Working with Students in Oakland

This is the meeting for the week of September 25, 2017 through October 1, 2017

This Meeting at a Glance:
Program:  Working with Students in Oakland
Program Description: Life coaching students in the Oakland Unified School District
Speaker: Geral Lowe

Is this your first time to visit us? If so, welcome to our weekly online meeting! To complete our meeting, please continue reading from here to the bottom of this page. 

Each Monday our week’s meeting is posted early in the morning, U.S. Pacific Time. These meetings are designed so that you can read and watch what we post anytime during the week. The entire meeting takes about 60 minutes to complete, with the video conference recording of the program being the bulk of the time.

Note that you can easily read this meeting with your favorite device, so feel free to take our meeting on the go with you; read it while on public transit, waiting in line for coffee, or even at the park! Please also make sure to complete the attendance form at the bottom and leave a comment. Enjoy!


Welcome to the Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley!

This week our club’s President-elect is guest presiding over the meeting!

Here’s a message from President-elect Andrew:

Greetings Rotarians and guests,

Welcome to this week’s meeting! For those of you who are new to our club, we seek to inspire you every week with stories about education, innovation, or entrepreneurship. I am the President-Elect for this e-club and I’m writing today to express my excitement to be in such a wonderful club!

As I begin my first full week of autumn up here in the Northern Hemisphere, I’ve had to pick off dead redwood needles from my container garden constantly. As I do, I’m thankful for the many opportunities for small acts of kindness I have every day and how often they are reciprocated. I expose my plants to more sun and they, in turn, provide me more food. I smile to the folks I pass and they (usually) smile back. Our speaker this week, Geral Lowe, is incredibly passionate about the small acts of kindness in the face of complex challenges when working with underprivileged students in Oakland. He reminds me that, in the face of bad news, luck, or attitudes, we still have daily opportunities for even small acts of kindness.

So I invite you to check out our upcoming events, our opportunities for laughter, and stories about good work being done all over the world. Then, at the end, please leave a comment with your questions or thoughts. Have a beautiful week!

In service,


Andrew Taw, President-Elect
Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley
[email protected]


Weekly Inspiration: A Homemade Meal…from a Vending Machine

Every week we start our meetings with a short video highlighting innovation, inspiration, entrepreneurship, or social change. This week we are featuring a video from Great Big Story about one Japanese vending machine owner’s unique vending machine that dispenses a homemade meal.

In Japan, vending machines generally sell beverages and simple, readymade provisions. But fresh curry over rice? You bet. Along a lonely stretch of highway in Awa-shi, Japan, you’ll find a rare vending machine selling tantalizing homemade meals. Even better? The vending machine owner, Tadashi Yoshimoto, grows the rice in every meal just down the road on his own farm. In a country that prides itself on the freshness of its food, Yoshimoto has set a new standard for readymade fare.

Innovation and entrepreneurship is timeless. It’s wonderful to see these homemade meals even grown locally, and then dispensed in a manner that works for the community! What would you fill a vending machine with if you had one in your community?


Coffee with a Rotarian

Every month our club members are paired with fellow members and special guests for an exclusive one-on-one coffee session called Coffee with a Rotarian. The idea is simple: spend 1 hour of your time during the month to get to better know a fellow Rotarian! Some of the greatest friendships were spawned that way. Members report on their coffee sessions here.

This week we feature a coffee session between two of our members, Nicole Pham of California and Roger Plested of Kamloops, Canada!

Here is what Nicole had to say about Roger:

I had a wonderful conversation with our club’s own, Roger Plested. Roger lives in Kamloops, British Columbia with his wife! Roger lives a very bountiful life with 4 children and 4 beautiful grandchildren. I was able to talk to Roger about many diverse topics. Because of my background in health care, Roger and I discussed the differences found between the US and Canada. We talked about his Rotary career which started in 1979! His club had created an environmental center/camp for children at Mcqueen Lake. We also discussed literature and Roger raved about Thomas Sowell’s works which I will read in my spare time. Roger’s cheerfulness was contagious and I was very happy to hear about his goals of renovating his basement and getting back to work as a lawyer. I had a wonderful time talking to Roger and I’m very glad to be able to connect with another member of our club!

Thank you, Nicole, for sharing!

A big shout out to Tzviatko Chiderov for continuing to chair and organize these Coffee with a Rotarian sessions! If you are not yet signed up for a Coffee Session, please email Tzviatko at [email protected] to sign up!


World of Rotary

The over 1.2 million members of Rotary Clubs around the world form the largest humanitarian service organization, Rotary International. We’re part of this global family. This segment is a tribute to stories and to good deeds Rotary clubs around the world are conducting.

There are Rotary partnerships all around the world with local community partners, including vital partnerships with food banks. Check out this Rotary video about the importance of volunteering with food banks.

What can you do to help out your local food bank? Our club has had service projects at the Silicon Valley based Second Harvest Food Bank in the past, but what more can we do? Tell us in the comments if you have any ideas!


For Members Only: Updates

This segment of the meeting is dedicated to our club members. This section includes announcements and new initiatives. Guests, you are welcome to read this section or just skip it.

Members Only Facebook Group – Members, are you in it??

The Membership Committee is working on keeping our members-only Facebook group active again. Members, if you are not yet part of it or if you don’t actively use Facebook, the Membership Committee is asking that you join the group or activate a Facebook account to keep in touch with club members.

Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rotarysiliconvalley/

Traveling soon? Consider searching for a Rotary Club to visit!

The Membership Committee wants to remind you that if you are traveling in the months to come, that you should consider reaching out to a local Rotary Club in whichever city, town, or country you’re going to be traveling to. Visit their meeting or join them for an event or see if they are willing to meet you for a meal! Sometimes it’s those Rotary connections abroad that really make the difference in your travel. Don’t forget you can also use Rotary’s official club finder! And if you post in our club’s members only Facebook Group where you’re traveling to, fellow members can help you make the right connections!

Past Member Announcements:


Our Events & Projects

We hold our meetings online, but we hold regular service projects and social events in the Silicon Valley every month! This section is updated every week with our upcoming events. We welcome guests to all of our events and service projects listed here.

Also be sure to join our Meetup Group for automatic calendar updates and to RSVP for our events! These are open to all guests as well!

Rotary E-Club of Silicon Valley

Fremont, CA
135 Members & Guests

Calling all service-minded entrepreneurs, foodies, and community leaders! This group is for anyone interested in innovation, community service, education, business networking,…

Check out this Meetup Group →

Upcoming Events:

All times are Pacific Time! (San Francisco time)

Thursday, October 5, 2017 from 5 PM to 9 PM – Avenues of Service – Service Project Faire – Santa Clara, CA

Join Rotarians from across the San Francisco Bay Area for the district’s annual project faire event, Avenues of Service. The event will be held on Thursday, October 5, 2017 from 5 PM to 9 PM at Santa Clara Biltmore Hotel, 2151 Laurelwood Road, Santa Clara. Registration is $49/person. (Members, this event qualifies to be covered underneath your annual $150 Leadership Development Grant! If you want to go, our club will reimburse you!) You can register at: https://events.rotarydistrict5170.org

Saturday, September 30, 2017 from 10:00am – 10:30am PST – Online Social

Join us from wherever you are for another fun filled half-hour for an online social. The Zoom link will go out to members this week.

Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 12 PM to 4 PM PST – Oakland Treasure Hunt

Join us for a treasure hunt fundraiser to support Game Theory Academy, a local nonprofit that pays high school students a stipend to take financial literacy and career development classes! The first person to e-mail [email protected] will get two free tickets!

More events coming soon! All events are open to guests, unless otherwise mentioned. Feel free to join us! If you ever have questions, please email [email protected]

What would you like to do?

Hey Members! What would you like to do? We’re working on putting together some exciting socials and impactful service projects for our upcoming quarter’s event calendar. Let us know what you want to do by posting in our members only Facebook Group (if you don’t have access, please request it with Webmaster Mitty). Remember, you’re only taking advantage of the full impact of Rotary when you’re stepping up to get involved.


Happy Dollars: Do Good by Sharing Something Good

Each week we ask our members to share stories with the club and toss in a few dollars to support our efforts. The primary goal of this section is to provide a fun way of getting to know each fellow members and guests, while giving back to a good cause.

Happy dollars is an opportunity to share something positive that has happened in your life whether it is personal or business. Think of it as your opportunity to brag a little, but also put a little bit into a karma jar. The money donated through happy dollars is put to charitable use, and the message that you leave for happy dollars will be posted in our online meeting the following week for the entire week for folks to see! (Pending that it’s appropriate!)

Last week’s happy dollars went towards powering our club’s projects and service grants.

Thank you to member Rory Olsen for his generous $15 donation to PolioPlus! Rory had this to say:
“I have had an interesting week dealing with contractors and adjustors. Still alive and doing well as can be expected under the circumstances. Please apply my gift to Polio Plus!”

Thank you to member Monique Ziesenhenne for her generous $10 donation! Monique had this to say:
I’m happy that Brian was happy about Cal last week! Look at us now! 3-0! Woo Hoo.

Thank you to member Brian Liddicoat for his generous $15 donation! Brian had this to say:
Boy Scout “Mountain Man Rendezvous” camp with my son this weekend. It’s like a PG rated version of the Revenant: yes on hiking and woodworking, no on having to cut open animals to sleep inside to keep from freezing to death.

Thank you all for your donations last week!

This week’s happy dollars donations will be going to help fund our club projects and service grants!

Happy dollars is also a great opportunity to share with the group about something good that has happened to you, while giving back to a great cause.

So what are you happy about? Share with us below, and help support one of our future leaders!

Fill out my online form.

Selected Six

Every week at the bottom of our meetings, there is a comments section for members and guests to tell us what they enjoyed about the meeting or to ask questions to the speaker. We select six comments every week from last week’s meeting to be featured during this week’s meeting.

Here are six comments selected from last week’s meeting featuring the program on Teaching English in Rural China with the Shin Shin Foundation:

Guest Carey Lai had this to say:
“Cecelia, thank you for your presentation. It is good to learn more about shinshin educational foundation. Besides, I got a problem with the attendance survey. It stated that “Sorry, but this form is no longer accepting submissions.” Is there any ways that I can get an email receipt. Thank you.

Member Catherine A. (California, USA) had this to say:
“Thanks to Cecelia and her team for an insightful program about the Shin Shin English Educational Program. The video of the Detroit program to supply bottled water to poor residents, reminded me that families in Flint Michigan are still struggling with lead-contaminated water in their homes, an ongoing crisis since 2014 which sadly dropped out of the daily news cycle after the 2016 election. Kids and families in the rust and coal belts around the U.S. could use similar supplemental Rotary programs in education enrichment, healthcare, job-creation and relief of food scarcity. Americans and residents of other countries responded so amazingly to the recent hurricane and earthquake disasters, helping all victims regardless of race, creed, location or national origin. All reasons to hope that the goodness of people far outweighs any political, class or racial differences, particularly here in the U.S., where there are so many silently struggling communities.

Member Tzviatko Chidervo had this to say:
“Great to see the pictures from the (two!!) socials over the weekend. Great job for getting together. Cecelia and team, great work. It was interesting to hear about this program during my Coffee With a Rotarian with Cecelia, and seeing some of the rest of the team here, makes it even more real and impressive. I went through an ESL program 17 years ago when my family first arrived in Chicago from Bulgaria, and I have huge appreciation for the work you do – thank you. One question: how are teachers selected to participate in this Rotary program?

Member Rushton Hurley (California, USA) had this to say:
“Great fun to see Mitty in the video from Rotary! I was quite intrigued by the setting – it looked like some cool co-working space, and was probably a great spot for brainstorming! And for the team that went to China – great job finding a way to share your time in a place where it can make a major difference.

Guest Sean Straker (Australia) had this to say:
“Great meeting! Really felt for the people in Detroit – not having the money to pay for the water bill, the public embarrassment of “the blue line” and the consequences from having clean water removed. A another example of people falling ‘though the cracks’ in society that can very quickly become a long term issue (ie: lack of hygiene causes employment issues, latter followed by possible homelessness and crime) Something we take for granted each day that can have such a big impact. Monica and her organisation is doing a amazing job delivering to those people which will benefit the community and towns.

Member Nate Gildart (Japan) had this to say:
“Thank you for the great presentation! Having only been to Macao and Hong Kong as a tourist, and never taken student groups to mainland China, I found your experiences inspiring and exciting! (I’ve been happily trapped in Japan for a while…) I lived in a rural community in Japan for a few years, 20 years ago, and can envision your experiences, but from the comfort of JET. What a great impact you’re having! Chris, thank you for the lovely comments. I loved our chat and follow-ups. I had a great chat with Roger last night and think if the three of us got online together a new book of “20th Century History You Were Unaware Of” would be drafted! Hmmm…..”

Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this week’s meeting after you watch the program below, and perhaps you’ll see your comment featured next week!


Program: Working with Students in Oakland

Every week we bring to you a new program on innovation, education, technology, and humanitarian service. This week our guest speaker is Geral Lowe who works as a life coach for students in the Oakland Unified School District.

Geral Lowe has created his stage to deliver the art of divine resilience through words to support youth development, encourage civic engagement, and gift the world via his public speaking engagements. Geral has taken the initiative to invest in himself, necessary move to be made in today’s society. He developed his passion and fine-tuned his purpose by working within the educational realm over the past six years. His focus is building tomorrows successors- through small and individual mentoring programs, speaking engagements, and seminars.

Members and guests, please join me in welcoming Geral Lowe!

What did you think? Let’s hear from you!

Share with us your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of this meeting page! If you have questions for Geral, feel free to ask him in the comments too!


Upcoming Program Schedule

All of our guest speakers and programs are recorded live online. We welcome members and guests to join us in one of these upcoming recordings. Recordings are approximately 45 minutes long and are subject to change without notice.

Upcoming Recordings:

  • Saturday, September 30 at 2 PM Pacific Time – “International Travel & Hosting Fellowship” with guest speaker Rick Harned

If you would like to join us for any of the live recordings, please email [email protected] with your request. Requests will be checked up until 5 minutes prior to the recording time. Please note the timezone is all California, USA time.


You’re Almost Done! One last thing: The Attendance Survey…

Thanks for reading and watching this week’s meeting. You have two last things to do before you’re done. First, we have a very short attendance survey below for you to fill out to record your attendance.

Visiting Rotarians, this is how you can get an email receipt to pass along to your club’s secretary as proof that you’ve attended our meeting if you need it for makeups.

Non-Rotarian Guests, we would love to see who is dropping by our meetings! This part is optional for you. If you think you may want to join our eClub at some point in the future, we would strongly recommend you fill out the attendance form as it will improve your chances of success for your membership application.

More importantly, for all members and guests — we strongly recommend and ask that you leave a comment below in our comments area below. Tell us how you enjoyed the program. Ask this week’s speaker any questions you might have. Or just stop by and say hello and tell us where you’re from!

Fill out my online form.
  • Keith Marsh

    Geral, thanks for today’s program. Good luck with your Master’s degree.

  • Catherine A

    Geral, I am standing up and applauding as an adult librarian who once spent a year working out of class as a teen librarian, where I served students at a continuation high school in a low-income community with weekly gang issues. I learned that many kids act out, attach to negative peer groups or implode, based on home alienation issues, chronic money and food scarcity, homelessness, conflicts due to first-generation cultural issues at home, conflicts when education is not valued at home, when there are ill, incarcerated or addicted parents or siblings in the picture, plus a host of other issues making it tough for these kids to focus or attach in standard core-curriculum classrooms which have no relevance to the realities of their everyday lives.

    These kids carry a tremendous burden of shame and fear, not to mention a deep underlying insecurity about surviving on their own in an adult world where they feel others have more advantages.

    I agree, we need to stop judging kids’ outsides and behavior, and spend more time trying to get to know them on a one-to-one basis. If along that journey mentors can teach them basic life skills (how to balance a checkbook, make a budget, fill out a tax form, read a contract, find job training, find low cost legal services, find affordable and safe housing and basic healthcare, and understand the laws pertaining to those issues), adding some healthy, creative outlets (writing, coding, performance, recording, music, art) and self-relaxation skills, it would help them with coping skills and the art of believing in themselves, regardless of how others treat or perceive them. Our schools often don’t meet the unique needs of troubled kids facing insurmountable issues during the hormonal roller-coaster of puberty. A screened, one-to-one mentoring program for marginalized kids is a fabulous idea.

    I wanted to recommend this site which has some great stories from Oakland students:
    http://www.youthuprising.org/impact/personal-stories

    Thanks, RECSV team for the video of the Japanese rice grower using heated vending machines to sell his packaged curry rice, plus the Rotary First Harvest food bank video. The local food bank in my city always needs milk, diapers of all sizes and dried milk. It’s a great place to practice gratitude by sharing a few staples with others each week.

  • Tzviatko Chiderov

    Geral, thank you for your passion and commitment — it really shows and I can only imagine the great impact it’s helping you have in these young people’s lives.

  • Sean Straker

    Some really good points in Geral Lowe’s presentation. With school students tending to be more focused with online learning and communication, he seems to go the opposite and focuses greatly on face-to-face communication – ie: parents attending the school instead of calling, visiting their home, acting as a role model even outside of school hours and courting. All to better understand each individual student and tailor the requirements to meet their specific needs. Also agreed with viewing students as citizens and valuable members of their community who later give back with their success and life experiences.

  • Rory Olsen

    Great program!

  • Nathan Gildart

    Geral, your passion for learning – and people – comes out powerfully. I’m a teacher as well and couldn’t agree with you more. Education is a “people business” and we have to care about the person, and their basic needs, before anything else. Reaching out to parents and at-risk is critical. Building relationships is some important, and empathy rather than judgement is so very important. I’m very proud of the school I currently teach at. Many (most?) international schools boast about community and give a lot of lip service, while mine is making a genuine effort to support all children. Where many kids wouldn’t get in the door, we take them in with open arms. Not perfect and there is need for improvement, but the effort is genuine. Best of luck with your project and Masters program.

    Love the Japanese curry rice vending machine vid. You’d be shocked at some of the things sold in vending machines here. (it’s more PG now than 20 years ago…)

  • Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne

    Inspiring program, full of enthusiasm for education. Go, Geral! Hope that you continue your good work.

  • Leanza Tupfer

    Amazing to see vending machines in Japan selling fresh food! I would appreciate a similar innovation in America – would give people more jobs, and incentivize locally-grown food, which could result in healthier populations.

    Geral Lowe, thank you for sharing your experience and your service for educating underserved students in Oakland!

  • What would I fill a vending machine with? Messages of encouragement might be good! As for that Rotary video, I think that last face belongs to Benjamin Rasmus, one of our speakers from the third week of our club’s existence! Find it here: https://www.siliconvalleyrotary.com/meeting-02-09-15/

    Geral, thanks for your message, and good luck with that final class for your master’s degree! Your memory of Ms. Gaines (I hope I’m spelling her name correctly) is a compelling example of the power of a dedicated to teacher to change lives. The story of visiting the young man from the drug-infested home was heartbreaking in its circumstances, but inspiring in his turnaround and success. Keep telling those stories!

  • Nicole Pham

    I learned a lot from this presentation! (: Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • ShagsCA

    Outstanding program! And yes, visit Oakland — lots of fun things to do there, for sure…

  • Thanks for a great presentation & do update us once you’ve received your Masters.
    It takes only one person who cares to change many lives. Keep up your enthusiasm and efforts & I believe many will benefit.

  • BDL

    If you want to “work for social justice”: do what this guy’s doing.

    Geral, you’re doing a lot more good in the world than I am, that’s for sure. Need to get off my butt and start doing more.
    And sending you good wishes for that Masters degree!

  • Mark Dohn

    Thank you, Geral. You’ve presented a very compelling perspective on our education system and how to reach our at-risk youth. Having worked with teachers and students in incarcerated and adjudicated programs. I agree that creating the environment where students in survival mode feel comfortable and know that taking a risk is ok. I’d love to hear more about your program.

  • Andrew Taw

    Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Geral! Always good to be in your presence!

  • Ferheen Abbasi

    Geral, you are the standard for what teachers should be like all around the world. Thank you for your passion and energy and drive to change the lives of students. I know it much be hard to be a role model 24/7 but those kids need you. Well, they need all of us to help guide and support them so your presentation helped reaffirm my decision to teach part-time here in Japan! Good luck with your Master’s! I will be finishing mine next March so I know what you’re going through right now!! Sending you all my good karma!

  • Wow Geral that passion really soars! Oakland’s kids are lucky to have you. Helping the children to be good citizens is such an inspired goal. Thanks for a great presentation

  • Brett Sham

    Geral, your passion and care for your students is so inspiring. Good luck with completing your Masters and keep up the great work you are doing.

  • john lozano

    Geral, thanks for your presentation. Good luck as you finish your masters degree. It is exciting to see your passion and energy in the educational field.

  • Richard Knaggs

    It was wonderful to hear your passion Geral. We have introduced the following extension opportunities into our school day, Mobile Application Development, Robotics, Film, Animation, Hospitality, Sound Engineering etc. and it works very well in engaging our kids so that they can create things to solve/address real world challenges. Our students are doing amazing things. All the best with your truly incredible ideas and approach.

  • William

    Great meeting! Thank you so much.

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Copyright Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley 2015-2017, located in Rotary District 5170 in the sunny Silicon Valley of California, USA. Rotary International club #86428. Inquiries can be sent to [email protected]

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