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03.24.16 – Luncheon Notes and Photos

SPOKES Notes written by Nick Kroeze

President Derek was in good form—encouraging us all to text Neil Marchand in the middle of his vacation in Hawaii (to which the Club responded enthusiastically when we understood how early it would be when his phone would start buzzing).  Jason Webb then led us in some version of an Annie song that Dawn had twisted around in some interesting way.  Jeff Rogers brought everything aright in the introduction and delivery of the day’s invocation.  With that, we settled in with a soup and sandwich lunch and great table conversations.

As the program resumed Derek invited Lesa Hardiman to take command of the podium and introduce the day’s guests which, to our delight, included quite a number of visiting Rotarians.  One of those included a Rotarian from Minneapolis, with whom we exchanged a flag.  Also presenting a flag was Dr. Paul Farr, who had visited the Santiago, Chile club and returned with that memento.  Ping was then invited to share a call to rally around the April 21 Indian Trails Camp project to prepare ITC for its opening.  Our content-full meeting next highlighted the Interact students from Union High School and Grand Rapids Christian High.  Susan Ledy was then invited forward to introduce our speaker, Mr. Carlos Sanchez, board chair of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan (HCWM).

We could tell right away that what Carlos was sharing about HCWM came from his heart—he truly believes in the mission this organization carries forward.  He noted to us the several ways HCWM provides assistance and empowers citizens, connecting with local organizations such as the YWCA to further its impact in the community.  Their efforts in early education, adult ed and through programs such as SOL (Supporting Our Leaders, which aims at improving graduation rates) have shown themselves to be very effective in giving both skills and hope to the individuals involved.

HCWM’s Strategic Plan 2015-2018 is built on a vision that focuses on education, economic development and advocacy, and with an emphasis on self-sufficiency and empowerment.  They seek to be grounded, revitalized and lead in the delivery of these emphases  both through their own services as well as through partnering with other agencies in our region.

Just prior to the Q & A time, Carlos noted the Hispanic Festival will take place August 26-28 this year.  They will also have a community function on May 12.   Of the questions asked, we learned that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is more social service oriented than business oriented; that creating more Hispanic businesses calls for providing education and guidance in a bi-lingual, first-generation environment; and that acculturation—a blending of the best of two cultures—is an important theme in successfully integrating into society.  Carlos was strong on the need for Hispanics to develop civic-mindedness, noting that in America, one person has the power to change something.

President Derek came forward to thank Carlos, award the water filter certificate, take a selfie and to once again affirm Dr. Luis Tomatis and the Service Above Self Award Dinner tonight to recognize and celebrate Dr. Tomatis’s contribution to our community.

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