PPRC Interactors make national broadcast news

Though the Pearl Rotary's Interact Club at Lincoln High School wasn't mentioned by name, students well known to Rotarians were in the national limelight May 7.

That's when NBC's Nightly News (with Lester Holt) kicked off a week-long series of broadcasts from cities across the nation. Chosen for one of three Portland-based vignettes was the Cards Cook project, a Lincoln students' weekly volunteer effort to feed a meal to homeless men and women, mostly young adults and some with children.

One founder of the meals project was Hank Sanders, co-president of Interact, and a junior at Lincoln. During the pre-meal food preparation, Holt conversed with Hank, left, and co-president Ben Brandenburger, also a junior (pictured above on right). Other Interactors can be seen during the three-minute broadcast (which can be found on the PPRC Facebook site).

"Nine million people saw the NBC spot," Hank later commented. "It got posted on multiple Instagrams with hundreds of thousands of followers. David Byrne (lead singer for the Talking Heads) saw it and asked us to write an article about our work [see link below]. Lester was a super nice guy and I still talk to his team frequently."

In his own words, Hank wrote:

"Dedicated to serving the young adult homeless population, ages 0-25, Cards Cook partners with Oregon Food Bank (OFB) and a nearby church called First Christian to serve meals after school. OFB provides our ingredients, while Clay Street Table provides insurance and supervision for the food preparation. At least once a week, 8-12 students walk across the street and prepare a meal for 300-500 people. Over the past two years, we are proud to say we have served almost 27,000 meals, and almost 100 high school students have volunteered over 2,000 hours.

The program may soon be replicated, Hank predicted. "The idea behind our program is a simple one—which means it can be copied—and Cards Cook encourages students from other schools to open new chapters. By the beginning of next year, we plan on starting chapters at Jesuit High School, International School of Beaverton and Lake Oswego High School."

For LHS students and the Interact Club, it has brought new meaning to life and volunteering.

"When I sat down and talked to these people, I realized the reasons I used to think were behind their homelessness were not telling the whole story. While drugs and alcohol can play a role, their situation is more often a result of the cyclical poverty that harms many of the people we serve. Most of the people under 25 grew up in an environment of abuse and homelessness. They inherited the issues they deal with today. Eat one meal at the same table and your perspective is changed."

Principal Peyton Chapman (and honorary Pearl Rotarian) added her observations, congratulations and pride in this email to the newsletter editor:
"It is deeply gratifying to see Lincoln students connecting the ideas, skills and values they are learning in classes at Lincoln to problem-solving action steps in the local community. I can trace Cards Cook back to a student-facilitated Math Connection’s class two years ago which asked students to identify problems in the community and then use mathematical skills to help find ways to solve the problem.

"Last year Hank Sanders [now Interact co-president] helped create an entrepreneurial leadership class that asked students to create non-profits or small businesses to do the same kind of inquiry and action using philanthropic-oriented business skills. Cards Cook is an excellent example of the many ways students are using their growing inquiry, leadership, academic and innovation skills to change and improve the world around them. Hank and others have surely inspired the next wave of classes and clubs that will continue to provide student-led avenues for the application of learning. Go, Cards!"
The PPRC Facebook site has a link to the NBC piece, one that will make you proud of these students...and with a quiet tip of the hat to PPRC which began the club ten years ago (that anniversary comes next January)

Golf Tourney Heated Up Funds for Combating Homelessness

Welcome to Portland Pearl Rotary Club/New Generations Golf Tournament

There were about 100 golfers. And the temperature neared 100 degrees.

Yet the heat didn't stop the Portland Pearl/New Generations clubs' golf tournament...or from staging a successful benefit golf tournament at Persimmon Golf Course in Gresham Aug. 28.

PPRC Past President Pat Mahoney co-chaired the event with Isaac Samsa from New Generations. The event included multiple sponsors (see below), a wine wall filled with donations, gift baskets which were raffled off, and meals before and after the 18-hole event. Fellowship and fun prevailed. And dollars were raised to combat homelessness.

PPRC Golf Tournament 2017
"Thanks to everyone for a great golf tournament," Pat announced at PPRC the following day. "It was a great experience working with the New Generations members. There's a lot we can do together in the future."

What the tournament netted wasn't calculated in the first 24 hours after the Persimmon play. But, he said, "we exceeded our expectations."

And Pat added in writing:

"At our club visioning last year, one of our set goals was to establish partnerships with other Rotary Clubs. This golf tournament partnership with New Generations Rotary Club was a nice, positive experience with results that were mutually beneficial.

Each of the 18 holes had signage featuring various non-profit organizations that our clubs support in the fight against homelessness. Each sign included an impactful quote or mission statement from the nonprofit.

The overall golf experience was great. This event was well-organized with good food and beverages, fun activities, and many opportunities to win prizes.

Thanks to all the sponsors, volunteers, golfers and everyone who made this a event a success. Special thanks to our presenting sponsors--Pearl and Woodstock Ace Hardware and Mottau & Company. Thanks also to Portland New Generations Rotary Club for allowing us to team up with them."

Pearl Rotary Sponsors Local Civil Engineer

aaron-leePearl Rotary's latest sponsorship for a graduate school program through The Rotary Foundation has succeeded. Aaron Lee, 27 and a civil engineer, has been admitted to the water science and engineering program of UNESCO at Deft, Netherlands. "I'm very honored to receive this scholarship," Aaron told Rotarians July 28. "I'm honored too to represent the Pearl Rotary Club." He'll study for 1-1/2 years. He saluted Rotarians Tracy Vicario, Dave Bangsund and Dawn Schneider for assisting in his application. Added Dave, after introducing Aaron July 28: "Aaron leaves this fall; hopefully he'll return with knowledge for our club when we're doing Rotary water projects around the world."

RYLA: Rotary Youth Leadership Award applicant chosen

gracePortland Pearl Rotary is pleased to announce its sponsorship of Grace Fazila to attend RYLA this summer. A true citizen of the world, Grace has lived on three different continents and speaks five different languages.

Currently a student at PCC, she serves as the vice-president of the International Club, providing support to the international students in helping them to feel welcomed and a part of their new community. As an emerging leader, she draws strength in her ability to champion the underdog and giving a voice for unheard of causes.

RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) is a week-long camp, where emerging and young professionals are provided the opportunity to expand their perceptions and ideals. RYLA participants gain knowledge about themselves and learn to work with others in order to become better people and future leaders.

New Generations–Tara Mussulman, chair

Student of the Month Program Completes First Year

Pearl Rotary Club's new program to honor a student of the month from neighboring Lincoln High School comes to a successful end in June with two graduating seniors as final honorees.

May student of the month was Dashiell (Dash) Robb, 18, who heads to Oberlin College after an active career in high school.(See accompanying head photo) His involvement included student government, student liaison to the parent group, LSAC, and student representative to the next door Goose Hollow Neighborhood Assn. Dash helped organize a charity dance at Lincoln, and recently was a key mover in a music concert benefit that raised $7,000 to help expand music education Portland Public Schools. He is the son of Douglas Robb, a retired Kaiser psychiatrist, and Ronni Batterman, a therapist.

Austin Shiner, outgoing Lincoln Student body President, is June's student of the month. (See accompanying photo with Pearl Rotary Club banner) Austin heads for Yale University this fall, following a sterling high school career that included participating on the LHS tennis team and founding a culinary club at the school. "My greatest passion is food," he says with a big grin. Austin has worked as assistant chefs past summers at Portland's Noble Rot and Hurley's restaurants. The son of Christopher Shiner, a chemical consultant, and Linda Stork, a pediatric oncologist, Austin plans to major in either biology and chemistry or political science

Six Lincoln HS students were honored by the Club this past year. They attended meetings of the Club and spoke to members about their high school activities, their interests and values, and their plans for the future. The students are selected by Lincoln Principal Peyton Chapman, who is an honorary member of Portland Pearl Rotary. Chapman says she looks for students to nominate who are leaders, display various talents and show a special interest in community service. Honored students receive a certificate from the Club.

Club Showcases Top Lincoln High Students

Pearl Rotary meetings are looking young and vigorous with a parade of Lincoln High School (LHS) students attending and performing on Tuesday mornings. The Club began a program of honoring LHS students of the month, selected by LHS principal and honorary Pearl Rotary member, Peyton Chapman. Students attend two Club meetings during their designated month, and speak briefly on their high school experience at Lincoln and future plans, explains Pearl Rotarian Don Smith who is coordinating the LHS program.

Here are brief profiles and photos of students honored so far this year: First Student of the Month was Michelle Benikov, a 16-year-old junior. Her involvement at LHS includes tennis, cheerleading, student store, tutoring and Model United Nations. Outside of school, she volunteers at OHSU and Temple Beth Israel and is also a tutor. She has a passion for snowboarding and skiing. College looms in Michelle's future. "I really just want to help people and have fun," she says. "I would love to become a doctor.'

Neal Pisenti, 18 and a senior, has served fellow classmates as LHS's student body vice-president. His activities include Model United Nations, robotics, speech and debate, cross country, track, and Iron Chef club. He tutors geometry and plays the piano. He plans to major in physics and math in college and foresees a career in theoretical physics research. "Although I am a math/science person, " Neal says, "I also have a strong interest in English and philosophy."

Basil Costandi has three youth group missions under his belt, one on a post-Katrina project, as evidence that he already exemplifies Rotary's "Service above self" credo. Basil, 18, and a senior, was active in cheerleading and a presence at every school event, according to Principal Chapman, who notes that he "volunteers through our community service programs and helps on community care days." He plans "a year out" before staring his college career. Adds Chapman:"Basil is extremely involved; he's one of those great kids who is always doing the right thing, following the rules, supporting others, treating people nicely."

April's student of the month is Elvis Akpla, 18, and another LHS senior. Born in Senegal, Elvis cames to USA in 1997. An International Baccalaureate student, Elvis speaks French fluently, Spanish "decently", he says, and is studying Italian. Elvis has been a standout athlete at LHS on football (all-state receiver) and track. He holds the current state recond in the long jump and is among the nation's top 25 triple jumpers.He teaches African refuge children english and coaches primary school kids in basketball and football. He plans to attend the University of Oregon, participate in track and field, and try to be a walk-on Duck in football.

At the Club's April 24 meeting, Pearl Rotarians were treated to a preview by four cast members of Lincoln's current musical production, "High School Musical". On May 15, Lincoln's U.S. Constitution Study team will present a program to the Club. Past LHS teams have gone on to compete in national scholastic finals on key constitutional issues.

PPRC names selections for Lincoln scholarship, RYLA

A Lincoln High School graduate planning a career in nursing and a public advocate in the Portland mayor's office have been awarded by the Pearl Rotary Club.

Maggie Schwab is the recipient of this year's $1,000 college scholarship from Pearl Rotarians. Maggie was the February student of the month from LHS. When she addressed Rotarians this spring, she urged club members to be active blood donors. "I would like to see larger participation by all able adults in donating life-saving blood," she urged.

Maggie will enroll this fall in the school of nursing at the University of Portland. Her career aspirations are in labor and delivery and critical care nursing. "My biggest role models are doctors and nurses who strive every day to save the lives of so many, especially the staff of the critical care unit that saved my life," she wrote when honored earlier by PRRC. (She survived a life-threatening illness during her senior year.)

At Lincoln, she was senior class president and volunteered for blood drives; she was also active in her church and as a hospital volunteer at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital.


Grace Uwagbae, a 2007 political science graduate of Lewis and Clark College, has been selected by Pearl Rotary to be its representative at the annual RYLA event (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards). RYLA, which recognizes young leaders and provides them ways to expand their perceptions and ideals, will be held July 9-15 at the Menucha Retreat Center.

After interning for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (fall 2006) and graduating from Lewis and Clark, Grace has worked in the Portland mayoral offices, first for Tom Potter and then Sam Adams. For the past ten months, she has been a public advocate, concentrating on constituent inquiries, internal information, and representing Adams at community events and public meetings.

She was introduced to the club in May by President-Elect Lou Radja

Third annual Polio Walk led by Interactors

Almost 700 children around the globe will receive polio eradication vaccine, thanks to the efforts of the Interact Club at Lincoln High School, Portland.

The Portland Polio Walk, the third annual hosted by Lincoln students, raised about $400, according to President Catherine Wu and Advisor Tonya Mjelde. The event was held Saturday, May 21. Pictured are Interactors as they crossed the Willamette River in downtown Portland.

Polio eradication is the major international project of Rotarians worldwide. The effort, which dates back to the mid-'80s, has been embraced in recent years by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation--to the tune of $355 million. Rotarians from 33,000 clubs--including Pearl Rotary which sponsors the Lincoln Interact--are very close to raising the $200 million needed in the challenge grant from the Gateses.

While students, Rotarians and other supporters were walking for polio eradication in Portland, 19,000 Rotarians in New Orleans were gathered for the annual RI convention. Bill Gates was the keynote speaker. Wearing his "End Polio Now" lapel pin, Gates championed the effort, but urged Rotarians to push on to complete the job (polio is still endemic in four countries--with India being the largest and Afghanistan extremely difficult). Said Gates:

"Your work has brought us so far, 99 percent of the way there. The last 1 percent will be the toughest. It will require more work than ever before, but I'm convinced this fight is winnable."

It costs just 60 cents to inoculate a child. The $400 raised came from registrations at $10, pledges backing the May 21 walkers and financial donations from Pearl Rotarians.

'Hoops of Hope' brings our Pearl shooters

Six members of the Pearl Rotary Club took to the basketball courts at Lincoln High School April 22 to support the Interact Club's fundraiser.

"Hoops of Hope" found LHS students and Rotarians (and also principal Peyton Chapman, an honorary PPRC member) shooting freethrows to raise dollars for AIDS-/HIV orphans in southern Africa.

A total of $1,800 was reached by the Lincoln Interactors.

LHS leaders tackled the project after hearing Austin Gutwein, an Arizona teen-ager who started his own foundation, speak at the May 2010 District 5100 conference. Austin was brought to Lincoln in March, speaking to a full assembly and later meeting with club members to plan the basketball event.

Joining President Catherine Wu on the courts (and in the picture here) were David Bangsund, Sid Smith, Roger Meyer, Lou Radja, George Wright and Don Smith.

President Wu has also announced that Lincoln Interact's third annual Portland Polio Walk is scheduled May 21.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 May 2011 )