It was so, so good to see Nancy McCready leading the WVRC meeting once again. On behalf of the entire Club membership, we wish her a full recovery and the best of health in the future.
President Nancy opened the meeting precisely on time on Zoom with her PowerPoint slides leading the way.
First up was Diane Good leading the members in the pledge to our Country’s flag. Following Diane, PP and PE Chris Gaynor was asked to give the Thought of the Day. He did so with a moving request from the Almighty to bless the people of Ukraine and give the world sought after peace. Ed Gauld, the Club’s song meister, gave a meaningful rendition of America.
Introduction of guests included, once again and soon to be a member, Nanci Cohen. Last week we got to meet Nanci in-person at the Luskin. This time she was in her usual zoom position next to Mark Rogo at his computer.
President Nancy then asked Tom Barron to comment on the Luskin Center meeting of last week. He did so by saying he thought the meeting went well for first in-person in almost two years and at a new location. However, he encouraged everyone to attend the March 17th meeting where spouses are invited to attend for a delightful event of Irish songs by the Irish tenor, Dennis McNeil. Tom reminded us that we have a larger room so feel free to bring a spouse or friend.
Nevin Senkan then gave a short presentation on her work to assist women in India discover and treat those inflicted with cancer. This is a Rotary wide project to which the WVRC contributes in a meaningful way. Nevin answered several questions from concerned members and then turned the program back to Nancy. It was at this time that Nancy, with a wide smile on her face, announced the Rotarian of the Month award. And guess who the recipient was? None other than Nevin Senkan for her work on the project she had just discussed. Congratulations, Nevin!
Next up was John O’Keefe who delivered the introduction of Matthew McCoy, the speaker of the day. John highlighted the numerous credits that the actor McCoy had achieved over the years. However, as John explained, Matt has been a valuable and leading member of the Board of St. James Inn and that is what he would be talking about today.
Matt took over and discussed the history of St. James Inn. In the late 1980’s Fr. Pat Traynor of St. Paul the Apostle parish in Westwood, saw a real need to provide temporary housing to families of patients at the UCLA hospital. Traynor raised funds to start up the foundation for this purpose, and created a Board to implement this effort. The foundation grew with such individuals as Martin May, Vin DiBono, Claire Zellow, and our own, John O’Keefe. Initially, several apartments were rented for this purpose. Over the years when the needs and success of the housing assistance were expanding and the foundation grew, it was decided to purchase actual homes. This began in 2008 when the Levy Foundation contributed a significant amount for the first home. A second home was purchased in 2013, and then a third in 2016.
The essence of St. James Inn was to welcome families before, during and after a patient’s hospitalization, who otherwise could not afford to stay with the patient nearby. Patient families have come from 28 different countries and 37 states within the US, McCoy was happy to report.
In response to a question about the source of funds, McCoy said the website of ST. James Inn is available to all to see, and remarked that Fr. Traynor once said “this is all about gratitude.” Matt told the members that the funding comes from a fund-raiser every year, and this year’s event is on May 13th.
Who decides the qualification for the housing, another question arose? Matt elaborated that is pretty much left up to the social workers at the hospital.
Submitted by Tom Barron