Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 5:11 am | Fair 33º


New Rotary Presidents Proud to Carry On Long Tradition of Service

The new leaders of the Carpinteria, Goleta, Montecito and Santa Barbara chapters share their plans for the upcoming year.

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The new local Rotary chapter presidents are, clockwise from top left, Laurie Yttri, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara; Barbara Tzur, Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime; David Bloedel, Rotary Club of Carpinteria; Gary Bright, Rotary Club of Carpinteria Morning; Tom Fausset, Rotary Club of Goleta; David Vo, Rotaract Club of Santa Barbara; Tom Jacobs, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara North; Fred Gaeden, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise; and Richard Douglas, Rotary Club of Montecito.

The nine newly inducted 2008-09 Rotary presidents for South Santa Barbara County chapters have big plans for the upcoming year, locally and globally.

The Santa Barbara area clubs are responsible for fundraising more than $1 million annually, thanks to the dedication and volunteered time of local members. They all gave Noozhawk a look into ambitions for their clubs and thoughts on being president.

Santa Barbara Sunrise Rotary Club President Fred Gaeden

As a charter member of the Santa Barbara Sunrise Rotary Club, founded in 1985, Certified Public Accountant Fred Gaeden is familiar with the dynamics of Rotary.

“A lot of people just think Rotarians are a bunch of old guys writing checks,” said Gaeden, whose club refutes this theory by its active involvement in several community and global outreach programs.

SBS members can be spotted ringing bells downtown for the Salvation Army during the holidays, ushering young students to their seats at the Santa Barbara Symphony’s winter concerts and doing maintenance at Camp Whittier, a camp associated with the United Boys and Girls Club.

Internationally, the club has sent members to Mexico to help with eye surgeries in Celaya, worked on clean-water projects in Thailand and has partnered with UCSB engineers through the ‘Engineers Without Borders program.

The group also sponsors El Puente Community School, an alternative program for students who have had disciplinary problems at traditional schools.

“Every month, we have a student of the month,” Gaeden said. The club then invites the student, the teacher who nominated him or her and the student’s parents to breakfast, where the student receives a plaque for his or her hard work.

“This is an interesting challenge, and I have a great group I’m working with,” Gaeden said, “and that’s what makes Rotary work.”

Rotary Club of Montecito President Richard Douglas

Superintendent of the Montecito Union School District, Richard Douglas is the new president of the Rotary Club of Montecito, after serving as a member of the club for seven years.

The club is involved in many projects locally, including Montecito’s Village Fourth, the Montecito Beautification Day, the Friendship Center and the Storyteller Foundation, to which they donated $7,000 last year.

On a global perspective, RCM has worked on a clean-water project in Mexico and a poverty project in India. It has been working with another Rotary club in Bocolad, a village in the Phillipines, to build new homes and begin a literacy project there.

“I think that we feel good about the fact that when people get involved they can make a difference,” Douglas said. “They help to change lives.”

Rotary Club of Santa Barbara North President Tom Jacobs

As the vice president last year and past chairman of several committees, Tom Jacobs has had a busy nine years with the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara North.

Jacobs says the club’s small size — 43 members — makes for a more close-knit group. “Our club is a very intimate club. People feel friendship and emotional comfort,” he said. “Coming into the club isn’t a daunting experience because it’s not a huge membership.”

Jacobs says his main goal is to increase the club’s awareness of issues such as world conflict, the environment and the local community, specifically within the growing gang activity in Santa Barbara.

The club’s main annual fundraiser is its “Bowling for Kids” event that has raised $40,000 for six years in a row. SBN partners with the United Boys and Girls Club, combining forces and splitting the proceeds to be distributed to various service projects.

“We’ve got within our club a tremendous variety and depth in terms of ages, persuasions and politic,” Jacobs said. “I’m really excited for this.”

Rotaract President David Vo

Rotaract is a chapter of Rotary specifically for members ages 18 to 30, with the Santa Barbara club celebrating its second anniversary last Tuesday. President David Vo joined the club a few months after it started.

“I went to a beach barbecue social. I didn’t know too many people,” Vo said. “A couple months later, there was a call for the vice president position. I just said, ‘If you don’t have anyone else, I’ll do it.’ “

Although the club has stayed primarily local in its service work, Vo says branching into global missions is a big goal. Rotaract has been involved with programs such as Goleta Valley Beautiful and helping with Goleta Noontime Rotary Club’s fireworks festival.

With about 35 members, Vo’s plan of action is to expand and grow club size and fundraising efforts. “We want to go to another country and help with cataract surgeries, or fundraise to send water purification systems to other countries,” he said.

He worked closely with the past president and attended many Rotary conferences, so Vo says he is fully prepared to lead his club. He says he is looking forward to making Rotaract more of an independently running entity and launching annual service work.

Rotary Club of Santa Barbara President Laurie Yttrie

Chartered in 1918, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara was the original club that chartered the rest of the county chapters. Laurie Yttrie has been a member for six years and a board member for four years.

“The thing I enjoy is the fact that I want to be involved in the community, and it lets me be involved in everything.” Yttrie said. 

The club has a few annual fundraisers, but the one that stands out is its international service project, Wheelcharities. The event has wheelchair races with teams sponsored by local businesses. All proceeds go toward sending a crate of wheelchairs to a country where they are needed. 

“We are sending a crate to Calcutta in the next month or so,” Yttrie said.

RCSB also purchases Christmas presents for foster children every year, and hosts a community Halloween party in the Santa Barbara Auto Group’s showroom.

One goal Yttrie has is to become the “friendliest Rotary club,” especially with RCSB as the largest club in the area. “It’s an awesome responsibility, and I’m honored to serve my club in this way,” she said.

Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime President Barbara Tzur

In the wake of the Gap Fire, the Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime is preparing for its biggest annual fundraiser — the Fourth of July Goleta Fireworks Festival, to be held on Labor Day.

“We were deeply saddened to have to cancel the festival,” President Barbara Tzur said, “but delighted to be able to honor the first responders of the fire at our Sept. 1 celebration.”

The group, which had to cancel its fireworks festival because of impending evacuation warnings, has chosen to twist its disappointment into a tribute to firefighters who were busy protecting Goleta on Independence Day.

Tzur has been a member of RCGN since 2002, and says her goals are to ambitiously continue with its annual programs.

Service programs include the Goleta Teen of the Year scholarship program, participation in the local Lemon Festival, hosting Rotary Youth Exchange students and sponsoring the Dos Pueblos High School Interact Club.

The club, which Tzur calls “extraordinary,” has made its mark around town. A large focus has been encouraging youths through a graffiti removal project and sponsorships to students at the Los Prietos Boys Camp.

Whether they are sending shoes to children in need or having a potluck, members of RCGN always seem to enjoy themselves. They love movie nights, wine tasting and building a float each year for Santa Barbara’s Fiesta Parade.

Rotary Club of Carpinteria President David Bloedel

For seven years, David Bloedel has served in the Rotary Club of Carpinteria, several of them as vocational services director. The club takes part in several unique service projects and remembers to have fun, too.

In recent years, RCC has sponsored dental clinics in Siberia and partnered with a club in Patzcuaro, Mexico, to provide clean water in local villages. It also has partnered with Rotary Club of Carpinteria Morning to install a wheelchair ramp at the Carpinteria Senior Citizens Center.

Members serve third-graders in a reading mentor program and are involved in the biweekly “Brown Bag” food distribution program providing groceries for seniors. This year, they are sponsoring children orphaned in Africa because of the AIDS crisis.

“Fellowship is a key ingredient,” said Bloedel, who says RCC hosts several social events every year. “We also are proud of our Rotarians who make up the lively local band called The Brewery Boys.”

Rotary Club of Carpinteria Morning President Gary Bright

Although the Rotary Club of Carpinteria Morning is a fairly young club, founded in 2002, its service projects are ambitious.

President Gary Bright says it’s “definitely a unique club” and credits much of its unbridled service enthusiasm to members who “don’t even realize they have limits.”

The group has taken on projects that will have a lasting effect locally and globally. After getting various permits and state funding, RCCM is looking toward building a state park at the foot of Linden Avenue in Carpinteria.

The club also will send members this year to Africa and Mexico to help with water projects in Malawi and Patzcuaro. Other clubs are beginning to partner with RCCM in this international effort.

Members can be seen fundraising each year at the Carpinteria Avocado Festival and at their spring casino night event. They are also in a partnership with the nonprofit Carpinteria Woman’s Club to refurbish its building.

“It’s a responsibility when you take on a club that’s already engaged in so much stuff,” Bright said of his presidency. “I’m not trying to create new things, just to continue in everything we’ve been doing.”

Rotary Club of Goleta President Dr. Tom Fausset

The Rotary Club of Goleta historically has been meeting and serving in the Goleta area since 1936, when the majority of the members were rural farmers. The club has stayed small for more than 70 years, allowing members to wear many hats within committees.

“Everyone shares everything,” said club president Dr. Tom Fausset, who has been in the club for six years. “Virtually 80 percent of our members have been president.”

Annually, RCG teams up with the Noontime Rotary Club of Goleta to put on the Fireworks Festival in Girsch Park — this year to be held Sept. 1 — and they are responsible for building the Rotary Room at the park, available for anyone to rent.

“We do a lot of work at Goleta Valley Junior High. We started a cooking school there, and that’s going very well,” Fausset said. The club is also working with Child Abuse Listening and Mediation, with a goal of getting a new counseling center in Isla Vista.

Internationally, RCG is working on a project in Fiji trying to get grants to rebuild churches for a village, and it’s involved with clean-water projects in Guatemala.

“I’m not nervous. It’s just another layer of work,” Fausset said of his presidency. “We’re a small club, so we all feel like it’s our duty to (be president).”

Noozhawk intern Mollie Helmuth can be reached at [email protected]

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