Posted by John Dean on Jun 10, 2019
President-Elect Casey Blair (Financial Services: Private Trading|Feis Options) led this week’s meeting in the beautiful Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Casey welcomed several visiting Rotarians, including our guest speaker, Dr. Jack Higgins, a long-time Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Los Altos. He also welcomed several visitors, including Tim Joehuk, from the Northern Germany Information Office in San Francisco; Lindsay Ward from the Arthritis Foundation; and Vonn Buckley and Mark Smolincki from Ending Pandemics.
President-Elect Casey noted that over fifteen members of our Club are currently attending the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany.
Casey reported on several recent Club events:
  • The Planetarium Social was held at the San Francisco State University Planetarium and Observatory, courtesy of Adrienne Cool (Education: University|San Francisco State University), the Planetarium’s Director – and a Club member.
  • District 5150 Interact Spring Leadership Conference, a bonding and training event which was attended by a record 200-plus Interactors this year.
JT Forbus (Accounting|Bogdan & Frasco) reported on last month’s Board meeting, which was held at the home of President Rhonda Poppen and her husband Bill (Banking: Management|MUFG Union Bank). Board members reviewed the Treasurer’s report, which showed the Club is in good financial position. The Board also approved revised member Classifications for the Club, which are aimed at being more accurate and informative. The Board then reviewed applications for Youth Leadership, Community Service and International Service grants for the coming year. The Board’s comments and recommendations on the grant applications were forwarded to the Foundation Board for final review.
President-Elect Casey then highlighted several upcoming events:
  • June 5: Additional Bike Build. On Wednesday, June 5 at 9:30 AM at Bryant School, Club members will meet to build an additional 25 bikes. The Club donated and assembled 100 bikes at the Annual Bike Build on April 20, but there was a shortage of larger bikes for taller students. The Board approved the purchase of another 25 large bikes.
  • June 11: Homeless Prenatal Project. Diaper Bag Assembly. On June 11 at 6:00 PM, members are invited to meet at Hoogasian Flowers on Seventh Street to assemble diaper bags for distribution to the Homeless Prenatal Project. The goal is to assemble 40 diaper bags for expectant mothers, plus another 20 doula bags.
  • June 13: Homeless Prenatal Project Baby Showers. The diaper bags will be distributed to expectant mothers at two baby showers at the HPP offices on Potrero Avenue. The morning shower (10:30 AM) is for Spanish-speaking mothers, with an afternoon shower (1:00 PM) for English-speaking moms-to-be. Volunteers are needed to assist with the bag distribution, and to serve lunch to the expectant mothers.
  • June 13: Twilight Golf. Join Club members for a quick nine holes of golf at Harding Park. Tee time is 4:15 PM.
  • June 17: Dinner at The ARC. Serve dinner and socialize with clients of the ARC from 5:30 –7:30 PM.
  • June 22: Celebration Picnic in Honor of President Rhonda. Sunnyside Playground and Park, 11:00 AM—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 presents 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.
President-Elect Casey and Membership Committee Vice-Chairman Bill Poppen presented four new members for induction:
  • Uli Suedbeck (Government Relations|Federal Foreign Office, Germany): Uli currently serves as Consul General of Germany.
  • Frank Vollbehr (Engineering, Architecture & Construction): Frank is a Landscape Architect, currently focused on raising his and Uli’s two children.
  • Neeraj Miglani (Hospitality: Restaurants|Zingari Restaurant): A native San Franciscan, Neeraj is a hospitality industry veteran.
  • Kelly Steiglitz (Non-Profit Management|Clinton Health Access Initiative): Kelly has long worked in the area of health access, including international work with women and children with HIV/AIDS.
Each new member received a name badge; a certificate, evidencing an initial donation by the Club to The Rotary Foundation in honor of the new member; as well as a copy of A History of Fellowship and Service, the story of our Club’s first 100 years.
Those making a “Twenty for $20” donation included:
  • Jianying Chen (Healthcare: Acupuncture|American Institute of Zhizzhen Therapy and New Qigong), who donated in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China in 1989, and in memory of those who died.
  • Bill Poppen, in honor of new member Jennifer Lee (Communication & Media|Self-employed) completing her Red Badge in record time.
Today’s speaker is Dr. Jack Higgins, a twenty-eight-year Rotary member and long-time member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos. Jack is a board member of Rotacare, a Rotary-sponsored organization providing health care to underserved persons throughout the Bay Area. Dr. Higgins is best known for his tireless work on behalf of the Los Altos Rotary AIDS Project (“LARAP”). Founded in 1989, LARAP was the first HIV/AIDS project sponsored by Rotary.
The initial focus of LARAP was AIDS awareness and education in the United States. However, as the rate of new infections has declined in the US, and treatments have improved, the focus of LARAP has shifted to the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Liberia, Tanzania, Nepal and Uganda. The numbers are staggering: less than 100 babies per year are diagnosed with AIDS in the United States…compared to over 300,000 new infant diagnoses per year in Africa. One-half of these babies will die by age 2; over 75% will die by age five.
Research has shown that babies are infected with AIDS during childbirth or from nursing. AIDS is not transmitted via the mother’s blood or placenta. If treated with anti-retroviral (“ARV”) drugs for six weeks after birth, the infant has a 98% chance of being HIV-free by age one year. ARV treatment of the mother during pregnancy also has excellent results for both mother and baby.
The Childhood AIDS Prevention Project has partnered with several other non-government organizations to establish HIV/AIDS programs in Liberia and Uganda, with more locations planned.
Jack noted that the involvement of the Los Altos Rotary Club in HIV/AIDS education and prevention resulted from the experiences of two long-time Club members. One member had to deal with his son’s AIDS-related death, while the other member contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. These tragedies were the impetus for the Club’s involvement, and are chronicled in an award-winning film The Los Altos Story, which is available here.
Dr. Higgins is also the founder and CEO of Global Telehealth Network, a free Internet-based service in which volunteer doctors and psychologists in the United States “see” patients via video conferencing. The goal of the project is to assist non-government organizations and local health providers. Jack is looking to grow this program, and asked health care providers in the audience to consider joining the program. As he noted, “No one should be denied health care due to location, social status or economic position.” GTN brings world-class health care to isolated communities with limited health care resources.
President-Elect Casey presented Dr. Higgins with a certificate evidencing that Rotary has inoculated 100 children against polio in Jack’s honor.
The raffle prize, pecan sauce from Hamburg and a Golden State Warriors shirt and headband, was won by Lisa Christian (Development|Community Housing Partners).
Edited by Scott Plakun (Management Consulting | The Plakun Group).