A snow storm on March 14th caused the BHCC to close so we did not have a meeting on that date. This abbreviated Forecaster for March 21st was prepared to be inserted in the March 14 Forecaster that is to be distributed to each table setting on March 21. The main purpose of this abbreviated Forecaster was to provide details on the program for March 21st. The Forecaster was created on a single sheet of paper with the intention of cutting it into two pieces that are to be inserted in the older bulletin.
Vlora Citaku, Ambassador from The Republic of Kosovo to the US gave us a most interesting speech last week. Among the facts she gave us were that Kosovo is the fastest growing country in Europe, with a vibrant economy, and that women play a very important role in their government and economy. During the meeting we also had a presentation by Sarah Bodley from Empowering Women, an Alexandria non-profit organization that offers women a variety of support programs. Several graduates of their programs offered items for sale after the meeting.
Another busy meeting last week; Ru Toyama got his blue badge, Donna Wilson identified the entire membership of the club as our Rotarians of the Month for March, and Paul Anderson recognized several birthdays. Our speaker was Kathy Bowdring, Administrator for the West Potomac Academy who told us all about the academy system in Fairfax County high schools. Students may start in the academy system in the 10th grade where they are able to choose from a variety of programs presented at the 6 academies in Fairfax County, and also in coordination with NOVA Community College for college credit. The program is designed to expand the opportunities for the youth in the critical areas of college and career readiness. We were requested to consider getting in touch with the academy to, at least, provide guest speeches. An interesting and valuable program, new to most of us.
Our speaker last week was Alexandria’s Mayor Allison Silberberg who first complemented our club for all that we have done and are doing for the city. She then laid out many of the accomplishments she and the Council have done in her first year in office. She shared copies of the proclamation she and the Council issued in November that identified Alexandria as a hate free zone, committed to diversity, and respecting the dignity and worth of every person. Earlier in the meeting we inducted two new red badgers (Jerry Stalun and Jim Carmalt) and presented Christine Friedberg her blue badge. This bulletin also provides basic information on several applicants for membership in our club.
Lance Mallamo, Director of the Office of Historic Alexandria,our speaker last week, provided us historical information on the early years of Alexandria. Many settlers of Alexandria in the late 18th and 19th centuries came from England, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, and Germany – mostly came due to economic and political difficulties at home. There were many slaves in Alexandria that were usually were called servants to appease owner’s conscience. The more complete historical story is on the website “alexandriava.gov/historic”. We also heard the classification talk of our new member Ru Toyama who told us about his time growing up in Indiana, playing soccer. going to the Navy Academy, and in the Navy before he and his wife Sharon settled here in Alexandria, both working in jobs related to real estate- his providing mortgages and hers as selling real estate.
The speaker last week was Dick Lacquement’s son, Dr.(PhD) COL (USA, Ret) Richard A. Lacquement,Jr. who talked to us about how the Army War College trains military officers and key civilians so as to obtain a professional group serving society that has a mastery of appropriate civilian-military relations contributing to a professional and dynamic national security environment. The 4 strategic roles War College students will face are steward of the profession, critical and reflective thinker, networked leader, and resilient leader. Also during that meeting we had a factoid by Ru Toyama and a classification talk by John Klousia, John told us about his 40 years as a doctor in both the Marines and here in Northern Virginia as well as volunteering in Haiti after the earthquake.
We had a very loaded meeting last week with 2 reclassification talks (Bob Vincent and Donnie Simpson) as well as a talk by Peter Kyle about Rotary’s Peace related programs. Bob and Donnie not only told us a bit about their lives, they also covered key events in the lives of their dads, (Jim and Don). Peter covered the Peace and Conflict Prevention and Resolution as well as specifics about the Peace Centers and the master’s degrees and peace certificates that are earned by almost 100 people a year. He then encouraged us to get involved in these peace related efforts to help RI recruit folks for the education programs and publicize Rotary’s efforts.
Our member, Whit Ayers was our speaker last week. Whit has been a successful pollster for years and will help us answer the question we have about the recent national election—HOW IN THE *#$%& DID THAT HAPPEN??? How did Trump win? Several ways: -he won 3 rust belt states, PA, WI, MI, and WI –blue collar vote swung hard to Trump; and – Republican senators “pulled” Trump on their coattails for the 1st time (generally the top candidate “pulls” lower ticket candidates). Conclusions: we’re sailing on uncharted waters, it is time to reevaluate fundamental assumptions on how politics work; Trump is the only President we have.
Our speaker last week was Alexandria-based attorney Brian Stolarz, who discussed the case he chronicles in his best-selling book “Grace and Justice on Death Row.” In April of 2003, a double homicide took place in Houston that resulted in the death of a police officer. Despite having an alibi and a lack of physical evidence linking him to the crime, Alfred Dwayne Brown was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Stolarz, who took the case pro bono, gave a chilling telling of what took place at the crime scene and detailed the multiple miscarriages of justice that nearly resulted in Brown’s execution. After spending more than 12 years on Death Row, Brown was released on June 8, 2015. It was an incredible presentation and Stolarz received a standing ovation.
Our January 10th meeting was the annual Club Assembly and Election of Officers that went off without a hitch – we unanimously elected officers and directors for the club and also for the Alexandria Day Nursery & Children’s Home. We also saw Casey Lindsay, our new Rotary Elf, recognized as Rotarian of the Month for January in honor of the fabulous work he did in running our Salvation Army bell ringing on a miserable wintery and icy day (we still raised $6,000). Some ‘normal’ business was conducted when Nancy VG Cooper recognized a group of folks with January birthdays, Christine Friedberg reminded us to bring in diapers and wipes for Campagna Center in January, and Rich Morrison encouraged us to continue EREY contributions to the RI Foundation. Helping temper the sad news of Joyce Mason’s death (Sam’s wife) was a report on continuing recuperation of Tom Hook (in INOVA rehab after a stroke) and Jesse Hernandez (at home after back surgery).