On June 22nd 2019, at least sixteen Circle City Rotarians and their friends and family helped to spruce up the gazebo area of Santana Park in preparation for the city’s annual 4th of July festivities.
We arrived at the park ready to work. We painted the grills, and also the picnic tables. The trash cans were also painted, and we removed any and all visible graffiti in and around the area. We were assisted by Mark, city staff personnel who brought us the supplies we needed to do the job. It took about 2 ½ hours of our time since we had so many helping hands. It was a productive morning and we left the area sparkling ready to be enjoyed by Corona residents. Great job everyone!!
At our June 26th meeting, we disbursed our funds collected at our annual Fire and Ice Chili Cook Off and Craft Beer Festival. This is by far the favorite meeting of the year for most of us in Circle City Rotary. Over $22,000 was given away to local non-profits. And all of the books that we collect year round were given to Sue Nichols, the librarian at Rosa Parks elementary school in Eastvale. We can’t wait till next year’s Fire and Ice Festival on Sat. February 29th, leap year, to be bigger and better than ever, so we can give even more away!!
To find out more about our Fire & Ice Chili Cook Off and Craft Beer Festival, please visit our website atwww.circlecitycorona.org.
At our June 19th meeting, we had two speakers. First speaker was Maykala Sullivan, who is fellow Rotarian Don Garling’s granddaughter. Maykala attends Santiago High School and she wrote an award-winning 4 Way speech which she read to our club. Her speech was about bringing awareness to mental health issues in teens. Mental health is at an all-time high in the U.S. Anxiety, depression and stress are the three growing issues in our society. Maykala is advocating for a course in mindfulness to be taught in schools. Mindfulness can and does improve the lives of people who suffer from mental issues. Congratulations Maykala, for your very informative and award winning speech. And thank you for shedding some much needed light on this topic.
Our second speaker was fellow Rotarian Brian Young. Brian is the Corona City Fire Chief. Brian shared with us about a new initiative that Corona Fire is working on. It has to do with the Corona Fire Department working with other local agencies concerning the wildlife interface. The city of Corona abuts with 12 miles of the Cleveland National Forest. The new non-profit formed is The Fire Safe Council. Local Home Owners Associations are invited to join the council. There are currently 87 HOAs that share a border with the CNF. Brian also talked about steps we can take as homeowners to protect against wildlife fire. He also discussed the new fire department app called Pulse Point. This app lets you know where and when an emergency is unfolding in our city. Any time the Fire department is called out, it shows up on Pulse Point. Thank you Brian, for all you do in keeping residents safe. And for sharing this important information with our club.
Our June 12th speakers were the STEM(science, technology, engineering and math) teachers of Corona High School. Dr. Antonio Gonzalez is the principal of Corona High. He introduced the following teachers, Patrick Chao, Eric Lee, and Kristian Johnson. Patrick is STEM coordinator and the computer/science teacher for the program. This is the first year that Corona High School has a computer program. It’s being funded by Amazon. They had an executive from Amazon come to the school to talk to the students about coding. Eric is teaching engineering. This is the oldest program being offered in the STEM academy. They bought the rights to teach PLTW- Project Lead The Way, which teaches engineering students to become tomorrow’s problem solvers. They revamp the curriculum every 3 years so it’s always up to date. Kristian teaches math, aerospace engineering and robotics. They also teach biomedical science, all sorts of fields. The curriculum changes every year. Healthcare careers is another pathway they teach. Like nursing and how to be a first responder. There are also automotive careers. The auto shop has been completely updated so it will be a new shop for when the students return to school. There is an aviation program. Corona High has more FAA approved flight simulators than most schools and some colleges. A lot of these students receive scholarships upon graduation so they can continue in the field they wish to study. PLTW tracks the students to see where they go to college and into what field of study. This was very interesting to learn about all the exciting subjects being taught at Corona High School. You could see the passion these teachers, along with their principal, have about their profession.
June 5th our Rotary Club had 2 employee honorees as our guests. They were recognized by fellow Rotarians, Linda Pearson with the Corona Regional Medical Center nominated Pilar Triguero and Jeff Fraser with Master Stream ERP nominated Heidi Juarez. These folks were nominated for their outstanding work at these companies. Bill Steinkirchner owner of Stone Church, also nominated 2 employees who could not join us for our meeting. Well done everyone!
The speaker for June 5th meeting was our Rotary Youth Exchange student, Ula Gilewska. Ula arrived from Poland to the U.S. last August during the Holy Fire here in Corona. Rotarian Karen Maldonado and her family are her host family. Laura Seltzer, (myself) is her Rotary mentor. Ula has five siblings back home, all girls except for one brother. Her parents are doctors and Ula applied for the student exchange program through the local Rotary club in her town.
She has had a very fun filled time here in California. She absolutely loves the beaches here. The Maldonados have taken her to Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point. She has been to San Diego, Coronado area, and to Santa Barbara. She says in Poland there are no beaches, only the Black Sea. She is attending Santiago High School in Corona as a junior. She joined the track and field team. She attended the Homecoming Dance and the Prom as well. The Rotary Youth Exchange has various weekend outings for all the inbound students. Ula has been to Ventura, Big Bear, San Diego, a camp in the Hollywood Hills and to RYLA. She has made many friends from various countries through this program.
On June 16, Ula, along with several of her fellow exchange students, will be boarding a train that will take her cross country to the East Coast. They will make several stops along the way, and visit at least 7 states. They have a very packed agenda. She is looking forward to this trip. Ula has enjoyed her stay here with the Maldonados and is grateful for all the monetary support Circle City Rotary has given her throughout her visit here. She returns home to Poland in mid July, but has expressed a desire to return to California someday. We will miss her, she is a very sweet and delightful young lady.
Our speakers for May 29th was our fellow Rotarian John Saville and his wife Kathleen. John is a retired pastor and now spends part of his retirement traveling to various states during the summer months to be a temporary chaplain. Upon retiring, John read a book that he highly recommends to everyone, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by American surgeon, Dr. Atul Gawande. The book addresses end-of-life care, hospice care, and also contains Dr. Gawande’s reflections and personal stories. John and his wife went to Alaska in summer of 2018. They stayed at the John Thomas Center for Senior Leadership. This center is focused on promoting healthy senior living in everything they do. They view elders not as patients or care objects but as respected senior leaders and role models in the community. They provide space for privacy, and community spaces for social interactions and group activities. John was their summer chaplain, and he told us how active everyone in this special community truly is.
John says there are three great ways to live out your life. Connect, Create and Contribute and that is exactly what this place inspires in all who live there. Kathleen ran the coffee talk hour. The topic of conversations were about the residents themselves, what was their first job, what was their favorite Christmas. The center was built and is funded by the Lowell Thomas Foundation. Both John and Kathleen had a wonderful time in Alaska, lots of fishing and hiking was done when they were not interacting with the seniors at the center. Thank you John and Kathleen, for caring and sharing your story.
On May 22, Riverside County Supervisor, the Honorable Karen Spiegel, was our guest speaker today. This is the first time in 22 years that a woman has been elected to the board. There is a lot of diversity on this board, and it is comprised of five districts. Supervisor Spiegel’s District 2, covers 5 municipalities. They are Corona, Norco, Jurupa Valley, Eastvale and a portion of the city of Riverside. This is a non-partisan seat. She has retained some of past Supervisor John Taglione’s staff. She is allowing her chief of staff to select her staffers. She personally knows a lot of the people who have applied for various positions and prefers to not appear to be picking favorites. As soon as she was sworn in, her staff took away her paper calendar and now she strictly uses her phone’s calendar. She has about a $2 million dollar budget. Karen has chosen not to open an office in Corona, because she rather give that money away to be used within the community.
There are four unincorporated areas in Riverside County. There are 22,000 Riverside county employees. Currently the county is in $22 million dollars of debt. County health care centers have contributed to this deficit and the county jails are another factor. Karen is working her best along with her fellow board members to mitigate some of these issues. She would also like to secure more funding for completing the 91 freeway expansion. The county also needs new voting machines and the state will help to defray some of the costs. It was a very informative talk and we thank Supervisor Spiegel for her service.
Today, May 15th, our speaker was Don Williamson. Don is the founder of the non-profit Corona History Association. Don came to speak to us very passionately about the first cemetery in Corona called Corona Sunnyslope Cemetery and about the Potter’s Field that is also there.
The city of Corona was established in 1886. The founding fathers realized the town needed a cemetery and Sunny Slopes was established on Rimpau. A lot of prominent Coronans are buried there. The Potter’s Field was used for indigent families, for persons with unknown identities and for some of the Chinese who lived on the outskirts of town. The last people to be buried in Potter’s Field was in 1940. There are no records of the people who are buried there. For many years the upkeep of Potter’s Field was done by volunteers. When the cemetery was sold to new owners, all of the volunteer upkeep was curtailed. Don is very upset that the new owners have razed all but two of the crosses that were in Potter’s Field and have sold the land to another organization for their burial needs. It is illegal to bury people where there is already an existing grave site. Don has talked to numerous government entities and multiple lawsuits have ensued against the current owners.
There are still living relatives of the people that are buried in Potter’s Field. Don is trying to undue this injustice that has been done to them and the city at large. Thank you Don, for caring and for your very passionate mission in trying to correct this travesty.
On Wed. May 8th, our guest speakers were Katie Moore and Kevin Royse from the ABC Hopes Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit 501c (3) organization that was started in 2013. Katie’s brother, Christopher, was born with Down’s Syndrome. His family began the foundation all because of Christopher. What the ABC stands for in their name. Their mission is to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to contribute to society in a positive manner by giving them job opportunities that develop their social, physical, and educational skills. They accomplish this mission by having participants of their program operate a produce stand at local farmer’s markets, the one here in Corona and Anaheim, and by participating in their fitness program that they partner with the local cross-fit gym. And by members going to various community events and fundraisers. ABC Hopes host fundraisers throughout various times of the year. In their fitness program, they like the whole family to participate if possible. Christopher was also present at the talk where he very happily passed out brochures and a bottle of hand sanitizers. What a great foundation this family has started that will help so many individuals all because of their love for Christopher. Thank you so much for sharing with us about your wonderful organization.