Major Cramer, UCLA ROTC
Our Ambassadorial Scholar on trip to Mexico
Elliott Turner & Friends
Mortages - Part II
League of Women Voters on November Propositions
WVRC-Auxiliary Summer Picnic, Eloise Siskel's home
District Breakfast - LAX Westin Hotel
Paul Harris Celebration, Medieval Times
Joint Meeting with Santa Monica Rotary Club
CHALLENGERS CLUB REPORT plus JAPAN, at WVRC on August 14th.
ED WRIGHT started us off with the Pledge. Rabbi Rick Kellner of Temple Isaiah was visiting, and he gave the Invocation. “As we look out to the world…we see reports of violence taking place… This week many of us have been witness to the remarkable events that are taking place during the Olympic Games…Every athlete, win or lose, who leaves at the end of the fortnight are champions, they are heroes to their families, and they are heroes to their nations and the world…As we gather together today…may we all learn from that unity to find contentment in our hearts, joy in our community and peace in our world” Thank you, Rabbi Kellner one might think you have spoken of these topics before! LENNY came forward, and after some momentary confusion about whether or not we should stand, we launched into God Bless America.
There were a number of guests. Our two Special Guests were Rick and Marcia Brous, who belong to a Rotary Club in New Jersey but are relocating out here. They still are requesting Makeup slips, which is an indication that they take membership seriously.
SUNNY was of course with LENNY, and MARIE ROLF joined us she had three items for the Silent Auction at the Paul Harris Dinner. NICK KAHRILAS brought his Mother.
And while not strictly a Visiting Rotarian, we did welcome back STEVE LORE. PP JIM COLLINS had so many guests we couldn’t keep track of them all, but CAROL was there, along with daughter KATHY HESSION, granddaughter Natalie Hession and several visitors from the Venice Boys and Girls Club. PP STEVE DAY’S son, Jeff was present. And I’m pleased to report that we ran out of space to sign the birthday card for DAN PRICE.
MARK BLOCK had two reminders for us. Our Rotary Family Picnic will be at ELOISE SISKEL’S on Sunday, Sept 21st save that date! The Paul Harris Celebration will be on another Sunday, October 12th, starting at 3pm. It will be at Medieval Times in Orange County. Cost is $60 for adults and $30 for kids, and it will be an entertaining event. Several candidates have been suggested for the Jousting Event you know, it’s like, “Why don’t you and him fight?”
MARK also stood in for ELLIOTT TURNER, with a story attributed to ELLIOTT. Morris died. His will provided $50,000 for an elaborate funeral. As the last attendees left, Morris’s wife Rose turned to her oldest friend Sadie and said, “Well, I’m sure Morris would be pleased.” “I’m sure you’re right,” replied Sadie, who leaned in close to her friend and lowered her voice to a whisper. ”Tell me, how much did it really cost?" ”All of it”, said Rose, “Fifty Thousand.”
“No!” Sadie exclaimed. I mean, it was very nice, but really…$50,000?” Rose nodded. “The funeral was $6,000. I donated $1,000 to the shul for the Rabbi’s services. The Shiva food and drinks were another $1,000. The rest went for the memorial stone.” Sadie computed quickly, “$42,000 for a memorial stone? Oy vey, how big is it?” “Five and a half carats”.
President SEAN called TOM BARRON and KEVIN BADKOUBEHI forward.
PP STEVE DAY then installed them as Paul Harris Fellows. They were accorded a standing ovation, as they certainly deserved. I had a couple of what you could call personnel Reports. For us old-timers, BRUCE REDMOND has passed away. He and Kay moved to La Jolla when they left WVRC, and BRUCE had been ill for the last four months. He and PP BOB LUSK were inducted on the same day in October 1955, and I think PP BOB can put you in touch with KAY REDMOND. I next reminded everyone that HARLAN LEWIS is still pretty much bedridden. He does, however, have a cell phone, and would love to hear from everyone. His cell phone number is (310) 804-0894. (I first listed it as his cell #, but that didn’t sound right, somehow!)
The Japanese part of the Program began, with Natalie Hession and Jeff Day narrating an excellent slide presentation. They took turns describing what was shown on the screen, and it gave an excellent overview of their four weeks in Japan. They started off with several days of sightseeing, and of course the choices in Japan are wonderful. They visited several temples almost every day, and their accompanying guide was most helpful.
The group took the Bullet Train for an hour’s ride to meet their Rotary hosts. They went to the public baths, of course. Next event was actually meeting their host families. Each family was different, and they both noted how bathroom facilities varied. I remember Jennifer Bennett commenting on her difficulties with the wash machine all the dials were in Japanese, of course! Jeff commented on how much he enjoyed Japanese food and he ate a lot of it. He says he never felt better. At this point, due to time limitations, President SEAN had to ask Natalie and Jeff to stand by afterward for questions. Natalie summarized her own reactions when she said that she felt the Japanese were so humble in showing the visitors their country. She has never felt so welcome.
JR DZUBAK introduced the Challengers Boys and Girls program. He began by saying he had just had a Rotary Moment! He first met Natalie Hession as a young child at UES (the UCLA Elementary School), and now here she is presenting on the same Program as he was. He noted it was particularly poignant since her Mother, Kathy, did this same program almost forty years ago. Our two speakers today are Cory Danzler and Kathleen Felesina. Cory is the President and CEO of Challengers Boys and Girls Club, which was founded by his Dad, Lou Danzler. Cory began working at Challengers when he was 14, and rose through the ranks. In 2003 he was selected for the prestigious Professional of the Year Award by the National Boys Club. When his Dad, Lou, died suddenly of a heart attack in 2006, Cory was able to step forward as his successor. Cory has two young sons, and lives in Altadena.
Kathleen Felesina spoke first, explaining that his intent was to give us some background on the Club and what Cory does there. Kathleen grew up in Los Angeles, and first learned of Challengers in 1991, when a friend called it to her attention. Then, in 1992, after the five-day riots that so shook Los Angeles, she was called by the same friend. “President Bush will be visiting us, and I’m hoping that with your background as a writer, you might handle the media during his visit.” We all remember the devastation and violence that occurred during those riots yet Challengers, located at 51st and Vermont, was not touched. This is directly attributable to the work of the legendary Lou Danzler.
Lou Danzler was born in 1937 in South Carolina, the youngest of 22 children. His father died when he was seven he had been a sharecropper. This dropped the family from poverty to extreme poverty. His Mother was a strong person in her own right, and she planted two attitudes into Lou. First was that you played the hand that was dealt you, and second, that there were others who were struggling just as hard as you were. Lou used to get mad when his Mother, after making stew out of chicken-back bones, would give whatever they didn’t eat to their neighbors who had less than they did. So he grew up as a morally serious young man, settling in South Central LA after some time in the Military. He married Ruby, and they had two kids. Trying to do the best he could for his family, he held, literally, five jobs! He was a graveyard janitor at a Middle School, a photographer, he cut hair, and did Amway, plus having his own gardening route on Saturdays. On this route, he often saw children, and when he stopped, they surrounded his truck, offering to help by pushing his mower, operating the leaf blower he was a true Pied Piper.
Lou asked the kids why they weren’t in the park, playing basketball. ”It’s too far, there’s no one to take us, and besides the gangs won’t let us in.” So he said, “You know what, after I finish up today, I’ll take you guys to the park.” They had so much fun that at the end of the day, they asked him could they bring their friends next time? So he needed to make two trips and the next time after that, four trips were needed. It grew and grew, and by the end of that summer, he had a hundred kids. He was able to get their parents although many were without fathers to help him. In 1968, Vons deeded him an abandoned warehouse for a dollar! So Challengers was born. By 2000, when Kathleen wrote, ”A Place to Go, a Place to Grow”, he was a legend in his own time. He provided a safe place for over 30,000 kids something that was very badly lacking before then.
The book was published in 2006, and taken to their National Convention, selling over 500 copies at that one event. Six weeks after that, Lou died of a massive stroke. Cory, raised by his father, realized that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree everyone can be helped, being there and being consistent was what was needed. So she called Cory to the Podium.
Cory remembers being left at home when he was all of two years old, while his older brother and the Dad went to the Club. He resented it at first. Of course, when he began to earn some money, at fourteen, his attitude began to change. He got a degree in Phys Ed at Cal Poly Pomona, planning on a teaching career. But as he looked at that profession, he started talking to his Dad about working full time at the Club. He soon learned that working for his Dad had extra responsibilities. But he also began to understand why his Dad had worked so hard he made the whole organization better. After dedicating almost forty years of his life to the Club, the organization he had created was a smoothly functioning entity. Parents are required to devote five hours a month to the Club, which is still a rule. Cory is enjoying his role and responsibilities.
Q&A Is tennis part of your program? Yes, we have four tennis courts, and the kids are taught by pros who also teach at country clubs, etc and who volunteer their time. They have a tennis team, and they play reciprocals with some of these clubs. The kids take pride in keeping their place clean. Do you have other educational activities? Yes, this year we started a Charter School two, really, a Lou Danzler Middle and a Lou Danzler High School. The school is on the Challenger campus, and each school has a hundred students in their 6th and 9th grade classes. Since these students are also club members, they can, literally, be at the club from 7:30 in the morning until 7:30 in the evening. They also provide free dental service. Who are your immediate neighbors? We are right in the heart of two active gangs, and they leave us alone. Some of the Challenger Club members are the children of former gang members. And in the neighborhood, it’s common knowledge that Challengers is a place to leave alone. Where did you get the Club name? From his uncle, who suggested it and everyone agreed. Thanks to Challengers, for an excellent program.
Words of wisdom Today I want you to focus on deadlines, so you can enjoy them as they go whistling by!