Club Information
Fisherman's Wharf

We meet In Person
Thursdays at 4:00 PM
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

 

“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.

Members attending our March 18 via Zoom got a primer on the Magnolia Collection at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, a 55-acre living museum within Golden Gate Park that showcases more than 8,000 different kinds of plants from around the world. Our knowledgeable speakers were  Steve Gensler, the Garden’s Geographic Information System (GIS) Manager, and Victoria Stewart, Plant Records Manager.

We learned that there are 7,300 species of magnolias, one-third of which are located in China, and more than 300 species are considered threatened. Eric Walther, SF Botanical Garden director from 1937 to 1957, introduced magnolias, and trees located throughout the Garden are now the premier collection in the world outside of China. The blooming season is January-March.

The Garden’s oldest magnolia tree, at 99 years, is this Magnolia Campbelli.

Our guest speaker on March 11 was Ben Amyes, Disaster Response Coordinator for the San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA). He explained how he’s able to help families and individuals who’ve been displaced by fires and other natural disasters. 

Tenants of non rent-controlled units can apply to receive a one-time payment to cover the move-in cost to a new unit. The program makes the payment directly to the landlord of the new unit.

Tenants of rent-controlled units can receive a monthly rent subsidy that pays the difference between the rent at the tenant’s permanent residence and a comparable unit leased at the current market rate. The subsidy can last for up to two years, or until the permanent address is ready to reoccupy. Rent-controlled tenants have the right to return after repairs are completed.

To find suitable housing, Ben said he works with a network of landlords, including the Northpoint Apartments complex which club member Aline Estournes manages. He currently has 35 clients, about 150 individuals. Ben said no other city in the U.S. provides this type of housing subsidy to victims of disasters.

Our February 11 speaker was John McNulty, a founding principal and architect of MBH Architects.  He and two other self-described “ambitious” architects founded the firm in 1989, and it continues to be headquartered today in Alameda with offices in NYC, Denver, Mumbai and Bengaluru. 

John is a member of the advisory council for SPUR and serves on the board for the Good Tidings Foundation.  As a former board member of the SF Chapter of AIA, he is a frequent guest lecturer at UC Berkeley, where he received his degree in Environmental Design.

Club member Aline Estournes said John is a dear friend of 32 years. They first met soon after she began her property management career with the Northpoint complex and he was involved with work there following the 1989 earthquake.

John said that “Reimagine” is a core mission of MBH Architects. He showed slides and described the evolution of various projects around San Francisco, including the recently completed building at Grant and Sutter, Harbor Lofts, North Beach Malt House, Northpoint Apartments, Wax Museum, Epic and Waterbar. 

More information and project photos can be found on the firm’s website, www.mbharch.com

 
Yvonne Curley, Development Director for Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, was inducted as our newest club member by Co-President Suzanne Varacalli during the Dec. 3rd Club Assembly. She was sponsored by longtime member and past-president Aline Estournes.
 
A number of Yvonne's friends and Tel-Hi co-workers were special guests in the Webex meeting.

Guest speaker for our Nov. 12th meeting was Lt Jonathan Baxter, Homeland Security Operations and Public Image Officer for the San Francisco Fire Department. He passed on fascinating facts about the department as well as helpful advice on how we should prepare our homes and work places for disasters like earthquakes and fires.

Thanks to Lt. Baxter, we now know that the SF Fire Department has 47 fire engines, 22 ladder trucks, 55 ambulances, 3 fireboats, 1,780 firefighters and 47 fire stations, including 3 at the San Francisco Airport.

He urged members to become involved with their local NERT (Neighborhood Emergency Response Team), which will be essential in saving lives during a major disaster. Included in his virtual presentation were these “be prepared” and “make a plan” tips.

 
Thank you, Steve for introducing us to the new Rotary International area of focus, Supporting The Environment and for challenging each of us to take on a project to join this Rotary International initiative.
 

Several of our members are already busy, including Nancy, who's involved with planting native Illinois prairie flowers and grasses, and Bettie, Aline and Herman with their gardens. They may have a jump on the rest of us, but even though it is autumn, let’s all start thinking about and developing individual projects for the year to celebrate Rotary’s new direction.

At our next Club Assembly on November 5th, we will share our plans.

Speaker for our Aug. 13 meeting was Keith Axtell, Past President of the Rotary Club of Marin Evening who has been a leader in organizing international humanitarian projects through Rotary. He described the COVID-19 Project in Guayaquil, Ecuador, which our club supports. The project will provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to doctors and nurses in 15-17 hospitals, including 20,000 face masks and 800 uniforms, all produced in Ecuador.

Keith also updated us on other Rotary projects in Ecuador, including a water well for the Henry Davis Orphanage in Quito, and a micro-credit lending program for new businesses and training center in the Esmeralda Province.

 

We welcomed Heather Edwards, Director of Development, to our July 16th Zoom meeting to update us on Project Amigo, which the club supported in past years and was recently designated for a portion of our District Designated Funds. 

Project Amigo was the official international service project of the Rotary Club of Novato, CA between 1996 and 2002. Today it is an independent public 501(c)(3) charity.

Project Amigo provides educational scholarships, material support, enrichment activities and preventive and remedial health care to disadvantaged children and youth. Since its founding in 1984, more than 1,000 students from the village of Cofradia, population 2,000, have graduated from high school with the education and skills necessary for jobs that pay better than working in the surrounding sugar cane fields.

Heather said she was introduced by a friend to Project Amigo and fell in love with the program when she participated in an English Tutoring Work Week, one of six one-week experiences offered to volunteers from developed countries. Other themed Work Weeks on the 2021 calendar are Literacy & Culture, Spanish Language & Culture, Swim Week & Back to School, Environmental Week, and Christmas Fiesta. 

For ore information, visit www.projectamigo.org or email Heather: heatherdwards@projectamigo.org

On June 18, Steve Carlson of the Rotary Club of San Carlos updated club members on the Morocco High Atlas Irrigation Aqueduct project, which he initiated and our club has supported with DDF funds since its beginning. Steve showed slides and photos via Zoom to inform and inspire us.

When complete later this year, the 2200-meter cement structure will carry water from a mountain river, fed by snow melt, to 30 villages in the Berber community. Gates along the aqueduct will divert water to irrigate farm fields. Washing stations, for clothes and dishes, will built along the route to the delight of village women.

Carlson said the project has been funded by $131,000 from the Rotary Club of San Carlos and a $175,000 Global Grant. The final section will be completed by the Rotary Club of Redwood City.

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