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May 24, 2011 > Honoring Rotary Clubs of the Tri-Cities

Honoring Rotary Clubs of the Tri-Cities

Submitted By the Ohlone College Foundation

This is the fifth in a series of articles individually highlighting the six Rotary Clubs of the Tri-Cities, as the Ohlone College Foundation's 2011 Citizen of the Year. This week's focus is on the Rotary Club of Mission San Jose and a snapshot of the contributions that have earned them the Citizen of the Year title.

When Bob Wasserman, now mayor of Fremont, became a charter member of the Rotary Club of Mission San Jose in 1983, women were not allowed to join the organization. After a club in Southern California had allowed women to join, they lost their club charter. They filed suit.

By the time Wasserman became club president in 1986 the case was pending in the United States Supreme Court. Feeling that it was just a matter of time until women could join Rotary International, he made sure his club was the first in the area to admit women by inducting Diane Mc Dermott, Pauline McIvor, Marie Danner and Pauline Weaver.

When the club was first organized under the leadership of Stan Allen, members chose the name "Mission San Jose" because they wanted to focus on the historic Mission San Jose church, which was then under reconstruction as their major community project. One of their first projects was to paint the exterior of the historic wing of the mission, now the museum. The club became famous for delivering the "last great whitewash job," using authentic whitewash, a product no longer available.

For many years, a club member, David O'Hara, was chairman of the Festival of the Arts, which is sponsored by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce. The club created their world-famous Linguica burgers, which they still produce flawlessly and sell at the festival each summer. They are assisted in the food booth by students from the Mission San Jose High School Interact Club, one of the largest Interact Clubs in the world and the Alsion/Ohlone College Interact Club, one of the smallest. They sponsor both clubs. Each year the Mission San Jose Rotary provides scholarships to students at both schools and sends several students to RYLA, a Rotary youth leadership summer camp.

Rotary International is a service organization with the motto, "Service Above Self." Started in Chicago in 1905, it now has clubs all over the world. Their service focus for many years has been the eradication of polio. The Mission San Jose club has given generously to that project, which has almost achieved its goal.

Many years ago, under the leadership of Jim Noonan, the club took on the task of staffing the Feed the Hungry project at the Centerville Presbyterian dining room every fifth Tuesday, an ongoing project.

Each December, in partnership with the Fremont Police Department and the City of Fremont, the club sponsors Shop With a Cop. It creates a positive experience, partnering at-risk youth with local police for the day and provides holiday gifts for the youth and their families.

In 2005 each club was asked to have a significant project in recognition of Rotary's 100th birthday. The Mission San Jose club donated labor and money for the amphitheater seating at Ohlone College's Smith Center for the Fine and Performing Arts. They also helped, with other Rotarians, to build Bridgeway Apartments in Irvington.

The club has participated in many international service projects including an annual - and amazing - complete construction of a house in one day in Mexico in partnership with Corazon. They, with other Rotary clubs, have participated in water projects in Chiapas, Mexico and Aba, Nigeria. In Aba they provided 2,000 math books to needy students in twenty high schools where students have to buy their own textbooks.

When Skip Domville was club president in 1996-97, he learned that the Leal farm in Mission San Jose had been sold and the tank house would be demolished. He arranged for the tank house to be moved to Ardenwood Historic Farm, a feat accomplished with the help of Walt White and many other Rotarians. It lay there until 2008 when members from several local Rotary Clubs finally restored it on the site of an original Ardenwood water tank. Then, with the financial assistance of the Alameda County Water District and Union Sanitary District, the club created a self-guided water museum in the lower room, which is free and open to the public.

As part of their silver anniversary in 2008, the club created the Mission Creekwalk Historic Site along Mission Creek between Hopkins Junior High School and Mission San Jose High School. It honors the early pioneer farmers of the area. The club also replaced the interpretive markers along the creek.

The Rotary Club of Mission San Jose is honored to be selected, along with other Rotary clubs in the tri-city area, as the 2011 Ohlone College Foundation "Citizen of the Year." They welcome new members to the best service organization in the world. Look for them and the big yellow and blue Rotary Wheel in the Independence Day parade.

The Citizen of the Year Champagne Luncheon is the last major social event before summer for community members in Fremont, Newark, and Union City. It will be held Saturday, June 4 at the Ohlone College Newark Center on Cherry Street in Newark. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit or call 510-659-6020.

This article was edited from information written by Lila Bringhurst of the Rotary Club of Mission San Jose.

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