February is the shortest month of the year, even with the extra day that this Leap Year affords us! Good thing we have that extra day, as there are so many wonderful Niles Rotary activities that we need that extra time! We began the month with our first quarterly Mentoring meeting of the year. A big thank you to our gracious host, PP Rakesh Sharma and his beautiful wife Ranjana for opening up their beautiful home. Also, a big thank you to Vocational Chair Adam Moura and Sandy Stabile for organizing this hugely successful event. The Mentoring meeting is not only a excellent tool for connecting our newest Rotarians with their sponsor and a carefully chosen Mentor, but it has grown into an engaging social event for new and seasoned Rotarians alike. If you haven’t been to a Mentoring meeting before, April 5th is the next scheduled. Come check it out!
It was my honor to kick off the month announcing the Rotarian of the Month …none other than Sandi Pantages! I am thankful to Sandi for her little reminders that keep me on track for many of my duties as president. I am especially thankful for her patience because I know that she would love to have my Pinion articles days ahead of the preferred deadline given because writing is not one of my fortes! My submissions always include a note saying “help please!” or “can you word this better?” Sandi certainly makes my articles look great! [editor’s note: Thank You President Lisa for the very kind words!].
Our first meeting of the month was our club speech contest. Youth Service chair, Dirk Lorenz was very anxious in the weeks leading up to the contest, worried that we would not have the expected 6 contestants. Nonetheless….the day ended up with 7 contestants! All of the contestants did a great job and I’m sure the judges had a difficult job choosing the winner, but in the end:
1st Place – Justin Bulanadi – Fremont Christian High School
2nd Place – Rachel Chu – Washington High School
3rd Place – Billy Nordhausen – Robertson High School
As of this writing, we are coming upon the eve of the 21st annual Richard D King Speech contest. Always an impressive event, I am astounded by the grace and composure of our high school students. Had I participated in a speech contest and performed as well as these students, I would have settled into my presidency with equal grace and composure. Best of luck to our contestants at our Area 3 contest March 3rd. The winner of the Area 3 speech contest will go on to the District Conference and compete on May 1st.
I didn’t know we had our own Pat Sajak and Vanna White in the club. Foundation Chair Ray Pedersen with Vanna (Sherry Higgs) spun the Wheel of Paul Harris and landed on John Dutra for a Paul Harris +2. A Paul Harris Fellow award reflects a donation of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation (of Rotary International) over a period of time; the +2 indicates another two Paul Harris donations of $1,000 each. The Rotary Foundation funds the international projects of RI as well as some community service projects through grants coming back from the District.
Having a spouse that is a florist is wonderful, except when it’s the Valentine’s weekend that is also the Niles Rotary Paso Robles 4 day weekend trip. PP Steve and PP Chuck planned a fine weekend of wining and dining, as evidenced by the many FaceBook postings. The highlight of the trip was the elegant Friday night wine pairing dinner at Cass Winery. I will be social chair next year, and Valentine’ day falls on the Tuesday before President’s weekend – so I will definitely get to go!
It was during Valentine’s weekend that we learned of the passing of Don Amsbaugh. Don was a past president serving in 1969-1970.
The family held a wonderful memorial service for Don at Washington Hospital in the auditorium where many of us were able to celebrate Don and his legacy. Don’s son Scott asked if someone from Niles Rotary could speak about Don’s involvement with Rotary. Sandi Pantages was a natural choice, and she beautifully recounted memories of Don and his love for Niles Rotary. With a premonition of what was to come for Niles Rotary in recent years, Don was wine guy, with a significant wine cellar at his house. His demotion was held in the trendy “Bucket of Blood Saloon” where the wine was stored in Erlenmeyer flasks and served through intravenous tubing. I will always remember Don’s great smile and his big warm hugs.
It is bittersweet losing Don, but gaining our newest member – Kimberly MacFarlane. Kimberly is the daughter-in-law of Don’s bride Joy Amsbaugh. Kimberly was sponsored by Scott Chambers and is in the field of sales and marketing; she was joined by her husband Steve and son Kyle at the club meeting for her induction as a new member (and for her ice breaker). Enthusiastic Red Badger Geeta Kadambi may have started a new practice of doing an Ice Breaker right after being inducted into the club, and Kimberly was quick to follow Geeta’s lead!
It was a real treat having Paul Iannaccone as song leader last week. I think many of us have heard Paul’s powerful baritone voice in the crowd and thought that he would probably be great as a song leader! He definitely did not disappoint. Paul had the room going and wanting more after 3 songs!
So the count down is on! President Elect Angus will be going to PETS this weekend where he will meet his class of 2016-2017 Presidents, and the reality of being president will really kick in. He will be able to boast how he is the first President Elect to sell out our annual fundraiser 7 weeks before the actual event! Way to go Angus!!!
I am in awe every week at the energy in the room, the laughter that I hear, and the smiles that I see. I look forward to each and every week meeting the guests that come and have the opportunity to experience the fun and fellowship that is uniquely Niles Rotary. This is the last month of our “All Aboard Challenge”, so I hope that you will get on board and invite a guest!