(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

Alison Proctor at alisonproctor@gmail.com.) 


Jamie Cavagnaro

Joined Rotary December 9, 2009

March, 2022


Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 is the day I received my red badge in front of what felt like a million people. I remember standing up at the podium feeling really nervous as Linda Grant handed me the red badge and Jim Ko pinned my lapel. After all, we had the city manager, a couple city council members, the chief of police, and a lot of successful business people in attendance for their weekly Rotary meeting.

It’s a little ironic how my Rotary life began. I had just started a new, slow-moving career in the insurance business a few years earlier when a close family friend said, “Hey, you should join Rotary. All of the city’s movers and shakers are in the Rotary club and it would be a great networking opportunity for your business.” My response was “Huh?”. Aside from seeing the Rotary sign on city boards, I knew nothing about Rotary. About a month later, I received a phone call from a gentleman responding to a marketing letter I had mailed out to all Foster City residents. He wanted me to write his insurance. It was one of the easiest sales ever, I didn’t actually have to sell him. He just said write it up. The gentleman was Jim Ko. That was July 2008. About a year and a half later, Jim called me and asked if I would be interested in going to a Rotary meeting. He said if nothing else, you’ll get 3 free lunches. So I met Jim for those 3 free lunches and soon after I was a Rotarian. (Back then, the lunches at the Crowne Plaza were really good!).

In the early days there were several people in the club that stood out and really made an impression. Dave DeSmidt was in charge of instructing me of the requirements and expectations of me as a member. He made me feel welcomed. Mike Hoffman made a point to talk with me each and every week . It did not take long to learn that we both like cars, fast cars. Rich Mozzini led the One Warm Coat and Dictionary projects. As a volunteer of those 2 projects, Rich made things easy for me to participate. He took the time to teach and once again, another Rotarian that made me feel welcomed. As a volunteer of the Summer Concerts, Ollie Pattum and Jim Ko, who co-chaired the concerts, asked for a volunteer to go to Smart & Final to get big bags of ice. After 3 concerts of getting ice, Ollie dubbed me "Ice Man". It is a nickname, 11 ½ years later, that I am proud to have bestowed on me. Since then, Ollie, Rick Wykoff, Bill Chow and Paul Williams have welcomed me into the cooking crew as well as into their personal friend circle. There are other members on the cooking crew but I am so new to the crew, I have not yet worked with everyone.

In January’s Rotary My Story, Mike Hoffman said “Get involved and you’ll get to know the members!” I’m not sure who offered those words of wisdom to Mike but they should be words of wisdom to all of us. I volunteered for just about everything I could and have had the pleasure to work with just about every Rotarian in the club.

In 2011-2012 I served as Public Relations chair for Mary Bates. 2018-2019 I was Community Service Director for Mark Watson as well as 2019-2020 for Mary Lou Griffin. And if my memory is correct, I served on the Foundation Board from 2017-2019. I have chaired the Rib Fest 2 or 3 times and the Spaghetti and Bingo event 2 or 3 times.

What I find special about our club is that with each event I volunteer for, or each position or project, I always seem to get a little more familiar with different members. We spend more time together and as a result we learn more about each other. That’s very positive.

A very special Rotary moment came in 2012. Linda and Jon Grant spearheaded a Mazatlan trip to distribute wheelchairs to people in need. I finally got the opportunity to go on the trip and I took my then, 12-year old son, Jarod. This trip will forever be a part of me and I believe will always impact my son as well.

It started when we met in a large covered outdoor auditorium. IT WAS HOT! There were a lot of people assembling wheelchairs, breaking down boxes; I remember cardboard boxes being everywhere. It seemed to a first timer as chaotic. But in no time, all the wheelchairs were assembled, the cardboard boxes neatly stacked up and the area cleared. We began to load wheelchairs into vans and trucks. You cannot imagine the amount of planning and coordinating this must have taken but the Grants being who they are, made this happen without any hiccups.  Jarod and I were told what van to hop into and off we went. We hit the road with Greg Kuhl as our Rotary leader and about 8 other Rotarians, not all from our club. I believe a member of the Mazatlan Rotary club was our driver. If memory serves, we delivered 8 wheelchairs. We’d go from one stop to the next, presenting a new wheelchair each time. In every case, the person receiving the wheelchair lit up like a Christmas tree. They were so happy and appreciative to receive this gift, it was just very special to witness. But the moment that has forever changed me, and I am tearing up while I write this, is when Jarod and got to present a little boy maybe 8 or 9 years old, who had what I believe was cerebral palsy, his brand new wheelchair. We had to lift this little boy up out of a stroller, his arms and legs were severely deformed and obviously could not walk. He could not speak either, all he could do was grunt. So Jarod and I lifted him from his stroller and set him into his wheelchair. This boy’s reaction will never leave my memory. He was so excited, his smile was the biggest smile I had ever seen and he began to almost jump up and down while looking at his mother in celebration. My son’s smile was maybe just as big and at that moment I realized that what was going on was truly changing this boy’s life, as well and mine and my son’s.

This trip cemented in me, the impact that Rotary has on people’s lives, and not just the recipients of Rotary’s charitable efforts. And I have always felt that our own club, The Rotary Club of Foster City, has been a leading force in these efforts towards reaching Rotary’s goals. It’s truly been a pleasure to be a small part of this and I cannot imagine my life without being a Rotarian.