Posted by John Dean on Aug 20, 2019
President Casey Blair (Financial Services: Private Trading | Feis Options) welcomed visiting Rotarians from Everett, WA and Genoa, Italy. 
We also had several guests, including:
  • Neeraj Miglani (Hospitality: Restaurants | Zingari Restaurant) introduced his guest, Stephanie Rodriguez from Australia. Stephanie, who founded a firm which makes personal safety products, is in San Francisco attending a conference for entrepreneurs.
  • John Hoch (Financial Services: Advising | Retired) introduced several guests, including Rodney Parker, here for his second visit. Rodney operates Rodney Parker Bespoke Clothing in San Francisco. 
  • Dan Joraanstad (Financial Services: Advising | Retired) introduced Carlos Infante, manager of the Chase branch at the soon-to-open Chase Center. This was Carlos’ second visit to our Club.
  • Bob Hermann (Information Technology: Administration | Retired) introduced his guest, Don Reyes, an emergency medical technician who volunteers with RotaCare Bay Area.
President Casey noted that the busy summer continues with a number of great upcoming events and activities, including:
  • August 14: New Member Welcome Event at the home of Deborah Wakefield (Elder Care and Senior Services | Concierge Senior Care and Family Support). Enjoy a chance to meet and socialize with new members of our Club. All members (new and long-term) and prospective members are invited.
  • August 25: Oakland A’s and Giants Baseball. Co-sponsored by several Bay Area Rotary Clubs. We will have a great pre-game BBQ with refreshments, then watch the game from a block of reserved seats. A great opportunity to socialize with Rotarians from nearby Clubs.
  • September 7: Mark your calendar for a Work Day at Rotary Meadow atop Mt. Sutro in San Francisco. Work begins at 9:00 AM. We will pull weeds, remove invasive species of plants, rake leaves and do other tasks to beautify the meadow. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
  • September 10: 6:00 PM: Homeless Prenatal Program diaper bag stuffing at Hoogasian Flowers on Seventh Street. Come help pack diaper bags with needed supplies for expectant mothers. 
  • September 12: Homeless Prenatal Program baby showers. Come help serve lunch and distribute diaper bags to expectant mothers. Two showers are planned: 10:30 AM for Spanish-speaking moms; and 1:00 PM for English-speaking.
  • September 12: Save the date! The Club will sponsor a cocktail party to raise funds for our Youth Leadership Initiative. Space is limited, so sign up as soon as possible with John Mathers (Management Consulting | eVo Associates). A larger fundraising event is being planned for January. More information to follow!
  • September 14: Cal Football Rotary Tailgate Party in Berkeley. Sign up online at the Club website,
  • September 15: Heidi Kuhn (Peace Building | Roots of Peace) is hosting a pool party and BBQ at her home from 1:00-6:00 PM. RSVP online, or directly to Heidi. This event is her way of thanking the Club for its recent grant to Roots of Peace, and the past support—emotional and financial—that she has received from the Club.
  • September 16: Dinner at The ARC. A wonderful opportunity to prepare dinner for clients of The ARC, then enjoy a meal with them. 
  • September 19: RotaCare 30th Anniversary Gala. A wonderful evening of refreshments, dinner, and entertainment at the historic Filoli House and Garden. RotaCare, founded by Rotarians, provides medical services to uninsured and underinsured people in the Bay Area. 
Tim Hornbecker (Non-Profit Management | Retired), President of the San Francisco Rotary Foundation, presented a check for $5,000 to RotaCare. Bob Hermann and Don Reyes accepted on behalf of RotaCare, which will use the grant to continue to provide its vital medical services to those in need throughout the Bay Area. 
Janet Krahling (Real Estate: Sales | Compass) presented a Member Minute. Janet has lived in San Francisco for over thirty years. She lives in a downtown high-rise, loves the lifestyle and focuses her real estate business on high-rise downtown housing. In her free time Janet designs swimsuits for “women of a certain age”. A fairly new member of the Club, Janet is looking forward to getting involved in social activities and service projects.
President Casey then noted that in recent days the federal government has announced plans to relax protections for certain wildlife species previously designated as endangered. In addition, the federal government is moving very slowly to address the issue of climate change. Casey introduced John Mathers, who said that Daniel Ellsberg, in his address to the Club on World Wide Rotary Day a few months ago, pointed out that humanity faces two existential threats: nuclear holocaust and climate change. John announced that he and Bebo White (Education: University | Retired) are launching a Club Climate Action Team. John noted that many other Rotary Clubs around the world have established such groups. Those interested will meet after our luncheon meeting on Tuesday, August 20 to discuss next steps.
Sacha Shashi (Information Technology: Consulting | Nimbus Systems) presented a brief overview of the upcoming India Water Project, which is installing water filters in 150 schools and villages in rural India. Project dates are December 9 through December 21. Volunteers are needed for this project. Please contact Sacha.
President Casey then presented a quick overview of how Rotary International is organized. The worldwide map is divided into Zones. Each Zone is divided into Districts: our Club is in District 5150, which is in Zone 27. Each Zone elects a representative to the Rotary International Board of Directors. Casey indicated that he would like to nominate Eric Schmautz (Banking: Management | Wells Fargo) as the Zone Representative. He and the Board noted Eric’s extensive involvement in Rotary, and the wide-ranging experience he will bring to the position. This nomination was approved unanimously by a voice vote of the members.

Those making donations of $20 or more included:
  • Jiangying Chen (Healthcare: Acupuncture | American Institute of Zhizhen Therapy and New Qigong) cited good news and bad news. The good news: he has reversed his hair loss through active meditation. The bad news: the political crisis developing in Hong Kong continues to worsen and he urged everyone to pay attention as the turmoil seems to be moving toward a potentially violent resolution.
  • Dan Joraanstad celebrated RotaCare’s upcoming 30th Anniversary Gala. He urged everyone to support this great organization by attending the Gala.
  • Bill Poppen (Banking: Management | MUFG Union Bank) donated in recognition of Kelly Stieglitz (Non-Profit Management | Clinton Health Access Initiative) who completed her Red Badge requirements today.
Our speaker was Zak Franet. Today, Zak is an Account Executive with Ground Floor Public Affairs in San Francisco. He is a former member of the San Francisco Youth Commission. Zak is working hard to impact the lives of persons experiencing homelessness. In fact, just a few short years ago, Zak was himself homeless and living on the streets. 
Zak noted that the way he ended up homeless is representative of what happens to many people. In his case, critical factors included an abusive father and stepfather, along with economic instability, constant moving, and housing instability: He attended 11 schools in 11 years. His mother separated from his biological father, and later from his stepfather.
Eventually his mother began a relationship with another woman, and they established a family unit. However, Social Services got involved and he was placed into foster care while they “investigated”. He was eventually allowed to return home and things proceeded fairly uneventfully until his biological mom died tragically in a car accident when Zak was 15. He turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the loneliness, pain, and hopelessness. 
By age 19, he was homeless in Oakland, sleeping under freeways, on BART or at Lake Merritt. His days entered what he describes as “the groundhog phase”: every day was an endless loop of panhandling, soup kitchens, church-run food pantries and clothing racks, and then the search for somewhere to sleep that night. Then do it again the next day. 
So how did he get to where he is today? He describes it as a product of several happy accidents. By age 22 he was in a relationship. The other person insisted he wanted to make a change, and insisted Zak do so, too. Zak sought help at Larkin Street Youth Center, entered their residential treatment program and participated in their personal growth program. He got involved in local politics through the leadership training programs at Larkin Street, eventually landing a paid position. Today Zak has been “clean” for four years, and out of Larkin Street housing for three years.
Zak noted that while the issue of homelessness defies a silver bullet solution, several lessons can be drawn from his story. Resources must be available: Zak benefited from the great staff at Larkin Street House. Today, 1,100 young people ages 15-24 live on the streets of San Francisco, and half of those are under 18. More shelters and trained counselors are needed.
Zak believes that Navigation Centers can be a part of the solution but they are not the whole solution. Unlike traditional shelters, Navigation Centers welcome homeless people to stay with their partners and their pets, and provide a comprehensive range of supportive services. While this gets many people off the street, more needs to be done. He sees the lack of affordable housing as the crucial component in the homeless crisis. Many of those on the street got there initially because they lost their housing, which leads them to a downward spiral of hopelessness and addiction. Zak believes we are paying the price for decades of underfunding and underbuilding of affordable housing, and homelessness is but one symptom of that housing problem. 
Maureen O’Shea (Government relations | Retired) won the door prize: a pound of Kona coffee and tea from Hamburg.
Photos by Sacha Shashi
Edited by Scott Plakun (Management Consulting | The Plakun Group)