Thanks to Ciara Gonsalves, Policy & Funds Development Manager of First 5 Solano, for being our guest speaker this morning. Using revenue raised from the tobacco tax passed as Proposition 10, First 5 Solano provides funding for programs aimed at childhood development in those pivotal Pre-K years. With 45% of children not reading at grade level by the time they reach the 3rd grade, programs aimed at early childhood development provide the greatest rate of return and help ensure that at-risk children are given the opportunity to succeed. Because the tobacco tax is doing what it was intended to do (reduce smoking), revenue from this source is diminishing. Please visit their website at http://www.solanocounty.com/depts/first5/default.asp to find out how you can help children in our community begin their education with the skills necessary to succeed academically.
Thanks to Master Sargent Aaron Wallenburg, curator of Travis Air Force Base Heritage Center (https://travisheritagecenter.org/), for being our guest speaker today. Travis Heritage Center is dedicated to aviation history and the heritage of Travis Air Force Base and its units. Located at 400 Brennan Circle on Travis Air Force Base, the Heritage Center is a great place to visit and an even greater place to learn!
What do 3,100 miles, 9 mountain ranges, 3 deserts, 14 states, 105 days and 15 pairs of shoes have in common? Vacaville's very own Forrest Gump - Noah Coughlan! That's right, he's done it again, running across the country to raise awareness for Batten's Disease and other rare childhood diseases. Noah himself is as inspirational as the causes he runs for. After taking off in July, he returned back home in November, forever changed by the experience, as were the people he encountered along the way. Does he have a 3-peat in his future? Only time will tell... A documentary, book and speaking engagements are just some of the things in Noah's future. Stay up-to-date with Noah's adventure by following his blog at http://runcoast2coast.com/.
The young men who belong to the Vacaville Robotics Team wowed us with their impressive display of leadership and technological expertise. They express their dedication and commitment to the FIRST Robotics Competition by working day and night (weekends, too!) for six weeks to prepare for the 3-day regional event. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. This year's event takes place March 13 - 15. Best of luck, Guys! We know you'll make us proud!
District Governor Steve Lack visited our club on January 28 to tell us about current and upcoming Rotary adventures! In addition to energizing the club and reminding us all why we became Rotarians, he awarded Andy Anderson with the Unsung Hero award and Jill Blechschmidt with the Energizer award. Steve, thanks for the terrific job you've done for our Rotary District 5160 this year!
Through their many programs, Children's Nurturing Project strives to find effective ways to address the needs of children born into adverse home and social environments. Baby Coach, Parenting Education, Early Child Mental Health, Partnership for Early Access, School-Based Mental Health and Child Assault Prevention Programs are just some of the diverse programs offered to assist with all stages of a child's life.
For our first meeting of the new year, Bud Ross, retired Air Force officer and past chair of the Travis Community Consortium was our guest speaker. The Travis Community Consortium is an advocacy group of government and private entities dedicated to ensuring Travis Air Force Base remains a vital element of our national defense. One of their goals is to inform the community about the issues facing TAFB. Currently, one of those issues is the early retirement of KC-10s. With half of the entire fleet of KC-10s residing at TAFB, their early retirement could have a significant impact on Solano County's economy. Bud Ross and the other members of the TCC are doing their best to raise awareness and lobby for TAFB's well-being at both here in California and in Washington D.C.
For our last meeting of the year, Solano County Assessor-Recorder, Marc Tonnesen stopped by to update us on the state of property values in Solano county. While still not back to the peak values of 2007/2008, total assessed values in Solano County are on the rise. New permit activity is still bouncing along the bottom, but that too will help keep our values up, welcome news to homeowners throughout the county!
This week's meeting was temporarily relocated so that our very own Carl Smeltzer could treat us to a special breakfast at the Outback. Judging by the spread he and wife Cate laid out, you would've thought some very special people were in attendance, and you'd be right! Joining us that morning was a two-fer. First, Candy Pierce stopped by to inspire us with stories from her work with CASA. Several members chipped in to help out with gifts for CASA's upcoming holiday party. For many of the youth supported by CASA, it would be the first time they had received anything for the holidays.
Candy is a tough act to follow but Michelle Shown-Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Solano County Library Foundation did so admirably. The mission of the Solano County Library Foundation is to support the programs of the Solano County Library and the literacy and lifelong learning needs of the community it serves. Since its establishment in December 1994, the Foundation has raised over $2.3 million in support of library projects and services that promote reading and literacy in Solano County. Michelle was excited to announce their next big fundraising event, The Big Solano BrewHaHa coming in May. Attendees will be treated to an evening of brews, comedy and music at the Special Events Center in Fairfield.
While most of us were thinking about our upcoming Thanksgiving feasts with family and friends, our thoughts were also with those who are less fortunate than us. After an inspired round of member contributions, big-hearted Jim Frazier matched the funds raised to allow us to present a generous check to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. That action is emblematic of Jim Frazier's character. The 11th district is lucky to be represented by such a generous and dedicated Assemblymember. Jim's door is always open to his constituents and, if you don't have time to come to him, chances are he'll be stopping by your neighborhood for one of his regular "Cup of Joe with Jim"!