President Allan Cady opened the meeting asking Ray Smith to offer the invocation and Immanuel Beeson to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Several guests were present.  Tim Troy introduced his wife Angie and their children, Kylee and Adam.  John Eagleston introduced his son, Asher, and Frank Rosenberg introduced his daughter, Sammi.  Polly Cady introduced her long-time friends and members of Yuma Rotary, Mark and Diane Hansberger.  She noted that Mark was wearing a very special Rotary pin - a coveted Service Above Self pin - which represents  Rotary’s highest honor.  Each year up to 150 Rotarians worldwide who have demonstrated their commitment to helping others by volunteering their time and talents are honored with this recognition.
President Allan thanked Lucinda and Pam for their work on the Sponsor Appreciation Reception, which was attended by more than 60 Rotarians, their guests and donors.  
Chuck Flint announced that the weekly raffle winner would receive $58, and if they were to draw the ace of clubs, would additionally receive $1,294.  Chris Krueger's ticket was drawn, so she was a little bit lucky, but not lucky enough.  She drew the nine of hearts, much to her disappointment but everyone else was celebrating that the accumulating pot will be even larger next week.
Greg Okanowski collected happy bucks.  Tim Troy donated $100 toward his Paul Harris.  He and his wife had spent the weekend away from their kids at a shredding conference.  Dan Coons thanked Lucinda and Pam for the appreciation event and asked Lucinda to thank Wayne for the photos.  Chris Krueger was happy to have won the $58.  Her grandkids are coming to Arizona and want to swim with the dolphins (which is very expensive) while they are out west.  Warren Williamson paid lots of happy dollars for the nice appreciation event.  He was especially happy because his name tag for the event didn't fall off.   Steve Ross donated $100 to The Rotary Foundation.  Pam paid happy dollars to support Red for Ed.  Don LaBarge paid happy dollars for the appreciation event.  Daryl Bethea paid happy dollars because he appreciates all the many things that Chuck Flint does to support the club.  Dick Myren paid happy dollars to honor our Honorary Rotarian, Rod Daniels.  Polly Cady paid happy dollars to explain that she and Allan were going to lunch with their long-time friends after the meeting.
John Pennypacker paid happy dollars celebrating the fact that he had received confirmation that a gentleman had been given notice that he would be allowed to propose to John's niece at Wrigley Field.   He also told of his recent trip to Virginia.  On April 18, he attended the dedication at Arlington National Cemetery of the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Member Memorial.  He said it was a beautiful ceremony and well attended.  Monday, April 23 marked the 43rd anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war.  Fifty years ago, on April 26, John flew missions out of Camp Evans in UH-1H.  In June, 1968, all his unit's helicopters were destroyed in a rocket attack and ammo dump explosion.  There were 11,827 helicopters from all services used in RVN.  5,086 helicopters were lost in the conflict.  Over 5,000 crewmembers from all services were killed in action.   John suggested some members might want to watch a video about the helicopter pilots - God's Own Lunatics  by Joe Galloway.   John says, "For those who have fought for it, life has a flavor the protected shall never know."
John had a bag of goodies from his trip to be auctioned.  After some competitive bidding, John Eagleston's son was the successful bidder.   Pam Cohen had centerpieces from the appreciation reception to auction.  Dr. Ron was the top bidder at $35 for one large and one small centerpiece.  There were others available at that same price.
Chuck Flint and Mark Hansberger invited Polly and Allan to the front.  Mark told of Polly joining Yuma Rotary in 1991.  Today there are seven clubs in Yuma, where the summer population is about 120,000.  Allan Cady was a Paul Harris Fellow before he joined Rotary.  Allan and Polly were honored by Chuck who presented them with recognition materials from The Rotary Foundation.  More details about this recognition will be in a full article in the May 9 Messenger.
  • Mesa West was represented by 10 members at the Club Leadership Academy on April 1
  • Reminder of Spring Olympics on Saturday, May 5
President Allan introduced Bob Solis, founder of Open Arms Home for Children in South Africa.  Bob is a member of Sun City Rotary Club.  
Bob said that in South Africa, his name is Bobo.  He complimented Mesa West, saying we are an excellent club, setting a high bar of excellence in the District.
Bob and his wife went to South Africa in 2005.  They saw homes without electricity, water, or sanitation.  At that time, 9,000 were dying every day from AIDS/HIV creating orphans.  He and his wife used money they had been saving to pay off their home to purchase 70 acres with a house and two cottages.  That beginning has grown into a home where children can be raised to adulthood.  They live very much like families in cottages with 7-8 kids and permanent house mothers who provide quality care.  He showed pictures of two brothers who were 9 and 3 when they arrived at Open Arms.  The older boy asked for supplies to shine his shoes the night before his first day of school.  He understood that education is a privilege.
One little girl was HIV positive from birth.  She was six months old when she smiled for the first time.  She is now in sixth grade and wants to be a teacher.  Medication that is available today keeps her HIV under control and she is able to be fully integrated into her school activities.  
In 2008, they were full with 35 kids.  Bob knew there were so many more children needing their help.  He decided to take a long walk for children.  It took him about 30 days to walk about 720 miles across South Africa.  He was welcomed to stay in the homes of Rotarians as he made this journey.  He raised $250,000.  They built four new cottages.  He says prayer works better when the players are big - Rotary Clubs, Rotary Grants, and individual Rotarians.
In 2010, they installed an industrial kitchen with a $66,000 matching grant.  Since then, they have spent $37,000 installing an electric security fence for safety.  They now have 57 children and about 30 adults living on the property.  Two years ago, a new van was purchased.  They have planted a 56-tree fruit orchard.  
A matching grant currently in process, when fully funded, will equip a new laundry building that has already been constructed.  One of the heartbreaking things, that has to be done, is saying "No," when asked if a child can be placed there.  It is an unfortunate fact that the need will likely always exceed their capacity.  They are currently licensed for 54 and have 57 children.  Some of the younger children do get adopted.  There is no program for US adoptions of the orphans.  Older children have difficulty finding placements.  
Bob actually spends about three weeks a year at the site.  They have an eight-member board of directors in the United States.  Open Arms Home for Children is a United States 501(c)(3) and is licensed in South Africa.  Their land is owned by their corporation.  They raise about $800,000 each year to support the orphanage.  They have 43 local staff.  The unemployment rate in South Africa is 50%.  The jobs at Open Arms rarely turn over.  They pay 13 months wages for 12 months of work.  
Each year, they have five Notre Dame graduates from the US go to Open Arms and stay for a year helping with homework, etc.  There is a local dentist who visits once every three months and takes care of dental needs of the children for free.  President Allan and Polly attended the ten-year anniversary of Open Arms.  At first, there were no smiles.  Now, there are lots of smiles.  A favorite memory of preparing for the celebration were the lines of very white tennis shoes that had been cleaned by the staff for the occasion and were drying along the roadway.
Open Arms has recently produced a drone video of their grounds.  CLICK HERE to see it.