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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

Compassion & Choices

Addressing us today on the topic of end-of-life awareness and choices, Jordan Posamentier introduced us to the Compassion & Choices organization. Jordan is the chair of their advocacy team, and currently works for StudentsFirst, headquartered in Sacramento.

Compassion & Choices of Northern California seeks to educate terminally-ill individuals and their families about their rights to a dignified, humane, and peaceful death. They offer a series of free services that focus on comfort care and pain management.


Some terminally-ill individuals are able to experience their last days of life with relative ease. Others have prolonged suffering and want to explore pain management, hospice, comfort care, and other alternatives. It is to these patients that we offer free counseling and support.

Our vision is to live in a society in which all people have freedom in making end-of-life decisions.

Compassion & Choices hosts seminars across Northern California and the country, including several upcoming events in the Bay Area. Jordan’s discussion focused on the legal and ethical side of end-of-life care, including state and federal regulations that influence the treatment and palliative care we receive at the end our lives.

School Bullying

Our “Back to School” series continues this week, with a presentation from Margaret Lavin, who leads attendance improvement efforts for the Redwood City School District. She is also the “Elementary, My Dears” columnist for the San Mateo County Times and the Bay Area News Group and writes the “Class Notes” column for the Santa Clara Weekly. Her presentation on bullying was alarming for parents and grandparents alike.

Bullying is an unfortunate fact of life, and it’s a problem in many places. We all want our children to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, and we do our best to see that it happens. But when we send kids off to school, sometimes there are people there that, for one reason or another, feel better only when they are bringing others down.

Bullying is when someone repeatedly and on purpose says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending himself or herself.

Margaret shared examples of both direct bullying (name-calling, threats, violence) and indirect bullying (convincing others to bully, spreading rumors, cyber bullying). She also discussed the impacts on the participants in the bullying, including the victims, the perpetrators, and the bystanders.

She also introduced us to “Seth’s Law,” which requires California schools to address bullying through localized policies and the distribution of family resources. Other resources include the
OLWEUS Bully Prevention Program (Violence Prevention Works) and the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center.

Reading Partners in Silicon Valley

School is back in session, and so too are programs that bring services to students across our community.

In the name of education, we welcomed Kayla Weems and Tai Sunnanon from the Silicon Valley branch of the national Reading Partners program.

Reading Partners provides programs at many local schools, including several Title 1 elementary schools in San Jose Unified and other districts across the South Bay. They provide resources and connections to help one adult help one student.


The Last of the Prune Pickers

PrunePickersOur Club’s interest in local authors and local history come together this week, as we welcome Tim Stanley, local author of “The Last of the Prune Pickers.”

Campbell, of course, still celebrates its history as the center of prune picking, as reflected by the names of current places like the Pruneyard Shipping Center and the old “Prune Festival” street festival, which has been supplanted by “Boogie on the Bayou.” If you grew up in the Valley between 1850 and the mid 1950s, your path to a prosperous adulthood likely involved the fresh prune industry. But the story of prunes in the Valley begins much earlier, even before the Spanish Missions and Gold Rush changed the agricultural path of our region. Once technology brought irrigation improvements and canning processes, the wheat farms of the post-Gold Rush era converted to fruit orchards … and Prunes became a big crop in the center of the Valley of Heart’s Delight.

Tim grew up in Santa Clara Valley long before it was called Silicon Valley. As the Valley was being transformed from agriculture to housing tracts, 12-year-old Stanley worked for an old farmer who became a friend and lifelong role model. The lessons learned while being with the old farmer and on his farm left a deep impression. Tim met his wife, Deborah, while in high school, and they’ve been married more than 40 years. After running a business for many years, Tim now is a self-published author. His tale of prune pickers in Silicon Valley history was published in 2010.

Prunes vs. Plums. Tim enjoyed talking about the difference between prunes and plums. He penned a poem on the subject, which he also shared with us.

Of Plums and Prunes

Prunes are plums, I won’t deny,
But not all plums are prunes.
The kinds that ferment—those are plums;
Those that resist are prunes.

Plums are picked from ladders,
From branches of the tree;
Prunes are picked up off the ground.
This differs too, you see.

Plums are to be eaten fresh;
Prunes are grown to dry.
I hope this explanation helps—
At least I had to try.

Now if you don’t believe me,
With my grammar can’t agree,
Mr. Webster understood these things,
And he will vouch for me.

Sally Ashton, Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County

Sally Ashton banner

We were pleased to welcome Sally Ashton as the guest speaker for our Valentine’s lunch meeting. Sally is a poet, writer, teacher, and editor of the DMQ Review, an online journal featuring poetry and art. She is currently finishing up a two-year term as Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County. This honorary post was created by the Board of Supervisors in 2008.

The mission of the Poet Laureate is to:

  • Elevate poetry in the awareness of Santa Clara County residents and to help celebrate the literary arts;
  • Serve as an advocate for poetry, literature, and the arts;
  • Lead a community project that makes poetry more accessible; and
  • Contribute to Santa Clara County’s poetry and literary legacy.

Sally was appointed to the post of Poet Laureate beginning April 1, 2011, for a two year term expiring March 31, 2013. She is the second poet laureate, following Nils Peterson, Professor Emeritus at San Jose State University.

As part of her presentation, Sally read a number of beautiful poems having to do with love and relationships. She also introduced us to her Poet Laureate Blog, where you can learn more about the poetry scene in Santa Clara County. Continue reading Sally Ashton, Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County

Mission West Valley College

Just a year after hearing from the West Valley – Mission Community College District at our luncheon last April, they are back — in the name of Chad Walsh, who also happens to be a member of the Rotary Club of Saratoga and a candidate for the California State Assembly, facing off against incumbent Paul Fong in two weeks.

Chad talked extensively about the local and statewide California Community College system, and touched briefly on the local bond Measure C, also on the ballot June 5, in support of WVMCCD

Pete Constant, SJ District 1

As a reminder that our Club’s influence stretches well beyond Campbell & Willow Glen, today’s guest was Pete Constant, the city council member from San Jose’s District One, which stretches mostly northeast of Campbell to the SJ borders with Cupertino and Santa Clara.

After presenting a brief introduction of his career, Councilmember Constant spoke exclusively about San Jose’s annual budget challenges, and shared details about the proposed Measure B Pension Reform, which will appear on the ballot on June 5.

Santa Clara County Open Space

In addition to representing the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, today’s speaker also has ties to Rotary through Janine Payton and David Keller. But we let her speak anyway!

Andrea Mackenzie is the General Manager of the SCC OSA.

Santa Clara County Open Space Authority is an independent special district – rather than a part of county government – and is governed by an elected board of directors.

Its jurisdiction is all of Santa Clara County with the exception of lands and communities within the boundaries of Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and the city of Gilroy. The cities of Milpitas, Santa Clara, Campbell, San Jose and Morgan Hill participate in OSA.

The purpose of the Open Space Authority is to preserve key portions of the natural environment in order to balance continuing urban growth. Buying land, acquiring easements, contributing funds to joint conservation efforts, and careful land management are OSA’s major preservation tools.

The Authority was created by the state legislature at the urging of community leaders who saw the importance of maintaining the ecological integrity of the region. A Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) continues to serve as a community liaison.

The Authority is funded primarily through a special benefit assessment. Grants and gifts are another source of revenue.

SJSU Spartan Racing

If you didn’t know that San Jose State University has a racing team, you do now!

SJSU Spartan Racing is the San Jose State University student chapter of the SAE International, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Students accept the challenge of organizing a team to design, build, amrket and compete three different vehicles; Formula SAE, Mini Baja SAE and Formula Hybrid SAE (Electric). Their goal is to give members a chance to utilize the knowledge attained at SJSU and apply it in the “real world,” giving them the competitive edge when joining the workforce after graduation.

In addition to competing in SAE events, the racing club also works “outside the track” representing their club and supporting other racers in our community. They are the number one performing team in California (#1 in CA, #16 nationally, and 57th out of 481 teams in the World), and are working to help other teams improve their results.


We also heard from the Rotary Club of East Evergreen, which operates Elefante Blanco as a charitable arm of that club’s foundation. Check it out!