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”.
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.
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.
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.
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 .