On a truly glorious winter day here in the desert we started the month of February with sunny skies and a daytime high temperature of 75 degrees! President Robert Wilkinson called the 26th meeting of the 26th year of our La Quinta Rotary Club to order and asked Cindy Hall to lead us in the pledge. This was followed with an invocation by Dan Fissori.

The “A” team was once again at the greeting table this week which included Doug Motz taking attendance, Sandy Stewart selling lunch tickets and Cindy Hall selling Raffle tickets.

President Robert introduced today’s visiting Rotarians with several travelers from the north including groups from Oregon and Washington, a Canadian or two, and Rotarians from as far east as Minnesota and Wisconsin. The only misfit not fleeing the cold weather was our returning friend and Rotarian from Hawaii! Welcome back. Ed Casey was in attendance with our only guest again this week, his daughter Elizabeth.

Announcements this week included quick updates on the upcoming fund raiser this year called “STRUTT YOUR MUTT” and our participation in the Tour de Palm Springs. SYM Chairman Dave Turner was absent as was TdePS Chairman Corry Hunter so “quick” was the operative word for the updates! It was announced that there would be a SYM Meeting on Wednesday 2/5/13 at the Chamber of Commerce starting at 5:30 PM. Joe LaMantia set the Rotary Direct forms at the greeting table and encouraged everyone to sign up and make sure that they check the “Annual Share Program” box on the sign-up sheets. Joe also mentioned that he is still looking for a few Tribal Leaders for this year’s PRYDE event. David Archer announced that the CVEP-Pathways to Success approved matching our scholarships this year up to $15,000.00! Marc Rosen volunteered to help out at 8:00 AM at the La Quinta High School on 2/4/13 to interview potential students for sponsorship to RYLA. It was announced that the next board meeting will be held on 2/13/13 at Lee Osborne’s office at 5:30 PM. Dick Jandt made a pitch for volunteers to help deliver artist’s lunches at the #1 Fine Arts Festival in the U.S.A, the La Quinta Arts Festival, to be held March 7-10 at the Civic Center Park. And finally it was announced that Robert Wright was still in the hospital recovering from double pneumonia, but expected to be out on Sunday. We all wish him our best for a speedy recovery!

Merv Kolb was the lucky raffle ticket winner this week but unfortunately for him (but good for the rest of us!) he drew a white marble to win only $5 for his efforts. The odds were really stacked against Merv as the very generous Bruce Underwood drew the coveted black marble last week.

The lunch choices today were the Cowboy Skirt Steak served with tortillas, slaw, and salsa, the traditional Chicken Caesar salad, or the soup (potato) and a ½ grilled cheese sandwich, each of which was topped off with a generous slice of Hula Pie. I have included pictures of our two servers this week, Ray and Shirle (pronounced Shurl). In keeping with our reputation of being the friendliest club anywhere let’s all do our best to use their names in thanking them for the fine service they provide us with each week.

Allan Levin took to the podium and before auctioning off the fine free badge put the $53 in tips earned by Rotarians selling beer at this past weekend’s Car Show (good job volunteers!). Apparently we do not lack for special occasions in February as the bidding for the fine free badge was quite spirited as Andy Brakebill’s $67 outbid Bruce Franklin’s $66 bid! Lee Osborne paid for no make-ups. Tom McDermott and Doug Motz both paid for their anniversaries, Joe LaMantia was a tad bit tardy, Andy Lorenz paid for being a proud grandpa, Mayor Don Adolph paid (with much pride) for USC’s win over UCLA (at UCLA) and Frank Blum paid a few bucks in celebration of being able to pick up his new guide dog puppy next week!

Before the program started we were all treated by the fine folks at the Desert Symphony to a sneak preview of their upcoming show “Marilyn Forever Blonde” to be performed by the beautiful and talented Sunny Thompson at the Indian Wells Theater on February 7th, 8th, and 9th. (For more info and tickets go to desertsymphony.brownpapertickets.com). Sunny Thompson herself made a guest appearance and in addition to singing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” and in honor of his upcoming birthday on February 10, Sunny sang a very special “Happy Birthday” (Mr. President) to our very own president Robert Wilkinson. Wow! What a performer. She gushed and Robert blushed! She really captured the real Marilyn Monroe and charmed the entire room. She definitely made us all want to go see her upcoming performances.
Our Speaker today was John Mealy, the executive director of the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC). The CVHC is an award winning Non-profit Housing Development Corporation. The CVHC is dedicated to helping low and very low-income families improve their living conditions through advocacy, research, construction, and operation of housing and community development projects. CVHC has constructed nearly 4,000 homes and apartments for low-income households in Riverside County and Imperial County. Since 1987, the CVHC has assisted over 1,200 low-income families achieve their dream of home ownership and through its Multi-Family Department, has developed 26 rental housing complexes, totaling 1,713 units. The CVHC has partnered with the County of Riverside, local unified school districts and other non-profits to develop diverse, comprehensive community service programs. These programs include after school clubs, child development centers, computer technology and education centers and so much more. These programs have proven to develop family self-sufficiency and empowerment in a healthy, positive and supportive community environment. In La Quinta they are best known for the 122 “sweat equity” homes hat hey built in the La Quinta Cove and the 218 low income rental units located at 48th and Dune Palms known as Wolff Waters Place. This coming year they are celebrating their 30th anniversary. It was a very informative presentation was not nearly as boring as all the information presented here. John was a very good speaker… I guess Marilyn was just a tough act to follow. To learn more about the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition you can visit their website at www.cvhc.org.

President Robert closed out the meeting leading the members in the four way test.