All posts by Brian Hall

Why the Mayflower Matters

Erica Hahn introduced a stimulating and timely program about the history and challenges for our early Pilgrim settlers, beginning in 1620 with 102 men, women and children establishing a colony at Plymouth.

Erica gave us a history lesson on the Roman Catholic church, the predominant religion in western Europe in the 1600’s.  The church divisions driven by the Calvinist belief in predetermination vs the Armenenisiam view of man’s choice in the matter of salvation, and Martin Luther’s establishment of the Reformation church.

Also a quick trip down memory lane with Henry VIII seeking an annulment of his marriage, which the church could not do, therefore the establishment of Protestantism in western Europe.

Beginning with and following the “discovery” of the new world by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the early efforts to colonize the new world were driven by the quest for riches.  France, Spain, Denmark, Great Britain and others sought gold, beaver pelts, cod, cochineal (a bug used for its red dye) and silver.  Many of the colonial attempts, like Jamestown in 1607, were comprised of only men and the death rate was as high as 50%. They did not want to plant or build the infrastructure needed to sustain a community.

By contrast, the “separatists” from western Europe as they were called lived in Leiden Holland for about 12 years before coming to the new world.  They were not coming to get rich, but to plat, build and create a colony to live in.  The Mayflower arrived in 1620 in Cape Cod, shortly thereafter creating the Mayflower Compact, an agreement among the new settlers.  In 1621 they had the first Thanksgiving Feast, with food including turkeys and deer meat provided partially by the native Indians.

There are as many as 30 million direct descendants of the Pilgrims in the U.S. and many famous ones like Marylyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, President Bush, Hugh Hefner and others like Ashley Smith an Arcadia Rotarian!  Erica says you can check out your history on Family Tree DNA.

Not enough about the Mayflower, check out the book “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick, a good read.  There are also Mayflower Society’s in many cities.

Raghada Khoury – District Govenor

Following an update and call to action for repair of the Camp Trask Boy Scout Fort by Mike Real (Real Food Marketing) and Keith Brown (KB Construction), President Tony Parrille introduced the service area leaders.
Environmental Service director, Glenn Oyoung introduced plans to partner with the Arboretum sponsoring student tours of the Arboretum.  Arboretum President Richard Schulhof described how influential this can be with some students that have not experienced the outdoors, wildlife, open fields and the extensive variety of plant life at the Arboretum.  More to follow on this project.
Community Service Director, Brent Forsee, Principal AUSD reminded the club that we will continue to recognize both students and teachers of the month.  We will also have two meetings recognizing the Arcadia police and fire department key personnel.
International Service director, Dick Martinez informed the club about the multitude of projects the club has sponsored in Tijuana building houses, helping orphanages and providing wheelchairs to handicapped people.
Membership Chair, Francine Chiu provided an update on membership, noting that we are at 84 members with two pending new members.  Francine reminded the club of the great job our finemaster is doing reminding us all of the purpose and history of Rotary.  The question for next week is what is the definition of Rotary.  A new up-to-date booklet titled Rotary ABCs was published, everyone should have a copy.
New Generations director, Kathy Ellison updated on TLC, RYLA lead by Mike Real and Interact being lead by Jim Ryder at Arcadia Unified School District, all important opportunities for Rotarians to participate and provide leadership in our community.
Vocational Service director, Larry Callaham thanked Brent Forsee for allowing the Arcadia Rotary Club to partner with AUSD on teacher mini grants, student scholarschips, the Dan Stover music competition and the 4-way speech contest, all great programs. Larry reminded everyone of the dinner and program on February 9 at AUSD.
District Governor (DG), Raghada Khoury finally was given the floor and reminded Rotarians of the serious nature and responsibilities of properly maintaining our tax advantaged status as a 501C(3) non profit.
DG Khoury noted that many changes are coming from Rotary International, for example moving the focus from attendance at meetings, to activities sponsored, hours of service and financial contributions into our communities.


Jackie Lacey, Super DA

Our own Rotarian Eric Barter introduced Jackie Lacey, vintage 1957 Los Angeles the first African-American to serve as DA since the office was created in 1850.

Jackie, a graduate of the USC Gould School of Law, took good natured exception to John Wilson’s observation that O.J. Simpson, recently out of incarceration, is available for the Athletic Director position at USC.  Jackie gave us a bit of background about her parents who moved to L.A. from Hinderson, TX in 1956.  Her early home life as Southern Baptists consisted of school, church, school, church, school then more church on Wednesday evenings.  Her dad worked many years for the City of L.A. and her mom worked initially in the garment district, then as a cook for the L.A. School district.

Jackie attended Dorsey High School, class of 1975, then moving on to obtain her undergraduate degree  in Social Science & Psychology from Irvine before attending USC where she met her husband.  Jackie determine that teaching was not her love, applying for and getting a job as a prosecutor for the city of Santa Monica.  Jackie then moved to the District Attorney’s office where she met Steve Cooley.  Steve was a wonderful mentor, encouraging Jackie to run for the District Attorney position, which she did.

Since her election in 2012, she has championed training police  officers to deal more effectively with the mentally ill, the reduction of sex trafficking and a conviction review process.  It is estimated that 1 in 4 inmates at the County Jail are mentally ill.  So far 1,100 officers have been trained to be more effective when faced with a mentally ill persons.

Sex trafficking has become the business of Gangs.  Initially the DA focused on prosecuting the children, however, after doing more research on who was benefiting financially, the DA’s office no longer prosecutes the child, but targets the gang members trafficking these women.

Several questions were ask relating to recent propositions 36 & 47 reducing sentences for repeat offenders and certain felonies being reduced to misdemeanors.  Jackie acknowledged that crime has increased and she challenged us voters to dig in and understand the legislation before voting to approve.

Ask what she thought of L.A. becoming a “Sanctuary City”.  She wants the police to investigate the crime and get the cooperation of victims first and foremost.  If you focus on the immigration status of the victim it tends to prohibit cooperation with law enforcement.

GO Jackie!

Building Men In Uganda


Image result for laine wagenseller uganda

The program today was presented by Laine Wagenseller, a LA 5 Rotary Member.  Laine was invited to hear about an Orphanage for young boys in Uganda and while he initially was not terribly interested, when he visited and saw the needs he quickly found a way to encourage teenage boys.  Uganda is in the middle of Africa and has been left with thousands of orphaned children the result of brutal dictatorship and AIDS.

Laine’s first visit to the orphanage left him searching for how he could best contribute.  He is a lawyer, not a nurse, dentist or doctor and as he said, spends most of his time arguing with others.  He did not want to teach Ugandan’s how to sue each other.  So far he has made 8 trips to the orphanage in Uganda.

Laine found his niche in working with the teenagers, knowing that most of them did not have the benefit of having a father during their critical developmental years.  Laine told of listening to the story of one young Ugandan (Robert) telling that in the 4th grade his dad died, in the 6th grade his mother died and soon after his caretaker died, leaving him an orphan.  Laine quoted from the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.  The paraphrase is that it is very important for a young man to have a father to observe and ideally for the father to approve of and validate his beloved son.  Without a fathers influence, many young men search for meaning and significance in life thru work, money, sex and lots of other harmful ways.

Laine has helped many of the young Ugandans by listening to their stories, bringing in other men to talk about growing up.  Laine tells of one boy he took to the farm school, David, who when asked to pack his belongings came to Laine with just 1 shoe box with some sugar, a cup and a tooth brush, nothing else.

Laine’s final story was of Adolf, who was severely burned by his Aunt for taking food, resulting in his being unable to straighten his legs and essentially walking on his hands and feet.  The Rotary Club in conjunction with the L.A. Burn Center worked together to allow Adolf to come to the US to have several surgeries to restore use of his legs.  This was a tremendous gift to Adolf and a wonderful effort by LA 5 Rotary and the Burn Center.  During recovery, Adolf stayed with Wagenseller’s brother and sister-in-law in Thousand Oaks, playing with their four children and going to school at Westlake Hills Elementary School.

When Adolf was asked what he was going to do, now that he could walk, he said he was going to Thank God.

Hsiao-Chin Chen – Craft Talk

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Hsiao is the youngest of three, a brother and sister.  Hsiao graduated from National Taiwan University in 1999 with a Bachelors degree in Economics.  Hsiao’s life has taken some unexpected turns, first with her dad being diagnosed with liver cancer.  Hsiao’s father started their jewelry business in 1967, which Hsiao later was ask to lead and carry on the family business.

Hsiao met her future husband in 2001, while working in the telecommunications industry in San Jose, Ca.  Hsiao moved back to Taiwan after working in San Jose for better work and because she missed her family.  She began helping with the family business and was carrying on a long distance relationship with her future husband, and that was very difficult.

The family traveled to Trinity College in Cambridge UK in 2006 for the graduation of her sister.  About that time her father was also having surgery for liver cancer.  Hsiao was married to William that same year and began their life together.  Hsiao has two lovely children, a boy and a girl and now lives in Arcadia, where she is responsible for the jewelry business, which she named Trinity Jewelers.  Hsiao told us that her father passed away just 1 month after her wedding, which was very emotional for her, then and now.  While Hsiao composed herself, she suggested that we stare at her lovely legs, which many Rotarians did, tastefully of course.

We watched a lovely video showing the elegant jewelry that Trinity Jewelry makes; including intricate carvings, jewelry and diamonds.  The business was named after Trinity College where Hsiao’s sister attended.  Hsiao has developed the business through some of the auction houses and had their first successful jewelry sale in 2015.

In 2008, Hsiao was invited to join the Taipei Lily Rotary club as a way to develop her business and professional skills and she did.  Taipei Lily is a club for women and Hsiao was very active in that club for many years.  In 2015, Hsiao was transferred to the Taipei Lily Satellite Club which meets on-line via WebEx, as a way to stay connected.

Since then, Hsiao joined the Arcadia Rotary Club in 2016 and is quickly getting to know the other members and working to develop her business and professional skills. She is eager to give back to the community through her service and is a great addition to the Arcadia Rotary Club.

Sheen Hwei (Francine Chiu)

Told in 3rd person, The Story of Sheen Hwei, born in Formosa, (Taiwan) to Charles and Debbie (Daddy & Mommy) the oldest of 3, counting “the accident”, her youngest brother.

We were told that Francine was traumatized in school at a young age because her name was so difficult to  write in Chinese, as compared to her brothers name consisting of 1 & 2 lines.  Because of this and each student being required to write their name before leaving class, Sheen Hwei missed out on the snacks, cookies and fruit.  This obviously has left some emotional scars.  Being resourceful, however, Sheen Hwei asked her mother if she could change her name and was told NO.

Not only did Sheen Hwei attend school during the week but on weekends, she attended another school to learn her ABC’s.  This was not that fun, so being the smart resourceful kids they were, they decided to go to the park and play on weekends instead of going to school.  When asked by mom what they learned on week 1 she said “How are you”. On week 2 she said “Fine thank you, and you?”  Mom subsequently called the school and the fun was over, grounded for life…

In 1977, the family moved to Alhambra, CA, United States of America.  School was very difficult, Sheen Hwei did not really understand what was being said by the teachers or students.  If English were your second language, imagine trying to figure out the difference between Patriotic and Pediatric.  Being resourceful, she brought a tape recorder, English & Chinese dictionary and lunch to class every day, wanting to speak perfect english.  Lunch became important, as one of her classmates, Billy sat next to Sheen Hwei and he got peanut butter & jelly sandwiches every day, while Sheen Hwei had rice and noodles.  Mom not wanting her daughter to get a sugar high and crash, initially resisted giving Sheen Hwei PB&J sandwiches, but eventually did figure out that it would not hurt her.  When Sheen Hwei showed Billy the PB&J, she learned what a High Five was!

About that time, middle school, Sheen Hwei decided to pick a simpler name and chose Francine to the delight of the American kids and the confusion of her Chinese friends.  Francine went on to be the valedictorian of the 8th grade and High School classes, wow!

Francine worked her way thru university modeling and as a dental assistant, graduating from the University of Irvine (Ant Eaters).  Going to work for Century 21 and becoming the number 1 sales person, Francine often received flowers, lots of them, bunches of them, vases, bouquets, arraignments… at one point her co-workers wondered who had died and noted their condolences for her “loss” or who ever had died…

Francine married, briefly, and then became Happily Divorced.  Francine subsequently became a star at Rose Hills, then hired away by Forrest Lawn to serve the Asian Community, again doing a wonderful job, then moving to Mass Mutual doing very well again with her talent and beauty.

Francine enjoys her family, especially the nieces and nephews of her brother, “the accident” and his wife.  At this point Michael Hoey unsuccessfully tried to speed up Francine.  Francine is very involved as Chair of the Arcadia Chinese Association and enjoys Travel, Yoga, Cycling and Cooking.  She keeps her Karma in check daily and closed by noting that Life is Good!  Thank you Francine for being an important part of the Arcadia Rotary.