 

Our Club hopes to perform our SWOT magic on Building A and its surroundings this year, helping to create a working space for the Manila Family Resource Center. Bryan, Terri, and their staff are willing to help make it happen, so be ready when the work whistle blows!

World Community Service Update
Jim Maher provided an update on the activities of our World Community Service Committee last Friday. He started by recapping last year’s projects – our contribution to the Children’s Surgery Project in Honduras; our assistance to the STEPS program in Botswana and surrounding countries, which trains health care workers to help children overcome clubfoot; the Costa Rica Microcredit Project, with our Rotary and Rotaract partners; the Water Filtration Project in Pakistan’s Swat Valley; and our donation of computers to libraries in Macedonia.

 So what’s on the horizon?

  • A District-wide visit from former students of the Cambodia Academy, which is supported by our Club as well as individual Sunrisers;
  • A visit to the site of our Costa Rica microproject in early 2016;
  • Providing more water pumps and filtration systems to villages in the Swat Valley
  • A potential project in Liberia, working with a former HSU student on curbing ebola.

Jim said that the Committee is also researching other possibilities including assistance for victims of the cyclone in Vanuatu; renovating a school in Buikwe, Uganda; supporting the innovative “The Shoe That Grows” project (see their website for more details); providing more library computers in Macedonia; projects in Nepal, Cuba, Haiti, and/or Afghanistan; and providing fluoridation tablets and other supplies to Mexican children in cooperation with our friends at Project Amigo.