Rotary Meeting: January 26, 2021


PRESIDENT KEVIN SMITH-FAGAN (Executive Director of Fairytale Town) began our virtual meeting with a big thank you to everyone that tuned in early to participate in the wine reception. PRESIDENT KEVIN came to the wine reception with a hot cup of tea… you could say he really knows how to get the par-tea started!


MEGAN WYGANT (CLARA Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts) humbly took the stage to deliver our Thought for the Day. MEGAN proclaimed that her chosen literary piece was inspired by and reminiscent of last week’s emotionally moving inaugural poem by Amanda Gorman, the country’s first youth poet laureate. She read an excerpt from Let America be America Again, by Langston Hughes. The poem outlined what it would mean to live in the America that people want to exist but is not truly actualized – the America that is supposed to manifest through its embodiment of the American Dream, which promises freedom, equality, and opportunity for all people. MEGAN did a superb job of reciting the concluding statements of Hughes, who vowed that we must come together as one to create the America we want to exist… the version of America that already should exist.


CLICK HERE to read the complete poem, Let America be America Again, by Langston Hughes.


TIM MAURICE (Chief Financial Officer of UC Davis Health System) was chosen by PRESIDENT KEVIN to lead our Club in our traditional recital of the Pledge of Allegiance, which he did not once, but twice! The first time he led us in one of the original readings, and his second delivery was the more contemporary and more commonly recited version we hear today. Who knew that there were multiple versions of the Pledge of Allegiance? Thank you TIM!


Today was an especially bright day for our Rotary Club, as we had the pleasure of inducting a new member, JAMES BELLEFEUILLE (Founder of VUGO). For the first time in our Rotary history, we conducted a member induction on a train as JAMES had just recently returned to Sacramento after a trip to Texas! Here’s what you should know about our shining new member:


  • JAMES is an entrepreneur, still new to Sacramento, and a midwestern native. He used his experience as an Uber and Lyft driver in the streets of Chicago to create his own company to help these app-based drivers make more money. JAMES specializes in sales, strategy, and business development. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, traveling, and a solid game of Risk. He is a proud husband and father. He got his undergraduate degree at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and studied for his MBA at UC Davis. He has a longstanding background in Rotary from his time in the Midwest and held numerous leadership roles in his times of service.


PRESIDENT KEVIN was honored, as Rotary president, to swear in JAMES. JAMES pledged to proudly represent the Rotary Club in both his professional and personal life. Welcome aboard, JAMES! We look forward to getting to know you and hopefully meeting you in person one of these days!


BOBBY REED (CEO of Capitol Tech Solutions) provided an update on what to expect in the Youth Professional Valentine’s Day Fundraiser: Flowers from Sacramento Valley Flower Collective, a bottle of either Red or White wine, a single-entry lottery ticket to win a one night stay at a Lakefront Suite by the beautiful Donner Lake (there will be twenty winners total), chocolates from Annabelle’s Chocolates, a Rotary Sac Century backpack, and an Herbal Tea blend from the Classy Hippie Tea. The collective value of this entire bundle is $120, but it is all yours for only $100! In addition to the $100 V-day Kit, there will be some optional add-ons to your package for additional purchase. A la carte items are listed below:


o          The Rotary Rockers will harmoniously serenade you and your valentine for $250. It can be conducted through Zoom or on your front porch with social distancing measures in place.

o          A private dinner for up to 4 folks by David English, former head chef at Press Bistro.

o          A Champagne tasting by Fizz Champagne.

o          A liter refillable bottle filled with wine, donated by Revolution Winery.


Please contact BOBBY REED or any Youth Professional with any questions you may have. Check your email for additional updates, as there will soon be a fundraiser email sent out containing all this information and more. Please get all your orders in by no later than February 7th. There will be a couple of pickup locations available for those that do not select the delivery service. The delivery service will be available for $25. This is a tremendous value for a great cause!


PRESIDENT KEVIN gave a final reminder to everyone that the deadline to apply for a community grant is January 31st! Grants will be distributed of approximately $1,000 – $4,000. If you know of a non-profit that could benefit from a grant of that value, make sure they apply! On another note, sign up for one of the listening sessions for the proposed bylaw amendments if you haven’t already! PRESIDENT KEVIN wants to make sure everyone has their voice heard when we take the proposed bylaws into consideration.

To kick off the Rotary Good News, PRESIDENT KEVIN was the first of countless others to donate $50 to welcome our newest Rotarian, JAMES BELLEFEUILLE. Thank you to all our Rotarians for doing your part in making sure JAMES felt welcomed into our club!

SHARNA BRAUCKS (CEO & President of YMCA of Superior California) was the Chair of the Day and was overjoyed to introduce our highly anticipated and returning guest speaker, the esteemed author and scientist, DR. AMY ROGERS!

  1. AMY ROGERS returned to our Zoom-isphere to discuss the COVID-19 vaccinations, the science behind them, and what we can expect to see moving forward. She was very eager to answer our questions and address our concerns regarding these new vaccines.
  2. ROGERS first reviewed the basic ideas and concepts that we should know for the conversation that would follow: what the immune system does for our bodies, what a vaccine is, etc. Our bodies have a multifaceted system to eradicate invading microorganisms of all kinds. She described our bodies as our own AI system; as the body learns, it gets better with experience and recognition. In connection with her previous point, a vaccine is an artificial, manmade object that trains the immune system without the risk of actually getting sick from the virus. Furthermore, the advantage is that a vaccine lets you get immunity without becoming sick, or in some cases, dying.

Currently, there are two vaccines legally authorized and recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19: ​​

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
  2. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine​​
  3. ROGERS explained the different types of vaccines, and then went on to discuss how COVID-19 has led to a brand-new category of vaccines that are different from all other vaccines previously made. Before COVID-19, a vaccine had essentially always contained either part, or all, of the virus that you’re trying to protect against. Both current COVID-19 vaccines are distinguishable in the fact that they contain no actual part of the virus. So how does it work then, you may wonder? In layman’s terms, the vaccines carry “instructions” encoded in the form of mRNA that tell our body how to make one protein from the virus, allowing our cells to produce the spike proteins naturally contained in the Coronavirus on their own. Then our immune system sees that new protein and launches an immune response against it.

After going over some of the key background information of infectious viral diseases, DR. ROGERS moved over to the particularly hot topic revolving around the vaccines: Safety. How do you answer the question of “is a vaccine safe?” Well, we do the only thing we can, and that’s called clinical trials. She went on to describe the FDA approval process for pharmaceuticals as “very rigorous,” and warned us about potentially being “misled by the relative importance of a particular weakness” found in any one clinical trial. Both vaccines have passed their clinical trials with a 94% and a 95% efficacy rate, a staggeringly high success rate for vaccines that were produced in such a short period of time.

She noted that most of the public wariness of these vaccines stems from a civic problem rooted in a lack of trust: in authority, in expertise, in institutions, etc. Once again, we were brought back to the question of safety, which DR. ROGERS proceeded further by pondering “What does [safe] mean to people?” She used an anecdote from the rise of the Smallpox virus in the early and mid-1700’s to lead into her conclusive point of view that “it’s not a question of absolutes, but a question of relative risk.” She insightfully asserted that it may be more useful to consider not just the safety of the vaccine, but instead the relative safety of being vaccinated vs. not being vaccinated. She acknowledged the small uncertainty around the new vaccine technologies, but in relation to the known risks of viral infections such as COVID-19, she personally believes that getting vaccinated is the way to go.

CLICK HERE to view DR. ROGERS complete presentation on the COVID-19 vaccines.

CLICK HERE to view DR. ROGERS extended Q&A about all things Coronavirus-related.


ALLISON CAGLEY cheerfully noted that we have yet another exciting guest speaker next week, but this time we will trade our medical masks for mouthguards! That’s right, in light of the upcoming Super Bowl, we are going to be in the presence of retired Pittsburgh Steelers player, GORDON GRAVELLE! What better way to discuss the Super Bowl than with someone who has actually played in it – and won! Tune in next week at the same time for our Super Bowl update. PRESIDENT KEVIN will be matching all Super Bowl bets on February 2nd.

CLICK HERE to read a short bio on GORDON GRAVELLE