(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.)


Noemi Avram

Member Since October 1, 2001

April 2021



Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I studied architecture at the University of Buenos Aires. I knew at 10 I wanted to be an architect. Later, my husband Hector (aka Coco) and I moved to Toronto whereby I received a Master's degree in architecture, with an emphasis in Urban Studies at the University of Toronto. Both of our children were born there and soon all of us moved to Foster City as a result of my husband's job of designing MRI equipment utilizing his doctorate in physics. In 2001, after our youngest left for college, we started joining different organizations and boards to give back to our community. In 2002 I became a Planning Commissioner in the City of Foster City.

Although I attended events, fundraisers, social and weekly meetings, it took a while for me to become a Rotarian in 2001, but the timing seemed right after 9/11. Ron Karp, as a long time member, client and friend, sponsored me. Paul Gumbinger , member of the Rotary San Mateo lunch club was my boss, mentor and influencer. Initially, he was the reason I joined Rotary.

In 2008 my husband and I went on a humanitarian trip to China, wheelchair distribution was the emphasis of the mission. I was so amazed by the labor of love of our members as well as the Chinese club, that upon our return I volunteered to go to Mazatlan, Mexico, for another humanitarian journey, including wheelchair distribution, arms prosthetics , school and soccer supplies , visiting a school for the blind as well as bringing sweets and other goods to an orphanage.

This trip to Mazatlan made me a full fledged Rotarian as it provided my "Aha" moment whereby Rotary service became my passion. Because I am bilingual, I became the translator at wheelchair events. Much of our distributions were in a large stadium in addition to the home distributions where we saw the fragile nature of housing in Mazatlan. Prior to the distribution in the stadium I was asked to translate between a grandmother, whose grandson who was born without one of his arms, and the person who provided prosthetics. The boy's name was Jonathan and to this day, it brings both tears of emotion and joy thinking how we changed his life by installing a prosthetic arm. As a witness, Greg Kuhl will likely share this moment in time with the same intensity. Since then, numerous occasions have shown me what we do really matters. I was fortunate to participate in wheelchair distribution in South Africa also, and five of our club's 14 missions to Mazatlan.

My best year was 2012-2013, when I humbly had the honor to lead the club as president. Previously, I had been on the board in different offices for few years. As president, I attended the RI Convention in Bangkok witnessing amazing speakers. It gave me the perspective of Rotary being the Great Equalizer of diversity, variety, and inclusion.

It has been almost 20 years since I joined Rotary. I have enjoyed volunteering at Art & Wine Festivals, concerts in the park, dictionary distribution at local schools, SHFB, spaghetti bingo, rib fest, and the Holi fest. I have realized Rotary does not start or stop in a moment, but the "secret sauce" is the continuum of attitudes, relationships, and connections. I am grateful for the values and principles permeating Rotary with "Service above Self" and fortunate to have met our members, whom I admire for their dedication, perseverance, even throughout the pandemic. All are the heroes I try to emulate.