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Linda LeZotte – Santa Clara Valley Water District

Linda LeZotte at lunchOur guest speaker this week was Santa Clara Valley Water District Director and former San José City Councilmember Linda LeZotte, who gave a brief history of Santa Clara County aquifers and how we have related to our water supply over time.

Linda also spoke about the current drought conditions and provided an update on several rebate plans offered by the Water District in order to incentivize conservation. These include rebates for landscape conservation, “gray water” reuse, installation of high-efficiency appliances, and commercial conservation.

Linda reported that Santa Clara County residents already use less water on average than most of the state, but she noted that the district is looking for any way to improve on our success. You can visit the Water District online at to learn more. Or contact the Water Conservation Hotline at (408) 630-2554 or by email at

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

Today’s guest was Al Mabanag, an officer based in the Dublin field intelligence office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

ATF is a unique law enforcement agency in the United State Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research and use of technology.

The Shifting Path – Elder Care

Today’s speaker is also a visiting Rotarian!

Lisa Huening has launched “The Shifting Path” to help family caregivers navigate challenges of elder care. In addition to being a member of the Saratoga Rotary Club, she is on the board of the Saratoga Senior Center, and is the founder/owner of The Shifting Path.

California has long been one of the younger states (on average), but our elder community is growing rapidly. By 2035, California will be home to more than 8.4 million senior citizens. Lisa asserts our state’s health care system is too fragmented and confusing for our elder population to manage without significant help from family members, which extends the stress of managing health care to another generation.

Taking Care of Yourself

Lisa presented the following key considerations for making sure you,

Health – “Put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.” She encourages people to develop a strategic plan that includes limits and meeting for all of the family members. You also need to take time for yourself every day to recharge.

Support System – “A strong individual is someone who asks for help.” Ask family, neighbors, and friends for support with simple tasks that relieve your stress. Consider connecting with local churches, government agencies, caregiver support groups, and other service providers. Also be aware of family dynamics, and consdider a care manager to navigate conflicts and find other resources.

Organization – The more organized you can be, the more time you’ll have to enjoy your loved-ones. Documents are heard to keep track of, including birth certificate, health care directives, care waivers, contact details, insurance cards, etc. Home safety is also dependent on good organization!

Fianancial Plan – Discussing parental finances can be very tricky, but it critical to understanding what services can be brought into your situation. Its also common for only one parent to know the financial details. Consider a certified financial planner as a starting point, and look into long-term care insurance.

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.

The Hunger Project

Although he’s an established Realtor in our community, Campbell Rotarian Rod Hibner actually addressed us today about one of his community service projects. Rod and his wife have been an active donors and supporters of the Hunger Project for more than ten years.

The Hunger Project aims to empower women and men to end their own hunger, focusing primarily in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

The project is less about providing direct hunger alleviation with shelters and food shipments, and more about enterprise development and enrichment. They have identified three critical elements to their success:

  1. Mobilizing people to build self-reliance.
  2. Empowering women. When women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits.
  3. Forging Partnerships with local government.

The Hunger Project has also collaborated with Rotary International and other local clubs in various projects, including restoring clean water services to the Jaldu earthquake epicenter in Ethiopia. Rod tells us that Rotary and The Hunger Project are continuing to investigate new projects, including international grant support and local club partnerships.

Audacity Performing Arts Project

Performing Arts curriculum in public education is a hot topic these days, so today we welcome Louis Stone-Collonge, founder of the Audacity Performing Arts Project.

After sharing the dismal statistics for local graduation rates and statewide educational spending — including the disappearance of performing arts funding — Louis proposed performing arts as an inspirational tool that can be used to keep kids in school and to motivate them to succeed.

“Performing Arts educations is not about the manufacture of artists. Performing Arts education is about inspiration … unleashing that natural creativity that all of us have.”

AudacityArtsAmong the many arts groups and children’s theater companies in Santa Clara County, the Audacity Performing Arts Project is unique in bringing productions directly to children and families.

In addition, every child who shows at an audition plays. The learning experience and the benefits articulated elsewhere are made stronger when more people participate. Everyone benefits and grows in the performing arts, regardless of their starting position of experience. Audacity also teaches technical theater skills and backstage activities.

As an example of a recent program, Louis shared the “Shakespeare News Network,” produced by school children in Milpitas.

Louis also is also hosting a special webpage with more links and information tailored for his presentation:

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Again with the timely Luncheon Speakers!

Days after the Governor announces the emergency drought declaration for California, Campbell Rotary welcomes Michael Frost, vice president of the steering committee for Restore the Delta, to discuss Restore the Delta’s concerns with the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is a comprehensive conservation strategy aimed at protecting dozens of species of fish and wildlife, while permitting the reliable operation of California’s two biggest water delivery projects.


Frost argues that several elements of the BDCP are too risky and are irresponsible for future allocation of water resources across California. He is especially concerned about the role of some water districts and valley farmers spread across the San Joaquin Valley.

The draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and associated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) has been made available for public review, with the public comment period running through April 14, 2014.

RestoreDeltaRestore the Delta is a grassroots campaign committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta – a coalition of Delta residents, business leaders, civic organizations, community groups, faith-based communities, union locals, farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists – seeks to strengthen the health of the estuary and the well-being of Delta communities.

New EMQ FamiliesFirst Clinical Facility

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from our weekly luncheon hosts, EMQ FamiliesFirst, so it was a pleasure to welcome EMQFF’s clinical director Sarah Pack.

Santa Clara County was an early home of the EMQ mental heath and foster care services, and continues to be the central customer service center for all of EMQFF, which now provides services in 33 counties across the state.

Sarah announced plans for a psychiatric bed facility on the northwest corner of the Campbell campus. At the moment, there are not enough county-wide beds for children in stressful psychiatric holds, who currently end up in adult hospital rooms at Valley Medical Center, although most remain in crowded rooms with multiple adult roommates. Last week, the Campbell Planning Commission voted to grant EMQ FamiliesFirst a change of use permit so a building on campus can be converted to a crisis stabilization unit for youth at risk for suicide.

Campbell Planning Commission grants use permit change for EMQ treatment facility

San Jose Mercury News

If all goes as planned, a building owned by EMQ FamiliesFirst will be converted into a crisis stabilization unit for youth at risk of suicide.

At a meeting on Nov. 12, the Campbell Planning Commission voted 5-1 to grant EMQ a change of use permit, which allows the organization to begin converting the business building into a treatment facility. …

Laura Champion, executive director of the Bay Area Region, said the unit is an important step for the county.

“There are children who on any given day are hurting so badly that they’re thinking about hurting themselves. And right now, in Santa Clara County, the only place for those children is the adult psychiatric facility on Bascom Avenue,” she said.

Assuming the Planning Commission’s ruling is not appealed, EMQFF expects to provide youth services in the refurbished facility by April 2014.

Most of EMQFF’s ground-breaking services are provided in Santa Clara County, and the new facility will expand the excellent care already provided to children at risk in our community.

Celebrating Symphony Silicon Valley

CABladeSignCue Music!

Today we welcomed Andrew Bales, founder and president of the Symphony Silicon Valley. Following a career of performing and managing stage and dance companies. He was the director of the Cleveland – San Jose Ballet, and transitioned full-time to the Symphony in 2003. He is also the founder of ArtSPARK, which brings music and art appreciation sessions to elementary school children across the South Bay.

Founded in 2002, Symphony Silicon Valley has progressed from daring idea to exciting reality, rapidly becoming the greater South Bay’s premiere orchestra and a notable community success story.

In addition to its regular subscription concerts, the Symphony produces free outreach programs for thousands of our community’s children each season. It accompanies many Ballet San Jose performances, and performs for other community events that range from San Jose State University’s recent 150th Anniversary Gala Concert to concerts of music and visuals from popular video games.

Symphony Silicon Valley is setting an example of an innovative business model in the arts — market driven and financially conservative, with low overhead and the flexibility to match its programming to its support base. It earns 60% of its revenue each year – an extraordinarily high proportion for a symphony of its size.


ArtSPARK brings a moment of inspiration to students with age-appropriate performances by professional arts troupes at their home theaters. Classroom materials based on the new Common Core State Standards will support performances; transportation is provided, and the events are totally free to the school, district and students.

When ArtSPARK is fully operational, it will bring every 3rd through 6th grader in Santa Clara County to professional-quality arts experiences every year, giving them a shared basic cultural vocabulary and the “spark” that can ignite a lifelong pursuit of excellence.

District 5170 Governor Hassler