Salaam fellow Rotarians! I am delighted to report what transpired at our 7 January gathering, the first in this new year. Before proceeding, I wish to thank Nancy Riker for acting as Secretary and Andrew Clark for recording the Meeting in Review in my absence on 17 December 2014.


President Jennifer called us to order a couple minutes before 12:30 PM, anticipating an especially busy meeting. Marking the halfway point in her presidency, she declared “So far, so good!” as members applauded in agreement. She then announced that members who had not yet voted online for our club’s officers for the 2015-16 Rotary year could do so by paper ballot for the next 10 minutes at which point the elections would be closed for the results to be tallied and shared before adjournment.

After leading members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, President Jennifer turned to Erminia Scarcella for words of inspiration. Erminia reminded us that “Life is beautiful!” She proclaimed that we are responsible for creating our own happiness and for making our lives beautiful because we have “the freedom to choose.”

As Erminia sat down, President Jennifer requested that I introduce guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch:

  • Debora Dae Bello, invited by President Jennifer;
  • Catherine Byrd, Senior Financial Associate at Oppenheimer & Co., Clara Montanez’s guest;
  • Jordan Cavalier invited by Andy Koval;
  • Rose Chen, founder of the Rose Group and a former member of our club who facilitated today’s visit by our guest speaker;
  • Michael Harper, owner of Imperial Investments, also President Jennifer’s guest;
  • James Lanning, working in the field of humanitarian aid and formerly a member of our club, now visiting from the Silver Spring Rotary Club;
  • Levi Leatherberry from the DC Rotaract Club;
  • Rich Madison, Chief Operating Officer of Project Humanity;
  • Daryl Moore, Manager of National and Strategic Accounts at iCore Network, President Jennifer’s guest;
  • Claudie Sossah, Grants and Compliance Officer at IREX, invited by Abrahem Helal;
  • Kathy Speakman, Vice President of Cardinal Bank, Peter Kennedy’s guest;
  • Michael Spencer, Senior Research Analyst at the Department of Transportation, also invited by Abe Helal;
  • John Stone, retired from service in the DC government, Mike Carmichael’s guest; and
  • last but not least, visiting from Italy as Erminia Scarcella’s guests, Dr. Andrea Scala, an orthopedic specialist and incoming President of the Appia Antica Rotary Club of Rome, and attorney Paola Rosi Bernardini, Erminia’s cousin.

Next, Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman congratulated Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:

  • Dennis Miller on 4 January – A member of our club since 2005, sponsored by Past President Larry Margolis, Dennis works in the field of renewable energy.
  • Kenneth Brown on 6 January – Sponsored by Donnie Shaw when he joined our club in March 2014, Ken’s classification is consulting-wine.
  • Erminia Scarcella on 7 January – Joining our club in 2005 with Oscar Bartoli’s sponsorship, Erminia is a psychiatrist.

Returning to the microphone, President Jennifer acknowledged Christa McClure’s return to lunch and to good health. Christa thanked everyone for their well wishes during her recovery, affirming that Rotarians ensured she “never felt forgotten.”

President Jennifer invited to the podium Dr. Andrea Scala, incoming President of Rome’s Appia Antica Rotary Club. Anticipating the launch of our Capital City relationship, Dr. Scala told us about service projects his club is undertaking. Given Rotary International’s mission to eradicate polio, he wants to assist survivors of the disease. He also manages an educational home for young people from conflict zones, having hosted Chechens and Russians, Indians and Pakistanis as well as Israelis and Palestinians, all of whom came to know each other as individuals rather than merely as enemies. Dr. Scala closed his remarks by presenting a banner from the Appia Antica Club.

Accepting the banner with gratitude, President Jennifer shifted our attention to upcoming activities and events:

  • The Grate Patrol needs volunteers for Tuesday, 20 January and Friday, the 23rd; please see John Jackson if you are willing to help.
  • The Membership Committee is holding its monthly meeting on Monday, 26 January at 5:30 PM in the Rotary Club Office. All members are invited to attend.
  • The next Walter Reed Bingo outing will be on Thursday, 15 January. The new security form is available on our club’s website; if you wish to volunteer, please download and complete it to give to Shelly Williams.
  • Our Rotaract Club is looking for a new meeting site that is metro accessible where members can meet for 1.5 to 2 hour a month. If you can assist, please contact Rotaract President Marilyn Cruz, Vice President Kyle Mumford or Gretchen Kearney in our office.
  • Mark your calendars for Saturday evening, 24 January when we will host our Post-Holiday Party at Congressional Country Club on 8500 River Road in Bethesda. The details of this family-friendly event are forthcoming soon. So please stay tuned.

Before turning to our guest speaker, President Jennifer asked Past President David Klaus to remind members of our Rotary Foundation’s fund drive. David noted that he has already described the Foundation’s support for such community-focused activities as the Dictionary Project and Walter Reed Bingo among others. The Foundation’s legal structure entails that 90 percent of funds go to local projects whereas only 10 percent—$24,000—is reserved for the International Service Committee’s activities. This year, the committee chose seven of 17 projects to fund. These projects cost $537,122 of which our Foundation is contributing less than 5 percent, with the remainder coming from our Rotary District, Rotary International, other Rotary Clubs and/or individuals. ur Foundation could do more with a larger budget, but only if we contribute. So far, only 38.5 percent of members have donated to the Foundation, whereas David is seeking 100 percent participation in this year’s campaign. Rotarians who give $300 or more will be invited to a springtime party hosted by David himself.

Father Jerry Martinson Building Cultural Bridges—As Did Painter Giuseppe Castiglione in China

Clara Montanez introduced our guest speaker, American missionary Father George Gerald “Jerry” Martinson who is a producer at Kuangchi Program Service (KPS), a Jesuit-run television production center in Taipei. Living in Taiwan since 1967, Father Martinson has written, hosted and produced cultural, educational and religious radio and television series as well as documentary films and videos, broadcast and distributed in Taiwan, China and internationally. He previewed for us the three-minute trailer of KPS’s documentary Giuseppe Castiglione in China: Imperial Painter, Humble Servant and delivered a Powerpoint slide presentation about the artist and the making of this film.

Born in 1688 in Milan, Giuseppe Castiglione was a Jesuit missionary. He studied painting and was sent to China in 1715 where he became the painter for the Imperial Qing Court in Beijing until he died there in 1766. As Father Martinson explained, Castiglione’s work combined the Western emphasis on lines and perspective with Chinese techniques and themes. He became particularly renowned for his depiction of animals, including his painting “100 Steeds.” For his willingness to learn Chinese techniques—in effect, starting to paint in an entirely new style than he had developed in Italy—Castiglione became known as a “humble servant.”  He also assumed the Chinese name “Lang Shining” which translates as “world peace.”

Interestingly, Castiglione is better known in China than he is in Italy, Europe or the West. Yet Father Martinson’s film is likely to change this situation because the documentary will be shown not only to viewers in China but also to visitors at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and to attendees at the Expo 2015 Milan. Learning about Castiglione’s life and producing the documentary impressed upon Father Martinson two profound lessons: (1) Cultivating trust and forging relationships were more important in the effort to make the film than signing a contract or paying for services. (2) Respect for one another’s language and culture is vital to any artistic and/or scientific exchange between nations.

Adjourned Until Next Week … But Not Before Electoral Suspense

President Jennifer awarded our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Father Jerry Martinson, inviting him to stay after our meeting to address questions from Rotarians intrigued by his presentation. She then called on Gretchen to gift a $500 check to the University Club’s Foundation as we gave standing ovation to the UC’s staff members.

Chair of the Nominating Committee Shaun English approached the podium to share the vote tallies for club officers to serve during the 2015-16 Rotary year. Stating that “technical difficulties” have impeded the final vote count, he announced the results available so far:

  • Eric Fraint and Lisa McCurdy were elected to our Rotary Foundation’s Board of Directors.
  • Running unopposed, David Klaus and Shaun English will be the Foundation’s President and Vice President, respectively.
  • Also unopposed, next year’s Club President will be David Treadwell.
  • Our President Elect will be Ross Grantham.
  • In a suspenseful twist, the vote for our club’s Board of Directors was too close to call! The Nominating Committee wants to revisit the tally before indicating who will fill the Board’s open seats—hopefully at next week’s meeting.

President Jennifer almost forgot the raffle ticket drawing as she prepared to adjourn a busy meeting. Yet Rotarians reminded her that they were anxiously waiting to learn who had bought the winning ticket from Bill Busker. When President Jennifer read the lucky numbers, Dr. Arrel Olano claimed the small pot of $97. Alas, the ace of spades escaped his healing hands; the big prize of $1,800 will grow even larger.

Our appreciation goes to Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for welcoming visitors at the Hospitality Table.

At our 14 January meeting, we will hear from guest Dr. Allen Dyer discussing psychiatric preparedness for and responses to international crises.

President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!