Happy Hats for Kids
Happy Hats for Kids, a non-profit organization located in Torrance, CA. Founded in 1991 by Sheri Schrier after the loss of her brother, mother,father and grandmother to cancer. She saw the physical and emotional trauma caused by hair loss from drugs, as well as unseen wounds; loss of self-esteem, isolation, sadness and fear. As a hat designer and manufacturer it was a natural for Sheri to design a collection of adorable fun hats. Her goal was to help bring smiles back to the precious faces of children suffering with cancer, AIDS and other devastating illnesses and injuries.
Wildlife Way Station
WVRC - Auxiliary Summer Fun Party
Leo Tseng’s Home
Literacy Breakfast, Lawry's
The LA TIMES KURT STREETER at WVRC on July 10th
ED WRIGHT led the Pledge. Then came his Invocation, from John Wesley: Do all the good you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can. A lovely choice, ED Thanks. LENNY then came forward, and noted that our own HENRY TSENG would be 101 this Saturday- so we sang Happy Birthday, Henry!
We had several guests. LENNY of course brought Sunny, and DAVID once again brought his daughter, Jordana. By the way, DAVID, in case you are wondering how I could continue to misidentify Jordana, I of course do this intentionally, just to be sure you are reading my stuff! Hardy Williams is the football coach at Los Angeles High and YOE having attended (but not played at) UniHi, recalls that LA was always our toughest opponent. Hardy was a guest of our Speaker, Kurt Streeter. His other guests were Nadine LeBlanc, who is with Women Against Gun Violence (310) 204-2348, and Corey Dantzler and Kathleen Felesina, both of whom are with Challengers Boys & Girls Club (323) 971-6161.
SHANE WAARBROEK introduced Jim Weaver, who was the founder of Angel Flight. President SEAN chipped in, pointing ou that Jim was the Director of Angels Flight for its first FIFTEEN years, and without him it never would have become viable. He was nicely applauded. STEVE PETTISE brought his wife, Arlene. There were two Visiting Rotarians. Deidre Martinez belongs to the Brentwood Club, and Holmes Osborne III is with the Malibu Club. Having apparently been overwhelmed by announcing that PP JIM COLLINS presented President SEAN with the traditional Briefcase, I was then smartly reminded by none other than PP MIKE NEWMAN that I should mention that Holmes will soon become our Son-in-Law, since he and Jennifer will be married later this year. Gadzooks, what would I do without all this help?
Another Tip of the Chapeau is in order. As just one more example of all the things PP JIM DOWNIE does for WVRC, he has just upgraded the suitcase in which we store various Club materials. This means we won’t need to fear that that very heavy Bell, which starts every meeting, will crush the various other odds and ends inside, for instance. JIM, you are a wonder, and we do appreciate your many helps.
President SEAN next spoke about the new Head-Table setup. This is designed to showcase various members, and so SEAN says once you are up there, you can make any (reasonable) pitch for anything you choose, without being fined. Suiting the action to the word, SEAN then asked DAVE WHITEHEAD if he had anything to say. “I got no business”, which as you might imagine, drew some laughter. SEAN immediately pointed out that one of the Objects of Rotary was to help our fellow members, so “Let’s get DAVE some business!” SEAN next asked ELLIOTT TURNER if he had anything to say. “I do all the loans that DAVE brings in.” He then added, “I have no business.”
Next opportunist was CURT SMITH. He allowed as how he could still write insurance for these guys “as long as the Insurance Comisssioner will let me.” This brought up STEVE PETTISE. SEAN asked him about business, and the answer was that Golden Spike “could meet any of your marketing needs”, for which no fine was decreed. However, SEAN then exhibited a page from Nations Restaurant Business, which showed a photo of STEVE plus some other copy. The question then offered to our members, “Does THIS deserve a fine?” This inquiry brought in many replies, some of which you probably don’t want to hear, but in YOE’s unrelenting effort to deliver the truth and nothing but (or however that goes), it should be here stated that this was NOT an ad, but an Editorial Piece! In view of this monumental difference in status, PLUS having both his Rotary Pin on and MENTIONING Rotary, the alternate fine was apparently dropped. The lone member still standing was PP STEVE DAY. He was speechless as SEAN then read a letter sent to more than one member from a firm named Good, Swartz, Brown & Berns, a Division of J.H. COHN, llp. It appears that the first named firm has merged with the second named firm, thus causing the question, is THIS eligible for a fine? A mitigating factor here is that the aforementioned PP STEVE DAY did not SIGN the letter, although he did state publicly that he had business cards available for those who needed them - but it still somehow metasticized to a hundred buck fine!
Once these weighty matters were so to speak out of the way, President SEAN then further explained other possible fines. SEAN asked us to look around our tables, and rat on those who were not wearing some kind of Rotary insignia. This golden opportunity was not overlooked, amid much merriment, and the miscreants were then assessed five bucks each. Names mentioned included LEE DUNAYER, SHANE WAARBROEK, PEGGY BLOOMFIELD, MARK ROGO, KEVIN KOMATSU and maybe more, but they all either paid in cash or gave their card to SEAN, so full justice was served. A final reminder was issued regarding the imperative of moving from your regular table again, be warned! In a gesture of mercy seldom seen in our world as it now is, the Yearling Table was excused from this need to move. One Yearling per week will be unchained and allowed to mesmerize us on any subject they choose. And in a move unrivaled for its equity, one of our more seasoned members will be stuck opps, that is - placed at the Yearling Table. Where will all this lead?
On an immediate basis, it led to ELLIOTT TURNER. A teacher asked her class, “What do you want out of life?” A little girl in the back volunteered, “All I want out of life is four little animals.” “And what would those animals be?” “A mink on my back, a Jaguar in the garage, a tiger in my bed, and I’ll need a jackass to pay for all this.” The second story was based on a medical exam of an older person. Although the laughter was uproarious, I’ll leave it there.
STEVE PETTISE introduced our Speaker, Kurt Streeter. Kurt graduated from UC Berkeley in 1989, in Political Science, and was co-captain of the Cal Tennis Team. His first newspaper was the Baltimore Sun, reporting on their inner city, particularly crime, police, and transportation. Moving to LA a few years later, he started writing for the Times California section, and the front page. He was asked to become a Columnist in 2007 and now writes for the Sports Section. Kurt has won several writing awards, and was nominated by the Times for a Pulitzer, which is the highest honor a newspaperman can achieve.
He began by telling us how nervous he gets before speaking, even though print deadlines don’t bother him. His intention is to convey the problems in the inner city, and what we as individuals can do to make a difference. Seventeen years ago, after a short time as a tennis pro, he got an internship with a TV Station in Oakland. To pay the rent, he joined Arthur Ashe’s Youth Tennis Foundation. This was a program to teach tennis to inner city kids, and he and a partner soon started a program in Potrero Hills in SFO. The intent was to teach these kids about tennis, something they hardly knew existed.
His own background was entirely middle-class. He grew up in Seattle in a good neighborhood, had two parents, and faced no dangers on city streets. The kids in Potrero Hills, on the other hand, could all be classified as “at risk.”. They came from homes where drugs were everywhere, most of their fathers were in prison, and at least half of the kids he was working with had seen someone shot, sometimes only a few feet away. Remember, these were 13 and 14 year olds how many of us have ever had those experiences?
He learned some life lessons. Coming from his background, he began to understand that he really owed something to those who hadn’t had his advantages. If you have been given all the breaks, this can become a moral imperative. He learned that he can have a real effect on kids, even in as short a time as six months. This was taking him 2 to 3 hours a day which isn’t huge, but it wasn’t like being with them 24 hours a day. And no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to reach all the kids.
He told his story of Boo. This young man was the resident hothead in Potrero Hills, who never quite mastered how to hit a forehand. The first time he met him, Boo stole a bag of tennis balls and started hitting them all over the area. Kurt thinks it took him over two hours to find and retrieve all the balls. During that first month, they had run in after run in Boo probably disrupted every meeting they had. But Kurt persisted, and things got better. By the time he was rotated out, Kurt felt that Boo was going to make it. He promised to work with the new team. When Kurt was able to check on him later, he learned that Boo was in jail he had shot someone. Kurk knew him when he was 12 so this checkup was when Boo was in his early twenties. So, the sad facts are that you cannot help everybody, no matter how hard you try.
Another story was about Erica. She certainly had never played tennis she was shy, and suspicious of strangers. However, she was a splendid athlete, and after six months, she had mastered both her forehand and backhand she was playing points with Kurk! She listened to everything they had to say, and they started talking about schools. She soon went to Marin County today she is a dentist! She was able to enroll in University High School, a private school in SFO, graduated from UC Davis, and took her dentistry at Howard University. That’s what the program is all about seeing the Ericas, and the Boos, and helping many of them. He estimates that for everyone who fails, over a dozen will make it maybe not as well as Erica, but it’s a great feeling to know you were involved.
After working on two documentaries - their subjects were helping in the inner city, and working with Foster Kids he moved into print journalism with the Baltimore Sun. His beat was the inner city, and apparently there is no comparison anywhere with the inner city of Baltimore it is really terrible. Outside of the harbor area, which the tourists see, it is another, very terrible world. His first assignment was the murder of a young girl., and he learned that the family of these victims welcomed him into their homes. He was invited to join a prayer circle, which he did.
When he came to Los Angeles from Baltimore he continued this line of work. That’s when he met Nadine LeBlanc, who had just lost a grandson to gang murder. He continued to keep in touch, and today she has mastered her grief, and is a Board Member of Women Against Gun Violence.. Yes, YOU can call her and YOU can help!
After several years in general reporting, the Editors asked him if he would consider writing a column. It was an entirely new idea to him Knowing his sports background, they suggested his column appear in the Sports Section. At first, he didn’t like the idea he cares a lot more about the inner city kids than about Kobe, for instance. However, YOE has just read the THREE stories he brought with him to our meeting, and it sure looks like a fit to me. I have copies one is about the death of Jamiel Williams, a football player at Los Angeles High. Another is a report on Pete Carroll and his visits to the inner city, and the third concerns Martin Ludlow and his rehabilitation as a volunteer coach.. Just call me, and I’ll get you copies. But be aware - there is a huge risk involved.
YOU MIGHT GET INVOLVED!
Kurt is telling us that we need to help and we can, either by volunteering, donating money or time, or just being with these kids. There is something for every one of us here. Call the Challengers Boys & Girls Club they will take you in. Maybe you could tutor a football player at LA High.
Someone asked what Kurt considers the most important thing he has learned about these inner city kids.
What means the most to them is seeing that you care
A quote from Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Thank you, Kurt Streeter lets start a fire here..