Posted by John Dean on Jun 21, 2019
President Rhonda Poppen (Grant Writing | GRANTdog) welcomed members and a number of guests and visiting Rotarians to the final meeting of the 2018-19 Rotary year (and the last meeting of her term of office). Rhonda gave a special “welcome back” to members Eric Walter (Information Technology: Software | Apple) and Carla Walter (Arts Therapy | Dance in the Spirit), who are back in the Bay Area after Carla’s out-of-town work assignment.
President Rhonda noted that we have had a busy summer thus far. Among the activities, last evening Peter Logan (Law: Insurance | Peter Logan Law Offices) and Janet Krahling (Real Estate: Sales | Compass) served dinner and socialized with clients of The ARC at the monthly dinner event. Rhonda urged everyone to do this, as it is a wonderful experience.
There are a number of great events coming up in the next few weeks, including:
  • June 22: Celebration Picnic in Honor of President Rhonda. Sunnyside Playground from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM. Food, fun and games for the whole family. Join the festivities and honor President Rhonda for a great year. Bring food/beverages to share!
  • June 23: Heroes’ Voices: A Soldier’s Journey. Held at the beautiful Calvary Presbyterian Church at Fillmore & Jackson in San Francisco, this popular event begins at 3:00 PM. An afternoon of poetry and music exploring a variety of perspectives on war, peace, and the impacts on soldiers before, during and after battle. Volunteers are needed to help with the event (donations of wine are needed, too).
  • June 25 and July 2: There will be no luncheon meeting on Tuesday, June 25 (last Tuesday of the month). In addition, there will be no meeting on July 2 due to the Fourth of July holiday.
  • July 9: First meeting under the leadership of President-Elect Casey Blair (Financial Services: Private Trading | Feis Options).
  • July 29: Dinner at SPARK Food Park, Mission Bay. 6:00 PM. Food trucks, beverages, bonfire, music and socializing with fellow Club members.
President Rhonda named Mary Liu (Real Estate: Sales | Vanguard Properties/JM Real Estate Group) “Rotarian of the Month”. Mary recently joined Rotary, but has a long history as a volunteer with Alliance for Smiles, including service as a surgical mission volunteer, Mission Director, and AFS Board Member. Since joining Rotary, Mary has quickly “jumped in” by attending the District 5150 Conference, as well as the recent Rotary International convention in Hamburg. She received a gift card for coffee as a prize.
Rhonda then took a moment to express her gratitude to Stephanie Schmautz (Elder Care and Senior Services | The Carlisle). While serving as Club President, Stephanie recruited Rhonda—then a fairly new member of the Club—to be Secretary. Since then, Stephanie has served as an advisor and mentor to Rhonda. Rhonda also noted that Stephanie has for a number of years arranged for the Club to use the facilities of The Carlisle for monthly Board meetings.
The theme for today’s meeting was “Debunking President Rhonda”. President-Elect Nominee JT Forbus (Accounting | Bogdan & Frasco) took over as Master of Ceremonies, and proceeded to lead the members on a hilarious trip through Rhonda’s life. JT traced Rhonda’s history from her days in Smithfield, VA (“ham capital of the world”) through her days at NASA’s Langley, VA Research Center, where she and Bill Poppen (Banking: Management | MUFG Union Bank) met.
After living in Texas for a number of years, Bill and Rhonda moved to North Carolina, where Rhonda started a calligraphy business, became active in local politics (serving on the Harrisburg, NC Town Council), and—perhaps most important—she joined her local Rotary Club. Bill and Rhonda moved to San Francisco in 2014, where Rhonda established her grant writing business. She joined San Francisco Rotary Club in November 2014, becoming an active Club member from the outset. On behalf of the Club, JT presented Rhonda with 2 tickets for the Beach Boys concert at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga in September, including dinner.
President-Elect Casey Blair then took over, announcing a special “Twenty for $20” dedicated to Rhonda. Among those making a “Twenty for $20” donation:
  • Casey Blair, who noted that for all of Rhonda’s successes as President, “the Queen Bee cannot do it all alone.” With that, he presented Bill Poppen with a special Rotary shirt, emblazoned with “FMOR #2” across the back. Casey explained that this referred to “First Man of Rotary Club #2”.
  • John Mathers (Management Consulting | eVo Associates) noted that Rhonda led the Club to a wonderful year, and took on the role of President and made it look easy. He added that worldwide, only 3% of US Rotary Clubs have three consecutive years of membership growth. Our Club has now recorded an incredible FIVE consecutive years of membership growth.
  • David Dye (Management Consulting | Retired) noted that Rhonda’s “southern charm” made everyone feel welcome.
  • Dora Dye (Education: Community College | City College of San Francisco), praised Rhonda for a wonderful year.
  • Casey Blair noted that Rhonda set a high bar and he and JT hope they will measure up.
  • Dan Joraanstad (Financial Services: Advising | Retired) related a fond memory of riding a bar barge in Toronto with Rhonda and others on a cold night after the Rotary International Convention in Toronto.
  • Scott Plakun (Management Consulting | The Plakun Group) praised Rhonda for a great year, adding that it didn’t just happen, as she “worked her butt off” for two years to make it look easy.
  • Rick Harrell (Arts Therapy | Heroes’ Voices) serenaded Rhonda with ‘Tis a Gift to be Simple.
  • Anita Stangl (Medical Services | Alliance for Smiles) commented that she admired Rhonda for her organizational skills and her ability to keep everyone focused, all while maintaining a sense of humor.
  • Luis Moran (Real Estate: Sales | Coldwell Banker) stated that he enjoyed working with Rhonda on the Board.
  • Stephanie Schmautz noted that she knew when she met Rhonda that she would be a great leader for the Club, and she was not surprised by the successes of the past year.
  • Jim Patrick (Retail: Office Supplies | Patrick & Co.) commented that Rhonda set a high bar for leadership. He added that every incoming President starts with energy and enthusiasm, and that the challenge is to carry it out throughout the term of office. Rhonda carried it out.
  • Cecile Chiquette (Accounting | Retired) expressed her thanks to Bill Poppen for helping Rhonda have a great year.
  • Lynn Luckow (Development | expressed gratitude for Rhonda’s sense of practicality, which helped to keep projects focused.
  • Laine Hendricks (Advertising and Public Relations | County of Marin), on behalf of District 5150 Governor Jayne Hulbert, thanked Rhonda for her service and congratulated her on a great term. Laine also noted that she and Jayne never had to worry about our Club with Rhonda as President.
  • Tyler Sterk (Financial Services: Advising | Merrill Lynch) noted that Rhonda was very “pro-active” when he visited the Club as a prospective new member. He also wished Casey good luck. Tyler ended by announcing that he has accepted a new job and will be moving to San Diego in July. He hopes to maintain contact with the Club and his many friends here.
Laine and Stephanie then gave a heartfelt tribute to Rhonda, tracing how she came to join our Club and her many contributions to the Club over the past several years.
President Rhonda thanked everyone for their kind words. She thanked the members for making this a great year for the Club, and a wonderful experience for her. She then showed a brief photo montage, highlighting events from the past year. She indicated that each attendee at today’s lunch received at their place setting a luggage tag from her, as a token of gratitude.
Photos by Hana Xu Wang (Financial Services: Advising | Wang Wealth Management)
Edited by Scott Plakun