Rotary Club of Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco


Posted on Oct 14, 2017

Development Director Yvonne Curley (right) and co-worker Candace Elumba updated us on the broad reach of Tel Hi Neighborhood Center, which the club has long supported with funds and volunteers. They were invited to speak by member Herman Jones (center).

The Preschool, Infant and Toddler program runs year-round, with a current enrollment of 93 children, more than half from low income families. Average daily attendance in this year’s Summer Learning Program, June-August, was 66, and there currently are 153 enrolled in Tel Hi’s Futurama After-School Program at Galileo High School.

The Senior Program serves lunch in partnership with Project Open Hand. About 80 seniors attend daily for various activities, including Tai Chi, bingo, line dancing, yoga, computer lab, cooking and gardening.

Tel Hi  also operates an after-school program at North Beach Chinatown Beacon Center and North Beach Place. 

Yvonne invited members to again join the crew of volunteers who serve more than 500 free meals during Tel Hi’s community Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 16.

Sue Rokaw, Past President and District Public Image Chair, was recognized for her continuing generous support of the Rotary Foundation when October President of the Month Riki Intner presented her with a Paul Harris Fellow sapphire pin.

Tel Hi Neighborhood Center Serves All Ages 2017-10-14 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Oct 07, 2017

Kira Hahn was welcomed with pins and hugs as the newest member of the Rotary Club of Fisherman’s Wharf. A San Francisco native, Kira was sponsored by her longtime friend, Suzanne Varacalli, who noted that Kira has previously attended club events and supported our fundraisers.

Kira specializes in interior design and project management through her business, Hahn Design Services, Inc. Interested in the arts and an active athlete, Kira is a hiker, skier and Bay swimmer. She has repeatedly swum from Alcatraz to the Aquatic Park and from Golden Gate Bridge to Crissy Field. 

Pictured l-r: Membership Chair Marcella Ramos, Kira Hahn, Suzanne Varacalli and President of the Month Riki Intner.

Larry Hoogasian and Suzanne Varacalli each received a three-stone pin in recognition of their multiple donations as Paul Harris Fellows. Foundation Chair Riki Intner thanked them for their continuing support to enhance the lives of others through gifts to the Rotary Foundation.

Riki and Bob Intner described their recent trip to Chicago, where they were were inducted into the Arch Klumph Society, whose members have made significant contributions to the Foundation.

We Welcome New Member, Kira Hahn 2017-10-07 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Oct 01, 2017

Our speaker Sept. 28 was Ben Davis, founder and CEO of Illuminate, who shared his vision to transform San Francisco into the “city of awe.” Illuminate's mission is to rally large groups of people together to create impossible works of public art that, through awe, free humanity's better nature. The Bay Bridge Lights were created by Illuminate.

Ben said the "summer of love" project at the Conservatory of Flowers turned the ornate white building in Golden Gate Park into a nighttime canvas of light.  More than 20,000 visitors came at night, and many returned during the day, boosting public awareness of the Conservatory.

The Harvey Milk project, at the corner of Castro and Market, will feature rainbow lights and a neon sign with a Harvey Milk quote: "Hope will never be silent.” “Harvey’s Halo” will open November 8th on the 40th anniversary of Milk's historic election.    

Illuminate’s“Lightrail” will beam lights above the heads of pedestrians along Market Street. Another project will beam lights under people's feet at BART stations.

Ben, who biked from his home in Glenn Park to our Rotary meeting, said he sees the Sutro Tower on his daily morning run. He has proposed creating a light rendering of artwork inspired by Keith Haring's pink triangle, “Silence Equals Death” to hang from Sutro Tower. His talk was punctuated by several short and beautiful videos of the proposed art projects.

Founder/CEO of Illuminate Shares His Vision 2017-10-01 07:00:00Z 0

Club members were inspired by what one person can accomplish when guest speaker Heidi Kuhn described Roots of Peace, the organization she founded 20 years ago that is dedicated to the eradication of land mines worldwide. 

Heidi, a member of Rotary SF#2, serves as CEO of Roots of Peace. Its Mines to Vines™ global initiative is working to remove the more than three million land mines that still exist in Vietnam and plant over one million trees and pepper vines.

Roots of Peace Founder Inspires Members 2017-09-29 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Sep 03, 2017

Sans speaker for our Aug. 31 meeting, members took turns responding to a couple of icebreakers: “If I could be anybody besides myself, I would be….”  (John F. Kennedy, my two sisters, Carol Burnett, Playboy model, etc.) and “The weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten was….”  (brains, kangaroo, don’t-know-what-it-was served at a restaurant in Japan, fresh-from-the-egg infant chickens, etc.) 

Sue Rokaw said donations for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts can be made through the district website,

The meeting closed with August’s Larry Hoogasian pinning the presidential pin on September President of the Month Sue Rokaw.

Don't worry, says Larry, I was taught early how to pin a corsage on a lady.

Serious and Silly Answers to Icebreakers 2017-09-03 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Aug 25, 2017

Members were given a primer on how non-profits can raise dollars and introduce their message to potential donors by Lynn Luckow (right), co-founder and CEO of, which assists organizations in formulating and conducting crowdfunding campaigns. He’s pictured with President of the Month Larry Hoogasian.

Lyn said the keys to successful crowdfunding include an attractive website with a 2-3 minute video describing the project, a stated financial goal, ability to donate online, and click-throughs to various social media platforms like FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “It's important to ask your donor base to contribute and then forward the link to all their friends,” he said.

Lyn is a member of San Francisco #2 Rotary Club, where he serves on the board as Vice President for Youth Services.

Club banners were exchanged with Olli Vuola, a member of the Helsinki Rotary Club, Finland’s oldest Rotary Club at 90 years. Olli works in startup development and training and was in the Bay Area on business.

Non-Profits Find Success in Crowdfunding 2017-08-25 07:00:00Z 0

Cervante Burrell, a potential club member, was this week’s guest of Sue Rokaw, Past Club President and District Public Relations Chair. A graduate and former dean of students at Sacramento Charter High School, Cervante is the founder of The Unforeseen, a nonprofit that surprises deserving students with Christmas gifts and opportunities to meet sports celebrities.

Information about The Unforeseen and videos of recipients can be found at

'The Unforeseen' Founder Visits Club 2017-08-19 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Aug 12, 2017

This week’s guest speaker, Kris Calvin, CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics, gave tips on how to achieve a balance between “doing for others and doing for yourself” through advocacy and creativity, which she describes as the “pillars of a meaningful life.” Kris, center, is pictured with Program Chair Kay Auciello and President of the Month Larry Hoogasian.

Kris also described her personal journey from an unsafe childhood through university, postgraduate degrees, a successful career and parenthood. Her first novel, One Murder More, earned critical acclaim and awards. Kris brought and sold copies of the hardback book for $10 each, which she then donated to the Rotary Foundation.


President of the Month Larry presented our club banner to Doug and Lynn Pfaffenberger from the Cypress Fairbanks Rotary Club of Houston, TX. The Rotary couple attended our Aug. 10 meeting while vacationing in San Francisco.

Successful CEO/Author Urges Advocacy & Creativity 2017-08-12 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Jul 27, 2017
David Chan (left) and Herman Jones (3rd from left) represented our club in the annual Fisherman's Wharf Merchant Association Tournament played July 21st on The Presidio Golf Course Their foursome included Cris Conners (2nd from left) and Joe Fitting (far right), both with the San Francisco Zoo.
"Cris and Joe were exceptionally outstanding as partners," says Herman.
Club Sponsors Two in Merchant Assn. Golf Tourney 2017-07-27 07:00:00Z 0

We had the pleasure to have DG Ron Gin present at the last meeting. Ron exchanged the President’s Banner with Bob Intner and the District Leadership Team Banner with Riki Intner.

Ron currently works at Morgan Stanley and was in the military prior to that. He served as President Elect in 2009-10 during the chartering of the Chinatown club.

The marketing campaign this Rotary year is “We are people of action.” The top priority continues to be ending polio now—“We are this close.”

Since the initiation of Polio Plus in 1985, 2.5 billion children have been inoculated. Bill and Melinda Gates will continue to match funds 2:1 for three more years. Each inoculation costs 60 to 80 cents, and $1.6 billion has been raised since 1985.

Ron reviewed how Rotary in general has made a difference through ShelterBox, Rotaplast, Alliance for Smiles, H2Open Doors and Roots of Peace.

Ron talked about how our club specifically makes a difference through its support of RYLA, Rotaplast, the Dictionary Project, scholarships for Galileo students, National Night Out and Project Amigo. Not only that, we fund at our weekly socials, since it’s also about having fun.

Our club was chartered in 1990 and it was the 27,131st club. Our total giving since charter is $234,331 and we have 15 Paul Harris fellows, three Major Donors, one Benefactor and five Rotary Direct participants.

The RI theme this year is “Rotary Making a Difference.” Ron challenged us to think about how each of us/our club is making a difference, or is “Rotary making a difference on you?”

He showed us a video at the end of his presentation that covered some of the history of Rotary and its various projects, along with photos from our club—very moving!

Inspiring Words from District Governor Ron Gin 2017-07-22 07:00:00Z 0

Much to their surprise (and dismay), Team Fisherman’s Wharf made it to the semi-finals of the Rotaplast International Bocce Ball Tournament on Sunday, July 16, on the Marin Bocce Federation courts in San Rafael. 

Players were, l-r, Sue Rokaw, Riki Intner, Nancy Slepicka and Herman Jones. Not present for the photo: Marcella and Sal Ramos.

It was the first time that our team has ever been in the running after lunch, and they played two more matches before being ousted. Sunday’s sun was scorching, and by 3 pm everyone was ready to head home.

Herman and his guest, Maria Ocampo, with the tournament's mascot.

Best Showing Ever for Bocce Ball Team 2017-07-17 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Jul 14, 2017

Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrive´! 

President of the Month Bob Intner provided the lyrics and Aline Estournes (fluent in French) led us in singing “La Marseillaise” to open this week’s meeting and celebrate Bastille Day. 

Continuing the international theme, member Marcella Ramos showed slides and described her life changing experience as an interpreter with the recent Rotaplast International medical mission in Lima, Peru. Her participation was made possible by a donation from member Charles Field and matched by our club.

“Changing Lives Forever” was the message of this 10th anniversary Rotaplast mission. Marcella said the team’s medical professionals performed 59 reconstructive surgeries for cleft palates and related problems. Patients ranged in age from 10 months to adults and included three sets of identical twins with cleft palates. Marcella worked principally in the recovery room, helping parents of young patients communicate with nurses and doctors.

The 25th Anniversary Gala of Rotaplast International will be held Aug. 11 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco. For tickets and to learn more about the good works of Rotaplast, visit

Rotaplast Mission a Life Changing Experience 2017-07-14 07:00:00Z 0

During this week’s club assembly, member Herman Jones, left, presented a banner and other memorabilia from the 2017 Rotary International Convention to President of the Month Bob Intner.

Herman described the convention as “a great experience and reminder of  how large Rotary is –– its arms stretch out in so many ways.”

Herman: Convention was a Great Experience 2017-07-07 07:00:00Z 0

The Rotakyries returned for a final encore during the Debunking Dinner for President Suzanne Varacalli, held June 27 at the Fisherman’s Wharf Marriott. “Rotarhala Awaits” was the theme acted out by, l-r, Riki Intner as Grimgerde, Suzanne as Rossweise, and Aline Estournes as Schwertlite.

The premiere performance by the Rotakyries was for the 2015 debunking of President Sue Rokaw and the costumed trio returned last year to debunk President Marcella Romanus.

The Return of the Rotakyries! 2017-07-07 07:00:00Z 0

Project Avary, a nonprofit based in San Rafael, serves children who have a parent in prison with the goal of  ending generational incarceration. Members learned about this worthwhile program from Zach Whelan, Executive Director, and Amy DeLeon, Director of Community Resources.

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and one in 28 children has a parent in prison, totaling 5 million children. 

“We commit to work with kids for ten years,” Zach said. In addition to a week-long summer camp, Project Avary sponsors weekend outings  –– hiking, camping, kayaking –– with activities that teach life skills, build character and, most important, “give kids a sense of belonging.”

Zach said Project Avary annually accepts 25 new kids, who are referred to the program by counselors, and currently serves 125 children and 90 caregivers. Its $850,000 budget is supported by donations, grants and fundraisers. The per-child cost is $2,500 a year.

We were joined this week by four international Rotarian guests: Sven Inabnit of Basel, Switzerland, Shaun Lennard of Hobart, Tasmania, and Andrea Siniscalco and wife, Svetlana Nikolic of Milan, Italy.

Project Avary: Ending Generational Incarceration 2017-06-17 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Jun 08, 2017

Three members of the Otsu Rotary Club in Japan attended our breakfast meeting on June 8th. They were enroute to the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, GA. Members Sue Rokaw and Erik Scheller will also be there.

In the absence of the scheduled speaker, President Suzanne Varacalli asked members to tell “what you love about Rotary.” Responses included RYLA, the dictionary project, international experiences and visitors, conventions and district events, guest speakers, and the opportunity to meet and get to know like-minded people.

Visiting Rotarians from Japan 2017-06-08 07:00:00Z 0
Andrew Wong was welcomed and inducted into our club's membership during the June 1st meeting. Andrew, an acupuncturist with Kaiser Permanente, was sponsored by Past President/Past District Governor Bob Intner. Pictured l-r: President Suzanne Varacalli, Bob Intner, Andrew Wong and Past President/Past District Governor Riki Intner.
Club Welcomes New Member Andrew Wong 2017-06-05 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on May 27, 2017

Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) headlined the May 25 meeting, when Youth Liaison Chair Sue Rokaw, left, described the recent weekend RYLA Camp and her role as director. A total of 130 high school students attended from 23 high schools in the three-county District 5150 (San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo).

Camp activities that promote team building, leadership and community service were shared by three of the Galileo High School students our club sponsored this year, (l-r) Yaxuan, Amanda and Jenny. All three agreed that participating in RYLA helped build their self confidence in meeting new friends and taught them how to reach and grab for opportunities.

Club banners were exchanged by visiting Rotarian, Suresh Balsubramani of Bangalore, India, and President Suzanne Varacalli.

RYLA Students Share Their Camp Experiences 2017-05-27 07:00:00Z 0
Two charming Rotarians from Tasmania, Kath Downie and Elizabeth Anderson, joined our club's 27th birthday party potluck dinner on Saturday evening at 101 Lombard St. Kath and Elizabeth were enjoying a stopover in San Francisco enroute to a Rotary Friendship Tour in Montana.
Special Guests at our Birthday Potluck 2017-05-22 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on May 14, 2017

On Saturday, May 13, an enthusiastic work crew installed protective concrete blocks that our club purchased around 30 sprinkler heads on the West Bluff berm near Crissy Field. 

This 4th quarter community service project was again with the Golden Gate Recreation Area, and the project leader was National Park Service Volunteer Coordinator Laura Elze. With perfect weather and a stunning view of the GG Bridge, Bay and the city, we completed the task in less than two hours.

Representing the club were Erik Scheller, Wendy Vived, Kay Auciello, Dan Morse, Nancy Slepicka, Sonny Nguyen, Bob and Riki Intner and grandsons, Aaron and Ethan Fagin.

Club Volunteers Work Again for GG Recreation Area 2017-05-14 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on May 14, 2017

Shelley Cummins Shehab (right), UCSF wellness specialist, meditation and yoga teacher, led us through the “8 Tools of Mindfulness” for our May 11 meeting program. The exercises, meant to calm the mind and body, proceed through the following steps.

1) Be aware of obstacles and challenges.

2) Create actual remedy to obstacles.

3) Be aware of life force and work within it.

4) Take a stance and be receptive.

5) Focus, heighten attention.

6) Let go of the outside world, find your center.

7) Meditate, observe, slow down, find your inner center.

8) Choose and cultivate bliss.

Shelley said that the medical community is beginning to adopt these tools to help patients with pain control and achieve greater success with surgery.

She’s pictured with Program Chair Kay Auciello, left, and President Suzanne Varacalli.

Members Practice Tools of Mindfulness 2017-05-14 07:00:00Z 0

Nancy Slepicka was pinned and welcomed as the club’s newest Paul Harris Fellow during the May 4 Club Assembly. The Rotary Foundation certificate recognizes “appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.” She’s pictured with President Suzanne Varacalli, left, and Riki Intner, District 5150 Foundation Chair.

Riki noted that this year, District 5150 (1,700 Rotarians) is currently in first place in the United States in contributions to the Rotary Foundation. The Foundation has been recognized as the world’s top charitable foundation for its transparency and for spending 91% of funds directly on its international programs.

Club, Foundation Welcomes New Paul Harris Fellow 2017-05-06 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Apr 30, 2017

Everyone who attended the April 27 meeting went home with one of these SF Giants flags, symbolizing this season’s theme, "We Are SF!" Shana Daum, in her 18th year with the Giants and now Vice President of Affairs and Community Relations, gave us the scoop on what’s new in give-aways, food offerings, special events and other happenings at AT&T Park for the Giants’ 135th season (59th in San Francisco).

Shana said the Giants are supporting the Heading Home community campaign which seeks to raise $30 million to end family homelessness in San Francisco by 2020. To raise public awareness, the team will donate $1,000 to Heading Home for every Giants run scored in a home game this season.

She said the Giants Community Fund spends more than $2.5 million annually to support Junior Giants Baseball, a free 8-week summer program that combines baseball instruction with lessons in leadership and life skills for 25,000 kids in California and Oregon.

Pictured (l-r) are Tresa Eyres (a former club member who was president when Shana was a guest speaker about the Giants six years ago), Shana Daum, Manager of Premium Seating Amanda Nichols, and Program Chair Kay Auciello (and Giants season ticket holder).

On Thursday we also welcomed Joyce Li, a senior at Galileo Academy and winner of the club’s $2,000 college scholarship. Joyce plans to attend UC Berkeley and study child psychology. She’s pictured with Past President Marcella Ramos, who conducted Thursday’s meeting.

Giants Love San Francisco & Vice Versa! 2017-04-30 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Apr 16, 2017

Guest Rotarian Shivanand Bellare and President Suzanne Varacalli exchanged club banners at this week’s Club Assembly meeting. He came to us from the Rotary Club of Bengaluru, Platinum City, India. Am

“Shiv” said his young club of 35 members is focusing on health, education and sanitation. Among its projects is construction of gender specific restrooms in rural schools. A longterm goal is to adopt a village and provide a doctor for its residents.

Fellow Rotarian Visits from India 2017-04-16 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Apr 12, 2017


Under the leadership of President (Super Party Planner) Suzanne Varacalli, club members and lots of guests had a blast and raised important dollars at Festa Italiana, our 23rd annual international dinner, on April 7th at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in North Beach.

Pictured with Suzanne is District 5150 Governor Jeri Fujimoto. For more Festa photos, visit us on Facebook.

Festa Italiana a Fun Fundraiser 2017-04-12 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Apr 02, 2017

The San Francisco Zoo literally came alive at our March 30 morning meeting when Chris Connors, Vice President of Operations, described the zoo’s history, future plans and current programs — ZooMobile, Zoo Camps, Safe Haven, Wellness and Renew the Zoo, to name a few. 

Connors (at right in photo) was accompanied by Blair Bazdarich (center), who manages the ZooMobile’s educational outreach to more than 400 classrooms in the Bay area. With them is Past President Sue Rokaw, who conducted Thursday’s meeting.

Blair introduced club members to two zoo residents, Ralph, a rare Spider Tortoise from Madagascar, and Clementine, a Horned Frog.

Connors explained that the zoo is owned by the City but is operated by the San Francisco Zoological Society, a not-for-profit that will host its ZooFest 2017 fundraiser, Call of the Wild Gala, on Friday, April 28, at the zoo. 

The SF Zoo and Gardens is open 365 days a year and offers discounted tickets to San Francisco residents. Visit for special promotions, hours and updated daily events.

We Welcome SF Zoo Officials & Residents 2017-04-02 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Mar 25, 2017

It most likely was the first time that club members heard the Berber language. This week’s speaker, Steve Carlson, president-elect of the San Carlos Rotary Club, said he became fluent in Berber and Arabic while living with an Amazigh family during his Peace Corps stint in Morocco 20 years ago. He's pictured with Program Chair Kay Auciello, left, and Past President Marcella Ramos.

Claiming that “you can take a kid out of the Peace Corps but you can’t take the Peace Corps out of a kid,” Steve initiated and is raising funds for a water project to build an aqueduct for Berber villages in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains.  The San Carlos club is working in tandem with the Rotary Club of Marrakesh to improve the agricultural irrigation system and drinking water in a series of villages in Morocco’s Ouarzazate province.

He thanked our club for supporting the project through District Designated Funds and invited everyone to his second annual Reubens for Rotary on Sunday, June 4, at his home in the San Carlos Hills. A self-described “foodie”, Steve said the event will feature home-cultured cheeses, home-cured pastrami, home-smoked salmon, home-baked breads and home-fermented kraut. For more information visit

Guest Speaker Scores a First 2017-03-25 07:00:00Z 0
Posted on Mar 05, 2017

“Rotary changed my life” was the theme of Steven Soloman’s dynamic talk and slide show for our March 2 meeting. As the Senior Annual Giving Officer for Zones 25 & 26, Steven works with Rotarians in 23 districts in the western region of North America to raise money for The Rotary Foundation. He's pictured with Riki Intner, District and Club Foundation Chair.

His incredible journey began as an Interact Club member and then as a Rotary Scholar in Durbin, South Africa. By taking advantage of opportunities and chance happenings, Steven met and became friends with both Dr. Jane Goodall and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was responsible for orchestrating Dr. Goodall’s participation at Rotary’s 100th International Convention and served as the primary contact for Archbishop Tutu at the Rotary World Peace Symposium in England.  

Donations to the Rotary Foundation change lives, said Steven. He reminded us that every dollar donated to the Rotary Foundation is matched by $2 from the Gates Foundation to eradicate polio.  

Steven uses his story to illustrate the power of Rotarians to better their own communities and effect positive change worldwide.

Rotary Changes Lives: One Man's Story 2017-03-05 08:00:00Z 0

Success!  Our club’s annual distribution of dictionaries to 3rd graders in four local schools has been completed. 

A personalized Macmillan Dictionary for Children was presented to a total of 159 pupils at Garfield, New Traditions, Spring Valley and Jean Parker elementary schools.  Club representatives also conducted classroom lessons on ways to explore and use the dictionary.

We’ve received thank you letters from several of the 3rd graders. A sampling:

Roman: “Thank you so much for the dictionary. Also thank you for making the world a better place. I will definitely learn a lot of stuff in it. P.S. I found definitely in the dictionary.”

Grace: “Thank you so much for the dictionarys! Everyone in my family agrees with me that it was so cool of you to give us the dictionarys and when I told my grandma about the polio medications, she loved it!”

Lazlo: “Thank you so much for the dictionarys. They are really helpful and it also helps me write. P.S. Did you know that some saber toothed tigers died in tar pits?”

Annika: “I really enjoyed your visit stupendis. I just looked up philosophy and I read that it means the study of the nature of life concerned with such matters as knowledge truth existence and values, someone’s particular beliefs and values. My philosophy on war is that no one ever wins.”

Thanks to Bettie Grinnell for heading up this worthwhile project. She was joined in distributing dictionaries by members Riki and Bob Intner, Michael Reiner, Kay Auciello, Dan Morse and Nancy Slepicka.

Dictionaries Given to 159 Third Graders 2017-02-28 08:00:00Z 0
Posted on Feb 24, 2017

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

San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park 2017-02-24 08:00:00Z 0
Posted on Feb 20, 2017

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.

Conversation with the A.C.T. Dramaturg 2017-02-20 08:00:00Z 0
Posted on Feb 16, 2017


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.

Learning How to Experience New SFMOMA 2017-02-16 08:00:00Z 0
Posted on Jan 30, 2017

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.

Dictionaries Ready for 3rd Graders 2017-01-30 08:00:00Z 0
Posted on Jan 12, 2017

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

Docent Tells All About The Presidio 2017-01-13 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Jan 07, 2017

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.

Recognized as Paul Harris Fellows 2017-01-08 00:00:00Z 0

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.

Operation Dream Involves Police with Youth 2016-12-11 00:00:00Z 0

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.


What do you love about your job? 2016-12-03 00:00:00Z 0

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

Club Provides Volunteers for Tel-Hi Thanksgiving Dinner 2016-11-22 00:00:00Z 0

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

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

Tel-Hi Serves All Ages with Many Programs 2016-11-12 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Nov 05, 2016

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.

Friend of Club is a Paul Harris Fellow 2016-11-06 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Oct 29, 2016

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

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.

We Learn About Habitat for Humanity Greater SF 2016-10-30 00:00:00Z 0
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.
Pulling Invasive Plants is Hard Work! 2016-10-19 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Oct 14, 2016

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.

Being Personally Involved in Polio Eradication 2016-10-15 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Oct 01, 2016

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.

Working to Strengthen Rotary Membership 2016-10-02 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Sep 23, 2016

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.

Expert Explains Health Benefits of Tai Chi 2016-09-24 00:00:00Z 0

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.

Getting to Know our Police Officers 2016-09-17 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Sep 10, 2016

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.

Captain Lazar: Central Station Facts 2016-09-11 00:00:00Z 0
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 Welcomes New Member 2016-09-05 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Aug 27, 2016
    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.
ESGs and Socially Responsible Investing 2016-08-28 00:00:00Z 0
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.
Banner Exchange with Danish Rotarians 2016-08-28 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Aug 27, 2016
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.
Club Team Competes in Bocce Tourney 2016-08-28 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Aug 19, 2016
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.
Hoogasian Flowers Hosts Club Social 2016-08-20 00:00:00Z 0
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.
Interim Port Director Outlines Challenges 2016-08-13 00:00:00Z 0
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
National Night Out: SUCCESS! 2016-08-09 00:00:00Z 0
Posted on Aug 08, 2016
Erik Scheller became the club's most recent Paul Harris Fellow when Rotary Foundation Chair Janice Vela added the official PH pin to Erik’s Kente stole and honored his continued support of the Foundation and its good works.
Erik Scheller a Paul Harris Fellow 2016-08-09 00:00:00Z 0
District Governor Jeri Fujimoto outlined her 2016-2017 goals for District 5150 during her official visit to our club on July 28. These include “creating an inclusive environment for all Rotarians while having fun and making new friends.”
Jeri said the theme, Our Legacy, Our Future, means, “We need young, energetic members while honoring seasoned Rotarians who built our clubs.”  She urged members to sign up for Rotary International’s Centennial Cruise on the Danube River next March and described plans for the District 5150 Conference on May 5-7.
A gift basket of bicycling items donated by the Menlo Park Rotary Club was auctioned, and our own aficionado, Roger Kaufman, was high bidder at $250. Proceeds to to the Rotary Foundation.  Pictured l-r: Roger, Jeri and President Suzanne Varacalli.
We Welcome District Governor Fujimoto 2016-07-30 00:00:00Z 0
Thanks to our new program chair, Kay Auciello, club members learned about the good works of, a nonprofit that annually collects and distributes some 2 million pairs of reading glasses and sunglasses in developing countries worldwide. Mark Sachs, founder and executive director, was working in the optical industry when he went on a mission trip and witnessed the difference that reading glasses can make.
He told of a grandmother, a seamstress, who couldn’t see to thread a needle and earn money to help feed her family. Her young granddaughter stayed home from school to help. Reading glasses for the grandmother boosted their income and allowed the child to attend school.  
“Being able to see increases productivity and wages by more than 50 percent,” Sachs said. Sunglasses with UV protection help reduce the cause of cataracts.
Manufacturers like Foster Grant donate excess inventory and discontinued models to RestoringVision, which distributes the glasses to more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations and mission groups that work in over 80 countries.
Pictured l-r: members Erik Scheller, Wendy Vived and Kay Auciello, speaker Mark Sachs and President Suzanne Varacalli.
RestoringVision Provides Reading Glasses Worldwide 2016-07-19 00:00:00Z 0
Member Herman Jones was thanked for his continuing support of the Rotary Annual Fund and PolioPlus Fund during our Club Assembly on July 7. Past President and Past District Governor Riki Intner, left, presented Herman with a pin denoting him as a Paul Harris Fellow Plus One. At right is 2016-2017 President Suzanne Varacalli.
The Paul Harris Fellow recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Pins are awarded with each additional $1,000 donation.
Member Recognized Again as Paul Harris Fellow 2016-07-10 00:00:00Z 0