The Surf Beat: July 16th, 2019

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July 16th, 2019

Past President Ken King filled in for Rotary Club President Charles Hartford, bringing back touches from the King regime two years ago. Those touches included popular items, like Tommy Cannon on the keyboards, and less popular items such as “pin money” penalties for those caught without their Rotary pin! The meeting began with greeting our visiting Rotarians and guests.

Rotary Welcomed…

Tiffany Palmer, who is a respiratory therapist for club member John Todd and came as John’s guest; Mike Rodrigues and Saba Lak joined us from First Republic Bank and are colleagues of Peter Nguyen; Edmund Qiao, a UCSD third year medical student, came as a guest of Dr. Jane Reldon; Camille Newbern, a member of Club 33, came with guest speaker Walter Lam, also of Club 33.

Invocation: Pat Stouffer quoted from Robert Frost the three things he knows about life to be true: “It goes on.”

Pledge: Pat Stouffer went on to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Song: Peter Nguyen brought back childhood memories as he led the club in two rounds (“duck” and “cow”) of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

What I do: Peter Nguyen

Peter and his colleagues, Mike Rodrigues and Saba Lak, lead up an effort at First Republic Bank to help students, who’ve completed college, refinance their student loan debt. Debt from student loans in the U.S. is at a crisis point, says Peter, topping $1.5 trillion dollars. First Republic offers student loan refinancing at rates of 2%-4% — lower than government rates – for loans up to $300,000.


  • Penny Shurtleff reminded club members of the League House Picnic on July 28 from 4pm-7pm. Libations and nibbles are promised followed by lively dancing. Stop by for a drink or stay to dance the night away!
  • Before being called out, Chuck Marsh proactively paid $20 for not wearing his Rotary pin. Mark Leinenweber also volunteered $20, though said he had his pin with him; it was just broken. 

Happy Bucks

  • Sally Fuller announced she is on her way to her hometown of Bettendorf, Iowa, to join an exclusive club – the “90-year-old” club! Sally turns 90 on Friday and was appropriately serenaded by the club.

  • Claude Rosinsky offered $20 in Happy Bucks in honor of Sally’s 90th
  • Femie Cupit paid Happy Bucks in thanks to Rich Velasquez for hosting a charitable event.
  • Penny Shurtleff offered to donate Happy Bucks if Ken King would consider running for club president again! (“Flattered, but no,” said Ken.)
  • Tommy Cannon let club members know that his CDs are for sale with a percentage of proceeds going to Rotary.

Speaker: Walter Lam, Founder of Alliance for African Assistance

Sally Fuller introduced today’s speaker. Walter Lam came to the U.S. as a Ugandan refugee in 1986. In the beginning he held three jobs to make ends meet. Through friendships and assistance from La Jolla Presbyterian Church, Mr. Lam was able to establish himself and “pay it forward” by founding the Alliance for African Assistance in 1989, an organization dedicated to resettling refugees in San Diego and assisting them with their social needs. Mr. Lam joined San Diego Rotary, Club 33, in 2009 and currently serves on the Club’s board and is Co-Chair of Rotary International Foundation.

The Alliance for African Assistance works with the State Department to resettle refugees that have been vetted by the U.S. government and granted refugee status. The Alliance is designed to be a one-stop center, with several programs to help refugees establish themselves in San Diego, from housing to learning English to transportation to starting a business. Over 200 languages are spoken by the refugees that have come through the Alliance offices. One important role of the Alliance is to help refugees with immigration issues, as they arrive with temporary documents that are only good for one year. The Alliance also operates a health clinic and provides mental health services.

Typically the Alliance processes about 800 refugees per year. Due to current government policies, they have seen only 75 refugees this year. The Alliance’s Board of Directors, feeling that the organization should serve its population where they currently have need, has moved more of its support outside of the U.S. to countries such as Italy, Kenya and South Sudan to help with the refugee crises there. The Alliance has built a hospital in So. Sudan and partnered with a number of Rotary clubs to raise $302,000 to purchase equipment to outfit it. They’ve also opened a refugee office in Kenya. Mr. Lam recently visited refugee camps in Lampedusa, Italy and Rome, and as a result, the Alliance now has an office in Rome.

The Alliance for African Assistance started with seed money of $7000 thirty years ago. At its height the organization’s budget has topped $7 million.

Throwback Tuesday!

Recalling his term as Rotary President, Ken King closed the meeting with yet another story about his grandfather. This time… Grandpa was in the dugout with baseball legend Yogi Berra. When Grandpa lamented their team’s trailing score of 10-2, Yogi issued these immortal words: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” With that, the Rotary bell was rung, and the meeting adjourned.


Surf Beat:

 Reported by Diane Salisbury. Photos by Diane Salisbury. Edited by Diane Salisbury.

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