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San Marino Rotary

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First published in the Sept. 16 print issue of the San Marino Tribune. He was born and raised here and, last Thursday, Wes Reutimann returned to his hometown where he was the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of San Marino’s weekly luncheon.Reutimann attended San Marino schools beginning in kindergarten at Valentine Elementary School until his 1998 graduation from SMHS. He received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College with a double major in political science and German studies before heading to the University of Basel, Switzerland, where he received a master’s degree in advanced European studies.All roads have since returned home for Reutimann, who has worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Day One before he co-founded ActiveSGV in 2010.

Matthew Lee Based on an enthusiastic recommendation from Kristine Franco, a member of San Marino High School’s counseling staff, senior Matthew Lee was named the Rotary Club of San Marino’s student of the month for February.And for good reason. Lee has a glittering dossier, topped by his recent acknowledgement as a National Merit Finalist, thus remaining in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.The son of Yun (George) Li and Linda Jing Yang, Matthew is also the engineering president of Titanium Robotics team at SMHS and captain of the school’s math and science teams.For the past year, Lee has also operated a group called TitanHacks, where he manages sponsorships and event planning for a what are called “hackathons,” where programmers team up to create original projects. With the leftover funds, TitanHacks operates a weekly food drive with the First Baptist Church of Alhambra.

For the third year, two Barth Scholarships from the Rotary Club of San Marino will be available to graduating seniors of either or both San Marino High School and Southwestern Academy. Each scholarship has a value of $2,500. The scholarship is named for Rotarian Andy Barth, who has long and generously supported the work of San Marino Rotary Charities. Scholarships are awarded to seniors who are planning to attend a two- or four-year college or university, or a vocational school.

The Rotary Club of San Marino held its annual Dan Stover Music Competition last week at a recent meeting at San Marino Community Church, with all five contestants being acknowledged as winners by the judges. Nicole Lam of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) won the $150 first prize with her piano performance. Nicole also won half of a special “audience choice” jackpot of $438 that was voluntarily funded by those in attendance with the other half of that prize being presented to Lily Zhu of Southwestern Academy. The other contestants received $100 apiece from musical competition chair Georg Eittinger for their fine performances. Judges for the afternoon were Julia Grier, Ashley Walters and Richard Naill. Two of the contestants, violinists Cayla Mendoza and Mara Hermogeno, performed at the 2020 Grammy Awards as members of the LACHSA symphony orchestra. Lam advances to the regional level of the competition, which will be held in April. “Dan Stover would be proud of all of our musicians, judges and Rotarians for endeavoring to enrich our lives with music,” said Eittinger. “We are all hopeful that Nicole will be successful in the quest to compete and win the district prize. In past years, the district has awarded up to $5,000. Let’s see how far Nicole Lam can make it.” Stover was an educator from Alhambra and member of its Rotary Club, who passed away in 1987. The competition was begun the next year in his honor.

Former Mayor Steven Huang praised his successor, Gretchen Shepherd Romey, when introducing her at last Thursday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of San Marino, but he couldn’t resist one small, yet well-timed dig. “A graduate of Michigan State University,” Huang said as he concluded his comments. “The University of Michigan,” Shepherd Romey retorted from the head table, a statement that elicited a blast of laughter from those in attendance at San Marino Community Church. “Just kidding,” said Huang, sheepishly, as he invited the fourth female mayor in the city’s history to the podium. The quip seemed to set the perfect tone for Shepherd Romey’s State of the City address. She began by mentioning her 24-year residency in the city and her long and distinguished association with the Hill Harbison House and Girl Scouts of America. “Who knew I would be here,” she said. The mayor, who was elected to the San Marino City Council in 2017, provided a comprehensive assessment of the community, including a priority initiatives survey, sweeping improvements to the city’s website, the hiring of a new finance director, a complete backup of the city’s computer systems and a plan to deal with ransomware, illegal software that can restrict access to a computer operating system and is often used to elicit a ransom. “We are working on that,” said Shepherd Romey. “That has completely crippled some cities and has been more prevalent on the East Coast. But we are working to get ahead of the problem.” She also…

It is an idea that is ingenious in its simplicity and over the years, countless educators and students have benefitted from its implementation. They are the Bill Steele Mini-Grants, a program that rewards teachers at each of San Marino’s public and private schools with discretionary funds to implement innovative classroom projects of their choice. The program was the brainchild of San Marino’s William G. “Bill” Steele, who was a member of the Rotary Club of San Marino for 33 years and served as its president in 1979-80. Steele knew that many educators had to reach into their own pockets to accomplish some of their more unique instructional goals. Since its inception in the mid-1990s, what is now officially known as the San Marino Rotary Charities William G. “Bill” Steele Jr. Mini-Grant Endowment Fund has provided more than $250,000 to local teachers with $45,000 being handed out this year alone. Educators are asked to follow an application process and can apply for a grant individually or in collaboration with another project. Awards can be as much as $1,000 for a single project or more when requested for a joint project. In 2007, San Marino Rotarian Andy Barth offered to create an endowment fund through the club’s charities foundation to honor Steele, who died in 2006, assuring that the program is self-funding. This year’s awards were distributed in early February during a ceremony at Southwestern Academy, where recipients had an opportunity to provide a brief explanation of their project. “Rotary does a…

“It’s not a handout, it’s a hand up,” said General Secretary Major Osei Stewart of the Salvation Army as he began his address to the Rotary Club of San Marino last Thursday afternoon. His statement elicited a chorus of approval and nodding heads, setting the stage for an inspirational message about a new project underway in Pasadena. It’s called the Hope Center, a 66-unit housing and program destination located at 1000 E. Walnut St. “There is a saying that goes ‘where there is a will, there is a way,’ but we like to say ‘where there is a will, there is hope,’” Stewart said. “We like to think that we are creating hope for people who are down to their last straw, their last dime, their last leg. And we are hoping to see a transformation in their lives.” Stewart said he has seen a lot of transformations during his 22 years with the Army and believes that when the Hope Center is built, there will be many more. “We want to offer resources to people who have fallen into homelessness and poverty,” he said. The Hope Center is expected to be completed in late 2022, and will provide permanent housing units and also include housing for staff. “They will have a key to their own home,” Stewart said. “They are actual apartments that these men and women will be proud to own.” He then told the poignant tale of a man who had received housing at a Salvation Army…

She went through local schools and has spent the vast majority of her life here, but last Spring, Joy Flores—known during her younger days as Joy Bonham—did one of the most un-San Marino things imaginable: she went to work for a charitable organization that serves the homeless on Skid Row. Eschewing warm, well-lit places, Flores, instead, treks daily to the Union Rescue Mission [URM], the oldest and largest rescue mission in the nation at 128 years old, which serves up to 3,000 meals every single day. “These numbers feel giant and significant, but not in light of our current numbers and statistics,” told members of the Rotary Club of San Marino last Thursday afternoon, where she was the keynote speaker. “As I am sure you know, Los Angeles County is the ‘homeless capital of the nation,’ with an estimated 60,000 precious souls experiencing homelessness, with one of them dying every day,” she added. The relentlessly energetic mother of four was a star athlete at San Marino High School, playing soccer and softball while filling what little free time she could muster by serving as the Titan mascot. But with four young children and a heart for the homeless, there is little, if any, “free time” left for Flores, who went to URL after a stint as pastor of local outreach at Fellowship Monrovia, a multiethnic, intergenerational church. “Before that, I was heavily involved with raising kids, volunteering for every committee, running lots of ministries here at San Marino Community Church,…

He has popped up at the Little League fields. Materialized at Grad Night. Served on the Schools Foundation. And turns a few screws in the Kenneth F. White Auditorium at Huntington Middle School. In fact, Maurice Saldebar seems so comfortable working behind the scenes that it was noteworthy that he was so comfortable delivering the keynote address at Thursday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of San Marino. Saldebar spoke fondly of his days at Northview High School in Covina, where he was elected class president. And true to his entire presentation, Saldebar added a humorous anecdote to each point. “Encourage your children to run for class president,” Saldebar explained. “That is the person who gets all of the accolades and there isn’t much work involved. The hard part is when the reunions roll around. That’s when there is a lot of work involved!” Anyone who knows Saldebar knows he was only joking, because if there is one thing the longtime San Marino resident is not afraid of, it’s hard work while dodging the need for accolades. Saldebar mentioned a story that illustrated how small of a town San Marino can sometimes be. “One day I asked my daughter how summer school was going at San Marino High School,” said Saldebar of his now-22-year old daughter, Lindsay. “She told me about her science teacher, Mr. Mann. I asked her to describe him and it sounded exactly like the Mr. Mann I had as a shop teacher back at Northview. I went…

San Marino High School’s head basketball Coach Mihail Papadopulos last year decided to try a little psychological exercise with the boys in his program. “I asked them what they were afraid of…what are your fears?” the man known to many as “Coach Pop” said during his recent keynote address to San Marino Rotarians. “I was shocked when the number one answer came back as ‘fear of failure.’ That came as a shock to me because there are so many things in our current society that we can fear. That made me think that I want us all to become believers. First I want the boys to become believers. And then. hopefully, the community will become believers. But I will tell you this, we are building something we are very proud of.” Now entering his tenth season at the helm, Papadopulos then displayed the records of the Titan basketball teams that preceded his arrival, which included many seasons during which San Marino won just one game in Rio Hondo League action. “I came in here with eyes wide open,” he said. And possibly for good reasons. While visiting San Mario High School to observe a class, Papadopulos told the audience he heard the words that would eventually lead to his hiring. “During a break I walked into the gym,” said Papadopulos, who had previously been coaching at St. Francis High School in La Cañada. “While I was looking around, I heard a voice say to me ‘something special can be done…