The Rotary District 5280 Humanitarian Trip to the Central America Country of Belize was a life changing experience for all attending. 100 Rotarians and family members joined in days of service on projects including:
- Painting school buildings at Light Of The Valley School.
- Painting the Youth Police Cadet Core building.
- Planting Coconut Palm Trees at Dangria Beach.
- Ladies hosted Peace and Conflict sessions with young girls at the Lamanai Mayan Ruins.
Men hosted Peace and Conflict sessions with male prison inmates at the Old Belize Street Scene.
Group A visited San Felipe Orange Walk – St. Michael School painting a fence and installing a chain link fence and handed over a check for school beautification project.
- Group B visited Belmopan – Garden City Primary School to paint and spread gravel.
- San Ignacio playground painting and Sacred Heart Scholarship presentation.
- Unity Presbyterian School hand over a check and paint fence.
The appreciation of the children and the staff at these schools fueled our energy and warmed our hearts to provide service above self. The Rotary Club of Santa Monica had the special project of participating in the distribution of clothing we collected and shipped to Belize for families in need. A very special thanks to all the members of our club who participated in sending the clothes we distributed.
Kera Blades Snell, who was born in Belize, provided special tours for the entire group and others from our club who went on this trip and joined in the Humanitarian work included Ken and Jennifer Waltzer, Russ Warner, Judy Neveau, Donna Byrd, George Collins, David Bohn and his daughter Nicol and me. We will include more detail and photos in our report to the club at our meeting on April 14th.
Last week our meeting speaker was the City Manager of Santa Monica, David White, he was introduced by Past President Tom Larmore. As Santa Monica’s City Manager, Mr. White is the organization’s chief executive. He oversees a total City budget of $705.5 million and a workforce of 1,923 and is responsible for the effective operation of 12 City departments and for implementing City Council policies and priorities.
White joined the City of Santa Monica in October 2021 after serving as deputy city manager in Berkeley where he championed reimagining public safety, including a new model of civilian oversight of Berkeley’s Police Department. Before his time in Berkeley, White was the city manager of Fairfield, CA. With an extensive background in finance both as an investment banker and as Fairfield’s finance director, White is well-suited to see Santa Monica through our economic recovery.
A resident of Santa Monica and a Los Angeles native, White graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology. He holds a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
David shared the City Council’s adopted priorities which include:
- Clean and Safe Santa Monica
- Cultivate Economic Recovery and Expand Community and Cultural Offerings
- Racial Justice, Equity and Social Diversity
- Sustainable and Connected Community
These priorities are used to focus staff for excellence.
He also spoke of the City’s financial and operational challenges. Compared to 2019 the city is at 88% of it’s staffing levels with all branches of the libraries partially opened. COVID really hit the city hard and now we are finally seeing some youth services restored with some essential maintenance of public infrastructure resumed. He shared the general fund revenues before and after the pandemic giving a loss of $170M in revenues through June 2022. We do have some revenues expected to start this month as visiting and tourism picks up. Mr. White gave insight to new funding expected to come from Measure GS with required use of the first $10M to the school district, the next $40M to homelessness prevention and affordable housing and revenues above $50M shared 20% District /80% housing/prevention.
Measure CS implementation will afford key ongoing investments to expand SMPD homeless liaison program among others. This was a critical informational meeting giving insight to the hopes and expectations of our city government.
District 5280 Brunch was this past Sunday, and it was an exciting meeting run by District Rotaracters. The singing was awesome, and the speaker, Dr. Santor Nishizaki shared how we might better understand the younger generation. His four takeaways for Rotarians were:
1. Empower each other based on our strengths.
2. Be present to form strong social bonds.
3. Build a culture of purpose, growth, and community.
4. Listen, empathize, and keep an open mind.
Joining me at the brunch from our club were Judy Neveau, Andrea Gressinger, Paul Leoni, George Collins, Pam Brady, and Russ Warner.