26 June 2017 — A Legacy of Service and Fellowship


After five good years, our Rotary E-Club of the Greater San Fernando Valley is closing as of June 30, 2017.

We have appreciated the opportunity to serve our community and the world, and we thank you for your ongoing support of our online programs, our local projects, and our team.

Many—perhaps most—of our online Programs remain timely and relevant, from information about suicide prevention to learning about our Solar System to understanding public health communication to seeing refugee relief efforts first-hand. Our website will remain open and available as an archive and source of information until June of 2018.

An important note to our fellow Rotarians reading this message: we regret that as of July 1, 2017, Rotary International regulations will no longer permit us to offer official “attendance make-up credit.” We cannot feel more honored that so many of you have chosen our Rotary Club, during these five years, to visit and learn when you were unable to attend your home Club’s meetings on occasion.

It has been a privilege to work and play in and around the San Fernando Valley and the world in our present form, and our Club Members surely will continue to find ways to serve in other ways and by other means.

Thank you for taking this journey with us.








The Club’s signature local project was the One More Item Food Drive. Club Members, with the kind permission of Gelson’s Sherman Oaks (and once in Valley Village during Sherman Oaks store renovations), asked shoppers on the way in to add just “one more item” to their shopping baskets or carts and drop the item off with us on the way out, for our friends and partners Valley Food Bank.

Over eighteen events from July 1, 2012—the first service project in all of Rotary International District 5280 during the July-to-June 2012-2013 Rotary year—to March 19, 2017, the Club gathered 17,937 pounds of non-perishable food, as well as voluntary cash or gift card donations totaling $1,601.02. Will Hernandez, Director of Valley Food Bank, reported that, based on what it would cost the Food Bank to purchase nearly 18,000 pounds of food for the food-insecure in and around the San Fernando Valley, that we generated $73,349.02 in cash equivalence over our five years of One More Item Food Drives.






Bringing the event from a previous Club, the Club’s signature international event as part of the worldwide efforts of Rotary Clubs to eradicate polio was the annual Dance for the Children, held at and with the generosity of Arthur Murray Sherman Oaks. Club Members asked friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues for just ten dollars (enough to vaccinate sixteen children) to “sponsor” each of us to dance at the Saturday evening event. We danced for the children who cannot dance because of the ravages of polio, so that no child need ever have to say that again.

Arthur Murray instructor and Club Member Sharon Gorrell taught attendees many different dance steps each year, and we also enjoyed demonstrations (Flamenco, from Club Member Sara Vasquez and her dance partner Cynthia Lisi).

Among the best moments of the dance’s history occurred in 2015

Starting in 2012 with the “third annual” Dance, the Club raised enough funds to vaccinate approximately 94,000 children in those parts of the world where polio still threatens. As a small-sized Rotary Club (in the way Rotary International defines such things), the Rotary E-Club of The Greater San Fernando Valley found itself each year among the top Club in the world in per capita donation to The Rotary Foundation’s PolioPlus fund.





Through the generosity of the Rotary International District 5280 Community Grant Project, the Club implemented four local projects.

–we funded the construction, and then stocked the shelves with braille and printed books, of a new library room for our partner Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind in Reseda;
–we hosted a blood drive in cooperation with the Los Angeles Kings Care Foundation and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to benefit the patients at CHLA;
–we assembled and donated benches, which convert to picnic tables, to six worthy community organizations, some our partners for years: Hope Gardens, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, San Fernando Valley Japanese Language Institute, Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind, and Valley Food Bank;
–we donated age-appropriate space science books, with the assistance of scientist and blogger Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society, to Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, Patrick Henry Middle School, Cantara Street Elementary School, Canoga Park Early Education Center, and Cleveland Early Education Center; and, through Astronomers Without Borders, a fantastic amateur telescope to the High School, Middle School, and Elementary School.










In 2013, an earthquake and tsunami devastated vast regions of Northeastern Japan (an area known as Tohoku). Let by Club Member Yoko Matsui and our friend Jennifer Usyak of Rotary Club of Downtown Los Angeles, the Club established its Letters to Tohoku project.

In support of the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, the Club gathers letters of friendship written by children studying the Japanese language at schools in the Los Angeles area, mostly from our community partner San Fernando Valley Japanese Language Institute. These letters are delivered each year in or close to March, and do not refer to the disaster but instead are self-introductions, serving as a reminder that people outside of Japan care very deeply about the children and elderly, and all survivors, in Japan.






Club Member Jorge Vazquez has a long-standing connection to an orphanage near Ensenada, Mexico, which he has helped support for many years. The Club has provided recent support, but this project is more notable for an unusual reason.

In late 2015, the San Fernando Valley Japanese Language Institute (SFVJLI), the Club’s community partner for the Letters to Tohoku project, reached out to the Club to offer assistance as the Club looked for ways to support Estado 29 Orphanage.

Noticing that the students rarely use pencils anymore, but there were many in storage at the school, SFVJLI Administrator Yoshiko Kawada offered a “pencil drive,” with the students and their families gathering extra school supplies of all kinds. On December 19, 2015, Jorge Vazquez led a contingent of Club Members to the school’s annual holiday party, where Principal Noriko Murata, presented three full boxes of supplies for delivery to the orphanage to Jorge for delivery to the orphanage.

It was rare and wonderful for friends of a Rotary Club to implement their own service project on behalf of the beneficiary of an ongoing Rotary Club project.






Club Members visited local schools, focusing on fifth- and sixth-grade classes, to teach local children a very international way of building peace around the world, using UNESCO’s “International Mother Language Day” (February 23) as the hook. The idea is to celebrate speaking your native language wherever you live.

The E-Club taught the young students how to say Hello, Please, Peace, Thank You, and Love in different languages, sending the kids home with a booklet containing more than 40 translations, after usually having time to teach two or three in a few minutes at school. Opening communication is the first step towards making friends.





Using our unique format of online programs, the Club initiated a year-long “E-Club E-wareness” project, providing useful information and resources, usually along with a top expert speaker, for several issues of great importance to the community and the world. The topics were suicide prevention, breast cancer, bone marrow donation, foster children, blood donation, domestic violence prevention, organ and tissue donation, lupus, diabetes, stem cell transplants, and anti-bullying.









A major aspect of E-Club life is the online weekly Program, to maximize flexibility for Club Members. Whether traveling, or busy with a specific conflict against a “regular meeting time,” Members were able to access the Program at any time during the week. In addition, Rotarians around the world in Clubs that still chose to enforce attendance requirements could “make up” a meeting by visiting our Program during week when they were unable to attend their own local in-person club meeting.

For almost every Rotary Club on Earth, the guest speaker for a meeting has to be within transportation distance of the meeting location. But for our E-Club, the speaker could be anywhere—and in fact our speakers were almost everywhere: Canada, Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Sweden, plus a live program from inside the event at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal.

Among our special guest speakers was Kalyan Banerjee, from his office in Evanston, Illinois at Rotary International headquarters while he was serving as President of Rotary International.

Here is a complete alphabetical list of our live guest speakers (in person or live on video), with gratitude for their time and expertise. All programs will remain archived and available on the Club’s website at www.rotaryeclubgreatersfv.org/programs for until June of 2018.

Sigal Adini, Youth Drug Abuse Prevention
Doug Baker, District Governor Visit 2013
Laura Berger, Miss Los Angeles County 2011 (and her community project, infant health)
Lew Bertrand, District Governor Visit 2012
John Blount, Rotary International Board of Directors
Kafi Blumenfeld, Discovery Cube Los Angeles
Lee Broekman, Former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar
Nallely Castro-Bello (now Lopez), Rotaract
Susan Celentano, Suicide Prevention (E-wareness)
Marc Clark, The Princess Fables, and helping kids
Ken Craft, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission
Diane Davis, Rotary Youth Service
Sean Davis, Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Belgium (via Skype from Belgium)
Jim Dyer, Shelterbox Tour
Noora Elkoussy, Humanitarian Aid in the Libya Crisis
Mike Feuer, California Assemblymember
Stephen Forman, M.D., Bone Marrow Donation (E-wareness)
Jim Fox, Kings Care Foundation Community Efforts
Lauren Frank, Public Health Communication
Ruth Frank, Early Polio Eradication Efforts
Tommy Gelinas, Valley Relics Museum
Melodie Genty, Visiting Rotary Youth Exchange Student
Elsa Gillham, District Governor Visit 2014
John Glaspy, M.D., Breast Cancer Facts (E-wareness)
Maggie Gross, Former Rotary Youth Exchange Student
Group Study Exchange Team, Visit to Japan (Rotarian Jewel Price and Team Members Angela Kim and Kai Tramiel)
Group Study Exchange Visitors from Japan (Rotarian Satomi “Sammy” Omata, and Team Members Namiko “Nako” Ishikawa, Hiroki “Oggy” Ogino, Noriaki “Nori” Oshimura, and Minami Wade.
Alex Guerrero, Valley Economic Development Council
Lori Hall, Safe Water Project, Global Classrooms for Peace
Yehuda Handelsman, M.D., About Diabetes (E-wareness)
Tom Hardy, District Governor Visit 2011 (video from Rotary Club of Van Nuys)
Tom and Nancy Hardy, Live from Lisbon Convention House of Friendship (Skype)
Tom Hardy, District Attorney, Inyo County, California, live via Skype
Will Hernandez, Valley Food Bank (video, with tour of facility)
Will Hernandez, Hunger, and Solutions, in the San Fernando Valley (live meeting)
Bob Hertzberg, California State Senator
Janet Higgins, Be The Match (video)
Janet Higgins, Be The Match (live meeting)
Hon, Harry Horinouchi, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles
Kevin James, President, L.A. Department of Public Works
Karin Janzon, DG District 2340, live via Skype at our otherwise in-person meeting
Julie Jenkins, Polio Immunization in India (video)
Julie Jenkins, The New Polio Crisis and our Continuing Efforts (live meeting)
Elmer Jordan, Past Rotary International Director
Lulu Kamatoy, Valley Women’s Center
Paul Krekorian, Los Angeles City Councilmember, San Fernando Valley Council of Governments
Emily Lakdawalla, A Tour of the Solar System
Joan MacFarlane, Rotary on Earth: Canada (via Skype from Canada)
Melissa Manchester, Using Your Voice For Good
Tim Mason, E-Clubs: Why We Matter (via Skype from the UK)
Cyndi McAuley, A Visit to TLC for Blind
Cyndi McAuley, TLC for the Blind (at our live meeting)
David Moyers, The Global Grants Process
Debbie Navarro, Reach Out And Read for Literacy
Adrin Nazarian, California Assemblymember
Greg O’Brien, Peace, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation
Greg O’Brien, District Governor Visit 2016
Kero O’Shea, Rotary on Earth: Australia (via Skype from Australia)
Nancy Oda, World War Two “Relocation” and Tuna Canyon
Joan Pelico, City of Los Angeles Issues
Joan Pelico, City of Los Angeles Update
David Rae, AIDS Awareness (E-wareness)
Paola Ruiz, Impact of Rotary Youth Programs
RYLA attendees Alice Curran, Eva Kaganovsky, and Michelle Kagaonvsky (live meeting)
Diana Sanchez, Los Angeles International Airport Renovations
João Victor Gomes Santos, Visiting Rotary Youth Exchange Student
Carolina Sheinfeld, Rotary Peace Fellow/Torture Survivors Project
Mike Simmons, Astronomers Without Borders
Ron Stewart, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Scott Stirling, Museum of the San Fernando Valley
D.J. Sun, District Governor Visit 2015
Vicky Tejerina, Rotary on Earth: Argentina (via Skype from Argentina; video also translated into Spanish)
Jorge Vazquez, Oceans and Climate Change
Jorge Vazquez, Oceans and Climate Change 2
Jorge Vazquez, El Niño (The Climate Condition)
Jorge Vazquez, Estado 29 Orphanage
Sandra and Arturo Velasquez, D5280 Humanitarian Trip to Colombia
Karon Wright, The Greater Contribution, Microloans



The opinions expressed by guest speakers, or in advertisements that appear on external websites linked to this program, are those of the speaker(s) / websites / advertisers and not necessarily of the Rotary E-Club of The Greater San Fernando Valley or its members. No endorsement is implied. Programs are presented for informational purposes only.

4 responses to 26 June 2017 — A Legacy of Service and Fellowship

  1. Mel, I really appreciate your opening comments. Well said.

    It is also nice to see all our Club’s major accomplishments summarized so beautifully – for any club, let alone one as small as ours, we certainly accomplished a lot! Also, as you noted, we had quite a list of our impressive speakers from so many diverse fields. I feel lucky to have learned from #o many about their areas of expertise.

    It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve in this Club and with such caring and generous people.

    Finally, thank you, Mel, for doing so much to keep this Club going and for being the glue when needed to keep it, and us, together.

  2. Thanks for all your hard work, Mel. You’re a gem. Hope to stay in touch with you and Yoko and club members as time permits.

  3. Thank you for the kind words. For the record, the opening comments were a joint statement from President Brenda and “Charter President Mel,” not just me…only the cover e-mail was signed, though. And yes, in five years, our small Club accomplished a lot and provided a ton of great information in the programs, we can close these doors with our heads held high.

  4. I’m very honored to be part of a very active Rotary club. This brings tears to my eyes. I wish everyone the best of luck in the future where-ever the life may take you… Arigato, everyone!

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.