The Rotary Club of

Ojai Rotary Reminder Newsletter
April 23rd, 2021

Therese Brown, Editor

April is Maternal and Child Health Month

Are you an established professional who wants to make positive changes in your community and the world? Our club members are dedicated people who share a passion for community service and friendship. 
Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.
In the beginning…
Past-President Michael Malone greeted meeting attendees. He is covering for President Michael Scar today. Mike opened the Zoom meeting at 12:10 p.m. with a warm welcome. He and Bryant have appointments to get vaccinated tomorrow at Nordhoff. He is glad that everyone is getting vaccinated. Slots are still available tomorrow.
Haady Laskari announced on Saturday that the hospital will be reopening its Pfizer clinic for 6 weeks for ages 16 and over. Go to to sign up.  
Larry Beckett gave the Pledge of Allegiance.
Tony Thacher gave a reflection on Earth Day. Earth Day should be celebrated every day. We can pick our fruit, but we can’t pick our planet. As farmers we constantly look to the earth and the sky. He played a recording of poet Dorianne Laux, a 2020 Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, reading her poem  “I Never Wanted to Die”.
A Reflection on Earth Day-Tony Thacher
My mother never had time for such a holiday as Mothers’ Day, she being of the school that every day was mother’s day.  As a farmer, trained as a geologist, I feel the same about Earth Day.  We should celebrate the Earth every day--24/7/365. As my son-in-law, Tony Ayala, opined on the side of our Friend’s Ranches shopping bag:  “We can pick our fruit but we can’t pick our planet.”
The native vegetation already knows that drought is here and what it means, even as we look forward to showers Sunday night.  They will not fooled by late spring rain.  Their memories are long.
We, as early rising farmers, still short termers in earth’s history, we will welcome the Sunday/Monday windfall of water, as did your relatives most of whom were farmers less than a century or two ago, constantly looking to the earth and the sky.
Here’s a poem which spoke to me, posted this week during National Poetry Month by Academy of American Poets and written by Dorianne Laux, a professor in the MFA program at North Carolina State.

I Never Wanted to Die

by Dorianne Laux
It’s the best part of the day, morning light sliding
down rooftops, treetops, the birds pulling themselves
up out of whatever stupor darkened their wings,
night still in their throats.
I never wanted to die. Even when those I loved
died around me, away from me, beyond me. 
My life was never in question, if for no other reason
than I wanted to wake up and see what happened next. 
And I continue to want to open like that, like the flowers
who lift their heavy heads as the hills outside the window
flare gold for a moment before they turn
on their sides and bare their creased backs.
Even the cut flowers in a jar of water lift
their soon to be dead heads and open
their eyes, even they want a few more sips,
to dwell here, in paradise, a few days longer.
Michael thanked all those contributing to the meeting.
Guests: Joyce West was introduced by her husband Al. Our speaker, Past District Governor, Wade Nomura was introduced by Therese Brown
Special Program--Arbor Day
Al West shared his thoughts about Arbor Day reminding the group that we are celebrating Arbor Day one week early. It is usually celebrated on the last Friday in April. Arbor Day started in Nebraska City as a school holiday. Children in that treeless area were given a holiday to plant trees.
We are going to continue the tradition today and plant trees at a school. Bret Bradigan, Colin Jones and Dr. Tiffany Morse, Superintendent of the Ojai Unified School District, are at Matilija Junior High School planting two live oak trees. Tiffany read the Arbor Day proclamation. Colin put dirt on the tree.  Bret read a second proclamation honoring Al West and his involvement in Arbor Day. The fourth Friday in April will be known in the future as the Al West Arbor Day celebration.

Rotary Humor

Kathy Yee asked that everyone come to Topa Topa Winery for the Fifth Friday Social at 5:15 pm on Thursday, May 6th. Members should RSVP via the Evite they received as soon as possible. Kathy, Cindy Frings and Sue Gilbreth read a poem written by Kathy to get members excited about the Club’s first in-person gathering in almost a year.
Visionaries Cindy Frings and Tara Saylor have been working diligently on this year’s Taste of Ojai. They have come up with some new and exciting twists to the event.  Cindy announced an in-person meeting for the committee on Thursday, May 27th. More details to follow.
Michal Weaver announced that two students were recognized at the school board meeting that demonstrated stewardship for the earth. They were named Peace Ambassadors.
Catherine Lee reminded everyone about the art and bake sale this Sunday from noon to 3 at her home, Rancho de Granville.  All proceeds benefit scholarships. 
Today’s Program: Creating Destiny--Wade Nomura

Former District Governor Wade Nomura is today’s speaker. He has written a book called “Creating Destiny”. The book started as an autobiography then morphed into a manuscript that would inspire others. Most chapters were written on his cell phone on an airplane. Wade’s wife Debbie assembled his  many stories into a readable text. Wade’s goal was to inspire others to serve their communities.  The book is organized into three sections: Growing, Living and Giving. Growing chronicles Wade’s life as a child. Living highlights his professional life and Giving covers his work in Rotary.
Growing - Wade’s parents and grandparents spent time in internment camps in Arizona. Families were given 24 hours to pack. They were told that the possessions left behind would be guarded and returned at the end of the war which did not happen. 120,000 Japanese Americans were displaced.
Wade grew up living with his parents and grandparents. His grandfather was his biggest mentor. Wade was the only minority in his class therefore he faced a lot of prejudice. In junior high history class, he was asked about internment during WWII. Wade shared his family’s experience and was given detention for “lying”. The principal eventually came in, apologized, and sent him home. Japanese internment was not documented well in history books.
When he ran for District Governor of the District his own mother advised him against it citing the fact that there were no other District Governors from Japan. Wade was nominated and in response his mother broke down and cried. The scars of history held tight to her heart.
When Wade went to grammar school, he wanted to look like everyone else. His grandfather started talking about the family’s cultural heritage. His grandfather was Avery Brundage’s estate manager. Mr. Brundage was the President of the International Olympic Committee. At 4, Wade toured the gardens of Mr. Brundage’s estate. He remembers the grounds were immaculate. As they were leaving, he invited Wade to look back and reminded him that wherever he went, he always wanted to look back. He should leave everything better than he found it.
LivingWade went into landscaping after school not because he wanted to but because he was good at it. At one point he was working on a low-income housing project in Santa Barbara. Five kids kept coming by. He ultimately gave them a job. One day they did not show up because they were told by a bystander that they couldn’t hang out. Wade returned the threat with a mention of his black belt.
Wade took the kids to the BMX track where they competed. He entered a Father’s Day race. Wade won. He continued racing and became a national BMX champion. He built his own bike and won five subsequent national championships. At one point, Wade was injured and in the hospital. He never gave his body enough time to heal and kept returning to racing too soon breaking his collar bone three times. Wade turned pro at the age of 30. He was always injured and did not bounce back.
The Japanese American National Museum inducted him into their Hall of Fame. He was asked at the time what his edge was. Wade realized that his success was due to family and friends and then decided it was time to give back.
Giving - Of the kids that hung out with him, two committed suicide, one was jailed, and he lost touch with the other two. That is why he joined Rotary and became Mayor of Carpinteria. He was asked to run for City Council by four organizations because of his high ethical standards. He decided to say yes. The first, second and third time he was elected by large margins. 
Wade described the three gifts of Rotary. The first gift is that we as Rotarians have the opportunity to change lives. The second gift is your own Rotary moment. The third gift is giving others the opportunity to have a Rotary moment. 
Wade talked about losing his first wife of 50 years. Life got lonesome.  He met his current wife Debbie in at the Rotary convention in Toronto. His book “Creating Destiny” is available at 10% of proceeds go back to the Rotary Foundation. Disregard charge for autographing.  
Debbie Nomura spoke about the giving part of the book. That section contains lots of stories and ideas for Rotarians. There is a brilliant story about a project in Puerto Rico. She shared other examples.
QuestionsTony Thacher added that his first introduction to Rotary International projects was a trip with Wade to Mexico. It opened his eyes to what can be done with boots on the ground.  He also shared a remembrance of a Japanese American, John Fukasowa, who grew up on the east end of Ojai and became Mayor of Carpinteria. 
Larry Beckett commented that he will never forget passing by an internment camp in North Hollywood as a child. He spoke about an influential teacher of Japanese heritage. 
Cheree Edwards shared a personal story about her Rotary moment. About 15 years ago she spoke at a Rotary club meeting in Carpinteria.  Fast forward that 15 years and she is a member of the Rotary Club of Ojai with the same people in the room. Something brought her to Rotary. She is looking forward to reading the book.
Bret Bradigan shared an internment camp story from Ojai.  
Michael Malone thanked Wade and Debbie for a fantastic presentation. He ended the meeting at 1 pm with a quote from Helen Keller:
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
Respectfully submitted,
Therese Brown, Reminder Editor

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