Rotary Meeting September 1, 2020

PRESIDENT KEVIN SMITH-FAGAN (Executive Director of Fairytale Town) provided a musical alternative as an opening to the meeting by encouraging fellow Rotarians to name 10 songs that have a September reference. Looks like we all have a creative mind here, as we were easily able to accomplish this! Give these songs a listen to truly get you into the September mood.


  1. Try to Remember by Jerry Orbach, a song from the Fantasticks
  2. September by Earth, Wind & Fire
  3. September Morn by Neil Diamond
  4. Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day
  5. See You In September by The Happenings
  6. Really Rosie by Carole King
  7. Calendar Girl by Neil Sedaka
  8. Come September by Natalie Imbruglia
  9. Pale September by Fiona Apple
  10. September Grass by James Taylor


ALLISON CAGELEY (Sergeant at Arms) (Friends of Sacramento Arts) thanked JOHN WOOD (McGee & Thielen Insurance Brokers) for writing the meeting reminders and ANN SOLOMON (Western North America at the University of Auckland) for being our Pulse reporter for the day. A big thank you to both of you and keep up the good work!


FORMER PRESIDENT JIM LEET (Boutin Jones Inc.) shared the thought for the day, a poem Pandemic by Lynn Ungar. A choral version of this poem is also available, but make sure you have tissues ready as this beautiful rendition will leave you in tears.


“What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.”


CLICK HERE to watch the choral rendition of Pandemic by Lynn Ungar


RIVKAH SASS (Sacramento Public Library) led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.


RIVKAH introduced today’s meeting sponsor, APRIL JAVIST (Sacramento Public Library Foundation). APRIL’S sponsorship today is especially exceptional since it is the beginning of Sacramento’s Literacy Month. Last year, Sacramento and the surrounding areas proclaimed September as Literacy Month and September 8th as Literacy Day. September also marks the 7th Annual Walk4Literacy! Feel free to register yourself, your family, or a group for this great event. If you are unable to participate or volunteer, there are also options to donate to or sponsor a team. 51% of Sacramento County’s children cannot read at grade-level, please join us to help curb this issue!


CLICK HERE to join, sponsor, or donate to Walk4Literacy!


APRIL also presented an upcoming webinar with the Sacramento Public Library Foundation. DR. JANAY BROWN-WOOD, Author and Associate Professor at Sacramento State and ELISE SPANG, Reading Specialist and Senior Learning Advisor at the James B. McClatchy Foundation, will present the Science of Reading, a thought-provoking discussion about literacy. A webinar you surely do not want to miss!


CLICK HERE to register for the Science of Reading webinar


PAUL KEEFER (Pacific Charter Institute) introduced us all to Hands On Sacramento, the regional center for volunteerism. Hands On Sacramento is a simple way to volunteer with many different organizations. All you need is your name, contact information and what area you would like to volunteer in to get started. Surely there is no better way to promote Rotary than to show what great volunteers we are! PRESIDENT KEVIN requested that PAUL pick a particular volunteering activity where fellow Rotarians can all volunteer together. We look forward to volunteering alongside you, PAUL.

CLICK HERE to sign-up for Hands On Sacramento


Brown Bag is still searching for volunteer hosts for outdoor spaces that can safely hold 10 people for social distanced events. PRESIDENT KEVIN volunteered his space, what fellow Rotarian will be the lucky next host? Please reach out to SARAH HODGE, if you would like to volunteer as a host for an outdoor space or if you know of an outdoor space for future events.


We are one month away from the Sac Century Challenge! TODD KOOLAKIAN (Sacramento Children’s Home) clarified that it is not mandatory to ride, walk, skip, etc. 100 miles or 100 hours. You are able to complete this on your own time and within your own time frame, so please do not let the 100-hours scare you into not participating in this monumental event! Everyone that registers will receive: a participation medal, a neck gaiter, drawstring sling backpack, and vendor discount card.


CLICK HERE to register for the Sac Century Challenge before it’s too late!


PRESIDENT KEVIN announced the East Sacramento Rotary Foundation’s upcoming silent auction. This silent auction benefits City of Refuge, providing weekly meals to the surrounding community, and St. John’s Women and Children’s Shelter. There are many items to bid on including Sabina Vineyard’s Virtual Wine Tour (including 2 bottles of wine), virtual paint night for 20 people, champagne basket, and much, much more! The East Sacramento Rotary Foundation is also holding a virtual comedy night on September 10th at 6 PM. Let’s support our fellow Rotarians!


CLICK HERE to bid on the many fantastic items in the silent auction


Interested in the next Rotary Book Club Meeting? It’s quickly approaching! Our next meeting is September 8th at 4 PM. We will be discussing How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi which ALLISON CAGELEY states the book contains interesting history and background about racism. Even if you do not have time to read the entire book, ALLISON encourages all to join. Please reach out to ALLISON CAGELEY if you are interested in joining the upcoming book club meeting.


ALLISON CAGELEY excitedly announced that her son has finished and passed his first CPA test. In honor of her son’s achievement, she has graciously donated $50. We wish your son the best on the rest of his upcoming tests!


VIRGINIA VARELA (Golden Pacific Bank) was named one of the region’s most admired CEO’s with Golden Pacific Bank. This award is especially extraordinary as it is voted on by VIRGINIA’S peers. In honor of this moment, VIRGINIA has donated $100. Thank you, VIRGINIA, we would vote you most admired CEO as well!


BOB MILLER (Chair of the Day) (First US Community Credit Union) introduced our guest speaker, DR. AMI BERA. DR. BERA is currently serving is 4th term and is the longest-serving Indian American in Congress. He is a leading public health expert for the region, state, and nation, and has lived in Elk Grove for over 20 years with his wife and daughter.


  1. BERA opened with speaking about the current pandemic. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, which focuses on health and security, he has a deep interest in responding to and preparing for issues such as Ebola and pandemics. It became very clear that there was worse than a SARS outbreak when Wuhan, China shut down, as it is unusual for a city of that size to completely shut down. When you are not in the middle of a pandemic it is especially difficult to get people to focus on making changes that will prepare us for said pandemic even if it would not take much to build a system to support this.


  1. BERA feels Sacramento did a fairly good job with its early response and shutting down quickly once everyone started to grasp that COVID was not going away. For example, the decision to move an early spring break in Elk Grove schools was the right call and Sacramento had the lowest case rate nationally for large cities. However, coming out of that Sacramento did not fend as well. There is a real need for contact tracers, which DR. BERA sees as a potential jobs program to build local public health structures that will respond to future pandemics. Currently, hospitalization and ICU rates are starting to decrease, as death rates lagging are indicators of this. DR. BERA believes this is an opportunity to move through this and open up slowly but in a safer way.


The ability to re-open schools is in our hands. The question remains of how to go about this. Will we do this in a measured way with social distancing, wearing masks, and enforcing sanitation? Even so, if children do become sick, we still do not quite understand why some are affected more than others. One thing that is in our control, flu shots. DR. BERA stressed that with the flu season upcoming, it is more important than ever to get your flu shot. Flu season on top of COVID could definitely put a high strain on hospitals.


  1. BERA believes we will have a vaccine within 12-24 months and mentioned that one company currently developing a vaccine is in the 3rd phase of their trials. He stated that we will probably see many promising vaccines but that many may not be the most effective. We will also need to prioritize who will get vaccinated first, as we will need to vaccinate 6 to 7 billion people worldwide. DR. BERA believes that any company, no matter where they are located, should share all their information regarding vaccines so that we may work together to eradicate this together.


  1. BERA does see a silver lining in all of this chaos. He believes the current state of everything will give us all time to not only reflect but come together as a community. DR. BERA hopes that those with more resources will look after those that do not and that we will all come from a kinder, more compassionate place that will, in the end, make us more resilient. DR. BERA states that if there is anything we get out of this, his hope is that we take it all in context and understand what it means to enjoy our community and be an American.


A huge thank you for joining us and speaking with us, DR. BERA! In honor of your time with Rotary, 100 children in vulnerable communities will receive the Polio vaccine. Rotary is committed to eliminating Polio!


CLICK HERE to view DR. AMI BERA’S speech


Thinking about joining us next week? Save your enthusiasm for the 15th! Next week will be a dark week and we hope everyone enjoys their holiday weekend. Tune in to the same time, same place on the 15th for our next speaker, KEITH KNOPF, CEO of Raley’s. KEITH will be discussing Raley’s during the epidemic and Raley’s essential workers.

CLICK HERE to view KEITH KNOPF’S bio on Raley’s site