(The following narrative is a continuation of a series of how a member was introduced to Rotary and subsequent memories. If you would like Rotary to be part of your life's story, please contact Joyce Cave at caveclan@yahoo.com.)


Curtis Chen

Member Since July 9, 2003

January, 2021


When people ask me, “What is Rotary”? , I simply answer, “It’s Boy Scouts for adults”!  (This is my Eagle Scout answer).  The principles are similar, and both organizations goals are consistent.  “Service above Self” is the adult version of “Do a Good Turn Daily”.  Rotary was founded in 1905; Boy Scouts were founded in 1908.  Both organizations have evolved to admit both males and females.

I joined the Rotary Club of Foster City in July, 2003.  My neighbor, Marcia Cohen-Lyle invited me to a weekly meeting.  She said, “I’m the incoming President, and one of my jobs is recruiting new members”.  I had no previous familiarity with Rotary, but enthusiastically attended a few lunch meetings at the Foster City Crowne Plaza.  I soon joined as a member, inducted by President Larry Zanata.

At the time, I had 2 young children, so I focused my participation on local projects where international travel was not required.  I have fond memories of Halloween Safe Streets, when the Rotary Club partnered with the City of Foster City to provide a safe environment for trick-or-treaters by closing a local neighborhood to traffic.  The Rotary Club provided the “treats” to the residents to hand out, and monitored the venue.

Also, I participated in the annual Foster City Art & Wine Festival, which was a major fundraiser for our club.  Our club sold food and beer at the Festival, and I definitely was partial to working in the beer booth!  It was always great to see a familiar face step up to the booth to ask for beer!

As my boys grew older, I involved them in Rotary Projects.  We have served food at Samaritan House, and collected clothes for One Warm Coat.  I enjoy helping out on the Foster City Rotary Cooking Crew.  We provide the meals for various District events, as well as cook for fundraiser throughout the year. I have gone on to be more involved with the club – serving as Community Services Director and Youth Services Director. I also serve as Chair of the annual 4th of July pancake fundraiser. 

A few years ago, while visiting my parents in Taiwan, I noticed a bust of my Grandfather.  (It is Taiwan custom to honor ancestors in this manner).  Low and behold there was a Rotary President medallion worn around his neck!  This led to a long story-telling discussion with my mother.  My grandfather was very involved with the Taipei, Taiwan club.  I’m pleased to be picking up the Rotary torch in the family. 

I am amazed at how many people Rotary touches throughout the world.  From providing Polio vaccines, to providing clean water to remote communities, and building schools in developing countries, Rotary’s impact is strong.  I often wonder, why hadn’t I heard of this organization earlier in my life? 

I am honored to be elected Club President for the 2021-22 year.  My goals are to engage all members to participate in our projects, and partner with other clubs in our District on projects.  We are working toward a Twin Club relationship with the Rotary Club of Inagi City, Japan.  I hope to launch the first inter-club exchange to promote understanding and friendship between our cultures.