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Campbell Rotary Visits West Valley Veterans’ Resource Center

Rotary at VRCRecent studies have indicated that veterans, in general, are reluctant to ask for help upon their return to civilian life, except if those offering assistance are veterans themselves. This may explain why the Veterans’ Resource Center at West Valley College is considered to be one of the best VRCs in the state. With VRC President Andrew Rocha, a veteran of recent Middle East conflicts, helps lead the services provided to student vets at the Saratoga campus. Starting out as simply “a couch”, West Valley’s VRC is now housed in a suite of offices, includes a few computers and printers that vets may use to print out their schedules, research topics for class reports and find the kind of personal help and support that is so valuable to a successful return to civilian life.

On Wednesday, August 6th, Campbell Rotarians Dr. Sue Klear, Adrienne Grey (a Trustee of West Valley College), and President John Shannon visited the VRC. West Valley President Brad Davis and Vice President of Student Services Victoria Hindes along with Bernadette Walker and Rocha welcomed and thanked the visiting Rotarians for their past support of the center.

Campbell’s Rotary Club provided special graphing calculators and Smartpens for use by student vets. A plaque outside the VRC’s office expresses appreciation to our club. With it’s recent growth, the VRC continues to have special needs. The computers in the VRC, though useful, are quite dated and in need of replacement. Even the small refrigerator that the center uses to provide vets with water and drinks on their visits is in need of a replacement.

The VRC serves over 100 veterans of wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and service around the world. Dependents of veterans also benefit from the center’s outreach and support activities. Our Board of Directors will discuss ways to continue to support the great work that the VRC does right here at the nearby campus. We will look for a way to be a more constant source of support for the center that does so much to support those who have done so much for our country.

You can click here or on the picture below to read a report from the VRC thanking Campbell Rotary’s support!

Veterans Resource Center Report

400 Backpacks

Backpack Drive 2014

Assemblyman Paul Fong (center) fills backpacks with Field Rep Patrick Ahrens and Campbell Rotary Member Cassandra Bowers

On July 29th, in cooperation with EMQ Families First, the Rotary Club of Campbell purchased and filled 400 backpacks with school supplies for children in need. This was the sixth year for this project and the largest number of donated backpacks.

“Partnering with the Rotary Club of Campbell on this project allows us to help more than 400 students in need begin their school year with the necessary tools for learning,” said Darren DeMonsi of EMQ, who has worked with the Rotary Club on this project every year.

“Starting off the school year without needed supplies puts these kids behind before they even start,” said project coordinator Janine Payton, Immediate Past President of Campbell Rotary. “Most of us think nothing of spending $50 on supplies for our kids each year, but these families often have to choose between food and shelter or supplies.”

EMQ Families First identifies the students who need the help, and Campbell Rotary is happy to provide both the items and the workforce needed to assemble the packs. A Rotary Club member procures the back packs at wholesale prices and Target at Westgate helps out every year by assembling all the supplies needed for the project for easy purchase and pick-up.

This year, the assembly took place in the Orchard City Banquet Hall at the Campbell Community Center immediately following the club’s regular lunch meeting. Joining us were Assemblyman Paul Fong, his Field Representative Patrick Ahrens, three students from the Willow Glen High School Interact Club, and several other local city officers.

Packs were completed about every 10 seconds. Now that’s what we call service above self!

Campbell Rotary “Sweeps” ELC 2014

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Rotary ELC — Follow Along on Twitter!

From March 13 … Campbell Rotary is a proud participant in the Rotary ELC (Enterprise Leadership Conference) program … and it’s happening right now!

Follow along on your own with our intrepid Twitter reporter, Peter Allen.


Rosemary School

Rosemary SchoolToday’s lunch featured guest speaker Brian Schmaedick, Principal of Rosemary School. Brian thanked the club for its consistent support of the school, one of the most impacted and disadvantaged in our area. He was especially grateful to the Rotarians who participated in Read Across America on March 3, reading Dr. Seuss books to first and second graders.

Brian recalled attending Rotary meetings with his father in Eugene, Oregon, beginning in 1978. He began his career in business management and real estate, but a stint in the Peace Corps introduced him to public service and social services. After many years in the education field, he is in his second year as Principal at Rosemary.

Some facts from Brian about Rosemary School:

  • The school teaches 510 students, from kindergarden to 4th grade.
  • There is a preschool on site with separate administration.
  • There are 25 teachers and 45 total staff with an annual budget of $2.5-3M.
  • The general boundaries for the school are Payne, Winchester, Campbell Ave., and Highway 17.
  • The Campbell/San José city limits is literally in the school driveway, but most students come from San José.

Rosemary is one of most improved elementary schools in Santa Clara County over the past few years. The school’s API score has risen from 675 to 835 since 2006. (California schools get a “quality” rating for an API over 800.) But the school is still not where the administration would like it to be.

Under Brian’s leadership and that of his predecessor, Rosemary has developed a model collaboration program for teachers as well as innovative intervention programs that serve over 200 students reading below grade level. These students spend one hour each day in targeted instruction. Rosemary is currently being considered for recognition as a California Distinguished School, but it is “a paradox in many ways.”

Over 50 families with kindergarden-age students within the school’s boundaries choose a school other than Rosemary. This amounts to around 250 kids per year who leave the Rosemary neighborhood to go to school. While Rosemary likely could not accommodate all of those students, the school would traditionally have a waiting list.

Rosemary staff and teachers are, to paraphrase Jim Stockdale, confronting the most brutal facts of their current reality:

  • 90% of Rosemary students live below poverty line.
  • 88% of students are Latino, and 83% have English as a second language.
  • 85% of students live in high density housing around the school.
  • The school is in a “high mobility” area — 23 students moved out since January 1st of this year, and 25 new students have moved in, the equivalent of a whole classroom turning over in just two months.
  • The school experiences 50% turnover of students between kindergarden and 2nd grade.

Despite great wealth and resources surrounding the school, the student population is in great need. Low-income students, like those at Rosemary, face a number of obstacles in their education, a situation that Brian says “should make us uncomfortable as a society”:

  • Low-income students miss 30% more school due to health problems
  • 50% of low income students have vision problems.
  • Low-income students are 3 times more likely to have untreated cavities than other students.
  • A recent on-site clinic found 18 students with urgent dental needs.
  • The stress of low-income life impairs working memory.
  • Low-income students have heard 13M words before kindergarden. That number jumps to 26M for middle-income students and more than 40M for high-income students.

While dealing with students suffering from “learned helplessness”, Rosemary’s leadership remains “absolutely committed to the success of every child.” The staff has established a wellness committee, and the school is currently partnering with outside nonprofits to augment their instructional programming and extracurricular activities to keep kids in school and off the streets:

  • PlayWorks organizes games and activities every two weeks.
  • A grant from Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools has funded a “rethink your drink” campaign to keep kids away from sugary drinks.
  • BAWSI runs a weekly after school program for 65 girls in grades 2-4.
  • Rosemary offers insurance enrollment events for local parents, and the Indian Health Center provides on-campus dental care
  • The school also offers year-round parenting and ESL classes.

How can Rotarians help? According to Brian, the first step is not to oversimplify public school problems in the context of budgets and API scores. A 980 API school is not much different from an 835. They also need financial support that the school district simply can’t provide:

  • $15,000 to augment a PlayWorks grant from El Camino Hospital
  • $1,000 each to provide opportunities for field trips to parks, universities, etc.
  • $50,000 per year to put a parent liaison in the school 5 days a week
  • $500-700 for a teacher appreciation event

Brian’s final missive to our club: “We don’t give up. We don’t use excuses. But we don’t hide from them.” We’re proud to continue our support of Brian and Rosemary School as they serve our neediest children.

Busy Week for Rotarians!

Rotary Community Highlights

Community Service Day

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Community Service & Fun!

Announcing Enterprise Leadership Conference 2014

Several West Valley Rotary Cubs have jointly launched the 5th annual Enterprise Leadership Conference, and are now recruiting high school juniors for next year’s three-day training program at the Asilomar Conference grounds in Pacific Grove.

ELC_header_2The mission of Enterprise Leadership Conference is to enhance leadership skills of high school juniors through a working introduction to the opportunities, benefits and challenges of establishing a business
or providing services in the free enterprise system.

Rotary Club are joining forces to recruit some 60 students who will be divided into 10 teams (three girls and three boys) from 20 high schools in Santa Clara Valley. Deadline for applications to the program is December 20, 2013.

Business leaders drawn from Rotary membership present key business concepts: management structure, finance, marketing, product/service development, human resources etc. to help the students to develop a virtual company with a
virtual product. Team building activities, as well as time to enjoy Asilomar, are included. At the conclusion, company business plans are presented by each team to a panel of senior Rotary business judges to secure financing and feedback on the excellence (quality?) of their presentation and business plan elements.

The three-day conference will begin with a keynote address by Clint Severson, founder of the Severson Entrepreneurship Academy at Minot State University and CEO and President of Abaxis, a medical devices company in Union City, CA. Helen Pastorino, founder of Alain Pinel Realtors will also be speaking. This past year’s conference held in March featured Richard Lowenthal, former mayor of Cupertino and co-founder and CEO of ChargePoint Technologies, who is also a Rotarian.

“The students really take to this program,” Michelle Lewis & Shane Jacksteit, program coordinator’s for the Sunnyvale Rotary Club reports. Following this past year’s conference, one student attendee stated: “I learned lessons you can’t be taught in a classroom. It’s an experience I will never forget.”

To learn more, please visit the ELC West website.