Posted by Paula Olson on Nov 30, 2018
     The last Friday in November means that December is right around the corner and all faithful Rotarians must find their antlers and red noses to get ready to bring on the Christmas cheer.  Or not, as you are inclined. 
     Madam Selden opened the meeting on time as usual. Paula Olson led with the invocation and Rick Selden (yes, he is related to the President as you will see hereinafter) led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Duncan Cook, Ward Fletcher and Troy Wilcox did the set up; James Guerrero manned the Paul Harris table where $269 was collected; Leanna Christian and Barb Spriggs sold raffle tickets; Chuck Hellar acted as Sergeant at Arms; Paula Olson as bulletin writer; and Eric Quinn as photographer.   
            We had a visiting Rotarian: Jim Amsberry from Tacoma North. Guests included Johanah Kang, Ph.D. (Eric Quinn's wife).  John Forkenbrock announced Richard Simmons’ memorial service on December 11th with a reception to follow. Jim Amsberry told us a great story about Richard. He knew Richard primarily through their work on the Courage Classic. About three years ago, Jim was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army in front of Safeway. Along came an older gentleman in sweat pants, unshaven and with a bone to pick. He told Jim he was mad at the Salvation Army.  Jim asked why and the man told him that he had been calling the office for two weeks and no one called him back. Jim asked what he wanted to talk to them about. The man said he had a gift for the Salvation Army. Jim told the man to do his shopping and he would try to contact the Major for assistance.  After the man came out of the store, Jim was able to hand him the phone to talk to the Major and after the conversation, the man put a $1,000 check in the bucket.  That man was Richard.
            President Gayle reminded everyone to get their ho ho ho on and come to the Holiday Party on December 7th.  By the time you read this, you’ll have to beg to get a ticket as the deadline will have passed.  Rose Steven made it back from Nepal again and reminded us about donating items for the Western State Hospital unit Christmas Party that we are sponsoring.  It will be held Wednesday, December 12th from 12:30 to 2:30 pm. All Rotarians are welcome but must give Rose full names and birthdates for background checks.  If you have recently escaped from Western State, I suggest you should not attend the party. Leanna Christian, Puffin extraordinaire, announced  the food bag packing party at the EFN with Tacoma 8 on December 15th from 12 to 2 pm. Breakfast will be served beforehand at the Old Country Buffet at the amazing deal of $10.59 to provide sustenance for the project. Greg Rediske wanted to know how old you had to be to participate.  While we all assured him that he was in the acceptable age group, anyone over 12 years can help.
          Chris Kimball stood in for Greg Horn in announcing November’s club anniversaries, birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Chris had the birthday boys (yep, all guys in November) come up and tell us who their favorite reindeer was and why. Audience applause would tell the favorite and the winner would pay an extra fine. Bob Cammarano did a jig to demonstrate that Dancer was his pick. November 30th was Rick Selden’s actual birthday and Prez Gayle had a special card for him, which she wanted him to read to us. Rick’s shyness caught up with him and Gayle was forced to read it for him. The punch line was that his daughter was No. 1.
          Above: The Birthday Boys
As for all of the birthdays and anniversaries:
November Wedding anniversaries             
Kendra and Alfonso Riconosciuto – 8 years; Cheri and KC Loiland – 24 years; Bill and Regana Alen -   28 years; Chris and Vicky Kimball – 31 years; Bud and Marilyn Montgomery - 49    years.
November Birthdays: 
Allen, Bill; Irwin, Ron; Covey, Dave; Peterson, Kris; Shannon, Edward; Rooks Jr., Jim; Cammarano, Bob; Cordell, Monica; Hancock, Nicole; Korsmo Jr., John; Selden, Rick
Rotary Anniversaries:                                                                                                         
Irwin, Donn - 32 years; Mazoff, Steve - 16 years; Price, Bill - 28 years; Sclair, Mary Lou - 30 years; Johnson, Lowell - 12 years; Walker, Johnny - 1 year; Messenger, Ron - 5 years; Peterson, Robert - 14 years; and Covey, Dave - 35 years.  
            Bill Potter solicited everyone’s input and participation in the Membership Committee’s decision on our next major project. Talk to him if you want to get involved.
            It was then Tiara Time and the Queen was loaded and ready to collect. Joe Quinn paid in celebration of his gold medal at the Senior Weightlifting Competition.  He beat out three other people and Joe assured us they were real people for the win.  Out of a total field of 132 people, Joe ranked 22nd.  Fantastic, Joe!! Andrew Kruse totaled his car (not his fault) and got a new car. He mostly wanted to thank the club for supporting him and Youth For Christ with a grant to replace a basketball hoop.  He will take over the RYLA program. Phil Eng coughed some dough up for having his son home in October and for going to Hawaii.  Phil also showed up an hour early for the meeting and wondered where everyone was.  John Warner presented a present to Johnny Walker and one to Gayle. Walt Richardson had a fun trip to Costa Rica and Panama and highly recommended the cruise and all of the activities. Steve Mazoff paid 20 Ron Irwins for his three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand. He also paid $10,000 for his anniversary but used his “Get out of jail” card instead.  Chuck Hellar told the story of being in line at Safeway behind Ron Irwin. Turns out Ron and the checker were friendly and she asked Ron if the guy in back of him was his dad. Ron laughed so hard that she realized that she must have made a mistake and asked if they were brothers instead. Ron said “Hi Pops” to Chuck, which did not improve Chuck’s mood. President Gayle noted that Chuck’s skin care regimen was really paying off. Terry Rourke paid because he drove to San Diego to visit an Army buddy.
            President Gayle reminded everyone of the cell phone rule.  Members paid $20 if your phone goes off during the speaker’s presentation.  In the case of Donna Phillips, the entire table paid if her phone went off.  The entire room was busy for a moment while phones were silenced.
            Our speaker was Dona Ponepinto, the President and CEO of the United Way of Pierce County. She has over 30 years with the United Way and worked with them in Detroit and Los Angeles. She has been in Tacoma since December 2014.
            Dona was here to ask us: Do you know ALICE? ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained Employed households.  Essentially they are families who are working but do not earn enough to pay for the basic cost of living in Pierce County.  The goal of ALICE is to lift 15,000 families out of poverty. In Pierce County out of 317,000 households, one in three struggle to survive.  They would fill both the Tacoma Dome and Century Link field. The families generally consist of two adults and two children.
Above: Speaker Dona Ponepinto (left), and President Gayle Selden
          The primary reason why working families still struggle to make ends meet is the rising cost of living. That family of four needs $72,000 a year to survive. A big chunk of those costs are for child care. As families start out, they are subsidized for child care but as the parents earn more money, the subsidies end. This forces parents to choose between a promotion or higher wage, making them ineligible for a subsidy or paying for child care in full and becoming further behind financially. Child care agencies are also affected as parents struggle to figure out what is best. Other subsidy programs are also affected such as housing and transportation. Dona showed us a graph that demonstrated what happened to a family’s budget when parents were earning $18 or $24 an hour. The higher wage did not improve their quality of living.
          To address this problem, United Way has partnered with other agencies in the community to focus on removing barriers that keep people from moving forward financially. It established an information and referral line (211) for people to call to get help with various issues, such as utilities and other basic needs. There are two housing counselors with a grant to house 30 people. The Center for Strong Families is another example of United Way’s help.  That has been in existence for three years and focuses on helping people earn, keep, and grow income. It provides coaching, vocational training, access to support programs and financial coaching, such as understanding the value of a good credit score.
          United Way provides the training and resources for these programs to assist families. The overall concept is to increase income, decrease debt and understand the difference between good and bad debt. Since 2016, 785 families have been helped. United Way has partnered with St. Leo’s and EFN for access to food.
          Dona then took questions from the floor. One question was about gentrification. Dona agreed it was a huge issue and she had no clear answer. Affordable housing is also a huge issue which has a big impact. Another question was about access to a car. Dona said that a car was in the top five problems facing ALICE families. There is money to help with transportation and Lyft has a relationship with United Way in other parts of the country to provide help. Dona is working on such a plan in Pierce County. Another member applauded United Way’s work in the Parkland area especially for youth.
          The graph about financial problems with a way increase from $18 to $24 an hour was troubling. Dona would provide us with more specific information about that topic at a later time. Part of the challenge was removing the disincentive to make more money and losing access to subsidies. United Way is focusing on advocacy and a legislative agenda with Poverty Action Network to give a longer window with child care subsidies before families are cut off.  Another financial stumbling block was the accumulation of fines and interest from tickets. In San Francisco, the city cut off fines which really helped people move forward financially. Thank you Dona for the informative presentation, and thank you to United Way for its outstanding work in the community.
         Walt Richardson won the raffle! The pot was approximately $400.
Above: Rick Selden wearing a pin that reminds us that his daughter Gayle is #1. Who knew?!?!
          Finally, read this bulletin and tell Greg Rediske to get a make-up for a missed meeting; and do your online Christmas shopping on Amazon Smile so a portion of your purchase can be allocated to Lakewood Rotary.