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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, February 10, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,374th Civic Thursday meeting of the 3rd oldest Rotary Club in the world. He announced we will continue meeting via Zoom throughout the month of February

Mary Ray Brophy followed up last week’s speaker topic with her Thought for the Day from the new mission statement issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service: “USCIS upholds America’s promise as a nation of welcome and responsibility with fairness, integrity and respect for all we serve…The United States is and will remain a welcoming nation that embraces people from across the world…And, when we offer refuge to those in need of protection, we are living up to our nation’s highest ideals.”

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced Assistant District Governor Dianne Dorn, a member of the San Leandro Rotary Club, Cynthia Dorsey of the Newark Rotary Club and guest of Carolyn Watson, Ken Richardson’s guest, Paul Pervere, a retired accounting professional and brother of member Maude Pervere and Mary Geong’s guest, Vivian Chen. In addition, there were many guests of our speakers.

Saroni-Lena Summer Internships:

Janice Brickley gave a brief report on the great success of last year’s first-ever summer internship program for Saroni-Lena scholars. She invited members with active businesses or nonprofit organizations to consider participating in the 2022 Summer Internship Program. A commitment includes providing the student with at least six weeks of meaningful learning for a minimum of 20 hours per week at a $15/hour pay rate minimum. Contact Janice at janicembrickley@gmail.com for further details.

Gala Sponsors Needed:

Jennie Hunsberger provided an overview of the various April 28th Gala sponsorships and related benefits, including a new sponsorship level of $10,000 that is still available. Among the many benefits at this level is a promise by President Dudley to immediately shave his beard! In addition to other monetary sponsorship levels, the Gala Committee is also seeking in-kind gifts for the auction such as time at vacation homes, tickets to events, wine and more. Email your offer or send questions to http://rotarygala2022.com

Carbon Footprint Survey:

Environment Committee member Stewart Epstein thanked members who have completed the carbon footprint survey and announced there was still time to get it done. Rotarians who complete the survey will be entered into two separate drawings to win a “Winery Tasting for Four People” at his Brooklyn West Winery in Oakland.  (Don’t worry, your individual scores are your own!) Take the survey here: http://Coolclimate.berkeley.edu . Then provide your individual results to Jesse Bowdle at execadmin@oakland-rotary.org or Joel Parrott at jjparrott83@gmail.com .

This meeting during Black History Month was a very special one as Rotarians were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the “color of ballet.” The presentation featured an esteemed panel of experts introduced by Georgia Richardson and moderated by self-proclaimed “dance mom” Carolyn Watson. Collectively the panel’s experience spans at least a half-dozen esteemed dance companies from coast to coast. Each panelist shared their experience firsthand as a person of color committed to a dance career.

Karlya Shelton-Benjamin, a former first-generation principal ballerina with the Dance Theater of Harlem (DTH), talked about her early professional ballet career in Colorado where she was the only black person in an all-white company. Her dance career grew at DTH, taking her all over the world to dance for large audiences as well as for kings, queens and U.S. Presidents. Eventually, she would become a resident of Oakland. Here Karlya would cross paths and generations to mentor young Oakland resident Angela Watson.

Angela first began studying dance under the tutelage of another of the day’s panelist, Reginald Ray-Savage, Artistic Director at the Oakland School for the Arts. Reginald’s remarks at the meeting focused on his early career experience as well as his current teaching method. He insists that each student adhere to a very strict standard of training like that required by some of the best choreographers and ballet masters. It’s the same method he was expected to master as a professional dancer with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and other troupes in Chicago before moving to the Bay Area in the 1990s.

In her young career Angela Watson has danced the principal role of Clara in San Francisco Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and was the only African American student accepted to the Ballet School’s Advanced Preprofessional Level. Already Angela has received a national Young Arts Foundation Award for her accomplishments in ballet. Yet she began her ballet training only in her pre-teen years, unlike others who begin as children. Angela is currently in the San Francisco Ballet Student Training Program. She stressed the importance of motivation, setting and keeping focused on goals, not getting distracted and working very hard. While she has sometimes been the first person of color in a group, thus making it difficult to share her experience and bond with others like her, it is getting a little better. She believes it is important to share her values for success with those who come behind her. Overall, all panelists agreed that the future for dancers of color appeared brighter than in any prior decades, but still has a way to go in achieving equity.

Studying ballet can be expensive because it involves not only training, but travel and attending performances of other companies even it if means buying a ticket for a top row balcony seat. To help fund these needs, contributions to Pathways can be made by texting the word YOUTH to 707070 or by visiting their website https://www.pledge.to/YOUTH.

President Dudley began to adjourn the meeting until he was advised of three bellringers online. Ces Butner, Lois Corrin and Georgia Richardson rang the bell for Angela Watson.

Click here to watch Angela Watson video segment.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more. https://www.oakland-rotary.org/calendar

#serviceaboveself #rotaryinternational #rotaryclubofoakland #rotaryopensopportunities

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