It’s the first Thursday of August and we’re meeting at Guido’s. President
Chris Gaynor welcomes us to the “very friendly” WVRC, but we’ve already fist-
bumped or hugged everyone here. Chris calls upon PP Nancy McCready to get
these cats in order which she does by enlightening us that the the Pledge of
Allegiance was written in 1892 as a response to the Civil War (America now
“Indivisible”). At least, we’re still honoring the same flag.
Next up, VP Ben “Mensch” Fisher validates his nickname by giving us
these Seven Rules of Life (not a weak one in the bunch):
- Let it go (Today’s NOT yesterday)
- Ignore them (Live a life that empowers YOU)
- Give it time (Time heals all)
- Don’t compare (Just try to beat yesterday’s YOU)
- Stay calm (You WILL get there)
- It’s on YOU (You are in charge of your own happiness)
- Smile (Life is Short. Enjoy it while you have it.
PP Admiral Edwin Gauld showed up with a sweet Panama Hat and led us
in a verse of “The Good Old Summertime” (more lyrics forgotten than
remembered). This led Sherod Hanson to introduce his guest today, his own
“tootsy-wootsy” of exactly 30 years, Jane Hanson. Congrats, and thanks for the
cue, Admiral! We also should not forget the eight Rotarians born in July, but I
forgot their names during the song. I do remember that the District Brunch will
be held at the Proud Bird (highly recommended) from 1:00-3:00PM on August 14.
Our own Carol Rosenstein (Music Mends Minds) will be the program speaker.
President Chris called PP Steve Day forward to update us on the WVRC
Impact Club in the planning stages. WVRC will be the Host Club and this new
organization will be all about service projects and no mandatory lunch meetings.
We expect to complete 12 projects in our first year.
Chris’s Joke of the Day was surprisingly clever, but long, so here’s the
punchline: “What, they gave me a Chihuahua?” Warmed by our chuckles and
snorts, he quickly called PP Nancy forward for an induction ceremony. PP Nancy
called forth Carmella Sears (whom Nancy sponsored) and Sherod Hanson
(sponsored by Roosbeh Farahanipour). She then provided them with some
Information and friendly advice about RI and Westwood Village Rotary Club:
You get out of Rotary what you put into it! All members rose to applaud and
welcome the world’s two newest Rotarians.
PP Diane the Good, then introduced our Speakers of the Day from
“Ready to Succeed,” Pat McCabe, Frances Hardy, and Romi Lassally. Pat is
the co-founder of New Roads School here in LA and “Ready to Succeed” which
is a charitable program designed to help foster system youth succeed in college
and careers that is currently working with 300 students. He is working on the
two extreme outliers of the college freshman spectrum, New Roads being famous
for its high tuition and celebrity children. The typical foster system child has been
legally removed from a birth family unable to nurture him/her and assigned to
families who are capable of raising and nurturing another child. There are
480,000 foster children in the US, and 36,000 in the LA area, whose foster families
receive a monthly stipend from US government to help support the child
The success statistics of our government foster system are not
great-only 3% of these children enter college and they are released from their
families (and receive no further support) at the age of 18. 50% of “graduates”
are unemployed or underemployed. 42% have been involved in crime. 30%
are currently homeless. The 3% of foster youth who do enter college arrive for
Freshman year with a large garbage bag of clothing and possessions. They
meet their room mates and classmates who are chauffeured to campus by
their parents who direct and pay for a shopping spree for campus wear,
furniture, and everything their children are used to having. Yes, the 3% of
foster youth Freshman are mostly capable of doing college work, but they don’t
have the nurturing, the academic and social background, the family emotional
support that their classmates enjoyed and continue at college.
So, the modest goal of RTS is to support and mentor these precious
few foster youths. They need help choosing a field of study and introductions to
academia and business contacts that can give them a step up the ladder. They
need a shot at an internship where they can earn some of their support and learn
about different fields of study and business. They need to have their confidence
nurtured by someone who cares about them and knows where they need to be
and need to learn to gain a field and network they can thrive in and support a
career. To compete, they need targeted mentoring to help develop a plan.
This program clearly needs to be much bigger and funded by
government. Currently, 70% of their budget is covered by private contributions,
but they have a plan to access government funding within a year. This precious
3% of foster-system youth cannot be wasted. If given the advantages of their
middle-class competitors, they will equally succeed. But, what about the
97% who never get to college on their own? Can’t we reach them in high
school? What is our current system doing for them? Out of 10,000 graduates,
we help 300 succeed and 5000 go homeless? RTS has a 90% graduation rate
for their college recruits. How will 50% of the others survive if they are homeless
and/or engaged in criminal activities?
Next week, Otto and Son will answer all your most difficult questions
about gardening from their famous nursery in Fillmore. Horticulture is, after
all, much easier than raising and nurturing our children.