Coming Distractions …
June 18 – RISE EVENT – 26th Arcata Oyster Festival – providing beer to the thirsty
June 24 – We are dark – No Friday Meeting
June 26 – RISE EVENT – Lost Coast Rotaract’s 3rd Annual Softball Tournament at Redwood Fields – 10 am
July 1 – We are dark – No Friday Meeting
July 4 – RISE EVENT – Independence Day on the Plaza – volunteer at the RCAS Family Comfort Station
July 9 – RISE EVENT – Friends of the Dunes’ Sand Sculpture Festival
July 7 – President Susan seizes the gavel!
July 16 – Opening of the World War II Memorial at the California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport – 2 pm
- Before our meeting we were serenaded by Tim Randles on the piano and violinist Rob Diggins.
- President Howard said that this year’s edition of “Kids, Crabs, and Rotary” was another great success! As per tradition, Exchange Student Sophia Waern-Bugge threw out the first pitch – with style!
- Bob and Susan Johnson were recently in Hawaii, visiting their son Aaron. Aaron’s girlfriend, Reese (?), graduated from the University of Hawaii in May, and we learned that she shares her birthday (May 15th) with Bob! After the graduation, Bob and his wife Susan flew to Kauai, where they stayed at an AirBNB location. They hiked the Napali Coast all the way to the waterfall – a difficult four miles.
- President Howard told us that the Interact Club at Arcata High School recently made a donation of over $1,000 to the Rotary Action Group Against Child Slavery. Great work, Interactors!
- Alyson Hunter told us that our Featured Speaker on July 8th will be from the Upward Bound program. That group will be presenting a Career Day later that morning; if you’re interested in participating, please contact Alyson.
Community Service Committee Update
Carol Vander Meer reported on the Community Service Committee’s activities for the year. She started by reminding us that the group identifies local projects that both serve our community and provide hands-on opportunities for our members.
This year the committee has led us in the following projects:
- Many Sunrisers participated in September’s Out of the Darkness Walk – Suicide awareness program
- We performed quarterly Adopt a Highway cleanups on Samoa Boulevard
- We provided, packed, and delivered Backpacks For Kids, to which we added dental supplies this year
- We began renovation of “Little House A” at the Manila Family Resource Center; the project will continue in the new Rotary Year
- We provided assistance with Food For People’s Letter Carrier Food Drive
- We are laying the groundwork for an upcoming SWOT Project with Humboldt Domestic Violence Shelter
- We are exploring other potential projects that deal with helping Redwood Coast Village, looking at food security issues experienced by some students at HSU, and being part of the Greenview Park development
If you would like to be involved in the selection of projects for the coming year, the Committee will meet at 7:30 on Tuesday, June 21 at the Golden Harvest Cafe.
World Community Service Committee Update
John Gullam provided a wrap-up of the year for the World Community Service Committee. He told us that the group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 am at the Golden Harvest Cafe, although that could change in the new Rotary Year. The projects from the year now ending included these:
- We support a program in Afghanistan that promotes maternal health and family planning. Frederica Aalto visited our Club in August, explaining the need for and scope of the project.
- One of President Howard’s former HSU students told the Committee about a project to provide housing for former child soldiers in Liberia.
- Along with the Rotary Club of Arcata and the Rotary Club of San Jose, Costa Rica and the North Bay Rotaract Club, we are working on a project to provide microcredit loans to the residents of the La Trinidad community.
- We are supporting The Shoe That Grows, a project started by Rotarian Kenton Lee of Nampa, Idaho. We are helping to facilitate delivery of the shoes to children who need them.
- We provided support for the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan, focusing on the area in the Swat Valley where we have previously helped build water projects.
- We plan to begin supporting “Backpacks for the Philippines”, where we will help provide backpacks filled with school supplies to needy young people in that country.
- We also plan to support InspireONE, a program started by a graduate of Arcata High graduate. InspireONE works in Uganda on a number of different projects.
John showed a copy of the guidelines for projects that the Committee will support. The document is available in the Members section of our website.
Julie Vaissade-Elcock’s birthday fell on Mothers Day, “as it often does,” she told us. But it’s also a lot of fun, because her birthday is close to those of her daughter, her favorite cousin, and her favorite aunt, so they all “have a huge party at my Mom’s house”. Julie remembered that she went out to breakfast, did the Atalanta Victory Run with a friend, but other details escaped her last Friday. “I do remember it was a fantastic day,” she told us.
Romi Hitchcock Tinseth did outreach for Humboldt State University for 12 years, but two years ago, she was asked to teach. She is now a full-time Communications faculty member, teaching five sections of Public Speaking “to first term freshmen, primarily”. She provides an introduction to Humboldt, and she said, “I absolutely love it! I also get the summer off, which is … amazing!!”
What’s Happening At Redwood Acres?
Our Featured Speaker was Cindy Bedingfield, the CEO of Redwood Acres. Cindy was born and raised here, but moved to Southern Oregon after she was married. She has been in the fair industry for about 26 years. When the Redwood Acres position became vacant, she took the opportunity to move closer to her aging parents.
“The fair is great, especially for kids,” she told us. “It builds the skills that we need for our community – public speaking, responsibility – the animals have to be taken care of.” Other skills and traits young people develop through their participation in fairs include integrity, honesty, teamwork, and caring for and about others. “The qualities it builds,” Cindy said, “are probably what kept me in the fair industry.”
At Redwood Acres, the fair is about 12% of the $2.7 million annual budget. Cindy is trying to train the public not to call it “Redwood Acres Fairgrounds”, since the facility does so much more. “What Redwood Acres truly is,” she told us, “is the hub of a community. That is what fairs were created for in the beginning.”
The changes at Redwood Acres started with the kitchens. A few businesses that used those kitchens to start up have now opened locations in Arcata – Mia Bella Cupcakes, A Taste of Humboldt Pie, and the Cider Works. They needed retail space to continue to grow, and Redwood Acres wasn’t ready to provide that, so they moved out.
Natural Decadence is based at Redwood Acres, making gluten-free desserts. Not long ago, they needed to expand, so Cindy said, “I took the Poultry Barn – which is like taking your grandmother’s right arm – and turned it into a kitchen.” The building had been used only four days each year, so the change made sense from that standpoint, but it was a difficult adjustment for many. The transformation took place with the help of the Headwaters Fund. The new kitchen houses Ohana Organics in addition to Natural Decadence.
With the growing success of these two businesses, others sought to emulate them. So, Cindy told us, “we turned the Milk Barn – which was another really big trauma – into the Cidery”.
The organization’s mission is to support youth, education, and agriculture. “Every product that is being brought out there,” Cindy said, “has an agricultural tie.” Each of the businesses are required to offer educational tours if requested. The facility hosts 15 businesses currently.
A community garden is already in place, courtesy of a SNAP Grant from the USDA. This will soon be followed by (and connected to) a nature school, which is currently under construction. One of the goals is to help young people understand where their food comes from. They are also taught the differences between pets and livestock.
Over 700 events take place at Redwood Acres each year, and over 40,000 people visit the site, between the races, baseball games, flea markets, and other events. This activity adds about $3 million per year into the local economy.
Cindy invited all of us to come out and take a tour to see firsthand all of the exciting activity taking place. If you have an idea for some of the 20 or so acres that haven’t yet been developed, she will listen.
Is It Jazz? I Don’t Know, But It’s Great!
Our live musicians, Tim Randles and Rob Diggins, entertained us a second time last Friday. Here’s the video to close this issue of the Sunrise Spirit: