Tuesday’s gloomy weather was overwhelmed by the vibrant energy of our membership when President Todd Koolakian called the Rotary Club of Sacramento to order for the first meeting of 2024.

In keeping with the day’s theme of volunteerism and service, Judge Bill Shubb provided a Thought for the Day on the nature of pro bono work – the power of pro bono work is, he says, because it is indeed voluntary and allows lawyers to work towards what they believe is the public good (pro bono comes from the latin “Pro Bono Publico,” or “for the public good.”).

New members Jackie Kirkwood and Bradley Schmidt!
Maggie Brinkoetter Hopkins shared that this initiation had particular resonance for her: returning Rotarian Jackie Kirkwood was Maggie’s sponsor into Rotary, and Maggie was delighted to close the circle and now perform the same service for her friend. Jackie is now Senior Manager, Professional Services at Clutch. She originally joined our club in 2016, and while she spent a few years checking out the Midtown Rotary Club, she missed her Rotary family here!

Man and two women posing for camera

Ruth Tesar inducted Bradley Schmidt, Ruth’s successor as CEO at Northern California PET Imaging Center (NCPIC). Brad first worked with Ruth in the early 2000s, and, inspired by NCPIC’s work, launched a Southern California-based radiology center to provide medical access to underserved patients in Los Angeles County.

Woman and two men posing for camera

Rotary District 5180 is hosting a Practical Relevant Leadership Skills (PRLS) training on February 24-25 at Sierra College. These skills in communication, facilitation, and project management are essential for professional success. Learn more / register here.

Our next networking night is scheduled for February 1 from 5:30-7:30pm at Bailarin Cellars on K St. Please reserve your spot ASAP!

Nominations are now open for the Jean Runyon Community Service Award! Do you know a Rotarian who has shown an exceptional dedication to empowering women? Now is the time to honor that work and showcase their commitment. Visit the link to learn more and name your nominee!

Also open for registration – our club’s Community Grants Program. Know a great nonprofit, particularly in one of RCOS’s areas of interest? Urge them to apply, here (Deadline January 31, 2024).

Something else to register for: the Rotary District Conference in Reno, NV – May 17-19! This district conference brings together three districts (5190 and 5150 in addition to our home district, 5180) – which means at least three times the fun. Learn more at the link!

And a pitch from the sponsorship committee – now in the back half of the year, the sponsorship committee is working hard to secure a sponsor for every meeting. Sponsorship gives you three minutes at the mic to say anything you want – it doesn’t have to be about your business! (but it’s a captive and engaged audience, so why not?)

Let’s Go Skiing!
As David Brandenburger pointed out, the snow must be falling at last, because many, many Rotarians wanted to go skiing this week.

President Todd saluted Tom Bacon’s ongoing efforts to raise funds for Sac Century. Tom recently netted an additional $10,000 donation – off-season, over and above his already high goals year over year. The entire club was brought to their feet to thank and recognize Tom’s efforts. Tom in turn challenged us all to set our personal goals higher for next year – it’s just a matter of having the courage to make the ask.

President Todd also made a gift in honor of his family and their recent time together

Jeff Setzer stood to celebrate a new granddaughter, while Ed Wright shared that his wife was recently named the “President-Elect-Elect” of Point West Rotary – which makes him the Consort Elect Elect.

Kathe Nathan and Brian Van Camp both made gifts to Tom Bacon’s Paul Harris in honor of his service to the club.

Ruth Tesar seeded new member Brad Schmidt’s Paul Harris, and (speaking of skiing) recognized her own incipient career as a beginning ski instructor.

New member Brad Schmidt made gifts in honor of his co-sponsors, Ruth Tesar and David Brandenburger.

David Brandenburger donated to thank Peter Dannenfelser (Architectural Arts) for a recent connection that resulted in a sale, and also honored his wife and daughters for general awesomeness.

Jim Relles wanted to celebrate his fourth grandchild – as well as a return to Rotary after a series of surgeries and surgeries to correct the surgeries. Welcome back, Jim!

And Paul Keefer contributed to both new members’ Paul Harrises and also to his own, in honor of family – “they are great to see, but better when they leave.”

The Main Event: Josh Fryday
Chair of the Day Bobby Reed introduced Josh Fyday, California’s Chief Service Officer. This is a cabinet position that reports to Governor Newsom and leads California Volunteers, Office of the Governor.

Josh Fryday says that his job is primarily engaged with the question of “how can we, in the state of California, create a culture of service?” Our civilization is currently experiencing a crisis of disconnection – the surgeon general has even acknowledged this as a public mental health crisis – and service is a powerful way to bring people together around a common cause.

It is important for people to feel connected – not only to care about others, but to believe that others are interested in what they have to contribute. To be fully actualized, people need to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves – and service provides many people with an opportunity to achieve that. He acknowledged that, as Rotarians, we already participate in this vision of service and community.

One program that Fryday is most proud of is the creation of youth jobs corps and College Corps – which provides thousands of students with a debt-free path to college through service (and contributes more than one million hours of volunteer service to California’s economy each year).

Fryday was also instrumental in creating the California Climate Action Corps – a statewide initiative to empower individuals to take action on behalf of the environment. The Climate Corps has become a model for five other states, and President Biden launched the American Climate Corps, based on this model, in August 2023.

Calling back to Bill Shubb’s thought of the day, Fryday acknowledged that when invited, Californians are proud to step up. The California Volunteer Corps programs founded under Governor Newsom’s tenure are now larger than the entire United States Peace Corps program!

Two men, one holding an award

Our meeting greeters were Shane Hesket, Dave Higdon and Jamie Furlong. The wine reception was hosted by Bob McLean and Dan Fenocchio. And photographer John Swentowsky was on the move, capturing pictures of Rotarians happy to be reunited after a holiday break.

Our next meeting will be January 23, with Christine Pifer-Foote from the California Railroad Museum joining us to talk about Anna Judah and the Transcontinental Railroad.

Meeting photos courtesy of John Swentowsky.

Group photo Two men holding bottles of wine Two men, one holding a controller device Man speaking into a microphone Man holding and speaking into microphone Man and woman smiling for camera