CROW’S CALL - FEB 25, 2021
 
To begin the final meeting of February, Top Gun motioned us all into silence with his gavel. Kerry Richard was our greeter, and his thought for the day was, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” He then led us into the pledge, for which Norbert said his customary “justice for you all”.
 
Kerry gave us an update on his life. We learned that his hobby is his motorcycle, and that he turned 40 years old 23 years ago. Despite his wild side, Kerry has no tattoos (or so he claims) and has never been in a barroom fight. He has 3 adult sons, including 33-year-old twins and a 35-year-old, who has blessed Kerry and his wife with 2 grandkids.
 
Our guests included our speaker, Christopher Major with the Ethnic Ministries Chess Club, and Michael Roberts, who is still, despite the repeated antics of Gary Sloan and Chris Gallagher, considering joining our club.
 
Announcements
 
February is Peace and Conflict Resolution Month. The 2020 Rotary International convention that was going to be in Honolulu is now in 2027. Note: we do not yet have a President for 2027.
 
News you may have missed:
 
  • Alaskan woman was bit by a bear in an outhouse.
  • A cow ran inside a hospital room. Nobody was seriously injured.
  • A Californian woman received her new license, only to find a picture of her in her mask.
  • A seal walked on a sidewalk.
  • Join Chris and Renee Gallagher in a new 2-day challenge! No alcohol on Feb 30 and 31!
 
Colette Lay informed us that the new East Bay Rotaract Club is having a socially distanced picnic next month on Saturday, March 20, 2pm at 1998 Rancho Park Loop, San Ramon. Pizza will be available! Chris Gallagher mentioned that the virtual 6 club meeting is on Tuesday, March 9, at 5:30 pm. Gary Sloan gave us an update on the very busy Interact club, that has an upcoming event to raise awareness for human trafficking in Vietnam. Vera Packard mentioned that she is in contact with the Rotaract club in Brazil to do a joint event with our Rotaract club. Also, Vera informed us that on March 11, our speaker will be an extremely knowledgeable expert providing us updates on the vaccine. Don’t miss it! And for Vera’s final announcement, her company is having a 5k virtual walk on April 24 - please join and support Lazarex! 
 
Recognitions
 
Fred Nevarez was fined $100 for shameless advertising of his company, Versailles Jewellers, via a branded Zoom background. Also, Dr. Glen Weber was reminded of, but not yet recognized for, his upcoming 47th wedding anniversary!
 
Program: Ethnic Ministries Chess Club
 
Christopher Major was our guest speaker, and brought us an amazing program. He walked us through the origins and impact of his initiative, the Ethnic Ministries Chess Club, which aims to build goodwill and better relationships through chess.
 
Christopher started by sharing with us a letter dating back to the initial $500 grant he received from San Ramon Rotary in 2009 in support of his youth chess initiative at Bowman Elementary School in Hayward. Dr. Bill Harlan and San Ramon Rotary were early supporters of the chess program, which centers around the idea that chess creates reason, creates intellect, and creates independent thinking, and, as such, is an invaluable tool for teaching young folks how to focus.
 
 
The goal of the youth chess program is to get second graders engaged in chess over a 6-8 week period, and in effect, get them to better do their homework. What does it take to do homework? Kids learn through frustration, instruction, and independent thinking, the last of which is the single greatest asset for any child, especially for children who do not have someone at home to help. Christopher mentioned that if they can get a child to come to chess every week for 6 weeks, they start to instill into the child the value of independent learning. For some kids, it starts to build the reality of “I am smarter than what I see”. Chess deals with our humility. It pulls away identification with what we have, what we wear, and levels the playing field. 
 
Christopher told us a bit about his background and various examples of the tremendous impact the chess program has had. In 2009, Christopher (an elementary school teacher) joined Leadership San Ramon Valley as he dealt with an internal struggle; he witnessed the disparity between what his students have in places like Hayward and what students have in San Ramon. He then felt inspired to create a Hayward youth academy, feeling like the best way to make a difference was outside of the school district. 
 
 
Our grant in 2009 actually led him to join Rotary in 2010 (Novato Sunrise, upcoming President in 2023), where he gained the pathways to make a difference independently. He has taken part in several international projects, from Mexico to Jamaica to Uganda. Christopher talked about his first mission in 2011 to Mexico, where he started to really see how people of poverty have a sense of love. This was the place of his Rotarian moment - taking a picture of a little girl giving her mother water.
 
In 2013, trying to find a way to connect with himself as an African American, he took a trip to Nigeria, where he taught chess to 4- and 5-year-olds thirsting for knowledge. He followed with similar trips to Kenya and Uganda, each time meeting remarkable students interested in learning and showing up to school on Saturday to learn and play chess.
 
Christopher recommends that every middle schooler should have a chess curriculum because it will change the heart of young people and show them how to slow down.
 
There were many more wonderful stories Christopher shared about his chess adventures, including stories from expanding the program to senior citizens, teaching the grandchildren of Coney massacre victims, and partnering with chess champions in Uganda to operate an annual chess tournament.
 
Christopher concluded by saying that our club gave him an opportunity to find himself, and find a way to make a difference. Chess translates into the real world, into patience.
 
Christopher also donated $50 to our scholarship fund - many, many, many thanks for your time, your story, your initiative, your donation, and your inspiring presence, Christopher!
 
 
 
Raffle and Ending Announcements


Patti Hennigan (and Dragon) won the raffle! A blue marble was selected. Next week’s greeter will be Garth Riopelle.