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Rotary Meeting: February 2, 2021

 

PRESIDENT KEVIN SMITH-FAGAN (Executive Director of Fairytale Town) gaveled the meeting to order when the clock struck noon. Things were quickly passed over to ALLISON CAGLEY (Sergeant in Arms) (Executive Director of Friends of Sacramento Arts) who recognized Pulse Reporter JOHN MCINTYRE and invited any guests to chime in with introductions. No one unmuted their mic to pitch in. TODD KOOLAKIAN (Director of Philanthropy at Sacramento Children’s Home) shared today’s Thought for the Day by reciting several quotes pulled from NFL legends, Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry, among other football luminaries – all focused on the virtues of perseverance, achievement, and leadership.

 

PRESIDENT KEVIN asked BOB ROSENBERG (Inve$tNet Inc.) to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance to the virtual flag (resplendent and waving in our minds). BOB asked everyone to unmute their mics so we could all recite the pledge together. Thank you, BOB, for keeping the unity alive even while we’re virtual!

MEGAN WYGANT (Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts or CLARA) was our meeting sponsor this week and took this opportunity to tell us more about her organization. CLARA is an arts education non-profit that, fortunately, came into existence all because of the Sacramento City Unified School District wanting more performing arts programs in their schools. MEGAN shared some statistics confirming the importance and impact of education in the arts, particularly on lower-income children. CLARA has eight cultural tenants, which provide enriched arts learning to children in Sacramento. CLARA also offers summer camps to children from ages 6-18 years, providing the youth with diverse performing arts genres – Ukulele, Stand-up Comedy, Bucket Drumming, and pretty much anything else the mind can think of. The goal is not mastery of any one sector of performing arts, but instead to foster curiosity, resiliency, and self-confidence in the youth. Camp registration for this summer opened last week.

CLICK HERE for access to the CLARA summer camp registration.

We had lots of news to cover during our Club announcements! Here’s a brief overview of the topics covered:

  • DIANE WOODRUFF and NANCY SMITH-FAGAN (Director of Advancement at Christian Brothers High School) announced, on behalf of the Scholarship Committee, that applications are now open – You must be a high school senior and cannot be related to a member of the Sacramento Rotary Club.

 

CLICK HERE to view the complete list of Rotary scholarship applications.

 

  • Youth Professionals Valentine’s Day fundraiser – JAMIE FURLONG (Securitized Real Estate Specialist of Bangerter Financial Services), encouraged members to buy a Valentine’s Day Kit, replete with one-of-a-kind, artisanal, and in-all-ways-unique dollops of Valentine’s awesomeness. Get one (or more) immediately! Visit our website to see all your options to find the perfect bundle for that special someone. There are two pick-up locations, or your Kit can be delivered for an additional fee. If you have any questions, please contact JAMIE.

CLICK HERE to view the full list of options for your Valentine’s Day Kit.

  • Golf 4 Kids – PRESIDENT KEVIN was jubilant to provide everyone with an official update on G4K: it’s happening on May 21, with more news to come soon from chairperson CALLEE SETZER (Sales of Setzer Forest Products).
  • By-Laws Amendments Listening Session – PRESIDENT KEVIN noted that there are still a few remaining listening sessions left regarding the proposed amendments to the Club’s By-Laws and he encouraged members to check in and participate. In other words, speak now or forever hold your peace!
  • District 5180 Awards – Past President JIM LEET (Attorney at Boutin Jones Inc.) noted we received several medals for District 5180 – a remarkable haul. He specifically noted the Rotary International Citation at “Platinum” – we were the only club in our entire district to earn that distinction. We left the award ceremony with some pretty nice bragging rights if you ask me!

Rotary Good News started and ended with KATHY HERRFELDT (Owner of Home Care Assistance), who was decked out head-to-toe in 49’ers gear when she shared the good news that her business had once again been recognized as a “Best of Home Care” Provider – well-earned recognition. Congratulations, KATHY!

Past President JIM LEET, arrayed in his Steelers’ garb, introduced Steelers’ star, GORDON GRAVELLE, an offensive lineman who was part of the storied Steelers teams that triumphed in Super Bowls IX and X alongside Terry Bradshaw (and other Steeler stalwarts), and whose eight-year career was capped by his playing in three Super Bowls.

GORDON opened by acknowledging the Rotary Club of Sacramento for having a sizable endowment. From that moment on, PRESIDENT KEVIN pitched – or should we say, tackled? – questions at him like an oncoming linebacker. When GORDON was a rookie, he played in the game that featured Franco Harris’s Immaculate Reception. He was seated next to Steelers head coach Chuck Noll when it happened. It was especially meaningful that it came against their ultimate rival, the Raiders. To this day, the Raiders-Steelers rivalry is known as one of the most intense rivalries in all professional sports, hitting its peak during GORDON’s time as a Steelers player. GORDON said he and the rest of the Steelers took special joy in playing the Raiders. They played those games with a fervor that was matched by the fans in the crowds. He chuckled as he remembered getting booed so loudly by Raiders fans, that it actually sounded like cheering.

CLICK HERE to watch the hall-of-famer play, “The Immaculate Reception”

While on the NY Giants, GORDON was in the play “The Miracle in the Meadowlands,” which loomed large in PRESIDENT KEVIN’s memory. GORDON gave context to that game, noting that the Mara family’s dysfunctions ruined the NY Giants…that game was in its final throes and the Giants were in a position to win and should have taken a knee to end the game, yet the offensive coordinator called a play that resulted in a fumble, which was picked up by the Eagles and run in for a game-changing/ending touchdown. This was GORDON’s least-favorite football memory (thanks, PRESIDENT KEVIN for the salt in that cut…). However, his favorites were the two Steelers Super Bowl victories. He was especially proud of handling (now Hall-of-Famer) Carl Eller throughout the Steelers-Vikings Super Bowl in New Orleans. He also succeeded in blocking Ed “Too Tall” Jones throughout Super Bowl X against the Cowboys.

In response to a question, GORDON relayed his impressions of Terry Bradshaw – that he was bright, personable, and fun-loving. He said the public somehow got misinformed to presume that Terry didn’t call his own plays – in fact, he did – and, because of that, he was “dumb,” a misconception GORDON was pleased to debunk.

PRESIDENT KEVIN noted that Joe Gilliam of the Steelers was the NFL’s first black quarterback and was lionized as such on the cover of Sports Illustrated. GORDON said the Steelers were terrifically color blind, drawing in great players – they didn’t care about color of one’s skin. Their commitment was to a culture of excellence above all else. The Steel Curtain was a renowned defense – PRESIDENT KEVIN asked what it was like practicing against that every week. GORDON said it certainly made him a better player!

In comparing his day with current plays today, he noted that linemen get away with holding nowadays – nobody could let that slide back in his day. He shared a story about the Baltimore Colts’ Fred Cook who was a pass rusher that used the ‘headslap,’ which GORDON countered with an uppercut that Fred constantly complained about to the ref. GORDON noted that the refs’ gave him no relief and that he was a “slow learner…”

During his football career, GORDON earned his MBA at Duquesne University (after a BA from BYU). He knew football was a chancy business and wouldn’t last forever. He was interested in moving into business as a developer, where he’s been widely successful over the decades. He owns Suncrest Homes, which builds high end homes in the Bay Area. He takes special pride in the team he has curated.

In the ‘lightning-round’ wrap up, GORDON opined that Ben Roethlisberger should keep playing, if he still feels he can do it, and that “Mean Joe Greene” was a beast on the field, but off the field was a terrifically kind and gentle guy (as evidenced in a famous Coca Cola commercial):

CLICK HERE to watch the classic Coca Cola commercial with Joe Greene.

CLICK HERE to watch GORDON GRAVELLE’s full interview with PRESIDENT KEVIN.

PRESIDENT KEVIN asked ALLISON CAGLEY to tee up the next meeting. We’re shifting from the football field to outer space! ALLISON announced that Past President TIM PINKNEY (Luxe Aviation LLC) will share news about the Mars “Perseverance” Rover, which arrives February 18th (having taken off from Earth July 30, 2020). Don’t miss the discussion next week, here on Earth.