MAY BEGINS at WVRC - the 5th, Cinco de Mayo
Does $70,000 get your attention? Well, I hope so, because that is what PP JIM COLLINS is donating to WVRC as his “Thanks” to Westwood Village Rotary Club.
As you know, the COLLINS entity was bought out by an Australian Firm and JIM has once again demonstrated his generosity and support of our Club. Thank you, JIM.
ELLIOTT TURNER led the Pledge and a minor caution here. All of us who listen are aware that when PP ERIC LOBERG is allowed the floor, what comes out is sometimes edifying, but always provocative. Sir Elliott fits this same mold, so I suggest you give him your fullest, when he is up there, OK? LENNIE FRIEDMAN and PP JIM DOWNIE took us through You’re a Grand Old Flag always well done. RAY ZICKFELD provided the Invocation, which was built around our planned speaker. She had to postpone, but RAY’S thoughts were solid as usual. He suggested we plant 4 rows of Ps. 3 of squash, 4 of lettuce, ending with several turnips turning up with volunteer work, with a smile, and with determination. Thank you, RAY.
CLARK McQUAY introduced our Visiting Rotarian . She was Gail Wahl, from Coos Bay, Oregon. Dr. Wahl is a Psychologist. Our two Rotaractors both brought their Mothers. Terry Hettinger and Tori live in El Segundo, while Candice Daneshvar and her Mother, Sunny, reside in Brentwood. PP TOM LENEHEN was with us once again, and he was warmly applauded. SHANE WAARBROEK, doing what ALL of us should be doing, brought a Special Guest Steve Gamber, an attorney from Santa Monica.
Appropriately enough, SHANE then announced our upcoming New Members Dinner.
This will be Thursday the 19th of May, at 7 pm I would urge you to attend, and I think you’ll learn a lot about WVRC, plus visiting with other ‘newcomers’. PP STEVE SCHERER REMINDED US THAT THE Golf Tournament will be this coming Monday, the 9th, starting at 0730 at Los Angeles Country Club. There was some discussion of appropriate attire, and the real payoff will be before our Speaker comes on next Thursday when the prizes will be distributed. While I don’t want this to be taken too literally, minor bribes may be considered in some tight contests stay tuned! Don Nelson spoke about the upcoming Demotion which will take place on June 25th, just three days after the Chicago Convention ends. He then shocked YOE by noting that “the bulk of our members do not read the Windmill” which brought forth cries of anguish from your ever-faithful YOE. While YOE did insert a request in the WM two weeks ago asking that those going to Chicago to tell DON if they were going, events planned to attend, arrival and departure times so he can coordinate this information and disburse it to the Chicago participants the only replier so far is the often maligned YOE! So get with it we can have a lot more fun if we know who is doing what, so tell DON, ok?
In a relatively novel idea, Senor RUDY suggested a motion to Impeach himself. At the District Conference, we got two Awards of Excellence. One was for PP STEVE DAY because of his long service to the Foundation, and the other was a General Award. In addition, we got three awards for Merit Youth Programs, Membership Attendance, and our Coffee Klatches. While this wasn’t very impressive as compared to previous District Conferences, I then announced that when I was President in 1968, we didn’t get ANY awards. So RUDY didn’t need to put himself on the Block, and for thus saving him, I will expect the usual payments and perquisites.
May birthdays were next. BURLEIGH ARNOLD led off, arriving on the 12th in Lewiston, which I realize you all know is in Missouri. SALLY BRANT chose the 14th, in good old LA. ELEANOR MORE came along the next day, in Urbana, IL.
PP HOWIE HENKES elected the 16th, in Vincennes, Indiana. REGINA HERRICK checked in on the 26th, in LA, and GEORGE COX ended the whole business by arriving in Westmoreland, CA on the 27th. Happy Birthday was sung, although only SALLY and HOWIE were actually with us today.
LEE DUNAYER introduced our Speaker, Christina Kokako. Christina did us a real favor by taking the place of our scheduled Speaker, who became ill just today. Christina and todays scheduled Speaker co-founded Changing Perceptions, and Christina took over the whole responsibility when her partner had to withdraw. The organization provides Theatre by the blind and physically handicapped.
Their operation began six years ago at the Braille Institute. They gathered a very small group of blind students, and began talking about live theatre. These students, ranging in age from 19 up to 92 (!) met once a week and three of them, when the program started, did not speak, at all. They persisted in their efforts and lo and behold, all three of the formerly dumb students eventually began to talk. One of them has since made a couple of radio commercials! As the program developed, the leaders learned that although it appears, sometimes, that the students were asleep, that was not the case and when they became verbal, you can image what a great thrill it was for their teachers.
Not too long after they began, they opened up the program to those with physical disabilities, as well as those who were visually handicapped. This, too, met a need, and their classes expanded. They gave their first public performance in 2000, and now appear before groups on an increasing schedule. Among their objectives is to demonstrate to the general public that handicapped persons can perform many useful and important activities. This can lead to employment, which is a major goal.
Their performing group has a dance section, and they schedule events as demand exists. After a performance, the participants are encouraged to mix with the audience, and this has been a very useful method of showing the general public how adjusted and competent the performers can be. Surveys have shown that this can lead to a major increase in knowledge about what persons with disabilities can do, and even can lead to employment. They have been able to draw staff from the LA Opera, Pantages (the Lion King) and this helps to make the shows more professional. They will have three weekend performances starting June 4th at the LA Design Center. Christina Kokubo can be reached at (323) 660-4607, and their office is at 11271 Ventura Blvd #455, Studio City, 91604.
Q&A I asked how many students they have had. Since 1999, over 150 students have passed through their programs. The theatre company is about a dozen people. DON NELSON, Are you affiliated with the Braille Institute? No, that’s where we started, but we now operate independently. Someone asked how many of their students would use a guide dog. They had one, but when the dog died, the owner was so upset he didn’t get another. Most of their students are not entirely blind. What is the source of your funding? They are a 501 C 3 corporation and thus depend upon donation support. They have a number of Corporate supporters. What is your annual budget about $200,000, and it is run by volunteer staff. Their scripts are both in Braille and large print. Christina Kokubo, Thank You for stepping in on short notice, and your message was excellent.