May 5th, 2022
Westwood Village Rotary Club

Coming up on May 12

Carol Rosenstein

Our own, Carol Rosenstein, the internationally acclaimed subject for a Rotary magazine cover story, will speak about "Melodies and Memories," how melodies can be medicine for memory loss.
Westwood Virtual Rotary Club Meeting for May 5th, 2022

PP and Windmill chairperson Dwight Heikkila opened up our meeting precisely at 12:30p as the volunteer host. The funny thing about Dwight, is that no one can remember how to spell his name correctly!
Rambunctious in nature and talkative as ever, Jim Crane led us in the Pledge of Allegiance to our country.
PPx2 Diane Good led our “Thought for the Day” with thoughts on Mother’s Day. “Wishing you a super duper blissful and blessed taco and margarita filled Cinco de Mayo! Also this Sunday is Mother’s Day, so here is a blessing for all moms – whether of a two legged, four legged or something totally different! On your special day, there are a few words I would like to say: A heart full of gratitude is sent out to you, for all that you are and that you do! Happy Mother’s Day”.
PPx2 with heart-of-gold Diane Good also left us with some thoughts on the recent passing of our long-time member Sally Brandt. She was surrounded by family, and passed peacefully at home. A memorial in her blessed memory is scheduled for May 25th at All Saints Church in Beverly Hills at 11:00. Cards and letters can be sent to the family at Sally’s house, according to her son, who will be receiving mail for awhile.
PP Dwight asked for visiting Rotarians, guests and Rotaracts. We had one “Special Guest”, Sherod Hansen. Sherod has attended a number of our meetings, expressed a strong desire to become a Rotarian, had breakfast with several of us to discuss his goals as a member of Rotary, and diplomatically commended Tom on his haircut. 
PP Tom Barron had some announcements for us on our meeting schedule. Our next in-person meeting is on May 19th, BUT WE ARE NOT MEETING AT THE LUSKIN CENTER MAY 19TH. They are having a special event honoring all of Chris Bradford’s wine merchants in Los Angeles and Missouri and all of the meeting rooms will be booked. Instead, we are off to the YMCA adjacent to the University High School campus, with a catered lunch. There will be plenty of parking, easy to get to and we have a room named after our Club. (New members – the Westwood Village Rotary Club has historically been a strong supporter of the YMCA, with a number of our members on their Board of Directors, the building and many rooms named for our members who made generous contributions, and Aaron’s predecessor was a long-time member of our Club.)  
PP and Maestro extraordinaire Ed Gauld led us all in God Bless America. Ed wouldn’t be Ed without one of many hats, and he did not disappoint us. Adding to his love of music, Ed reminded us some of the history behind the song, and how Kate Smith brought it to the public in the early 1930s. As it turns out, in 1918 Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America on orders from his commanding officer in WWI, as a young Russian Jewish immigrant. He performed it once for troops as they were sent off to Europe. He never published it at the time, thinking it had no future as a song. But twenty years later, Kate Smith sang it at a special performance. Kate paid Irving and he assigned the rights to the Boy Scouts of America, which has collected almost $5.0 million to date. 

If you thought Ed was going to end this on a high note, you thought wrong. (Editor’s note - you have to love this guy, which I do, and I will be forever grateful because Ed is the person who asked me to join Rotary). In 1931 Kate wrote a song that was racist and incredibly insensitive, titled. “That’s why darkies were born”. It never played in the general stream, even by standards back in the days of the Jim Crow laws. 

PP and finance guru Dwight entertained us with several anecdotes from Mark Twain (his favorite author), and some historic facts from the past. (Well, maybe not all of us. This author caught Sunda and Phil nodding off.)

General Announcements –
  • May 22nd will be the District Assembly with Part I MOU certification, starting at 11:00am, at the Proud Bird Restaurant next to LAX. Part II is brunch and the workshops from 1:30 - 3:00.  (Diane, Tom and I have signed up – in case anyone wants to carpool).
  • There will be another opportunity to get MOU certified on June 11th 9:00a to 11:00a via zoom. 
  • The Pageant of the Arts will be held at the Salvation Army Glendale Office. Interested Rotarians are urged to go to our District 5280 home page for more information or to sign-up.
  • The Rotary International Convention is coming up in Houston from June 2nd thru June 8th.  To my knowledge, PE Chris Gaynor and Rose, Peter and Shirley More, and Lynn and I are signed up to go).  

PP Dwight, who has never appeared in public without a coat and tie (according to the Club rumors), introduced John O’Keefe who then introduced our guest speaker, Sean McMillan of Heyler Realty in Westwood. 

Sean McMillan is a father of four, an advanced soccer referee, a licensed coach, a former chess master, and in his spare time works as owner broker of Heyler Realty. He is also President of West LA Homeless.
A third generation Angeleno, Sean raised his family within a mile of the home his grandfather lived in 1927. Several locations around Westwood and Cheviot Hills show his name etched in the sidewalk cement. He takes great pride in cultivating community and in particular community outreach. He is a co-founder of the Santa Monica Chess Park, seeing it as a way of giving back to the game that had given so much to him. He often donates time with the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition feeding and counseling homeless persons, as well as donating time at his church and children's schools.
Sean has spoken to our Club before, when I was President. He bears the same name with the same spelling as our beloved Club member Sean McMillan who passed away from a plane crash a number of years ago. Sean grew up in Rancho Park and has a PhD from “the school of hard knocks”. Heyler Realty was founded in 1927 and purchased by Sean and his partner ten years ago.
His life included an upbringing in an upper middle-class home with all the comforts, but which led him down a road of life than included being homeless, and thus his emotional ties to this whole issue.
Right out of high school, he had a great opportunity with a 4-year full scholarship and the support of his  family behind him, but then bombed out. It was a traumatic lesson for him that led him down the road of life that included having a child and experiencing homelessness.
It all began around 1984 that he found himself without a high school diploma, in the middle of substance abuse and in a bad relationship. He turned his back on it all and quit and left for Maui. Sean accepted the fact then that he was not functioning well, he was out of a job, out of resources, nowhere to live and nothing but a bicycle and the clothes in his backpack and decided to call his dad for help. His dad told him he would be okay and hung up the phone. It finally hit him at age 20; he was broken, homeless, bicycling to other side of Maui with no hope of getting there, outside in a rainstorm, soaking wet and no money. Some kind-hearted person took pity on him, and pulled over in his car, invited him to put his bike inside the car and took him to get a meal. That person also gave Sean a job in return for room and board and started him moving in the right direction by changing his direction. It was the perennial fork in the road, and the generosity of someone pushed him in the right direction. 
Some years later, he was back in society, he joined the local neighborhood council, and they appointed him Homeless chairperson.
Sean prides himself being a physical and macho type of guy. He told us a story of how he confronted the homeless in the area and intimated them to move somewhere else, including a bigger guy asleep on a roof. He engaged with that person in dialogue, which opened his eyes and ended up with Sean literally giving the shirt off his back to that homeless person, opening up a more constructive approach to the homeless problem. 
His neighborhood council’s boundaries are from the San Diego Freeway to National Blvd to Santa Monica Blvd to Century City. 
Stakeholders in the neighborhood council were in bitter dispute over the homelessness issue with NIMBY (not in my back yard) and YIMBY (yes in my back yard) and other factions that resulted in a version of the “War of the Roses”. He began to realize it was above his pay grade. This became his homelessness issue. 
This is how he met Mike Stevenson who later became his partner in their foundation to benefit the homeless. Mike spoke to us about a year ago about homelessness, but has since passed away from COVID. Currently it is estimated that 60,000 are sleeping on the streets in LA County. It is also estimated that something equivalent to the combined populations of Culver City and Beverly Hills are on streets of city of Los Angeles. 
About 57% of homeless are black males. Sean remembers thinking at the time, “There is a problem here, but I don’t know what the solution is.” 
The general consensus seems to be about 500,000 families in Los Angeles County are one paycheck away from being evicted. The pandemic halted that, but now those restrictions have been lifted on the city level and the problem is back again.
It is further estimated that over 40% of women homeless are battered. 
Sean prefers “unhoused” rather than “homeless” as a term. 
If you are unhoused and suffering trauma, you are scared, you have a sense of fear and everyone looks down at you.
Sean and Mike’s organization has outreach teams that can engage and get them showers and housing and clothing.. The organization is called The West Los Angeles Housing  It is a non-profit classified under IRS regulations as a 501C(3) organization, so donations are considered charitable contributions.
They unveiled a placement program in August of last year and after three or four months of working and fund rising, they were able to contact 323 homeless individuals inside of the geo boundary. They found that about 60% of the homeless population was migratory. 
Since August of last year, their organization was able to house 34 of the 323 engaged. Sean is happy with that ratio. Help those that want to be helped. There is a part of the population that doesn’t want to be helped.  
There is a contract with the County for approximately $200,000 with several paid staff working as outreach specialists, one unpaid person who is an advocate, and one clinical psychologist. 93% of their funds raised go right back out into the community. 
Sean closed with a poem dedicated to Stevenson - Splendid Torch by George Bernard Shaw. 
“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die”. RIP Michael Stevenson. 
PP Dwight opened the floor to questions, starting with PP Tom Barron. Sean responded by saying about 25% to 30% homeless suffer from mental illness and climbs to 55% when adding in addiction. 
PP Tom Barron, PP Mike Newman and PP&PE Chris Gaynor asked questions. 
Sean had nice things to say about Karen Bass and her commitment to the homelessness issue.
As we closed our meeting, PP Dwight announced to Sean that a donation was being made in his honor to the Friends Westwood Village Library in his honor. 
And with that, and a ring of the bell, the tie, the coat and the man himself, PP Dwight Heikkila, closed our Thursday meeting of the Westwood Village Rotary club.

Respectfully submitted,


PP Mark Rogo

WVRC 2020/2021 Leadership Team
President: Nancy McCready
Treasurer: Terry M. White
Youth/Vocational Service: Phil Gabriel
Director/Peace: PP Marsha Hunt
Foundation: PP Steve Day
Global Scholarships: PP Chris Bradford
Webmaster: PP Ron Lyster
Director/Merchant Minute: PP Mark Rogo
District Governor: Bette Hall
Immediate Past President: Diane Good
Secretary: PP Diane Good
Community Service: Aaron Donahue
International Service: Nevin Senkan
Program Chair: PP Tom Barron
Membership: PP Mike Newman
Director/Social Media: PP Aly Shoji
Windmill Editor: P Nancy McCready
Assistant District Governor: Michael Lushing