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.
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.
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.
This past Wed on April 17th our speaker was Jane Moore from Pencils and Dreams. Pencils and Dreams is a fundraising partner with vetted organizations and schools that improve educational options for children in Tanzania. Jane visited Tanzania with her family in 2005. She went to see the country and the wildlife in person, not just on a documentary, but she fell in love with the people. Jane was an educator for 40 years, and she was overwhelmed by the children’s desire to learn. When she returned home from her trip, she had a dream about building schools for the children they had met. And over the past 9 years that is exactly what this organization has been doing. And it is all done through donations. Presently they are partnering with two incredible schools, these schools are having a tremendous impact on the students. These students will be the future leaders of Tanzania. Pencils and Dreams has a goal of giving each school $10,000 every year. And Jane knows they will reach it thanks to the generosity of all the donors. Thank you Jane for your generous heart, and vision we enjoyed your talk today.
Our Rotary speaker for Wed. April 3rd. was Cyndi Monroe. Cyndi is the founder and director of CATS, Christian Arts Theatre, group. She started the theatre 20 years ago. She says she had no clue on how to start a new business, but she was able to recruit people to help her start the theatre company. It’s a nonprofit organization for children. They offer all sorts of classes besides theatre arts. The theatre is a magnet for all types of kids. Besides acting classes, they teach make-up, set design and how to make costumes. Not all the kids that join necessarily wish to perform. And those that do, need to audition for the roles. Cyndi says valuable life lessons are being learned. Not everyone that auditions gets a part. The kids learn that we don’t always get what we want. Parents of the students build the sets for the plays. There are a lot of team building activities. In the past 20 years they have had 20,000 kids go through their program. Less than 1% are still performing, but most grow up to be amazing human beings. Thank you Cyndi for coming and speaking to our club about your wonderful theatre company.
Our speakers for March 6th, were Diane McDonald, Ruth Olson and Jill Wakefield. These women along with fellow Rotarian, Elaine Harris, provide support groups at local Corona schools for adolescent grief and loss. Jill Wakefield spoke about how grieving causes some people to get depressed. And in turn can lead to drinking and drugs to deal with their depression. She helps students to process grief through art. She has her students draw a happy memory, or an object to remember their lost loved one in a happy way. She says boys tend to get angry, and girls turn inward. These sessions help them to cope with their grief. At the end of their therapy sessions, they have a party and everyone is asked to bring their loved ones favorite foods.
Ruth Olson is a counselor and works with Elaine Harris at Santiago High School. She says the kids in the therapy sessions feel connected to each other because they are all experiencing grief. They learn from one another. They try to get the students to focus on the positive. A grieving student tends to miss a lot of school. The number one reason is due to anxiety. Diane McDonald works at Corona Regional Medical Center hospice program. A typical session group are 8-10 students for 8 weeks of therapy. She asks the students at the end of the sessions if they are helped with the counseling. A lot of the kids only come to school on counseling days because they know they will be seeing their friends in therapy. They learn that their depression is part of the process. They know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Diane does a lot of grant writing to get funding for the program. Many thanks to all these women for the invaluable service they provide to our youth who are grieving.