Club Information
Fisherman's Wharf

We meet In Person & Online
Thursdays at 4:00 PM
Meet on Zoom
Fisherman's Wharf
San Francisco, CA 94133
United States of America
We meet the first four Thursdays of the month at 4:00 pm on Zoom. The 3rd Thursday is our Social, and if in person, at 5:30 pm somewhere on the Wharf. We do not meet on a 5th Thursday. Contact nrslepicka@gmail.com or rikipdg@icloud.com
Features

Rhea Grover, a Zero Waste Specalist, gave us a primer on how to “Be Better at the Bin” by properly sorting items for the compost (green), recycle (blue), and garbage (black) bins provided to customers of Recology in San Francisco. 

Grover showed videos of Recology’s waste sorting systems. She said the 700 tons of materials collected daily from green bins becomes high nutrient compost for farm fields, vineyards and gardens.

Items from blue bins are sorted mechanically and by hand and sold for recycle and reuse in other forms. Trash and garbage from black bins goes to landfills.

Grover said San Francisco’s goal is to become a zero waste community, which takes cooperation from all the city’s residents, businesses and public entities.

On October 5, District Governo Laine Hendricks joined us on Zoom for her official visit with the club and the board of directors. Laine invited us to think about the Rotary International theme, Create Hope in the World and its focus on mental health. "Make space in your club to talk about mental health," she said.
 
Quoting Yoko Ono – Healing yourself is connected with healing others –  Laine displayed District 5150's new logo, CONNECT, whose graphics elements suggest working together to create hope by building bridges, celebrating diversity and taking action now. 
At the conclusion, DG Hendricks said she was impressed by our members’ active participation in the discussion, the club’s 100% EREY support of the Rotary Foundation, and our engagement with District 5150 and its goals.
 

 

Last week’s guest speaker, Scott Gentner, CEO of Pier 39, brought uplifting news about one of our favorite places on Fisherman’s Wharf.

Scott explained that the Wharf’s typical revenue streams, at one-third each, are local residents, domestic tourists and international tourists. The latter two all but disappeared during the pandemic but have since rebounded.

“Pier 39 sales to date in 2023 are only 3% off what they were in 2019,” Scott said. One reason is that the Pier employs its own security force.

Acknowledging problems of street crime and other issues the city is currently facing, Scott said, “Pier 39 is benefitting in the short term, but San Francisco needs a vibrant, safe and functioning Fisherman’s Wharf.”

New businesses and attractions that are coming to Pier 39 include Quack (selling all things rubber duck), a CBD store, Fire & Ice restaurant, and a Sea Lion Experience.

Stay tuned for more good news, Scott said.

 

Our club has lost a charter and beloved member, Larry Hoogasian, who died on July 12, 2023, just two days before his 70th birthday. He had been hospitalized for more than four months for treatment of complications after suffering a fall.

Larry was a San Francisco native, Richmond District resident, talented florist, active Rotarian and a lovingf friend to many. A past president of our club, he was serving on the board of directors at the time of his death. 

Larry attended St. Monica's, St. Ignatius and obtained a degree in architecture from UC Berkeley, but Larry ultimately chose a long and successful career in the family business, Hoogasian Flowers.
At ease with politicians, rock stars and everyday people, Larry expressed his creativity and art with flowers, event décor and window displays. While working at the family flower stand at 250 Post, he watched and  learned the art of window display design from the team at Gump’s. 

In 1987, Hoogasian Flowers, under Larry's direction, was responsible for decorating St. Mary's Cathedral for the visit of Pope John Paul II. Larry could regale about the Grateful Dead, Bill Graham and other notables. Larry’s floral arrangements brought smiles to untold numbers of musicians, celebrities and Bay Area residents. Although he never married, his family was large and loving.

Preceded in death by his parents, Harold and Theresa and his sister, Camille, Larry is survived by his brother, Harold, many nieces, nephews and godchildren. Larry was a loving, caring person with a great sense of humor and big heart. He will be deeply missed by family, friends and Rotarians.

Rotarians Prakash and Vidula Bhatt of Pune, India, attended a recent virtual meeting of our club. The next day, the couple met up with Bob and Riki, Aline, Suzanne and Roger at Swiss Louis on Pier 39 to exchange banners of the Rotary Club of Pune Gandhibhavan and Rotary Club of Fisherman's Wharf.

After returning home, they presented our banner during the April 25 meeting of Rotary Club of Pune Gandhibhavan. In the photo from left: Vidula and Prakash, Secretary Shashank Tilak,  President Padmaja Joshi  and IPDG DMC Pankaj Shaha.

It was a real treat to meet and talk through interpreters with Miriam Cerillo Perez, the Project Amigo college student our club is sponsoring. We learned more about her major, metallurgical chemical engineering, her family and her part-time jobs. Miriam was joined on the Zoom screen by Executive Director Kirk Dretzka, Donor Guidance Director Dora Zuniga and Abel Vargas Manzo, Director of Queseria Education Program.

Supported by donations from Rotary Clubs, individuals and one corporate sponsor, Project Amigo makes it possible for children of poverty to attend elementary school, junior high, high school and college by covering all costs of their education, including tuition, uniforms, backpacks with school supplies, and laptops for college students. To date more than 900 students have graduated from 12th grade, and many have achieved college and advanced degrees. Kirk related some amazing success stories. 

The organization's formula is simple. "It takes more than money," Kirk said. "Project Amigo takes a kid by the hand and makes sure she or he succeeds. In addition to attending classes and doing their homework, our students are required to give back ten hours to the community and to write letters to donors. They learn responsibility. We also have a psychologist on staff who works with students who need help and their families. Kirk noted that five members of the Project Amigo staff are graduates of the program.

Kirk and Dora thanked the club for its generous support of Miriam and urged members to consider visit Project Amigo for an upcoming Service Week. To learn more about Service Weeks: 

https://www.projectamigo.org/serviceweeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michaela Haas, PhD, author and award winning journalist, presented her findings on trauma and post-traumatic growth for our regular virtual meeting on Jan. 26. Her most recent book is titled Bouncing Forward, Transforming Bad Breaks into Breakthroughs.

“Trauma doesn’t have to be a life threatening experience,” Haas said. Examples included divorce, or when vets returning from fighting in Iraq were not appreciated. Although recovery and healing from trauma can take years, it can happen by accepting reality and charting a new path.

Haas described five outcomes of post-traumatic growth: growth in personal strength, deeper relationships, discovery of new perspectives, greater appreciation for life, and more intense spirituality. 

Haas said that those who heal from trauma often “experience a sense of gratitude and take time to savor happiness.”

For more information, visit www.michaelahaas.com

During our Oct. 27 meeting, Anna Mai, a 2013 graduate of Galileo High School and recipient of a college scholarship from our club, charmed members with her humility and effervescent enthusiasm. 

The daughter of immigrants, Anna grew up in Chinatown and because her family was poor, she got her first job while in middle school. She described herself as insecure and shy while attending Galileo. After working hard and graduating from UC Berkeley, she first worked as a consultant but didn’t find the job personally rewarding. She then got a job in San Diego with Tokuyama, a Japanese manufacturer of high quality dental equipment. 

Anna convinced her supervisors that it’s good for a company to give back, and through her determined persistence, Tokuyama instituted a social responsibility program that has donated more than $500,000 in supplies to free dental clinics serving impoverished patients.

Anna says that she has learned, “You cannot change the world alone.” With the help of Tresa Eyres, a former member of our club who Anna describes as her mentor, Anna started Books for Prosperity, a nonprofit that empowers and educates underserved children in Mexico. The program has expanded to teach English to children in orphanages.

With a passionate interest to protect the environment, Anna’s goal is to become an entrepreneur and start a company that produces biodegradable every-day consumer products, such as bamboo toilet paper.  Having learned of Anna’s accomplishments and witnessing her infectious drive, several club members offered help, and we invited Anna to stay in touch.

Banners recognizing our club for its continued support of The Rotary Foundation were presented virtually by Carrie China, District EREY Coordinator.

For the 2020-2021 year, the Rotary Club of Fisherman’s Wharf was one of only 4,000 clubs worldwide to attain the status as an Every Rotarian Every Year Club, and one of 4,600 clubs worldwide to become a 100% Foundation Giving Club.

Carrie said that last year, 2021-2022, our club was among19 of the district’s 45 clubs to receive the Average TRF Giving Banner because every club member donated at least $25 or more to the Annual Fund Share. The District 5150 goal this year is to be the first district in the world to be EREY.

“Thank you to the Rotary Club of Fisherman’s Wharf for always being 100% EREY and earning both banners,” said Carrie. “Foundation Chair Riki makes sure it happens.”

High Fives!

Applause goes to four club members for their individual honors:

Yvonne Curley - District 5150 Rotarian of the Month

Bettie Grinnell - honored by students and faculty for her 50 years of dedicated service to the Galileo High School community

Randall Scott - honored by Central Station as the Outstanding Community Member of the Month

Erik Scheller - received another Paul Harris Plus pin for reaching the next level of giving to the Foundation.

As said by Membership Chair Aline, “24% of our club was recognized for doing what Rotarians do best—Service Above Self!” 

 

 

 

 

 

“I have the hardest working cops in the city. They take pride in being the protectors of iconic spots in San Francisco.”

Central Station Captain Douglas Farmer exuded confidence in his officers and enthusiasm for his job as the guest speaker for our annual First Responders Recognition meeting on Sept. 15. 

Earlier that day, the entire Central Station staff was treated to a lunch of sandwiches, chips and ice cream provided by our club, Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District and Roger Kaufman’s Ben & Jerry’s.

Farmer moved to San Francisco in 1987, and graduated from SF State and the Police Academy. He began his 30-year career as an officer in the Mission District and rose through the ranks as a tactical team instructor, sergeant in the Bayview area and Central Station lieutenant. 

“On June 30 this year, I was ready to retire when I was asked to become Central Station’s acting captain” he said. “I love my job and will stay as long as needed.”

Capt. Farmer noted that in addition to hundreds of businesses and residences, Central Station is responsible for 35 hotels, 34 consulates and eight top tourist attractions. He said car break-ins and burglaries have become the most prevalent crime on Fisherman’s Wharf, and they are happening in broad daylight by perpetrators who are often armed and violent. Illegal vendors and illegal alcohol sales are ongoing problems.

Capt. Farmer said that police visibility aids crime prevention and arrests. He urges business people and residents to immediately call police when they witness a crime.

The First Responders Recognition was arranged by Aline, who received the following email from Capt. Farmer:  "Thank you for having me as a guest at the Rotary meeting. It was a pleasure meeting you all. I am extremely grateful for the gift of having a book dedicated to Galileo High School in my name. That is truly awesome!   Looking forward to future meetings."

On July 28th, Dora E. Zuñiga, Donor Guidance Director, gave us an update and good news from Project Amigo, which for decades has helped disadvantages children in the area of Colima, Mexico, pursue their middle, high school and college  education. She said that 94% of Project Amigo students graduate from college. 

Several club members remember Mireya, a Project Amigo high school student who was sponsored by our club, and went on to graduate from college and become the first Project Amigo graduate to become mayor of Colima. 

Dora urged the club to participate in a Service Week and/or sponsor another young person. For more information, visit www.projectamigo.org

 
On June 9th, club members learned about 42nd Street Moon Theatre and its Moon School training program for young people from Executive Artistic Director Daniel Thomas.
 
The theater company was founded in San Francisco in 1993 to celebrate lesser known and forgotten Broadway musicals written by well known composers like Jerome Kern and Rodgers and Hart. More reccently the company has produced and performed world premieres of new musicals, including "Scrooge in Love" in 2015 and "Murder for Two" in 2021.
 
Daniel said the company successfully performed virtually during the shuttered months of the pandemic. We were treated to two inspiring online videos from 2020 and 2021.
 
The company's current musical, live on stage, is "The Pajama Game." It runs through June 19 at the Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson Street.  For show information and tickets, visit 42ndstmoon.org

We thank last week's speaker, Chief Executive Officer Nestor "Nes" Fernandez, for updating us on all the good and exciting news from Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center. Tel Hi now operates out of five locations and serves more than 1,200/day, from pre-school children to senior citizens. Since 2008-2009, Tel Hi's operating budget has grown from $1.8 million to $8 million.

Among a staff of 100, mostly full-time, only six hold administrative positions, including our very own Yvonne Curley, Tel Hi Development Director.  

Nes expressed appreciation to our club and to individual members for generously supporting Tel Hi with donations and volunteers. 

Club members filled a table at the recent Taste of Tel Hi, and each one donated to help the event reach its fundraising goal. Seated Aline Estournes and Yvonne Curley. Standing, l-r: Herman Jones, Randall Scott, Erik Scheller, Steve Ike and Roger Kaufman.

Club members were treated to an insider’s view of NASA’s space program from our March 10 speaker, Cristy Kumasaka, the principal quality assurance engineer for Aerojet Rocketdyne of Redmond, WA, and is part of the A-Team working on both the Orion and Artemis projects for NASA. 

Joining Cristy for our Zoom meeting were her parents Steve and Maria Mathews, longtime members of the Rotary Club of Peoria North and Mill Creek Rotary Club.

Cristy has worked for Aerojet for 22 years, starting with an internship while working toward her degree in engineering. As a side note, Cristy credits her career to the day that she attended a meeting of her mother’s Rotary Club and learned about Aerojet from the meeting’s speaker.

NASA’s Artemis program will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon to explore the lunar surface like never before. This bold endeavor will begin with the Artemis I launch - an uncrewed flight test.

Artemis I is the first integrated test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft. SLS and Orion will blast off from Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to send Orion into a lunar distant retrograde orbit – a wide orbit around the Moon that is farther from Earth than any human-rated spacecraft has ever traveled. The uncrewed mission will validate the design and safety of SLS and Orion for human exploration missions to follow.

SLS is the nation’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket that will carry humans farther and faster into deep space than ever before. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides the four powerful RS-25 main engines used to help propel SLS with over 2 million pounds of thrust, as well as the RL10 engine that propels the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), or the second stage, of the SLS. This engine provides the power to accelerate the Orion spacecraft to speeds more than 20,000 mile per hour and set it on a course for the Moon.

 

 

 
Once again, our club provided high quality Macmillan for Children dictionaries to the 3rd grade classes at three San Francisco schools: Jean Parker Elementary, Spring Valley Elementary and Garfield Elementary.
 
Club members met for an after-hours social on Thursday, Feb. 17, at Hoogasian Flowers, where they personalized the hardback books with labels with the names of 100 students.
 
Covid-19 restrictions prevented us from presenting the dictionaries to students in person -- a favorite activity in pre-pandemic years -- but a grateful teacher at Jean Parker Elementary sent the above photo to Bettie Grinnell, who organized this year's dictionary distribution.

SF Chinatown members Liz Mark and Rhonda Pierce described the joy and rewards of volunteering with H2Open Doors during our virtual meeting on Feb. 10. Each has participated in multiple projects with the humanitarian organization, the most recent at a hospital in Guatemala.

They joined a group from the Santa Cruz Rotary Club, which funded a water filtration system for the hospital. Those volunteers along with H2Open Doors founder Jon Kaufman and local workers to install the system which daily provides 40,000 liters of purified water for the emergency and operating rooms, ICU, pediatric, neo-natal and other hospital facilities. The availability of clean water is expected to drastically reduce infections, sickness and deaths.

In a sister project, Rotary volunteers assisted local physicians to conduct a free eye clinic.”We tested 280 people and handed out 230 pairs of free reading glasses, plus 100 pairs of non-prescription sunglasses,” Liz said.

The two agree that participating in a H2Open Doors project is a life-changing experience. For more information, visit www.H2OpenDoors.org

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia that strives to represent the knowledge of all people, was explained by our October 21 speaker, Frank Schulenberg, Executive Director of Wiki Education and a member of the Chico Rotary Club. He said thousands of volunteer contributors worldwide help to ensure the quality and accuracy of Wikipedia’s content.

“Fundamentally, there are more good people than bad,” Frank said. Contributors monitor their individual watch lists and are immediately notified of any change made to an article on their list. “Five to ten minutes is the average time before false information that was added by vandals is removed.”

Wiki Education conducts training programs and solicits articlest on a huge range of subjects. Frank said that in 2018, contributions exceeded the content in all volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  

As stated on its website, www.wikiedu.org, “Wiki Education envisions a world in which students, scholars, scientists, archivists, librarians, and other members of academic and cultural institutions are actively engaged in sharing their knowledge with the general public.”

 
Nine of our members enjoyed the club's  November  social on Thursday, Nov. 11, at the outdoor venue of San Francisco Brewing Company in Ghirardelli Square. The club currently meets virtually on Thursdays, 4:00-5:00 pm, and gathers in person once a month from 5:30 to 7:00 pm at a restaurant in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood.
 
Front row, from left, Roger Kaufman, Bob Intner, Kay Auciello, Nancy Slepicka, Riki Intner and Steve Ike. Back row: Herman Jones, Erik Scheller and Randall Scott.
 
 
Our speaker for the October 14 meeting, Keith Axtell, provided a comprehensive program on Rotary Foundation Global Grants. He explained the strictly defined process of applying for a Global Grant and the short and long term responsibilities of both the host club and its international sponsor club. Keith said that based on what he's learned to date about the malaria eradication project in Nigeria that our International Chair Steve Ike is researching, it has good potential to qualify for a Global Grant.

Central Police Station Captain Julian Ng and Officer Chris Sabella were our special guests for the club’s 7th annual First Responder Recognition. This year’s event, which took place virtually via Zoom, focused on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001,terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City and crashed an airliner near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities and over 25,000 injuries.

Captain Ng recalled that on 9/11 he was an officer in the Bayview district and had just gotten off the night shift when he saw TV coverage of the towers falling. “I couldn’t help but think, what if that happened in San Francisco?” he said. “But I know what would happen. Firefighters and police here would do the same — we wouldn’t run away, we’d rush towards the disaster. That’s our job.”

“We have to be prepared, and we are,” Ng said. 

Officer Sabella said he was a high school freshman and vividly remembers the morning of the attacks. “It’s one of the things that spurred me to become a police officer,” he said, adding that his older brother is a firefighter and another brother is an EMT.

Foundation Chair Riki Intner surprised Captain Ng with a special gift from the club, a $1,000 donation naming him a Paul Harris Fellow. He received a lapel pin and certificate from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International what states, “In appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.”

Noticeably moved, Captain Ng thanked the club for this “tremendous honor.” 

Co-President Aline Estournes reported that pastries, goodies and ice cream were being delivered to Central Police Station for all the officers and staff to enjoy. Our hope is that next year, our First Responder Recognition will be an in-person celebration.

Kathleen Sasso, the commercial property manager for Ghirardelli Square, was our featured speaker for our July 15 meeting.  She shared with us the long and interesting history of Ghirardelli Square, from its origins in the late 1890s when it was a chocolate manufacturing plant, to its transition in the 1960s to a mixed-use retail complex when the chocolate plant moved to San Leandro.  

Kathleen described new tenants recently added to the exciting tenant mix and highlighted some of the more unusual of the existing retail and dining establishments. Her talk wrapped up with a peek at what the future plans might hold for this world renowned historical landmark.

Club members enjoyed an evening of conversation, awards, laughter and praise for successfully completing a Rotary year of virtual meetings during the Change Over Dinner on Friday, June 25.

The club returned in person to Fisherman’s Wharf ––  at Swiss Louis Italian Seafood Restaurant on Pier 39 –– where Co-Presidents Suzanne Varacalli and Roger Kaufman passed the gavel to  Aline Estournes and Erk Scheller, now serving as Co-Presidents for the 2021-2022 year. Pictured l-r: Roger, Erik, Suzanne and Aline.

Suzanne and Roger reported that despite the Covid pandemic, our club gained three new members, Yvonne Curley, Bettie Grinnell and Randall Scott, and created a successful online fundraiser.

Club Fugazi, for 45 years the home of the iconic Beach Blanket Babylon, will be reanimated this fall by acrobatic performers of The 7 Fingers, a Montreal based circus company that started in 2002 in San Francisco.

David Dower, co-producer, described this exciting news — for San Francisco and the North Beach neighborhood — to club members at our June 10 meeting. 

Dower said the show is a love letter to San Francisco that  will include scenes about the Gold Rush, the 1906 earthquake and the Summer of Love.

Club Fugazi is being renovated to provide an immersive experience to  theatergoers in all 350 seats. Finger foods of the North Beach and Chinatown neighborhoods, wine and beer  will be available.

"This project is a labor of love. To have the opportunity to reanimate a venue with such a rich history, at the very moment we are coming out from under this long, dense cloud, is a powerful and energizing privilege for us,” Dower said.

The show opens in September, and tickets go on sale later this month. For more information visit www.clubfugazisf.com

 

Janelle Estournes, the Americorps Disaster Services Coordinator for Sonoma and Napa Counties, presented a Red Cross program on “How to Prepare for an Emergency or Disaster” for our April 15 online meeting. She is a niece of club member and Co-President Elect Aline Estournes.

Noting that every county in California last year was struck by wildfires and other disastrous fires, Janelle focused on what should be included in an emergency kit and how individuals and families should plan and practice escape from a building or residence.

The pandemic’s effect on the local business community and projections for the future were the discussion topics with our April 8 guest speakers, Rodney Fong, President and CEO, and Emily Abraham, Interim Director of Public Policy, from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

As of February, 50% of the city’s small businesses were shuttered, Rodney said. He displayed and explained a variety of data/statistics charts that are available under Resources on sfchamber.com.

Rodney noted that San Francisco has recovered from previous setbacks — the earthquake, .com boom and financial crisis — and tourists, especially from the East Bay, are already returning to places like Fisherman’s Wharf.  “We need to extend their stays,” he said.

To attract tourists the city’s streets must be clean and neighborhoods safe. Club members agreed with Rodney on the need to elect district supervisors who understand that the city is a network of public services and businesses that must work together in order for all to thrive.