Posted by Kay Pitts on Dec 13, 2017
 After warm and welcoming greetings by Past President Neil Walker and Jason (I can print that for you) Williamson we all proceeded to a delightful breakfast at the Petroleum Club.  Neil, once again, had to grit his teeth and deal with the many colors of additions to the eggs.  (Neil, get over it, it is called “gourmet”.)
After a kind and gentle bell ringing by President Denise, Marlene Heise gave a thoughtful invocation.  We were delighted to see Samy Abiaoui who came today to lead us in the flag salute.  Samy despite an issue with a knee, rose masterfully to lead the salute.  It is always good to see Samy, with or without his son.  Bill Black, who is recovering from a cold/bronchitis/nasty something, was this week’s song-master.  He helped get us in the holiday spirit with a riff on “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Dan Johnson – is that a proper use of the term “riff”?
Stephanie Baker couldn’t find any visiting Rotarians – must be that holiday thing.  Similarly, we didn’t have any guests; I guess they are all waiting for next week for the big holiday program – but more on that later.
We had big club anniversary celebrations!  On this date, 35 years ago, our club was chartered. (Our Charter Night celebration is held in February to make sure we don’t forget the date Rotary International was chartered.  I know that you are going to look that up, so to save your internet electrons, I’ll share that Rotary was formed February 23, 1905.)  Back to club anniversary celebrations.  We are fortunate to have two club members that have been with us since the beginning – Jerry Starr and Dennis Scott.  Thank you for making the club happen and for your on-going commitment!
Apparently, this is not a week that club members wanted to be married, so we didn’t have any wedding anniversaries. But, Jerry Starr took center stage again as we sang Happy Birthday to him for his Dec 14 birthday.  Can you believe he is only 55 years old?  He was only 20 when the club formed! 
Happy Spots
Samy Abiaoui confessed to not being at the meeting so we could recognize his wedding anniversary last week. He and the delightful Marianne were married on December 6, 2004.  Somehow during this week Michael O’Doherty found Samy and participated in good-natured teasing regarding his anniversary.  Since Samy missed last week and hasn’t brought his wife to a meeting to recognize his anniversary with his Rotary buddies, he fined himself $25.
Marlene Heise confessed to attempting to go to Holiday Lights at CALM with Past President Jackie Maxwell.  Apparently, the park was too crowded, so Jackie and her posse started a new holiday tradition – drinking Goldschlager in the parking lot of CALM.  We must admire these resourceful women. That said (or written), Marlene, known to all as a shy and sheltered lass, was shocked she could so easily be corrupted. For those that were surprised Past Pres Jackie wasn’t offering up Fireball, I checked into it.  Goldschlager is a Swiss cinnamon schnapps with thin, yet visible flakes of gold floating in it.  I’m sure there was a feisty kick.
On another note, Will Duerksen was $10 happy that his son is graduating from Boise State (go Broncos!)  Will did not reveal if the family was going to the Las Vegas Bowl this weekend with the Boise State football team.  However, it is rumored that Will is going to change out the grass in his yard for blue AstroTurf (an allusion to the Boise State football field.)
President Elect Nominee Cheryl Scott shared that she is finishing up her next to last semester in her Master’s program at CSUB.  She is currently in the throes of finals and assessed herself $5 as incentive to excel in her Business Statistics final.  She has 70 Rotary friends who are rooting her on (you’ll do great!)  Cheryl also mentioned that the baby that she was pregnant with as a Rotarian, is turning 21.  Where does the time go?  Cheryl boosted her fine another $5 while she and the club ponder that question.  To help ease the condition, Marlene offered to share leftover Goldschlager.  Some of us doubt that there was any of the beverage left.
The Program – My Friend Art
Past member of BBRC and Twilight Jeff Lemucchi was introduced by current member Greg Desme. Jeff immediately extended a hello from past BBRC member and his wife, Jan Lemucchi. Whomever sees Jan next can let her know that Jeff handled the “hello” very well.
Jeff has been in media and leadership since 1988.  He is currently the Office Manager/Event Coordinator of Arts Council of Kern which includes many, many duties.  When you are a two-person office, you have lots of flexibility to do anything and everything, whenever you want to do it.  So, he is thoroughly enjoying this change of pace from the strict time schedule of television news.  It should be noted that Arts Council of Kern is NOT a government agency.  It is a 501(c)3 funded by donations, memberships, grants, and their Plein Air fundraiser (more on that later.) The goal of the organization, in brief, is to keep art in front of people to increase enjoyment and life.
One thing Jeff does is coordinate Art Walk which is held on the first Friday of each month. (if you haven’t attended, plan to!  It is a wonderful asset in our community.)  The only requirement for the artists (besides their small space rental fee) is that all work is original and made by the artist.  Jeff reminded us that a Merriam-Webster definition of art is that it is “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings: works created by artists: paintings, sculptures, etc., that are created to be beautiful or to express important ideas or feelings.”  Let us not dismiss as “not art” the keychains, knit caps, etc. that is created and sold at Art Walk.   Art is all around us – from the design on the bean can at the grocery store to art exhibited at museums.  People underestimate how important art is and that it is everywhere. The challenge for community benefit organizations like the Arts Council of Kern is getting funding because the arts can’t compete with “kids, kittens and cancer.” 
The Arts Council aggressively searches out grants to bring more art to the community.  The grants include:
  • Arts in Corrections: artists teach inmates painting, music, and more. It is a program designed to reduce recidivism.
  • Art Care – Musicians go into hospitals and play for patients.
  • Murals – The Arts Council has helped fund many of the 34 murals in Bakersfield. There is a mural in progress in Rexland Acres. They have just received proposals from artists for a Wasco Historical Mural Project, a joint project of the Council, the City of Wasco, and the Wonderful Company.
  • Painted Utility Boxes – Arts Council is funding this work also. 
  • Grants – The Council solicits organization to request grants.  Past grantees have included visual arts and dance.
  • Foster Youth – The Council is working with Covenant Coffee house and the emancipated foster youth through a grant.
The Arts Council office, located in the Mission Bank complex at 1330 Truxtun Ave. Suite B, offers art exhibits that change on a bi-monthly basis.  The Council’s Executive Director, David Gordon, works with the artists selected to exhibit on displaying and merchandising their art.
The primary fundraiser for the Arts Council is their annual Plein Air Painting Festival. The fourth annual festival gala and award ceremony will be held April 14. Sixteen artists are invited from all over Western United States (and beyond?) to come and participate.  They will be all over Kern County painting April 9 to 13. They will then submit three of their landscapes to the Festival’s juried competition and sale.  This year’s event will be held at BMW Bakersfield. Sponsorship opportunities are available.  Marlene Heise gave a shout out to the gala.  She attended last year and bought a painting.  She noted that buyers should be aware that the paintings are REALLY fresh, and by fresh, we mean slightly wet when you buy them.
Jeff left us with two takeaways: (1) Enjoy art in every form – big and small, obvious and not so obvious.  Art is everywhere. Listen to music you normally wouldn’t, challenge yourself, don’t take art for granted. (2) Try art yourself. If you want to do it, do it. Enjoy the creative process. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t paint, sculpt, or whatever.  If it brings you joy, fulfillment and it is yours, it is art. There is no “right” art.
Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. – Twyla Tharp
Vocational Moment
Susan Searey has been working as a part time administrative assistant at Dress for Success for the past year. During that time, she has seen women come in, resigned to come to Dress for Success and “check the box” so they can get their assistance check leave with their heads held high and a sense that “they can do it”.  The “it” is that they can successfully wear the clothes of a winner, interview for a job, GET the job, and learn skills to make them a successful employee. Dress for Success is a world-wide non-profit that enables women to achieve economic success.  The Bakersfield Affiliate was founded five years ago by Elaine McNearney, who is a volunteer. The program helps women who are referred from agencies with much more than just clothing and accessories for interviews and work.  There is a career center where women can take on-line classes to further their education and skills and a women’s empowerment group with workshops on topics such as effective communication, nutrition, resumes, and interviews. They are always looking for more topics and speakers.
Fit for Rotary Moment
We were treated to an excerpt by President Denise from Dr. Seuss’s book - “You’re Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children.” We enjoyed a harrowing description (Dr. Seuss style) of poking, prodding, testing and medications seniors may get to enjoy.
Club and District Announcements
Wanted for the Club: Vocational Services Director – is a fun and fulfilling position. Cheryl Scott and President Denise can brief you on the expectations.
Wanted: Song Master
Club News: Ron Nelms shared that his special friend, Marta, is doing well.  You may recall she lost her home in the Ventura fire. She has a found a place to live.
District News: President Denise announced that Deborah Linden from Rotary Club of SLO has been named District Governor for 2020-21. Deb has been very active in Rotary at the Club and District levels.  Her final paid position before retiring in 2011 was as Police Chief of the City of SLO. Congratulations to Deb!
The District has offered two ways to donate funds to victims of the Ventura fire.  Both are managed by Rotary clubs or the District.  The first is a gofundme site benefiting the Julius Guis Memoria Rotary Foundation of the Ventura Rotary Club – The second is through a 501(c)3 donation to the Ventura county Community Foundation  Enter “Rotary Relief Fund” as the fund name.
Wreathes Across America - Mary Jo Pasek announced that the Bakersfield National Cemetery Support committee has received enough funds to purchase wreathes for all the veteran grave sites at the Bakersfield National Cemetery.  BBRC members and friends interested in placing wreathes or just experiencing this event should be at the National Cemetery this Saturday, December 16, between 6:30 and 7 am.  There will be a short, touching short program before the wreathes are laid. BBRC is donating coffee, cocoa and donuts that will be distributed by Kiwanis and Lions Club members. Dress warmly with comfortable shoes and come out.
Four Way Test Essay Contest - Contact Ed O’Donnell to volunteer to judge four way test essays written by high schoolers at our Interact Club high schools. The essays will be received and given to you January 24.  Ed can be emailed at or reached by phone at 661-805-0121. 
December 20 Meeting – This is our last meeting before Christmas and New Year’s.  (We will be dark December 27 and January 3) The Bakersfield College Choir and a Quartet from the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra will enchant and enthrall us.   Please bring your family, friends and guests for this most special musical treat. If you are planning on bringing someone, please let Jeff Haynes know so we can make sure is enough food and tables.
DrawingsNeil Walker guaranteed Ron Nelms that he would win the 50/50 drawing and he did!  (Rumor has it that Neil was guaranteeing everyone they would win, but that is just a nasty rumor.)
The Paul Harris Points drawing got exciting as first Shaun Kelly missed out on the 100 points, then Mike Turnipseed missed out 150 points. Pat Thompson was the winner with 200 points! Congrats! Pat, you are sitting on enough points to give a Paul Harris Fellowship. It would be number two for you – just sayin’.