Posted by Paula Olson on May 11, 2018
           President Don announced with some glee that he has only six more weeks left of his presidency and he plans to shake things up. A burst of applause immediately came from the peanut gallery. A short timer President is a scary being. The club has reason to be afraid, very afraid.
            Paula Olson led us in an invocation. Jim Bisceglia led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Chuck Hellar manned the Paul Harris desk, which grossed $667.  Paula Olson did double duty doing the bulletin. Donn Irwin was the Sargent at Arms; Echo Curry sold raffle tickets; and Troy Wilcox took photos. Rob Erb introduced two guests: Keith Galbraith from Parkland/Spanaway and his four-legged buddy Jack.  Greg Rediske introduced his guests: Marie Neiditz and Liz Dunbar, our program presenter. John Forkenbrock did not have anyone on the Sunshine List.  But Joe Quinn did.  He told us an amazing story about his son and Rotarian Extraordinaire, Eric Quinn.  Seems that he and new wife Johanah were doing couples yoga and Johanah had reason to lift Eric over her head. Unfortunately Eric fell on top of her and shattered her left orbital floor (soft bone at bottom of left eyesocket).  Now I know some of you reading this will want to roll on the floor laughing at the visuals.  But that’s not nice. No one can laugh until they have done couples yoga with their spouse/partner/buddy. I have so much more to say on this topic but I’ll let it go for now. Editorial Note: Johanah had surgery last Thursday evening and is recovering.
            In the announcement department, Mick Johnson is looking for nominations for the Non-Rotarian Award to be given to a non-Rotarian who is a community leader who exemplifies the principles of Rotary. Send him names and descriptions of why he/she is worthy and verification that he/she is not a Rotarian.
            Andrew Neiditz announced the five winners of the Rotary $1,000 Educational Incentive Award (formerly known as the Scholarship Award). Andrew explained that the name of the award changed to give the recipients flexibility in how the money was spent. Qualifications for the award included a clear plan for academic goals; past academic success; extracurricular activities, good citizenship; and a recommendation from a school representative.  The winners are selected by the Scholarship Committee out of a total of 20 applicants. The committee includes Andrew Neiditz, Sally Porter Smith, Barb Spriggs, and Marie Neiditz.  The five winners are:
  1. Sheila Clemente from Lakes High School, who was accompanied by her parents. She plans to attend the University of Washington and major in business administration.
  2. Alexander Forte from Lakes High School. He plans to attend the University of Washington and major in mathematics with a goal of financial engineering. Alex was not able to attend the meeting because of a scheduled race but Andrew read a very gracious letter from him thanking us for the award.
  3. A’Dawnah Pangelian was from Steilacoom High School and she also plans to attend the University of Washington. She will major in psychology and neuroscience. Her mom and grandma were with her.
  4. Kelbie Pogoncheff was also from Lakes High School and she plans to attend Baylor University. She will major in biology and ministry. Her mom was proud to attend with her.
  5. Serena Rotondo was from Harrison Prep. She also plans to attend the University of Washington and major in political science. She has a goal to attend law school. 
All of these students are involved in many astounding activities and have achieved great success already in their young lives.  We all wish them the very best and know our funds will be used wisely.
            Bob Peterson introduced the Student of the Month,Violet Fujiko-Niusulu.  Karen Bowers-Smith, Principal of Lakes High School was with her.  Violet is a service-oriented young woman. She takes rigorous AP classes and is a leader in JROTC as well as a member of the National Honor Society. She has a long list of accomplishments including volunteering at the Tacoma Rescue Mission, Daffodil Parade, and MLK Jr. Beach Clean Up program.  She is in the ASPIRE program at Pierce College and her career goal is to be a military officer.
         Above: Student of the Month, Violet Fujiko-Niusulu (to her right, your left, is Bob Peterson)
            Next came the contributions to President Don’s citation fund.  Ron Messenger gave us a confession which he first confessed was the first one since the third grade. Ron was at a funeral and cemetery conference in Vegas for about a week. It was pretty dead there so Ron went to Walla Walla for a vacation. Plus his wife got a new car and Ron got the bill. Ron was thoughtful enough to bring Don back a hat from Vegas from the National Museum of Funeral History. Don was disappointed that it didn’t have any green stuff in it but Ron insisted that it was brand new.  “No!” Don said he was looking for green stuff for his citation fund. The light went on in Ron’s mind and he pulled out $100 plus $20 because any day above ground is a good day.
            Pres Don held up a picture of Ron Irwin from back in the day – August 31, 1983 to be exact. Ron couldn’t see it so he went up to Don’s podium. “Holy ***!” was Ron’s reaction followed immediately by a very red face. He paid $20 in hush money. How much, Don, for a peek? Jan Gee crossed one item off her bucket list by spending two wonderful weeks in Israel. While there, she was feeling guilty for not planting a tree so she planted one in Israel in honor of the club. She gave Don an official Jewish Blessing for his home, friends and family.
            Pres. Don reintroduced Jim Bisceglia, an old Rotarian who hasn’t been at a meeting in a long time, so long that Don was thinking of making him start all over as a new member.  Jim told us that he’d been busy traveling to Palm Desert, seeing shows, getting some sun, eating good food, hanging out with Phil Eng and his wife. He paid $100 for his next trip. Charles Heberle prepaid $50 for his upcoming birthday and to finance a cupcake from Don. Don said he’ll produce.
Andrew Neiditz introduced Liz Dunbar who will present the program. She had a 25-year career with the Department of Social and Health Services and has spent the last six years as a Deputy Secretary. Since 2009, she has been the Executive Director of Tacoma Community House, a service center for immigrants, refugees and longtime members of the community. She has been friends with Andrew for about 25 years.  She was involved with the Rotary Youth Exchange and hosted students.  Her husband is a member of Rotary 8.
Above: Presenter, Liz Dunbar
            Her presentation was to dispel misleading or inaccurate rhetoric about immigration and to educate us on the reality. To help with that, she gave us a chart on the process to a green card or citizenship. Important factors were if a person had family in the US.  If that family member is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident and you qualify in other respects, you can expect to wait up to 23 years in your home country before you can enter the US. Major factors in that period are your marital status and your home country. For example if your home country is China or India, your wait will be 10 – 12 years. After you have your green card, if you want to be a citizen, you must wait five years to apply and 12 – 14 months after you apply. The fastest way to legal status is to have a special skill, be a professional athlete or able to invest over $500,000. 
            One misconception is that immigrants are taking jobs. The reality is that they work at two ends of the labor market. At one end, they do the low-skilled jobs that Americans don’t want to do and at the other end, are professionals. Immigrants tend to start their own businesses and produce business income. About 20% of start-ups are by immigrants.
            Another misconception is that immigrants bring more crime. The reality is that the crime rate for immigrants is much lower than the general population and overall the crime rate has decreased.
            The next misconception is that immigrants don’t pay taxes and use lots of benefits. The reality is that they pay as much in sales tax as anyone else. They don’t qualify for government benefits if they are undocumented and they have limited qualifications if they have a green card.
            Some people say that immigrants refuse to integrate themselves into American society. The reality is that is not true. They want very much to contribute to society and there are waiting lists for learning English as a second language.
            Turning to the subject of refugees, the US has a history of welcoming refugees, starting after World War II with those fleeing Europe. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the US welcomed folks from South East Asia. After 9/11, few refugees were welcomed even though none of the terrorists were immigrants or refugees.
            Some people worry that refugees aren’t screened enough. The reality is that they spend 17 years in refugee camps before they can come here. Many have no hope of getting out of the camps. It is a two year process involving the FBI, the CIA, and Homeland Security. In 2016, 3,900 refugees were allowed entry into the US with 585 coming to Pierce County. The number is much smaller now. People come from such countries as the Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Burma, and Afghanistan.  If people have worked for the military, their route to entry is much faster.
            The Tacoma Community House began in 1910 as a welcome center for immigrants from Italy and Scandinavia. The center helps people with English and to get employed. The center has 100 employers willing to take immigrant employees. The center helps with the citizenship process by giving classes with the libraries to help people pass the citizenship test and to help those in the DACA program.  About 3,500 people go through the center in a year from 100 different countries. The staff speaks a total of 10 different languages.
            The center has outgrown its facility and they plan to build a larger one, breaking ground in the summer of 2018.  There are lots of ways to volunteer at the center, such as participating in Talk Time where the volunteer lets a person practice their English for an hour.
            Questions from the club included whether illegal immigration affects resources. Liz stated that she believes the immigration system is broken and causes illegal immigration because it’s so difficult to navigate.  80% of immigrants are here legally and the remaining 20% have no real negative impact. Another question focused on why it takes so long to get through the immigration system. Liz stated that part of the problem is that there is interest from so many different countries and government bureaucracy is the worst part of the problem. Jim Sharp stated that we tend to focus on the negative when we think of immigration. His first job was with an immigrant family when he was 16 years old, and his experience was a wonderful example of hard workers and productive members of society.
     Don announced that the program next week would be about the District Conference and will be edge-of-the-seat material. Gayle Selden won the raffle and got a red chip. An investigation may ensue.
Oh yes: If you do online shopping, do so on Amazon Smile and portion of your purchase can be allocated toward Lakewood Rotary. Also, if you read this bulletin, tell Greg Rediske and you will get a makeup for a missed meeting.