The SurfBeat: September 11th, 2018

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September 11th, 2018

President Kevin Quinn welcomed us to the Rotary Club of La Jolla, noting that we would take a few moments at the start of this meeting to observe the 17thanniversary of 9/11.

Inspiration: Sally Fuller read “A Prayer for the Anniversary of 9/11” by the Rev. Jeremy Pridgeon. Bill Burch read a poem about 9/11 that was read at a La Jolla Rotary Club meeting directly following the tragic events in September 2001.

Pledge: Bob Schroeder

Song: Sid Stutz led the club in an especially moving rendition of “America, the Beautiful”

Rotary Welcomed…

  • Camille Newbern and Will Newbern – a father/daughter combination from Club 33, who attended as guests of Deb Plotkin. They are involved with Deb’s non-profit, U-TOUCH, and recently went to Uganda with her.
  • Ned Silver also hailed from Club 33, where he has been a Rotarian for two weeks! He is a retired Pharmacist.
  • David Melier joined us for the second time, and is interested in joining the club.
  • Page Newbern, who is attending Dartmouth Medical School, joined her sister Camille and father Will as guests of Deb Plotkin.
  • Brian Cline s a partner (and cousin) of Bob Pecora. He relayed how his father is a retired United Airlines pilot, who was in Shanksville, PA, with other United pilots and flight attendants to commemorate 9/11.

Remembrances of 9/11

  • Dick Woltman, president of the club on 9/11, had been scheduled to fly to New York that day.
  • Pat Stouffer recalled that he had airline tickets to Ireland on 9/16, the first day airports were reopened. Europeans expressed profound sympathy for America.
  • Femie Cupit was traveling that day, and ended up stuck in Guam while her husband and daughter were stuck in Hawaii.


  • “Laughing Under the Stars” tickets are on sale. Susan Rutan, gala auction chair, is still looking for auction items. Contact her if you have an item to donate.
  • Craig Schniepp announced the Interact Symposium scheduled for 9/22 at Liberty Station. He will be attending with four students from La Jolla High School.
  • Eileen Jolly will be conducting the LEAD Conference – Oct. 13 and 14.
  • Kevin Quinn announced that, on Sept. 23, the La Jolla Rotary clubs are holding a joint luau. All are invited. The District Council Dinner is on Oct 16. Kevin plans to attend and welcomes others who would like to join him.
  • John Trifiletti reviewed the many sponsorship opportunities for the gala. The sponsorship committee has rounded up 33 sponsors so far.

  • Charles Hartford, who as President-elect is responsible for lining up each week’s speakers, explained how speakers are chosen. Some contact the club through the website, others are recommended by club members. He is always on the lookout for good speakers. A special focus this Rotary year is on speakers that tie into our “Be the Inspiration” theme.

Happy Bucks:

Sally Fuller gave happy bucks, as did Davis Cracroft, who commented that he hopes this year’s Gala is less stressful, citing the near-death experience of one of last year’s guests that caused Dr. Cracroft to leap into action and miss most of the comedy show. Bob Schroeder noted that he’d recently had dinner with a comedian from last year, who has incorporated that stressful event into his act! Quipped Davis: “I feel a residual coming due.”  Lina Elliott gave happy bucks in recognition of her colleagues at CNB that helped her branch receive special recognition. Bob Pecora also gave happy bucks. Cindy Goodman updated the club on her daughter’s new job. She is grateful that her daughter will now be closer to home.

Speaker:  Deb Plotkin, U-TOUCH

John Donaldson introduced fellow club member Deb Plotkin, Founder and Director of U-TOUCH. Deb has a graduate degree in behavior and human development and had a clinical practice for many years. She and her husband are hikers, and have trekked all over the world. She is also a published author.

Deb spoke about U-TOUCH’s role in increasing digital literacy in Uganda. The seven tenets of U-TOUCH are: respect and dignity; diversity; results oriented; excellence; innovation; integrity; and passion for our work. She notes that brilliance is equally distributed around the world, but opportunity is not.

Deb spoke of her path to U-TOUCH beginning in childhood, when her family’s life was changed forever by her father’s pointless murder. That experience colored her life and led her on a quest for meaning and purpose. It started in her student days, with looking at how to help students with autism feel less like outsiders. Later in life, after nearly dying in particularly harrowing trek in the Himalayas, where many less fortunate died in an unexpected snowstorm, she and her husband were inspired to build schools in Nepal.

It was back in San Diego, where Deb learned about the conditions in war-ravaged Uganda when she attended a talk at USD given by Sister Pauline. The Sister told of a period from 1981 to 1986 when 100,000 Ugandans were killed; 75,000 children were orphaned. The war led to 1.5 million children out of school. To attend school required money. Those youngsters who were without sponsors were also without education. Deb, along with her daughter, started a U-TOUCH club at La Jolla High School. The club raised $75,000 to sponsor 30 children. Next Deb asked: How do we expand from 30 students to 75,000 students? Technology proved the answer. After a year of supplying a school with laptops, U-TOUCH developed a computer-training program and particularly encouraged women to learn.  They now have trained over 5,000 community members that now have access to the outside world. U-TOUCH next plans to expand to South Sudan and other parts of Africa.

President’s Closing Quote:

“September 11 is one of our worst days, but it brought out the best in us. It unified us as a country, and showed our charitable instincts, and reminded us of what we stood for and stand for.” – Sen. Lamar Alexander


Surf Beat:

 Reported by David Shaw. Photos By Diane Salisbury.  Edited by Diane Salisbury.

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