Rotary Club of Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco

Club Information

The Club Where the Bay Greets the Day!

Fisherman's Wharf

Join Us for Breakfast with a Spectacular View

Weekly on Thursday morning at 7:30 am, except the 3rd Thursday, which is an evening social, 5:30-7:30 pm, at rotating venues on Fisherman's Wharf.
The Franciscan Crab Restaurant
Pier 43 1/2 Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA  94133
United States
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Features

Our Feb. 23 speaker, Lynn Cullivan, public information officer, described the history and the attractions of the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, located on the waterfront between Hyde and South Van Ness streets. He's pictured with Kay Auciello, club program chair.

Free exhibits can be viewed at both the park's Visitor Center, located inside the Argonaut Hotel on Jefferson St., and at the Maritime Museum in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building. 

Hyde Street Pier, built in 1922 for automobile ferries between San Francisco and Sausalito, is home to several historic vessels, including five that are designated National Historic Landmarks: the C.A. Thayer and Alma (schooners), the Balclutha (square rigger), the Eureka (side wheel ferry) and the Hercules (steam-powered tug boat). Smaller craft are moored on the pier’s east side.

An extensive collection of artifacts, books, photographs, vessel plans and other documents is available to the public at the Maritime Library, located at the park headquarters in Building # at Fort Mason Center. For more, visit www.nps.gov/safr.

Members who attended our Feb. 16 happy hour social at The Pub in Ghirardelli Square were treated to a fascinating conversation with Michael Paller, resident dramaturg and acting instructor for the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.

Michael spoke about the 50 years of A.C.T., from its inception and early days in Pittsburgh, PA, to mounting productions in various venues in SF, coping with major earthquake damage in the 1980s with support from other SF theater groups, rebuilding the Geary Theater, opening the Strand, and all the current exciting activities. 

He shared stories about colorful characters associated with A.C.T. and some past productions, and updated us about the Master of Fine Arts program. (A.C.T. has the only accredited program not affiliated with a university and is considered one of the very top programs in the country.)

Michael’s book, A Five-Act Play: Fifty Years of A.C.T. will be published later this year.

 

Our guest speaker Feb. 9 was Sandy Hunt (left), a long-time educator and psychotherapist who’s been a SFMOMA guide/docent for 14 years. Through her candid perspective on how to approach, and enjoy, the new museum, members learned: 

• Modern art can be challenging to appreciate…but it’s worth it!

• Take advantage of the new SFMOMA website to familiarize yourself before you go.

• Pace yourself when visiting the  museum –– limit 1-2 hours at a time.

• Try to take a tour with a guide if you can; you can also schedule a tour for your own group.

• Visiting the museum with others and having conversations about what you are viewing helps you get more from the experience.

Sandy did a guided session with club members using a number of Diane Arbus photographs, which illustrated how much more you can get out of viewing art by discussing individual reactions with others and having an informed guide aiding the conversation.

Members gathered Thursday evening at Hoogasian Flowers on 7th St. to unbox, label and rebox dozens of hardcover Macmillan Children’s Dictionaries, which we’ll deliver to 3rd graders at four San Francisco elementary schools in February. Each child receives a dictionary personalized with her or his name and labels identifying the book as a gift from the Rotary Club of Fisherman’s Wharf and stating the Rotary 4-Way Test.

After efficiently completing the evening’s work, the group walked to the nearby Mar’s Bar for a light meal. Participating were Bob, Riki, Larry, Herman, Suzanne, Wendy, Dan, Roger, Erik, Nancy and former member Rick Zimmerman.

Members at our Jan. 12 meeting — 10 women, one gentleman (Bob) — learned everything we didn’t know about The Presidio National Park and Presidio Officers’ Club. Chris Greene told how she became a Heritage Docent at the Officers’ Club and described the wealth of activities, events and attractions —mostly free — available year-round at The Presidio. Chris is pictured at left with President Suzanne Varacalli.

Presidio National Park, the only national park within a city, encompasses 1500 acres, 900 of which are forest. “Because it’s not natural, the forest is a cultural artifact, and the trees are getting old. The Park Service is now planting 2500 trees a year and will continue that for the next 60 years,” Chris said. The park includes 24 miles of trails and 18 scenic overlooks.

The Officers’ Club reopened to the public two years ago after total restoration to its WWII architecture. It houses a museum of California history, “Earth Wall” — one of the Presidio’s four natural sculptures by artist Andrew Goldsworthy — and the Arguello Restaurant. 

Presidio Dialogues, interactive conversations with authors and artists, are held at 6 pm every Thursday at the Officers’ Club, and Presidio Sessions, intimate concerts by musicians of all genre, are on Friday at 6 pm. The Presidio Book Club, led by Presidio Trust historian Barbara Bergland, meets 1-3 pm on the third Saturday of the month. “And you don’t have to read the book to attend,” Chris said.

Complete information and a calendar of events/activities can be found at www.presidio.gov.

Past President Marcella Ramos and Program Chair Kay Auciello are the club’s newest Paul Harris Fellows, which recognizes their financial support of the Rotary Foundation. In presenting each with a Paul Harris pin and certificate, Foundation district representative Riki Intner said their contributions help achieve a polio-free world, show that peace is possible, and support clean water, food and health initiatives worldwide.

Pictured l-r: President Suzanne Varacalli, Kay Auciello, Marcella Ramos, Foundation Chair Janice Vela, Riki Intner.

 

Speaker for our Dec. 8 meeting was retired San Francisco Police Lieutenant Michael Slade, now executive director of Operation Dream, a cooperative effort between SF Police Department and the community to enrich the lives of children in San Francisco. He's pictured at left with President Suzanne Varacalli and member Herman Jones, also retired from SFPD.

Slade said Operation Dream is an outgrowth of the SFPD program to reduce crime in the city’s housing developments, which involved officers in providing bicycles to children and taking kids on field trips. “Police work is a job of leadership,” he said. “Nothing takes the place of face-to-face contact to change lives.”

The Christmas toy drive, which our club supports with member donations of toys, is Operation Dream’s flagship, Slade said. Thousands of new toys — donated and purchased at wholesale prices — are distributed by police officers at public housing and community center parties.

Operation Dream also annually donates more than 2,000 turkeys and food baskets for the Thanksgiving holiday.  To learn more, visit Operation Dream on Facebook.

The club’s Annual Meeting took place during our Dec. 1 Club Assembly, and the following officers and directors for 2017-2018 were elected unanimously: President Tammy Rianda, President Elect Kay Auciello, Secretary Riki Intner, Treasurer Bob Intner, Past President Suzanne Varacalli, and Directors Erik Scheller and Nancy Slepicka. The offices take effect on July 1, 2017.

After President Suzanne reviewed the club’s participation in holiday toy and sock drives and our Dec. 15 holiday party, we celebrated the December birthdays of Aline, Roger and Bob. Erik then explained his role as Vocational Chair and moderated a vocational panel of Dan Morse, Bettie Grinnell and David Chan. (pictured l-r: Dan, Bettie, Erik and David)

Asked “What do you love about your job?” both David and Dan, who work in real estate, said they get the most satisfaction out of helping first-time home buyers find a suitable property, educating them about the process of purchasing a home, and assisting them through all the paperwork of securing financing. David noted that in San Francisco, the mayor’s office of housing has some “great programs” to make the purchase affordable for qualified buyers.

Bettie said “being with students all day” is what she loves about in her roles as head administrative secretary at Galileo High School and adjunct teacher at Dominican University and Columbia College. “Since my area is communication, I get to hear amazing stories from my students,” she said.

 

Six members –– 25% of our club –– joined the crew of volunteers who served 500 meals (turkey-and-all-the-trimmings) to families, children, the elderly and homeless on Thursday, Nov. 19, at Tel-Hi Neighborhood Center, 660 Lombard St. 

Aline, Riki, Herman, Dan, Tammy and Nancy attest that the annual Tel-Hi Thanksgiving Dinner is  a jovial, worthwhile and rewarding community service endeavor. 

Herman, Aline and Tammy with the blue team and Police Captain David Lazar

Riki at work

Nancy served green beans with the pink team.

Supervisor and newly elected State Senator Scott Wiener with Herman and Aline

Members not in attendance for the Nov. 10 meeting (several) missed Tony’s spot-on thought of the day and a fascinating presentation by Yvonne Curley, Development Director for Tel-Hi Neighborhood Center, pictured at right with President Suzanne and Aline Estournes, immediate past president and 6-year member of the Tel-Hi board of directors.

Founded in 1819 by two nurses, principally to serve new immigrants and their children, Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center now operates a wide range of educational and recreational programs for all ages, infants to seniors, both on-site and at area schools. For example:

- 100 senior citizens are served a Project Open Hand hot lunch daily at Tel-Hi.

- Seniors participate in classes for yoga, line dancing, back exercises, Tai-Chi and more.

- A computer lab is open to adults till mid-afternoon, when it’s then available to youth.

- Early childhood and pre-school education is provided daily to over 100 children.

- After-school programs, classes and tutoring are provided at Francisco Middle School and Galileo High School.

- Tel-Hi employs 60 part- and full-time staff members and relies heavily on a large group of volunteers.

- About 60% of Tel-Hi clients are low income, but thanks to the support of donors, foundations and the city, no one is denied service.

- To learn more, visit www.telhi.org

Club members will again be volunteers for Tel-Hi’s free Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 17. It’s not too late to sign up — email Suzanne at sv@smainteriors.com

Bettie Grinnell, a friend of our club since the 1990s, became a Paul Harris Fellow during the Club Assembly meeting Nov. 3. She was inducted by Riki Intner, Rotary Foundation representative. (l-r: President Suzanne Varacalli, Betti and Riki)

Paul Harris founded Rotary with three business associates in Chicago in 1905, and the Paul Harris Fellowship was established in 1957 to express appreciation for a contribution of $1,000 to the humanitarian and educational programs of the Rotary Foundation. A Paul Harris Fellow is recognized as a person whose life demonstrates a shared purpose with the Foundation’s mission to “do good in the world” and build understanding and peace.

Bettie, senior administrative secretary at Galileo High school, is a regular guest at club meetings to represent the school principal — currently Principal Michael Reimer — who holds a membership in the club. Bettie said she’s served under 11 of Galileo’s 18 principals.

The ten members who attended the Oct. 27 breakfast meeting learned how Habitat for Humanity builds homes, revitalizes neighborhoods and changes lives. Our guest speaker, Maureen Sedonaen, CEO of Habitat’s Greater San Francisco chapter, said that in the Bay Area’s overpriced housing market, “We provide hardworking families with the opportunity of home ownership.

To qualify for a Habitat home — and earn zero down and 0% interest on a 30-year mortgage — the prospective owner must be able to meet the monthly payments and be willing to partner with Habitat by contributing at least 500 “sweat hours” in its construction. Maureen said the income range for a family of four is $50,000-$85,000.

In addition to new home projects in San Francisco and Novato, the chapter is currently repairing/upgrading homes for senior citizens and low income residents in the Bayview district and revitalizing community centers and parks. 

Habitat also operates a ReStore facility in San Carlos which sells quality, donated home improvement items and furniture at greatly discounted prices.

To see the scope of Habitat's projects or to become a volunteer, visit www.habitatgsf.org.

Maureen was accompanied by Kris Leja, chief development officer, and Linda Griffith, director of marketing and communications. Pictured, l-r, are Linda, Kris and Maureen with Marcella Ramos, who conducted Thursday’s meeting.

Armed with hatchet diggers, gloves and determination, a crew of club members chopped, pulled and dug out prickly blackberry vines and other invasive plants from a large berm at the East Beach picnic area on Saturday morning, Oct. 15. This was the third year we've volunteered with Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy as one of our community service projects.
 
Workers were Bob and Riki Intner and grandsons, Ethan and Aaron, Janice Vela, David Chan, Suzanne Varacalli, Marcella Ramos, Herman Jones and Nancy Slepicka.
 
 
 
 
 

Past District Governor Chris Gallagher’s passion for Rotary’s Polio Plus was obvious as she described her 2013 trip to Ethiopia as part of a National Immunization Day team.

“Going door to door to immunize every child with just two drops of vaccine was a life-changing experience,” she said. “I felt very personally as being part of the effort to eliminate polio from the face of the earth.” Chris, left, is pictured with club President Suzanne Varacalli.

Since 1985, when Rotary International made the eradication of polio its number one priority, Rotarians, the World Health Organization and other organizations have made 99% of the world  free of the crippling disease.

Our Sept. 29 speaker, John Mathers, President-Elect of the Rotary Club of San Francisco and District 5150 Organization Development Chair, led a discussion on how membership can be strengthened through increased interaction among clubs. 

A recent study on why Rotarians remain involved showed that 36% stay for community service, 38% for friendship, and 15% for Rotary’s global impact. Mathers said District leaders are working to be more responsive to the needs of clubs and members with the goal of building a stronger and more visible Rotary presence in our communities.

Sifu Zach Ma introduced members to the basic philosophy and health benefits of Tai Chi, a slow moving exercise that, when practiced correctly, aligns the body in order to improve breathing and balance and strengthen the immune system. 

Zach, who is certified by the Tai Chi World Federation and has taught Tai Chi and Kung Fu for over 30 years, was invited to speak by one of his students, club member Riki Intner. He teaches a class at the Bay Club, and urged anyone who wants to try Tai Chi to attend his free sessions at 9:15 am Thursdays on the patio area inside the entrance to Fort Mason. In the photo, l-r: Program Chair Kay Auciello, Riki Intner, President Suzanne Varacalli and Sifu Zach Ma.

 

Club members enjoyed meeting and visiting with a dozen Central Station police officers who were our guests at this month’s evening social held Sept. 15 at Capurro’s restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf. Captain David Lazar said this type of informal, personal interaction helps law enforcement as well as strengthen the local community.

Police Captain David Lazar, a North Beach native and former Rotarian, returned to our club on Sept. 8 to say “Thank you for your continued support” and give an overview of the Central Station, the busiest of San Francisco Police Department’s ten districts. 

In addition to Fisherman’s Wharf, this northeastern corner of the city is home to the Financial District, Chinatown and North Beach plus Telegraph, Nob and Russian Hills. (CLICK HERE for the Central Station website.) 

The district annually hosts millions of tourists as well as parades on Market Street, downtown demonstrations, and major events, like marathons and Fleet Week. 

“Cell phones are the #1 robbery,” Captain Lazar said. “There is no reason to have your cell phone out in public.” He said auto burglaries would be greatly reduced if drivers would just “park smart” by emptying their vehicles. Alarm systems and video cameras help prevent, and solve, home burglaries. “There are 300 high resolution video cameras in Union Square,” he added. “We can track every movement.”

Noting how the world has changed since Sept. 11, 2001, Captain Lazar’s message is: “Don’t walk around in fear. Enjoy life but keep in mind realities. If you see something, say something. Call police. We’d rather respond and find no threat than miss the opportunity to stop a terrorist.”

Our club will honor Central Station officers and local firefighters at this month’s evening social on Sept. 15, 5:30-8:30 pm, at Capurro’s restaurant, 498 Jefferson St.

Dan Morse was inducted as the newest member of our club during the Sept. 1 meeting. Dan is pictured here with, l-r, his sponsor, Sue Rokaw, Foundation representative Riki Intner and President Suzanne Varacalli.
 
A San Francisco native, Dan works in residential real estate with Home Smart. He has two children, Joaquin, 8 and Manuella, 5.
 
Suzanne urged members to register, and invite their friends, to the Pasta to Beat Polio dinner on Thursday, Oct. 20, at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club. Tickets are $50/person, with 40% going to Polio Plus for the eradication of polio. A link to the reservation form is with the dinner under Upcoming Events on this home page.
   
    Club members at the Aug. 25 meeting learned the whys and wherefores of “socially responsible investing” from Betsy Bliss and son, Chris Ach, both financial advisors with J.P. Morgan Securities, and Andrew Olig, regional vice president of Calvert Investments.
    “Institutions and foundations are changing the model for investing,” said Ach, citing as an example the Rockefeller Fund’s divestment from fossil fuels. He said that today, one of every six invested dollars is directed to companies that are making positive contributions to environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.
    “In the past, socially responsible investing involved sacrificing financial performance and returns to pursue ethical goals,” Bliss said. “Now it’s possible for investors to do well while doing good, and keep up with market averages.”
    “Investors can now price a corporation based on its ESG,” Olig said, and it turns out that better run, more socially conscious companies present less risk and often, better returns. He said that investors, through stockholder meetings, can influence change in corporate behavior.
    Because 500 companies now control 50% of the stock market and 50% of the global workforce, Bliss said it’s important to steer capital to companies that are finding solutions.
    Pictured l-r, President Suzanne Varacalli, Andrew Olig, Betsy Bliss and Chris Ach.
Guests from Denmark at this week’s meeting were Soren Houmoller and Ulrik Sorensen, who work in the investment industry and were in San Francisco on business and for pleasure. Soren, past president of the Skovshoved Rotary Club, exchanged banners with President Suzanne Varacalli.
The Rotary Club of Fisherman’s Wharf team advanced admirably, but not to the finals, in the annual Rotoplast Bocce Ball Tournament held Sunday, Aug. 21, in San Rafael. L-r: soon-to-be member Dan Morse, whose two kids adeptly rolled several balls, Charles Field and daughter, Lily, Nancy Slepicka, Shannon Field, Sue Rokaw, Herman Jones (our closer) and the foxy tournament mascot.
Members of the Rotary Club of Fisherman's Wharf met Thursday evening, Aug. 18, at the big yellow building at 615 7th Street to learn about the art and science of flowers from the master himself, fellow member Larry Hoogasian, owner of Hoogasian Flowers.  The students got the lowdown on de-ionized water and flower food (the method for the longest flowers) and the high notes of floral arranging.  

Larry took the group through the "stations" that his beautiful flowers go through, from arrival in the shop to their departure via specialized delivery vehicles.  No visit to a florist would be complete without a peek at some of the most exotic species. Exotic gingers, orchids and anthuriums boggled the eyes and mind with their amazing shapes and colors.  

The evening was made all the more special with Club President Suzanne Varacalli's tasty and specially prepared appetizers and the wonderful fellowship shared by the members. The monthly evening social is open to other Rotarians and guests and has proven to be a great way to introduce potential members to the world of Rotary and our club’s welcoming attitude.
 
Elaine Forbes, interim director of the Port of San Francisco, described her personal journey of learning to lead — and simultaneously outlined the challenges the Port faces now and in the future. (l-r: President Suzanne Varacalli, Program Chair Kay Auciello and Elaine Forbes)
 
Forbes was named interim director in February 2016 following the resignation of longtime Director Monique Moyer. Previously responsible for directing and managing all internal support services for other port divisions and the executive staff, Elaine said she had to learn to take the lead to “shape the assignment, own it and compel changes.”
 
Publicly owned, the port has more than 500 tenants that must be managed and protected. Perhaps the biggest challenge, she said, is San Francisco’s three-mile seawall that stretches from Fisherman’s Wharf to Mission Creek. The 100-year-old dike, built on mud, is vulnerable to natural deterioration and earthquakes.
 
In navigating issues the Port faces, Elaine said her most important lesson has been, “Small and big things require community involvement.”
 
Member Larry Hoogasian will host next week’s evening social, “All About Flowers” at Hoogasian Flowers, 615 7th St., starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18.
Our club supported the Aug. 2 National Night Out in the North Beach neighborhood with a cash contribution and volunteers. Our own Aline Estournes chaired the San Francisco Police Department event, and Central Station Captain David Lazar described it as the best in the city. Captain Lazar, at left, praised and thanked CPAB board members Aline and retired Hayward police officer Art Wydler, right, who was responsible for logistics and crowd control.
 
Member Roger Kaufman of Ben & Jerry’s — with the help of his daughter, Janna, at right, and club member Wendy Vived — scooped and served hundreds of dishes of free ice cream. The event was our first quarter community service activity -- in addition to Roger and Wendy, club participants were Bob and Riki Intner, Erik Scheller and Nancy Slepicka
 
 
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