My year as President began with an “ask” from a few Past Presidents of our club that I step up to take on the position of President for 2022-2023. I will admit, my first intuition was turn down this valuable opportunity, not because I didn’t want to serve my club, but I had been thrown a few curveballs in recent years with family health. I can tell you now, Rotary Club of San Marino was the best therapy I could have asked for! What seemed to be an overwhelming and daunting task before my year began, turned into a year of Blessings!
The Rotary International 2022-2023 theme “Imagine Rotary” was led by Rotary’s very first female International President, Jennifer Jones from Canada. Jennifer was a blessing herself to all Rotarians around the world!
President Elect Training (PETS) was held a few months prior to me taking the reins and I went into it wondering what I had gotten myself into. Boy was I wrong! What I discovered at PETS was that I was not alone in this journey as President. Rotary Club of San Marino is about “Us” not “me”! I heard several top level District and International Rotary members brag about all the great work and leadership our club of almost 100 members provides. Needless to say, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
July 1, 2022 came quicker than expected and the next thing I knew I was riding on the newly updated Rotary Float. One of our local Boy Scouts, Chi Zhang, gave our float a facelift as part of his Gold Badge service project. Chi did an amazing job! My wife, Kym, son, Nolan, and mother-in-law, Shirley, had an amazing time riding on the float along with Natalie Petrillo. Huge thanks to Debbie Priester for coordinating the parade. Debbie recently relinquished her duties of Parade Chair but she put in 21 years of service to making San Marino proud for Independence Day.
As we all know, a Rotary meeting is only as good as the program/speaker and Barbara Bice did not disappoint at all with her schedule to make me look good. For my first meeting as the guy with the gavel, we had none other than Dodger’s legendary broadcaster Jaime Jarrin and son Jorge Jarrin, also a local broadcasting legend. The Jarrins were interviewed by Dodger Historian, Mark Langill, and they had us on the edge of our seats with back stories of Fernando Valenzuela and such. At the next meeting, Barbara and Russ Osmonson paired up to bring us First Tee of Pasadena which does great work for youth through the game of golf. Being a lifelong golfer myself, this was right up my alley. Our speaker schedule remained very entertaining throughout the year. Barbara must have sensed I could put a group to sleep so she brought in the heavy artillery! We had visits from District 5300 Governor, Roger Gutierrez, Rose Bowl General Manager Jens Weiden, as well as a family from Ukraine that is being hosted by a very generous local family. In true Rotary Club of San Marino fashion, our members jumped right in to see how they could also be of service to a family struggling with war in their home country. We truly do make a difference!
A great big thanks to Bill Payne and Aaron Gil for bringing us the Salute to Service Academy Appointees program on June 1, 2023. Miles Nash, son of member James Nash, shared with the appointees and our club about his time at West Point and on the field of battle. This meeting was so heart felt that I don’t think anyone left with a dry eye, I certainly didn’t. We are all very proud of Miles, a graduate of San Marino High!
A Rotary year would not be complete without our extracurricular activities. Our annual Paul Harris Luncheon, normally held in March, was held November 10th at Huntington Library. We were finally able to honor John Quinn as a Paul Harris Fellow. Due to covid we had to skip a few years of hosting this popular event. Also in attendance were a few of our past Global Scholars, our key note speaker for the event was Larrisa Phillips, a 2017-2018 Global Scholar recipient. Much appreciation to Bill Payne for heading up the Global Scholar program for our club.
Who doesn’t love a good party! Dennis and Liz Kneier hosted our Annual Holiday Party at their home and I would argue that this was by far the Best holiday party we’ve had. I hope this tradition continues!
We are blessed as a club to have several great events, some even include raising funds for important causes. We had another highly successful San Marino Motor Classic in August 2022, much appreciation to all of our Rotary volunteers. Denise Wadsworth graciously included us in Rise Against Hunger which is a hands on project where we packaged 10,000 meals for needy families. Another event that our members look forward to is a house built in Mexico with Corazon for one deserving family. Once again, we make a difference! Thank you to JP Mainguy for leading the International Committee on this project and several other super impressive projects.
Now let me brag a little about “Us”…here is a breakdown of where we distributed funds in 2022-2023 Rotary year:
SCHOOL SUPPORT: $83,705
San Marino Football Boosters
SMHS Grad Night
SMUSD Medical Arts
TEACHER MINI_GRANTS: $43,000
Huntington Middle School
San Marino High School
STUDENT/ROTARY COMPETITIONS: $8,755
Business Plan Competition
4-Way Speech Contest
Interact Club Support
Dan Stover Music Competition
Teen Leadership Camp
CITY of SAN MARINO: $2,969
Crowell Public Library
4th of July Parade
ROTARY PROGRAMS: $47,025
District Peace Conference
Rotary International Foundation
INTERNATIONAL ROTARY PROJECTS: $144,401
Cambodia Community First
India Caring for Little Hearts
India Dialysis equipment*
Mexico “Corazon” build*
* Combination of Rotary International and District 5300 matching funds
Alhambra Charities Foundation
Beat the Streets
Cancer Support Community
Families Forward Learning Center
La Casa Community Center
Rise Against Hunger
San Marino Motor Classic Ad
Villa Esperanza Services
I want to let you all know how truly grateful and honored I am to be in service shoulder to shoulder with all of you! I am Blessed to watch “Us” truly make a difference!
Yours in Rotary, Rob