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Ces Butner, President of Rotary Club of Oakland

Call to Order – Ces Butner

President Ces Butner called our 5,318th “Civic Thursday” meeting order and welcomed all of our Zoom guests.

Pres. Ces is coordinating with Danny Wan, Port of Oakland Executive Director, to come back in the future so he can answer the many questions submitted to him that he didn’t have time to address.  Look for a return early next year.

Our club members packed hygiene kits on Saturday, November 14, and delivered them to ten homeless encampments on Monday, November 16, and Wednesday, November 18. Thanks to all who helped pack the kits and deliver them, including the Salvation Army who partnered with us.  The Housing Insecurity Task Force learned a lot during this activity, which will used in the future.

Amani Soliman

Thought for the Day – Amani Soliman

Amani Soliman did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, but has embraced the holiday.  Her Thought for the Day was a wish that Thanksgiving be an international celebration because this holiday crosses all faiths, beliefs and walks of life. We all have a lot to be thankful for.  She hopes everyone has a nice holiday.

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Past President Ed Jellen welcomed Honorary Member and Past President Iris Brody Lopez who was visiting us from Arizona.

Feed the Hungry Day - Kit Packing

Feed the Hungry Day Announcement – David Kittner

Community Service Committee Chair David Kittner announced our annual Feed the Hungry Day will be on Thursday, December 3rd. Our program has been helping people in Oakland for over 30 years.  The funds raised will support a host of organizations that include The Alameda County Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Operation Dignity, St. Vincent de Paul, Harbor House, Oakland Catholic Worker, St. Mary’s Center, Prescott-Joseph Center and the First Presbyterian Church.  Last year we raised $15,000 and hope to raise more this year. David asked Rotarians who want to support Feed the Hungry but won’t be attending the meeting to let Executive Director Pat Williams know of their donation in advance of the December 3rd meeting so they can be included in the bellringing and list of donors.

Marti Burchell

Rotarian Re-Introduction – Marti Burchell

Past President Linda Boessenecker reintroduced Marti Burchell who is a 30-plus year Rotarian.  Marti has lived in many places in the United States, has been involved in many Rotary clubs and has done a lot of volunteering. Most recently she was Executive Director of the USS Potomac Association. She has an impressive career and is very committed to Service Above Self!

Co-chairs of The Rotary Foundation campaign (TRF),

The Rotary Foundation 2020 Campaign

Leann Alameda and Joe Goralka, co-chairs of The Rotary Foundation campaign (TRF), reminded us that over the years we have raised $1.56 million in Rotary Foundation donations. This money ultimately came back to the Rotary Club in the form of grants.  Our Club has applied the funds for 39 global grants in 24 countries.

This year we have a special challenge from President Ces.  If we get 100% participation from club members, President Ces will donate $50,000. Leann hopes we are all inspired to give, so our programs can continue to have such an impact.  You may give as little as $25 and as much as you like.

Past President Peter Sherris earned his Paul Harris Major Donor Level 2 pin. Congratulations Peter and thank you for your generosity!  When asked why he donates Peter commented “It is the perfect way to give money that is tax deductible and it comes back to our club for our programs.”  Peter highlighted a project that has been one of the most successful projects for Rotary International.  He was involved in a project in Ethiopia that provided injectable contraceptives to women to help control family size.

One hundred Rotary #3 members have already donated to the campaign.  Here are some comments from other members on why they give:

Celeste Gordon – “Our donations help sustain the projects”

Harold Lowe – “Rotary saves lives and sustains communities”

Ruth Stroup – “The money comes back to us.  If my brother is not well, I can’t be well”

Joe Goralka – “It gives you an opportunity to do good”

Joe thanked Ces for his generosity with the Challenge and encouraged us all to give.

Master Magician Dennis Kyriakos

Speaker for the Day – Dennis Kyriakos

Steve Nicholls introduced Master Magician Dennis Kyriakos who treated us with his spellbinding magic.  Dennis also gave us some timely tips on how to conduct a Zoom meeting. His tips included: have the right lighting, have a good camera and think about your background.  The height of your lens is very important. It should be at eye level not below you. Also look straight into the camera, not at yourself!

If you would like these tips, go to his website, www.virtualdeceptions and send him an email.  He’ll send you a PDF with all of the details.

Cocktails with the President

Cocktails with the President

President Elect Dudley Thompson announced we will celebrate Thanksgiving at Cocktails with the President, virtually of course, on Tuesday, November 24th at 5:30 pm. 

Join via Zoom at

Meeting ID: 459 769 750

Passcode: 072945

One tap mobile

+16699009128,,459769750# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location

+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 459 769 750

Rotary Golf Tournament on November 18th

Rotary Golf Tournament on November 18th

As the prior day’s storm clouds cleared, 19 Rotarians and guests gathered on Wednesday at Alameda’s Corica Park South Course for the last tournament of the pandemic-shortened 2020 Oakland Rotary golf season.  As is the tradition at the Masters, the first group to tee off was led by golf legends; in this case President Ces and President-Elect Dudley. 

Consistent with the reputation of the Oakland Rotary Club, we were very accommodating hosts, since our guests ran away with our standard contests:

Low Gross:  Scott Baird (Dudley’s guest and prospective ORC member) won with an 85 on a challenging layout.

Low Net:  Mark Heidohrn (Mike’s buddy) won with a net 70.        

Fewest Putts:  Dan Altemus and his guest, Bob Van Nest tied at 31 putts on the fast, humongous greens of Corica.

Each winner will receive a Golf Galaxy gift card as their prize.

The 2021 Rotary golf season will be starting up early in the new year with some exciting venues.  If you would like to receive early notice of upcoming tournaments, or if you have suggestions for different golf contests or venues, please contact “Rotary Golf Czar”, Mike Mowery at

Grant Check to Beyond Emancipation

Rotary Club of Oakland made a grant to Beyond Emancipation to purchase move-in kits of essential items for the transition from foster care to independent living. Laweka Hopkins is accepting the check on behalf of Beyond Emancipation. CJ Hirschfield was the Rotary liaison.


Executive Director Pat Williams announced the following bellringers:

Linda Boessenecker, Peter Sherris, CJ Hirschfield, Stephanie Casenza, Linda Chew, Joe Goralka, Robert Kidd, Lorna Padia Markus, Joycie Mack, Cal Stanley and Rick Draper rang the bell for Marti Burchell.

Marie Saverimuthu rang the bell for the volunteers who packed and distributed hygiene kits to the homeless.

Joe Goralka, Ces Butner and Elida Scola rang the bell in honor of Jack McAboy’s birthday today.

Pat Williams rang the bell for Dudley Thompson and his Zoom wizardry in helping with a friend’s memorial service.


President Ces Butner adjourned another busy meeting at 1:32 pm with his signature comment “that’s the way it went” and the reminder that Rotary Opens Opportunity for Service Above Self as he rang the bell.

Executive Chef Nikki Shaw

Next Meeting, December 3 – Executive Chef Nikki Shaw – Self-Care Essentials to Serve Others

There is no meeting on November 26 in observance of Thanksgiving. Our next meeting will be Thursday, December 3rd. Georgia Richardson announced our speaker will be Executive Chef Nikki Shaw.  She will speak about taking care of ourselves. Self-care is essential in order to serve others. We will learn valuable tips, tricks and tools to help us achieve optimum health and wellness.

Ces Butner, President of Rotary Club of Oakland

Call to Order – Ces Butner

President Ces Butner rang in another rousing “Civic Thursday” meeting of Oakland Rotary, noting it is our 5,317th in 111 years.

Abel Guillen

Thought for the Day – Abel Guillen

Abel Guillen shared a quote from John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

Danny Mai, Novateck

Meeting Sponsor – Danny Mai, Novateck

The meeting was sponsored by Danny Mai, chair of the Business Development Committee and president of Novateck. His company designs and installs hardwired internet, phone, and security cameras for commercial buildings and apartments. The company website address is

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Past President Ed Jellen introduced two guests: Daria Edgerly, guest of Pres. Ces, and Lara Maxey. Several other guests attended.

Rick Draper

Veterans Day Tribute – Rick Draper

A Veteran’s Day message was presented by Rick Draper. He reminded us that our service members take an oath to keep us safe from all enemies. Among the veterans in our club are Wise Allen, Dick Davis, Rick Draper, Wayne Goodroe, Beth Hillman, Cap Lyons, Bryan Morgan, Bob Peltz, Peter Turner and John Weaver. If we have missed any of our Club members who are veterans, please let Pat Williams know ( or 510.451.2120), as the Club is trying to compile a comprehensive list.

Maya Woods-Cadiz

Self Introduction – Maya Woods-Cadiz

Maya Woods-Cadiz gave her three-minute self-introduction to the club. Maya has been serving the community since she was a child. Her family founded Operation Reach to provide food and services for those in need where she first learned about service. Maya received her MA from UC Berkeley. She is proud to be among 30 students who were selected to be Ken Behring Scholars.  Mr. Behring was well known locally as well as nationally for his work with museums.  In addition, he provided wheelchairs to children in third-world countries, often working in partnership with Rotary International.  As CEO and superintendent of American Indian Model Schools, Maya oversees an award-winning program whose graduates go on to four-year institutions of higher education. When meetings resume in person, Maya’s permanent blue badge will be waiting for her.

Jennie Hunsberger

New Member Induction -- Jennie Hunsberger

Pam Claassen introduced new member Jennie Hunsberger, a financial advisor with Next Step Retirement. Two interesting facts about Jennie: she likes walking to and supporting local merchants in the community.  She grew up in Pennsylvania where she enjoyed riding horses, including equestrian jumping events.  Welcome Jennie!

The Rotary Foundation 2020 Campaign

The Rotary Foundation 2020 Campaign

Committee Co-chairs Leann Alameda and Joe Goralka reminded us that during November – Rotary Foundation month -- President Ces is set to contribute $50,000 to The Rotary Foundation if every member of the club makes a gift (starting at $25, any amount is welcome). We are well on our way, but still have further to go.

One of the programs supported by your donation was highlighted by Sandeepa Nayak. A new film, Toilet, is the story of providing sanitation and safety in parts of India by installing toilets. Twenty percent of the population have no sanitary facilities resulting in a lack of safety, especially for women, pollution and the spread of diseases like malaria of which there are three million cases per year.

Celeste Gordon announced that if you prefer to make your Foundation donation online you can go to to set up an account. Setting up an account is important so your gift is credited back to Rotary Club of Oakland. Ultimately every dollar you donate comes back to the club as grant monies to help fund our future projects. Please Give!

Danny Wan

Speaker for the Day -- Danny Wan, Port of Oakland

Past President David Stein introduced our speaker Danny Wan, Executive Director of the Port of Oakland, noting that he received his BA in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and his law degree from UCLA.  Go Bears and Bruins!

Danny Wan gave an overview of the Port of Oakland’s history as well as an update on challenges it is now facing. The Port was founded in 1907 but did not receive funding for its development until the voters approved a bond measure in 1927.  Danny sees “the Port of Oakland as the foundation of the city” providing 84,000 well-paying jobs. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Port faces challenges from competition, the need for investments and space to grow and the demands of social responsibility and regulations. The Port oversees the Seaport, Oakland International Airport, and Jack London Square waterfront buildings. The opening of the Panama Canal expanded competition from many more ports. As a result, our port volume has dropped. It is now the 8th busiest container port in the United States. More than 99% of the containerized goods moving through Northern California pass through the Port of Oakland.

Due to the pandemic, currently we have only 35% of normal market share at Oakland International Airport. The Port is working toward zero emissions by 2030. The demands on our Port due to California’s commitment to minimize pollution gives other ports an edge. Danny pointed out that many of our competitors in other parts of the United States get tax dollars to sustain their operations, while we do not.

“Everyone’s Port” is an educational campaign in progress to explain the Port’s significant contributions to our city.

At the end of Danny’s talk we participated in a short survey to see how much Rotarians know about the Port and how it is structured.  We proved to be well informed.  Many questions came from guests wanting to know more, but the meeting was out of time. The Club is providing the questions to Danny and understand that he will send his responses back. Stay tuned to learn more.

To watch Mr. Danny Wan's video click here.


Cocktails with the President

Past President Carla Betts announced that we will celebrate Thanksgiving at Cocktails with the President, virtually of course, on Tuesday, November 24th at 5:30 pm. Join for conversation and fun. For part of the hour, we will break into groups and have a trivia contest, with prizes for the winning group. The Zoom link is:

Rotary Club of Oakland is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Meeting ID: 459 769 750

Passcode: 072945

One tap mobile

+16699009128,,459769750# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location

 +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

 Meeting ID: 459 769 750


Executive Director Pat Williams announced the following bellringers:

Danny Mai – two bellringers for the Business Development Committee.

Ces Butner, Marie Saverimuthu and Shannon Hackley for our veterans.

Teresa Weyand in memory of her father, Maj. Gen. Eugene S. Korpal, who served in Korea and two tours of duty in Vietnam and in honor of her father-in-law Lt. Gen. Alexander Malqueen Weyand, who served in Korea and Vietnam and received a Purple Heart.

Derreck Johnson – for his great uncle and his step dad, both of whom served this country.

Joycie Mack, whose brother, Raymond Mack was drafted at age 19 and fought in Vietnam.

Bob Breecker rang the bell in honor of his grandson, Leo Noah Breecker, born on November 10.

Isaac Kos-Read rang the bell in honor of Danny Wan and the Port as well as Maya Woods-Cadiz.

Proposed for Membership

The following individual has submitted an application. If no objection is received within five days, the application will be submitted to the Board of Directors for action:

Candace Elder


The East Oakland Collective

MacArthur Boulevard

7800 Oakland, CA 94605

Sponsor: John Claassen


President Ces Butner adjourned another busy meeting at 1:31 pm with his signature comment “that’s the way it went” and the reminder that Rotary Opens Opportunity for Service Above Self as he rang the bell.

Ces Butner, President of Rotary Club of Oakland

Call to Order – Ces Butner

President Ces Butner called the virtual Oakland Rotary Civic Thursday to order and noted it was the club’s 5,316th meeting since its founding. He hoped our time together would be a welcome respite from the post-election activity still in play.

The meeting agenda was unique in focusing on two main topics:  Zoom training and the annual Rotary Foundation campaign.

Ces’s President’s Challenge

President’s Challenge

WOOSAH! Our club’s giving activity has received an amazing boost by Ces’s President’s Challenge to get 100% participation of club members as 2020 donors to The Rotary Foundation. If achieved, Ces will make a generous gift of $50,000 to the Foundation. Thank you, President Ces, Very inspiring indeed! Everyone, get your checkbooks out, or donate online today!

Today, our virtual meeting kicked off the November Annual Fund Drive for The Rotary Foundation, with funds raised going to support important “Service Above Self” projects around the world that are identified and launched by various clubs working together. 

Stephanie Casenza

Thought for the Day – Stephanie Casenza

Stephanie Casenza’s thought for the day was offered in light of the Presidential Election. She recommends we read Getting to Yes, a favorite book that simply states managing an ongoing relationship between two people is more important than the outcome of any negotiation.

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Past President Ed Jellen was sad to report that for the first time in weeks, we had no visiting Rotarians or guests.  He even held up his notepad upon which he writes their names for us to see—it was blank!

Tech Training Breakout Sessions

Communications Committee Co-Chair Isaac Kos-Read and fellow committee members have designed some training presentation on how best to use various social media applications. This first session focused on the Zoom app. You can find this presentation under "Documents" in Clubrunner, and stay tuned for future topics on other social media users. The Rotary District also has a good training session on Zoom available at:

The Communications Committee apologizes for some issues with the breakout room training sessions. If you would like to have a make-up session, contact Isaac or Sandeepa Nayak at or

Committee Co-chair Leann Alameda

The Rotary Foundation 2020 Campaign

Committee Co-chairs Leann Alameda and Joe Goralka introduced this year’s campaign by sharing outcomes from prior campaigns that have provided clean water to emerging communities throughout the world, fought disease with vaccines, helped children receive an education and taught others how to create an enterprise to sustain their families.  New this year along is an additional focus on climate change. Leann also noted that every dollar we donate comes back to the Club for our future use.

Michael Bakal, co-founder of the nonprofit Voces Y Manos

Michael Bakal, Voces Y Manos

This was a good sequel to an inspirational presentation by Michael Bakal, co-founder of the nonprofit Voces Y Manos organization launched in 2010 thanks in part to funding from The Rotary Foundation. A graduate of UC San Diego and former high school science teacher, Michael is a doctoral student at UC Berkeley.

Voces & Manos is currently focusing on providing food access during COVID-19 to individuals and families in various communities within Guatemala. It is also beginning to focus on the impact climate change is having on that Maya Achi culture trying to farm its lands as it has for centuries, but now dealing with the so-called “Dry Corridor” conditions caused by climate change.

Michael is leading a project to find solutions by engaging and empowering youth leadership to help transform their own communities, thanks to support from a new Rotary International Global Grant. Michael is truly an impressive individual who has addressed the club years ago, so it was good to hear what has been accomplished and what new projects are launching with youth engaged and funding made possible by generous Rotarians. Bravo!

Paul Harris Fellows

An important part of Rotary Foundation Month is the opportunity to honor club members who have become Paul Harris Fellows. They include donors who have reached a first-time cumulative giving level of $1,000 as well as those who have reached additional cumulative giving levels of $1,000 each.

Pres. Ces honored the following generous donors were acknowledged: Sean Callum (+1 donor), Steve Blair (+2 donor) and Tom Freeman (+8 donor). They received their new Paul Harris Fellows pins prior to the meeting. Congratulations to all!

The Veterans Community Media Network

Grant to The Veterans Community Media Network

Rotary Club of Oakland made a grant to The Veterans Community Media Network (TVCMN) to purchase equipment and software for production of their videos and upcoming TV show. Georgia Richardson delivered the check on behalf of the Club to Diane Williams, Executive Director of TVCMN. 

High Adventure Hike in Leona Canyon

On the morning of Saturday, November 6, Past President Robert Kidd led a hike in Leona Canyon.  The 18 masked and socially distant hikers had a wonderful time, enjoying the beautiful trail under a glorious blue sky.  


Executive Director Pat Williams announced the following bellringers:

Keith Giron and Joe Goralka rang the bell in honor of Michael Bakal.


President Ces Butner adjourned another busy meeting at 1:30 pm with his signature comment “that’s the way it went” and the reminder that Rotary Opens Opportunity for Service Above Self as he rang the bell.

Danny Wan

Next Meeting, November 12 – Danny Wan, Port of Oakland - Now and in the Future

David Stein announced our meeting will feature Danny Wan, Executive Director of the Port of Oakland. As one of the ten busiest container ports in the U.S., ninety nine percent of containerized goods in Northern California come through the Port. The Airport has become the fourth largest international visitor gateway in California. The port has almost 20 miles of waterfront property as well.

Ces Butner, President of Rotary Club of Oakland

Call to Order – Ces Butner

President Ces Butner called the virtual Oakland Rotary Civic Thursday meeting to order at 12:30 pm noting this is the 5,315th meeting in our 111-year-old history. In order to remain focused, we recited our vision statement: Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change, across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves.

Jack McAboy aka Jack McAboy

Thought for the Day – Clancy the Clown

Clancy the Clown (aka Jack McAboy) shared some Halloween jokes that he wrote in the 5th grade, including this chestnut – “Why do skeletons have low self-esteem? They have nobody to love.” He also shared this thought – As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Past President Ed Jellen welcomed visiting guests Lois Corrin, a friend of CJ Hirschfield and Allison Chen, returning guest of Keith Uriarte. WELCOME!!

David Kersten, Wide Angle Media

Meeting Sponsor - David Kersten, Wide Angle Media

David Kersten, owner of Wide Angle Media (WAM) sponsored the meeting. He began by sharing his gratitude list. He is grateful for the gracious benefactor who made this presentation possible to Oakland Rotary #3, his daughters Kerianne (age 5) and Elvyre (who turns 15 on October 30), the opportunity to do what he loves, and that he no longer works in politics.

By way of background, his parents worked for the California State government their entire careers. His mother was the director of the Senate Office of Research for nearly 20 years and his father was a chief deputy for Legislative Counsel – the attorneys for the California Legislature. He worked in California politics for 20 years until 2018. He has served as a progressive tax reform lobbyist, capital staffer, campaign consultant, adjunct professor of public budgeting at USF School of Management, and primarily as a researcher and public policy consultant, particularly on budget and financial issues for 15 years.

David helps small business owners generate a “quantum leap” in their business by utilizing powerful video marketing and business coaching tools.  He has two weekly live podcasts – Quantum Leap with co-host Cory Nott and the Ripple Effect Live with co-host Erika Gimble. He also hosts live events and speaker presentations on business development issues – there is an event on December 1st from 1-5 pm.

His flagship program and video, Quantam Leap marketing program includes a starter package and ongoing weekly and monthly programs including podcasts, vlogs, mini-documentary and docuseries (i.e. The Ripple Effect, 2020). He assists clients to have a compelling video with engaging storytelling that with evoke a positive emotional reaction. Thank you for hosting the meeting, David.

Kevin Kelley

Self Introduction and Blue Badge - Kevin Kelley

Kevin Kelley gave his self-introduction. He has been a member of Oakland Rotary for two and one-half years. In 2001, he moved from Boston to California. Kevin was a college lacrosse player and created a lacrosse team in Piedmont. In 2004, he began working with Richmond youth and discovered what was possible when children have resources.

In 2012, he formed The Oakland Lacrosse Club with a focus on nutrition, education and leadership. The club partners with 12 Oakland schools to give young people the opportunity to explore a new sport. Participation is free. Three of our Rotarians, Tom Limon, Sean Marx and Harold Lowe, serve on the board of directors. When we resume regular meetings, Kevin will receive his permanent Blue Badge.

Hike in Leona Canyon

High Adventure Hike in Leona Canyon

High Adventure Co-Chair Mark Rosen announced the Rotary Hike in Leona Canyon on November 7th is from 8:45 -11 am. This three-mile, post-election hike will also welcome dogs so bring your (well-behaved) dogs! Attendance is limited. Go to the club website for details and register at

Sheng Thao

New Member Induction - Sheng Thao

Sponsor Keith Uriarte introduced Sheng Thao. Sheng represents District 4 on the Oakland City Council. Her parents were Hmong refugees and she is the 7th of 10 children who grew up in unincorporated Stockton. She is a domestic violence survivor and a single mother, who put herself through college. Sheng’s parents taught her the importance of building community and helping others. It is through this lens that Sheng has charged herself to give back to the community. As a college student at UC Berkeley, she helped establish the Bear Pantry for students with families who could not afford to buy healthy food.  Sheng is the first Hmong woman in California to serve as a city council member. In that role, she fights for transparency, wildfire prevention and addressing homeless and affordable housing crisis and quality of life concerns. President Ces inducted Sheng to our club and discussed the requirements and benefit of being a member where we do Service Above Self. WELCOME!!!

Halloween Mask Contest Winner - Celeste Gordon

Halloween Mask Contest

A “Ghost Judge” reviewed all the Zoom screens during the meeting. Pres. Ces announced the winner, Celeste Gordon, who won a handcrafted pumpkin.

Past President and Chair of the Nominating Committee Sean Marx

Nominating Committee Elections

Past President and Chair of the Nominating Committee Sean Marx told members they have to until 8:00 pm tonight to vote for members of the Nominating Committee via a special web link supplied by Executive Director Pat Williams.  Attendees can cast seven votes, either distributing them among the nominees or giving one person all seven. The Nominating Committee will have its first meeting following next week’s Civic Thursday meeting.

Editor’s note: Members were notified on October 30th the seven elected members are CJ Hirschfield, Robert Kidd, Harold Lowe, Alex Poulsen, Mary Rudser, Diane Schaffer and David Stein.  They will be joined by Past President Peter Sherris and Nominating Committee Chair Sean Marx.

Fellowship via Breakout Rooms

We all took a short break in breakout rooms and enjoyed a semblance of in-person meeting where we enjoyed and engaged in some friendship, fellowship and a spirited discussion in one breakout room about Halloween plans and candy or the lack thereof. Downside – no candy; upside – no weight gain!

Shop Rotary Business Expo

Business Development Expo - November 5

Pres. Ces reminded everyone to register for the Zoom Business Expo on November 5th from 3:00-5:00 pm. Mayor Libby Schaaf will be the keynote speaker. Attendees must register to attend at: .

Jim LeBrecht

Speaker of the Day - Jim LeBrecht

CJ Hirschfield introduced our speaker, Jim LeBrecht, an Oakland based filmmaker, sound designer and disability rights activist. He and Nicole Newnham are co-producers/directors of the film Crip Camp, an award-winning documentary executive-produced by Barack and Michelle Obama. The film tells the story of Jened, a teen summer camp and its impact on the disability rights movement. This year the film won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and just announced this week the film is one of three nominated by the Critic's Choice Association for Best Documentary Feature.

Jim LeBrecht discussed how the East Bay has been the hub of the Disability Rights Movement since the 1960’s. Growing up in Westchester County, New York and like so many others, he was lured to the Bay Area by the siren call of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. He attended the University of California San Diego and moved to Oakland in 1974.  He served as the Berkeley Rep sound director until 1979. In 1975, he attended Camp Jened. Jim felt a sense of belonging in the East Bay – there were many people with disabilities and the community was inclusive.

The Disability Rights Movement and the Independent Living Movement were closely intertwined. The impetus occurred when the Civil Rights movement began inspiring women, seniors and others to claim their rights as citizens. In the late 1960’s UC Berkeley began admitting many students with disabilities and provided accessibility to education, housing and personal assistants if needed. Ed Roberts (1939-1995) was a founder of UC’s Physically Disabled Students Program. This served as the blueprint for Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living (CIL). Mr. LeBrecht shared a story that may well go beyond urban legend. In the early days of the Disability Rights Movement, a group of students went out in the middle of the night with sledgehammers and created curb cuts for wheelchair accessibility.

The Center for Independent Living was a godsend for Mr. LeBrecht. He found a home and people who would build ramps, provide assistive technology and connections to personal aides. He noted that the Bay Area, particularly Berkeley, is a great accessible place because so much of it is flat. He spoke about the advocacy work provided by the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) which has assisted families in obtaining proper placements in education for disabled students and has been ready to litigate if necessary.

Mr. LeBrecht discussed care from the CIL and others in the disability community. When blackouts were occurring, people were provided with generators. He emphasized the strong ties among the disabled community and expressed concern over the Affordable Care Act, which does not factor in pre-existing conditions, while providing him and so many others with necessary insurance. The major concern in the disability community is not to be marginalized and to ensure that all voices are heard.

The film, Crip Camp, is available on Netflix and YouTube. It was released as part of Netflix’s celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The website has some educational materials and conversation starters. He also encouraged business owners to abide by the ADA and make the accommodations because they want to and not because they have to, and he guarantees a change in heart.

To watch his video recording click here.


Executive Director Pat Williams announced the following bellringers:

Keith Uriarte and Lou Rigali rang the bell in honor of our newest Rotarian, Sheng Thao.


President Ces Butner adjourned another busy meeting at 1:30 pm with his signature comment “that’s the way it went” and the reminder that Rotary Opens Opportunity for Service Above Self as he rang the bell two times.

Zoom training

Next Meeting, November 5 - Technology Training and Discussion

Isaac Kos-Read announced our meeting will focus on how to use Zoom and other social media platforms. The need to communicate in new virtual ways has made Zoom a tool many of us use daily.  Not only will the session underscore your expertise with Zoom and other widely used technologies, but be prepared to learn some new techniques to add to your skill set.

Ces Butner, President of Rotary Club of Oakland

Call to Order – Ces Butner

President Ces Butner called our virtual Oakland Rotary Civic Thursday meeting to order at 12:30 pm, noting this is 5,314th meeting in our 111-year old history.

Sam Miller

Thought for the Day – Sam Miller

Sam Miller shared a thought for the day about cherishing democracy. Sam then encouraged us to heed those words and go vote. 

President’s Challenge

President Ces led the members in reciting the club vision and then encouraged everyone to participate in each Rotary campaign, The Rotary Foundation and Oakland Rotary Endowment.  Pres. Ces will donate $50,000 to each if there is 100% participation!

David Gerber – Novus Global

Meeting Sponsor – David Gerber – Novus Global

David Gerber sponsored this week’s meeting.  He is a personal coach with Novus Global.  David outlined how people underestimate their own capacity and there is some tension for most to stay “inside the fence” of their comfort zone.  He shared a personal story about his marriage coach and how he learned about different communication styles.  This led David to a happier marriage and hopes that others will seek a coach to help them become better versions of themselves.

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Past President Ed Jellen announced no visiting Rotarians. Marie Saverimuthu brought four guests.

Jack Iles

Self Introduction and Blue Badge – Jack Iles

Jack Iles gave his three-minute self-introduction.  He is the club’s co-chair of the AV Committee.  Jack grew up in the central valley and moved to the Bay Area graduating from St. Mary’s College.  Go Gaels!  After college, he started working for Otis McAllister and sells grocery goods to boutique grocery stores.  Jack is ecstatic he joined Rotary and is looking forward to in-person meetings soon where he can wear his new permanent blue badge.

Past President Robert Kidd

Rotary Hike in Leona Canyon on November 7

Past President Robert Kidd of The High Adventure Committee announced that on November 7th from 8:45 -11 am there is a Rotary hike in Leona Canyon. This three-mile, post-election hike will also welcome dogs so bring your (well-behaved) dogs! Attendance is limited. Go to the club website for details and register at


Robert Kidd with handcrafted pumpkin

Halloween Mask Contest – October 29

Robert Kidd also announced the Halloween mask contest on October 29th.  Robert encouraged everyone to wear a mask at the virtual Zoom meeting. The winner will get a handcrafted pumpkin. 

Nominating Committee Election Next Week

Past President and Chair of the Nominating Committee Sean Marx announced the club members will vote next week to elect the Nominating Committee. 

Zoom Business Expo

Business Development Expo – November 5

Sean Marx announced the Business Development Committee will have a Zoom Business Expo on November 5th from 3:00-5:00 pm. Mayor Libby Schaaf will be the keynote speaker. You must register to attend at: 

Lee Gelernt

Speaker of the Day – Lee Gelernt

Gary Flaxman introduced our speaker Lee Gelernt.  Lee is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading public interest lawyers.  He has argued cases around the separation of immigrant children at the border and has argued against President Trump’s asylum bans. 

Lee focused on the case around separating immigrant children at the border.  In the fall of 2017, news was reported that immigrant children were being separated from their parents.  In early 2018 those reports were verified and Lee talked to the future lead plaintiff.  This individual asked for asylum at the border and at some point, her six-year-old child was separated from her and sent to Chicago.  Lee and the American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit on her behalf.  The court gave the administration time to reunify the families, but the Federal government had terrible data and made it extremely difficult for the ACLU to help find them. In total, 1,556 children were separated and of those 200 were under the age of five.  To date, at least 500 families have not been found. 

In the Question and Answer period, Club members pointed out that Rotary is an international organization with 35,000 clubs in over 200 countries. The ACLU might get in touch with local Rotary leaders in certain communities throughout Mexico and Central America to see if some of the families they are looking for can be located. 

To watch his video recording please click here.

Get Out The Vote Training on Zoom

Roberta Abel announced that she is available to train members to help get out the vote via Zooom.  Contact Roberta at  for more details. 


Executive Director Pat Williams announced the following bellringers:

  • Sandeepa Nayak and Dudley Thompson rang the bell for Jack Iles.
  • Keith Uriarte rang the bell for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
  • Gary Flaxman and Joycie Mack rang the bell for Lee Gelernt.
  • Marie Saverimuthu rang the bell for the importance in voting.


Proposed for Membership

The following individual has submitted an application. If no objection is received within five days, the application will be submitted to the Board of Directors for action.

Sheng Thao 


City of Oakland, 3727 35th Avenue Oakland, CA 94619

Sponsor: Keith Uriarte


President Ces Butner adjourned another busy meeting at 1:30 pm with his signature comment “that’s the way it went” and the reminder that Rotary Opens Opportunity for Service Above Self.

Jim Lebrecht, Crip Camp Documentary

Next Meeting, October 29 – Jim Lebrecht, Crip Camp Documentary

CJ Hirschfield announced next week’s speaker will be Jim Lebrecht, disability rights activist and co-director of the documentary, Crip Camp.  Crip Camp is a film about the disability rights movement.  The East Bay became a hub of the movement beginning in the 60’s. The film recently won the Audience Award at the Sundance Institute Film Festival. See this film on Netflix.

Ces Butner, President of Rotary Club of Oakland

Call to Order – Ces Butner

President Ces Butner called our virtual Oakland Rotary Civic Thursday meeting to order at 12:28 pm, noting this is the 5,313th meeting in our 111-year old history.

Adam Sbeta

Thought for the Day – Adam Sbeta

Adam Sbeta reminded the Zoom audience that the California Consumer Privacy Act gives consumers control over personal information that businesses collect about them. California consumers have the right to know about the personal information collected, the right to delete personal information collected, the right to opt-out of the sale of personal information, and the right to non-discrimination for exercising their privacy rights.

Tristen Conner, Theory in Practice Acoustics

Meeting Sponsor – Tristen Conner, Theory in Practice Acoustics

TIP Acoustics is an acoustical consulting and engineering company founded by member Tristen Connor. It is an Oakland business and is woman and LGBT owned. The company provides sound isolation, equipment noise control and environmental acoustic services in construction, renovation, and tenant improvement projects. Best of all, Tristen will donate 5% of her fees to the club on any project referred by an Oakland Rotary member. Thank you, Tristen.

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Past president Ed Jellen welcomed District Governor Gregg Giusiana and guests Allison Woolsey (hosted by Keith Uriarte) and Lisa Rooney-Zarri (hosted by Wendy Howard).

District Governor Gregg Giusiana

District Governor’s Annual Visit

President Ces introduced District Governor Gregg Giusiana. Gregg is a retired police chief and member of the Gilroy Rotary Club. He was selected as Gilroy's "Man of the Year" in 2015. Gregg commended the Rotary Club of Oakland for its work in the community and for District 5170.

Past President Sean Marx

Nominating Committee

Nominating Committee chair, Past President Sean Marx, announced that the club will hold an election for club directors and the president-elect-nominee in December. He invited members to nominate eligible members to serve on the Nominating Committee by entering their names in the chat box. A minimum of twelve nominees are needed for the Nominating Committee election on October 29th. 

Leeann Alameda

Paul Harris Fellow Presentations

Leeann Alameda, co-chair of The Rotary Foundation Committee, kicked off the presentation of Paul Harris Fellow awards. The Paul Harris Fellow program recognizes individuals who contribute or who have contributions made in their names, of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation. President Ces virtually presented PHF pins to the following members:

  • Ann Chretien - PHF+7
  • Julie Fox - PHF+4
  • Mary Geong - PHF+5
  • Merlin Edwards - PHF+1
  • Ruth Stroup - PHF+1

Mary (wearing all of her PHF pins) and Ruth thanked Ces for the pins and underscored their support of the PHF program.

Presidential Challenge Announced

President Ces urged members to support his goal of 100% participation in The Rotary Foundation (TRF) and Oakland Rotary Endowment (ORE) campaigns by pledging to contribute $50,000 to the TRF and another $50,000 to ORE if every member makes a contribution in any amount to both campaigns. He recommended that all members experience the "gift of giving" by supporting Rotary's local and international projects. He reminded us that our club dues pay club operating expenses and are not used for the TRF or ORE.

Joe Goralka, co-chair of the Rotary Foundation Committee, thanked President Ces for his amazing support, vision, and generosity for the TRF and ORE campaigns. Thank you Ces

Jackie Forrester, Owner - Forrester Accounting and Bookkeeping

New Member Induction – Jackie Forrester

Sandeepa Nayak, Technical Director of Kha Creation, introduced new member Jackie ForresterJackie is an Oakland native and owner of Forrester Accounting and Bookkeeping. Growing up in Oakland, Jackie participated in youth and community programs, including the Jesse Owens track and field events, the Oakland Christmas Pageant, and Junior Achievement. Welcome Jackie. Your new red badge is waiting for you.

Danny Mai

Business Development Expo

Business Development Committee chair Danny Mai invited everyone to virtually attend the Business Expo on Thursday, November 5th, 3:00-5:00 pm via Zoom. Mayor Libby Schaaf will be the keynote speaker. You must register to attend at: 


Olivia Luisa, representing Area One Interact, reported on the District 5170 Interact Fall Leadership Conference. The virtual conference had 1,000 attendees. The 2020-21 Interact international and community projects were revealed at the conference. The international project is "Feeding the Future" which will address food insecurity in Yemen and has a goal of $50,000. The community project is "Combating with Care" which will relieve the impact of Covid-19 on local marginalized communities and has a goal of $20,000. Good luck Interactors.

Larry Diamond

Speaker of the Day – Larry Diamond

Past President David Stein introduced Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of political science at Stanford. He has consulted with the World Bank, United Nations, State Department, and other governmental and non-governmental agencies.

Dr. Diamond discussed the six key trends of the global democratic recession. They include a declining level of freedom and democracy; the deteriorating rule of law; the waive of illiberal populism; increasing polarization and intolerance; the authoritarian resurgence; and the decay of democratic values in the U.S. and Europe.

The global expansion of democracy has slowed, and more than 50% of countries are not democratic. There have been declines in freedom in Turkey, Venezuela, Hungary, Poland, the United States, Russia, Kenya, and Mexico. Causes of the decline in democracy include accelerating globalism; rising levels of immigration; globalization of corruption; and new authoritarian solidarity. Dr. Diamond brought a depressing but important message to the audience.

To watch his video recording please click here.

Michael Bruck - Club Secretary

Nominating Committee Candidates

Club Secretary Michael Bruck announced a bonanza of nominees for the 2020-21 Nominating Committee. They are David Stein, Renia Webb, Elida Scola, CJ Hirschfield, Gail Uilkema, Alex Poulsen, Diane Schaffer, Mary Rudser, Jim Caponigro, David Barron, Danny Mai, Robert Kidd, Harold Lowe and Steve Nicholls.


The bell was ringing during the meeting.

  • Joycie Mack rang the bell three times for the Paul Harris Fellows.
  • Joe Goralka rang the bell for Ces Butner and the Presidential Challenge.
  • Greg Annis and Danny Mai rang the bell for Interact and their projects.


President Ces Butner adjourned another busy meeting at 1:30 pm with his signature comment “that’s the way it went” and the reminder that Rotary Opens Opportunity for Service Above Self.

Larry Gelernt, Deputy Director, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Next Meeting, October 22 – Lee Gelernt

Gary Flaxman announced the speaker will be Larry Gelernt, Deputy Director, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He will speak on the clash between US immigration policy and constitutional rights.

Call to Order and Thought for the Day – Ces Butner

President Ces Butner called the meeting to order and commented on the historic meaning of the day. Not only would we be welcoming Jennifer E. Jones, Rotary International’s first female president in 2022-23 as our guest speaker, we would also hear about new joint campaign among clubs who were the first five Rotary clubs founded in the world.

Pres. Ces introduced Erik Cempel, president of the Chicago Rotary Club, to chair the meeting on behalf of the newly formed Rotary First Five Collaborative consisting of Chicago #1, Seattle #2, Oakland #3, San Francisco #4, and Los Angeles #5.  He welcomed First Five members as well as Rotarians from throughout the world who were invited to Zoom into the meeting, noting an audience of several hundred Rotarians from at least seven countries.

Thought for the Day – Marga Hewko

Chicago Rotary President-elect Marga Hewko shared the familiar observation that “a virus is a great equalizer.” She invited us to visualize what life would be like if we were forced to live 24/7 in an outdoor urban environment, with only a sleeping bag and a few possessions to our name. She asked us all to open our hearts and our ears to humbly listen to the need and to take action.

President Erik asked leaders of the respective clubs to provide progress on the Collaborative work to identify a new project.

Marshall Schmitt, Past President - Rotary Club of Chicago

How One Idea Grew into a Collaborative

Chicago Rotary’s immediate past president Marshall Schmitt told us that the First Five Rotary Collaborative is “a child of the Covid-19 Pandemic” and also the brainchild of just one Rotarian who last April envisioned Rotary clubs coming together on a single project to help those hurting. Through meetings with each club’s leadership, program chairs and members, who in May participated in break-out sessions, it became obvious that helping the homeless was an area that needed Rotary’s help.

J.T. Forbus, President - Rotary Club of San Francisco

Our Focus

San Francisco Rotary President J.T. Forbus shared details on the plight of the homelessness, and facts our club members know firsthand thanks to President Ces’s chosen focus on homelessness during his presidential year. There are many agencies serving the homeless and the majority approached to date are glad to have Rotary’s assistance and can-do approach, given its amazing track record on Polio Plus!

Matthew Ball, President - Rotary Club of Los Angeles

Our Joint Project and Launch

Los Angeles Rotary President Matthew Ball announced on behalf of the Collaborative that our new project will launch in conjunction with Homelessness Awareness Week, November 15-22 in the United States. It will focus on health hygiene and we will distribute 10,000 kits containing basic hygiene materials. Each club can also add items to the kits, if desired. The Collaborative has been working with various suppliers to obtain the materials, and with agencies serving the homeless who have agreed to help distribute them. More details are forthcoming.

Jennifer E. Jones, 2022-23 President-elect of Rotary International

Speaker of the Day – Jennifer Jones

President Ces had the honor of introducing our distinguished speaker of the day, Jennifer E. Jones, 2022-23 President-elect of Rotary International.

Jennifer shared with us how very honored she is to be the first female president of our organization. She is pleased to be a part of an organization focused on ensuring greater diversity and inclusion and certainly plans to do her part in that respect in terms of diversity, including beyond gender.

She congratulated the five clubs on our collaboration and our very special focus to help the homeless.  She shared a quote from a loved one who once told her “in order to live in the kind of society you want, you have to help build it.” Noting that the power to collaborate is often greater in its results than the efforts of a single person or club, she is looking forward to following our work and seeing the success of our project.

Building partnerships with organizations outside Rotary is a hallmark of our success in getting things done, and has attracted funding to our causes and logistical help when needed. Examples include the major funding Polio Plus received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the help we received from the World Health Organization and local agencies as we distributed and administered the Polio vaccine around the world. She learned from a friend that Mother Teresa, with whom the friend had worked, had a favorite saying which was “just do the work, the money will follow.” We have seen this truth in Rotary International and its clubs, and she hopes it continues.

After a question and answer period, Pres. Ces thanked Jennifer for her participation by indicating that a generous donation had been made in her honor to the homeless project.

To watch her video recording please click here.

Jeff Borek, President - Rotary Club of Seattle

Rotary’s Beginnings

To close this special meeting, Seattle Rotary President Jeff Borek provided a brief history of how and when each of our first five clubs were founded near the dawn of the 20th century, and the people who helped make it all happen. He also noted that women were not allowed to be members until May, 1987.

Erik Cempel, President - Rotary Club of Chicago


President Erik returned to thank all for their time and enthusiasm, saying more of both will be needed, especially with our new project. He adjourned the meeting and rang the bell. Members were invited to stay and participate in break-out fellowship sessions, and many did so.

Next Meeting, October 15 – Larry Diamond, Author and Political Scholar

At our Civic Thursday meeting at 12:30 pm on October 15, Professor Larry Diamond will speak on the current challenges our democracy faces from both external forces as well as those domestically. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of political science and sociology at Stanford University. In addition, he is author of numerous books and will provide insights contained in his book: “Ill Winds, Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency.” The meeting Zoom link is:

Pam Claassen

Call to Order and Thought for the Day – Pam Claassen

President Ces Butner rang the bell to call our virtual Oakland Rotary Civic Thursday meeting to order.  He noted it is our 5,311th meeting in our 111 plus year history.

Pam Claassen inspired us with some thoughts from Dr. Joshua Bamberger who spoke to the club recently: Housing the homeless is cost effective…all life is of value and helping the homeless sets the standard of decency for all of us.

Linda Hamilton

Meeting Sponsor – Linda Hamilton, Stories To Last

Linda Hamilton, our meeting sponsor, started her business in 2006 to help individuals and businesses share their stories. Since then she has published over 40 books, videos and podcasts. She cited Mark Twain who observed “every life story is fascinating” and reminded us that in our everyday lives we tell stories all day long. Stories are good for our brains and can be incredibly powerful. Sometimes it takes courage to share our stories. Thank you, Linda, for being so inspiring.

Introduction of Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Past President Ed Jellen welcomed our guests who checked in: Al Gilbert, CEO of Felton Institute and guest of Kim Cohn, and Oakland Councilmember Sheng Thao, guest of Keith Uriarte.

Emily Morgan, CEO Ashby Lumber

Self Introduction – Emily Morgan

Emily Morgan led with her self-introduction. She gave a shout out to Ed Jellen who brought the couple to their first Rotary meeting. Both Emily and Bryan joined Oakland Rotary in 2017. Emily is a fifth generation Californian and grew up in Piedmont. While in school, she worked part-time for Ashby Lumber, the business founded by her grandfather.  Her mother ran the company until September 2019, when Emily succeeded her as CEO. In addition to her work duties, she and Bryan are the proud parents of two youngsters, and are expecting their third due to be born next month.

When we resume regular meetings, Emily will receive her permanent Blue Badge.

Bryan Morgan, Director of Finance - Sephora

Self Introduction – Bryan Morgan

Bryan Morgan gave his self-introduction noting that much of his story had been told by Emily. He was born in Santa Rosa and grew up in Chico. His early career was in e-commerce retailing.  Six years ago, he changed his profession and is now Director of Finance for Sephora.  He met Emily in 2016. Needless to say, he is very proud dad as he described their two adorable children – and is looking forward to the arrival of their third child.

When we resume regular meetings, Bryan will receive his permanent Blue Badge.

Kim Cohn, Director - Felton Institute

Kim Cohn – Bellringer Announcement

Kim Cohn announced she has a new position at Felton Institute as Director, Deaf Community Counselling Services. She acknowledged her new boss, Al Gilbert, who attended the meeting. She thanked members for all the support she received while working at Family Paths and through this transition.  Kim’s bellringers are noted below.

Jason Wizelman

Jason Wizelman, Membership

Jason Wizelman asked us to remember “Oct In” – and explained that in October we are holding a Guest Drive. To “Oct In”, bring a guest to a virtual meeting at least once a month.

Stephen Murphy, President and CEO - Cristo Rey De La Salle High School

New Member Induction – Stephen Murphy

Member Sponsor and Past President John Protopappas introduced Stephen Murphy with several interesting facts. Stephen is President and CEO of Cristo Rey De La Salle High School.  His grandfather and father both were Rotarians.  At age 46, he took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, at which he excelled until his knees told his otherwise.  John has known Stephen for 23 years, and revealed that he is a former roommate of former Oakland Mayor/California Governor Jerry Brown.

President Ces welcomed Stephen on behalf of the club and announced he will receive several Rotary items including his membership pin, membership roster, Four-Way Test and a copy of our Centennial Book.  When we resume meeting in person, his membership badge will be awaiting him.

Cocktails with the President

Cocktails with the President – October 8th

On behalf of the Entertainment Committee, Past President Carla Betts asked everyone to virtually celebrate President Ces and His Roots on Thursday, October 8th at 5:30 pm. He hails from Missouri, so recipes for Missouri-inspired drinks will be sent to members to make in advance. Get this on your calendar!

The Zoom meeting link is:

John Holmgren

KinderPrep Update

KinderPrep Committee Chair John Holmgren reminded us that normally at this time of year, Rotary volunteers would be settling in at KinderPrep classrooms with the kids.  Planning has taken a different turn, as Virtual Learning Kits, consisting of 20 items for each child, will be distributed instead. In addition, teachers will receive gift cards so they can obtain items for their classrooms. The status of the traditional spring field trips is unknown at this time.  In the meantime, more volunteers are needed for virtual sessions with the children.  Please contact John at if you can help.

Michelle Starratt, Housing Director for Alameda County Housing and Community Development

Speaker of the Day – Michelle Starratt

Sonja Fitz introduced our speaker Michelle Starratt, Housing Director for Alameda County Housing and Community Development. Michelle has 20 years of experience working in housing development, much of it in the Bay Area.

Michelle Starratt provided some sobering statistics about homelessness in Alameda County.  She indicated there are 51,732 low income renter households who do not have access to an affordable home.  Renters need to make $45.65 per hour – three times the City of Oakland’s minimum wage of $14.14 per hour, in order to afford housing.  Seventy-one percent are paying more than half of their income on housing costs, compared to two percent in moderate income households.

Market rate rents have gone “straight through the roof”, and communities have to come up with helpful subsidies.  Available land is a dwindling resource, so the solution is to put as many units as possible on them, but it takes time. While tiny homes and camping cabins are an interim solution, in the end, the only solution is to live in a home you can afford.

She also shared her view that people don’t choose to be homeless, but circumstances make it happen.  Once people are homeless, then other things occur such as declining health, addiction to alcohol or other substances, etc. She also stated that services are critical – social services, health services, etc.—to help people recover.

Rotarians had many questions, which she fielded with useful information. 

To watch her video recording please click here.


David Kersten announced the following bellringers whose generous contributions further the work of Oakland Rotary Endowment:

  • Kim Cohn rang the bell twice – one for Family Paths and one for Felton Institute.
  • Ana-Marie Jones rang the bell for Kim Cohn and Felton Institute.
  • Ed Jellen rang the bell for Emily and Bryan Morgan.
  • Lorna Padia Markus rang the bell for Linda Hamilton.
President Ces Butner


In closing, President Ces Butner commented that “That’s The Way It Went” at today’s meeting of Oakland Rotary.  As he rang the bell and adjourned the meeting, he reminded us that Rotary Opens Opportunity for Service Above Self.

Rotarians Getting Outside

Take note of these upcoming outdoor activities:

  • Sunday, Oct. 11, 9 am. Bike Ride starting in Orinda. Contact Mark Rosen:
  • Wednesday, Oct. 11 am. Golf Tournament at Poppy Ridge in Livermore. Contact Mike 
  • Saturday, Oct. 17. 8:30 am. Kayaking at Elkhorn Slough. Contact Mark Rosen:
Jennifer Jones

Next Meeting, October 7 – Joint Meeting, First Five Rotary Clubs

President Ces announced that next week we will meet on Wednesday, October 7th at 2 pm with members who make up the First Five oldest clubs in the Rotary World: Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and Los Angeles.  Our very special keynote speaker will be Jennifer Jones, who will become the FIRST female president of Rotary International in 2022-2023. She hails from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. 

Members must register in advance for the October 7th meeting:

Members may invite a guest and provide the above link, but do not share the link publicly on social media. Members of the public should contact Pat at if they want to attend.


Marilyn Galiothe

Call to Order and Thought for the Day – Marilyn Galiothe

President Ces Butner rang the bell to call our virtual Oakland Rotary Civic Thursday meeting to order.  He noted it is our 5,310th meeting in our 111+ year history.

Marilyn Galiothe inspired us with a quote from Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon that one can use to change the world”.

Ruth Mary Stroup, Ruth Stroup Insurance Agency, Inc

Meeting Sponsor – Ruth Stroup Insurance Agency

Ruth Stroup, our meeting sponsor, told us about her insurance business. Catastrophic losses resulting for this fire season have impacted the insurance industry and each one of us. The home and auto business are the focus of Ruth’s agency along with small business policies, California Real, Life Insurance, Annuities and Retirement plans. One thing she did not mention is the job opportunities she provides for the young people on her staff. Ruth is a pillar of the Grand Avenue business community, with her generous spirit, hard work, and unflagging commitment to the common good, she reflects the principles of Rotary every day.

Nicholas Williams, CPRE, Director of Parks, Recreation and Youth Development.

Self Introduction – Nicholas Williams

Nicholas Williams gave his three-minute self-introduction to mark the end of his first year in the club. He is an Oaklander by birth who spent 20 years in Parks and Recreation in Atlanta, then four in Minneapolis, before joining Oakland Parks, Recreation and Youth Development four years ago. He is passionate about his work with youth, driven by the mandate of removing barriers to their full development. He sees re-education as a way to change us and our world. Nicholas has been a drummer for 30 years playing with many well-known musicians including Luther Van Dross and Too Short. He has three grown sons, of which the youngest two will graduate from Morehouse College in 2021.

When we resume regular meetings, Nicholas will receive his permanent Blue Badge.

The Rotary Foundation – Honoring Paul Harris Fellows

The Rotary Foundation Committee Co-Chair Joe Goralka recognized the donations of members and spoke of the work that gets done with their money. We help provide clean water, medical equipment internationally, and hygiene kits for the unhoused right here in Oakland. An end to the scourge of Polio in the world is within reach due to the generous support of Rotarians around the world. Awards went to:

Barbara Beery (Paul Harris +8) whose voice cracked with the deep emotion of her service in India and heartfelt mentoring efforts with youth.
Diane Schaffer, who went to Central America on a medical service project. She encouraged us to keep our hearts open as she accepted her Paul Harris (+3) Award.
John Colon accepted his Paul Harris +3 award with a pledge to continue service and support to Rotary.
Lesley Weaver was not present to accept her Paul Harris +1 and Paul Harris +2 awards. Lesley comes from a Rotary family and was a Rotary Scholar in Denmark.
Peter Turner accepted his Paul Harris +3 award with deep gratitude for being a Rotarian. He reflected with gratitude on his international service experiences with many wonderful members.
Bob Peltz accepted his Paul Harris +4 award noting he has been a 40-year member of our club. With his wife Linda standing behind him, he wished for another 40 years of service.

This year President Ces set a goal of having every member make a contribution to the Rotary Foundation no matter how small so that we will be united by the example of Paul Harris.

Member Re-Introduction – Wise Allen

David Stein reintroduced the exemplary educator, Wise Allen. From a family of tenant farmers, through years of higher education Wise rose to college educator then administrator. In high school he played the saxophone and lettered in track. He still runs 4.5 miles a day. Wise served as a missile tracker in the military. He washed pots and cut meat to support himself through college and graduate school. In the 1960’s while studying in Washington D.C. he joined the civil rights movement. In 1972 he became a full-time faculty member at the College of Alameda in Psychology and Sociology. He retired nearly four decades later as the Chancellor of the Peralta Community Colleges District, having served in numerous prior positions, including Vice Chancellor, President of Merritt College, and administrator at each of the other three district colleges: Laney College, Berkeley City College and College of Alameda. During his time at the Peralta Community Colleges District, his considerable experience and skills were put to use over and over again solving financial and academic problems for the district, revising curriculum, making classes smaller, funding pensions and increasing the diversity of the student body. Wise and his wife Joan has been married for 50 years. They have four children and nine grandchildren.

L. Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools

Speaker of the Day – Karen Monroe

Isaac Kos-Read introduced our speaker Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools. Karen worked for Shirley Chisolm! She is committed to social justice for children of color. “Education touches everything we do.” Karen is an elected official whose job is to work with educators, policy makers and the business community to make sure students thrive in our classrooms. She is the one who gets County schools accredited. Karen, along with seven board members, is tasked with providing fiscal and academic oversight for 18 school districts in our state. There are 58 Superintendents in CA.  Karen will soon be president of their organization too.

She is moving forward with STEAMEQ, a non-profit program run out of the office of Education focused on preparing kids of color for high the paying jobs available now and in the future by emphasizing education in science, technology, engineering, arts and math, (STEAM). Nonprofits and corporations are working on this initiative to make it possible for kids to secure jobs that can support a family in the Bay Area. Even before Covid-19 families were leaving the area for more affordable housing. With the yet unseen effects of the pandemic the education system is headed for increased solvency problems. The question of where cuts can be made is always an issue.

At this time 227,000 students are learning virtually. In order to get them back into the classrooms the state suggests hiring a contractor to do health checks for virus symptoms. Karen is coming up with a way to make this happen without adding another strain on finances. She has a wide range of duties another of which is the Alameda County Office of Education Fund to provide support for fundamental needs for the families of students who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The well-being of the children in these homes hangs in the balance as their parents balance the need for food with the payment of rent. These challenges are not new but have worsened with hard times.  

To watch her video recording click here


Ana-Marie Jones announced the following bellringers, whose generous contributions further the work of Oakland Rotary Endowment:
Ken Richardson rang the bell for Ruth Stroup.
Fred Morse, David Stein, Karen Friedman, Jack McAboy, Jim and Linda Boessenecker, Ces Butner, Marie Saverimuthu and Lorna Padia Markus rang the bell for Wise Allen.
Robert Kidd
rang the bell for John Colon.
Isaac Kos-Read and Ruth Stroup rang the bell for Nicholas Williams.
Pam Claassen and Pat Williams rang the bell for Karen Monroe.

Michelle Starratt, Homelessness in Alameda County

Next Meeting, October 1 – Michelle Starratt, Homelessness in Alameda County

Sonja Fitz announced that the speaker will be Michelle Starratt, Housing Director at Alameda County Housing & Community Development. She will talk about homelessness in Alameda County, and housing options that she has seen work, and not work - challenges and pitfalls, opportunities and promising approaches. Click here to learn more .