RAY BROWN and STEVE PETTISE at WVRC on October 21st
PP BOB WESSLING gave the Invocation: “Heavenly Father, we give thanks for this opportunity to be together, the challenges we face as a Rotary Club, and the opportunities for service, which we also face. We ask your blessing upon our nation and upon Rotarians throughout the world for the many wonderful things they do. May we continue to serve above self. Bless this food to our use and we to your service. Amen.” Well thought out, BOB thanks.
PP SEAN MCMILLAN came forward to lead the Pledge, preceded by these stories: Irishmen are accused of having the gift of gab, and a lot of lying. With that background, you would have thought in the law profession they would be very successful. But it turns out there wasn’t a bar they could pass. The response to this offering forced SEAN to tell another. A rabbi and an Irish priest were seated together in a railroad car. Soon the priest spoke to the rabbi, knowing his religious scruples, asking if he had ever eaten pork. The rabbi admitted that he had done so once or twice. Then the rabbi said he had a question for the priest and the priest spoke up, saying he knew the rabbi would be asking about the rule of celibacy. The rabbi agreed, and the priest said he had erred a couple of times. Shortly afterward, the rabbi said, it was better than the pork, right? The Pledge followed. And LENNY followed him, requesting we sing This is My Country, which some of us don’t know so good.
May I inject some important health news here, please? SALLY BRANT reminded me that former member SANDY SANDERSON is terribly lonely. She takes him cookies, which he enjoys but he feels very much alone, even though he has around-the- clock caregivers at his home. He doesn’t have any visitors, and you would make his day and your own if you stopped by, calling first. His phone number is (310) 472-2012. SANDY still lives at 780 Teakwood Road in Brentwood and you may remember that JIM DOWNIE used to bring him to Rotary.
And while on the subject, don’t forget that GEORGE COX is still at Arbor View, 1338 20th Street in Santa Monica just north of the intersection with Santa Monica Blvd. It’s probably best to visit in the morning, since he sometimes naps in the afternoon. His wonderful helper, Jane, is there with him and SALLY BRANT also takes HIM cookies. I know PP JIM COLLINS saw him recently, and PEGGY BLOOMFIELD is going over tomorrow. Do stop by, please. Parking, by the way, is down the driveway alongside Arbor View.
We had only two visitors, one being SUNNY who accompanies LENNY. President Elect ED JACKSON brought Ibrahim Naeen as his guest. Our two Special Guests were also present, Athena Jackson and Brian Whitney they will be circularized in this issue. Actually, we did have a Visiting Rotarian - our Speaker was Assistant Governor Ray Brown, from Downey, who is the District Vocational Service Chair. At this point it was determined that LENNY, in addition to bringing SUNNY, did NOT bring his pin, so he coughed up (in a manner of speaking) five bucks to TERRY deSOUSA.
ALY SHOJI presented an excellent report on our Polio Eradication Program. This Sunday, the 24th, is World Polio Day. The Rotary Foundation is offering double Paul Harris Fellow recognition points for online contributions of $100 or more toward the $200 million Challenge to eradicate polio. Last year WVRC donated $1,000 to EndPolioNow, and last night at our Board Meeting, we voted to donate $100 for every member, rounded off to $10,000! This was possible because of the Howard Phillips Memorial Fund, to which his wife, Sally has continued to donate $20,000 each year. And I cannot resist reminding all that WVRC gave $120,000 to the first Polio campaign, starting in the 1980’s. this was $1,000 from each member, and the campaign was chaired by PP HOWIE HENKES.
PAT and PDG ANDY ANDERSON travelled to India to observe the corrective surgery then taking place. The surgeons literally broke the kids legs for those that would crawl in so they could set and heal properly and the ANDERSONS were in the operating room! Note that when we started this campaign, 300,000 kids were coming down with polio EACH YEAR! Last year the number was 1,000. There are four countries where polio is endemic Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nigeria, and vaccinating the last carriers is very tough, since the local witch doctors and imans try to tell the parents that the vaccine will cause sterility. Our partner in this endeavor is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (And, speaking personally, YOE lists this FIRST as to why I am so proud to be a Rotarian). ALY concluded by noting that 10 million children will be paralyzed in the next 40 years if the world fails to eradicate polio. Please consider going to the secure online website if you would like to contribute personally as well.
PP BOB WESSLING came forward willingly to note that his Mother-in-Law, Polly, is having her 101st birthday today. That's nice - but President GORDON levied him a $101 fine for having the audacity to make such a report, or for whatever reason. It doesn't pay to volunteer, sometimes.
PP PETER MORE spoke about the visit next week of several members from the Chinatown Rotary Club, which we visited earlier this year. They had first planned to have perhaps 15 members here, but JANICE DEA is not well, and they want to be sure she can come along next time. Anyway, it will be a fun visit, and their President, Jim Allen will speak, along with a Craft Talk by Dr Colby Smith. The next District Breakfast will be on Tuesday November 9th, starting at their usual early hour.
The speaker will be Father Gregory Boyle, and he really brings a great message. You can book with DON NELSON or GORDON. DWIGHT HEIKKILA announced a Protest March, which will take place THIS Saturday the 23rd, starting at noon at the Federal Bldg. in Westwood. The group will march east on Wilshire to the Presbyterian Church, which is about two blocks east of Westwood Blvd. The purpose is to publicize the abuses of Ugandan children which occur so often during their continuing civil unrest. The Speaker will be a former child soldier, who was forced into service when he was 11 years old! Our own MARSHA HUNT is in charge, and it certainly is a worthwhile cause.
And lest we forget what else happened on this same day in 1520 - October 21st, that is who else but Ferdinand Magellan discovered the gateway to circumnavigating the globe. His three Spanish ships entered the strait later named for him, sailing between the mainland tip of South America and the island of Tierra del Fuego and onward into the Pacific Ocean.
STEVE PETTISE introduced our Speaker, A.G. Ray Brown. Ray was President of Downey Rotary in 2000-01. He was involved with Ambassadorial Scholars from then until 2006. He worked with DG Scot Clifford in 06-07. He is also Vice President of the American Health Center, which is located in Downey. He is also Financial Secretary of his church. Ray, it turns out, is the ONLY Assistant Governor the others are some other kind and Vocational Service is really one of the least understood Avenues of Service.
Ray used a visual screen to help with his presentation. As noted, his area of responsibility is not well defined. There is some information on the R.I. Website, of course. It is important that we adhere to the highest ethical standards, certainly. He will talk about what various clubs are doing. The Wall Street Journal had an article about high ethical standards. As always, the work of our volunteers is important. The Four Way Test always applies here, and it can be demonstrated by the various speech contests that take place over the District.
An important element in Vocational Service is our Member Classification system, since it should show a wide variety of occupations in every club. Historically, that used to be a very hard and fast division, but more recently there are several subdivisions within various occupations, such as attorneys. How they are listed in the Yellow Pages is important did you know there is a Rotary Yellow Pages where you can place a free ad? Again, it’s on the Webpage.
The idea behind helping high school students is that the experience of the Rotarians who volunteer can be passed on to these bright young people. Ray took a group and appointed several of them to specific positions salesman, clerk, CEO, whatever, and once they got into it, everyone enjoyed the learning experience. Local high school principals take to this idea quite easily.
STEVE PETTISE came in at this point, to explain the project we want to introduce at University High. First he provided some discouraging statistics about where the U.S. ranks educationally.
We are 18th in the world in percentage of high school graduates that is, the number finishing compared to the number starting the 9th grade. This amounts to 7,000 dropping out per day.
Only 53% of Hispanic students and 47% of black students graduate. This is measured, by the way, as finishing within a year of the normal 3-year term. More girls graduate than boys. A question here does this take into account those who eventually get their GED? No.
The overall percentage of American students who do not graduate eventually from high school is 12%. A high school dropout, by the way, contributes $60,000 less in taxes than those that complete the course. It is thought that if the male graduation rate could be improved by only 5%, the saving in criminal costs alone would be 4.8 million dollars annually.
At University High, last year they had a 68% graduation rate, which is an improvement from previous years. There are four schools within UniHi which the students can choose Health Services, Communication Art, Business and Finance, and Engineering. The traditional three R’s have now been replaced by Relevance, Relationship, and I couldn’t hear the 3rd. Our goals are to provide two speakers per month per school from Rotary to meet with these students and talk to them about the real world. So far, only Marsha Hunt and Mark Rogo have signed up so we need a lot more help.
Don Nelson pointed out that he had tried this on a slightly different basis earlier, and he finally gave up because the kids were so unruly and discourteous. The answer now is that these students request these schools, and thus they are there on an entirely voluntary basis. In my Reading To Kids experience, it seems to me that when they WANT to do something, or join us voluntarily, the discipline problem is much less.
There is no more school bussing, so some students take the public bus from south central LA all the way to UniHi because their parents believe they can get a better education there than in their own neighborhood. Recently at UniHi they had the Showcase, which was the kickoff for this program to mentor students, and several of our members attended. This is obviously not only a huge problem, but one that cannot be solved in a short time we thank STEVE for taking it on, and ask every member to consider how he or she can help. LEO TSENG was the last to speak, and he agreed that Vocational Service is indeed ill-defined. He also thanked STEVE for engaging with the problem.