Posted by Pete DeLaunay

President Beth opened the meeting promptly at 12:30, followed by Raymond Tymas-Jones accompanied by Ryan Bunbury leading Rotarians singing ‘We Shall Overcome’.  Nancy Cahill offered the day’s inspiration about appreciation for one another and how that is what Valentine’s Day is all about.

President Beth announced the unanimous decision of the Rotary 4 search committee to name Mary Goldie as new Club Director.   More to come as Mary is out of town.   

Jan Levy received her ten-year Rotary #4 anniversary pin, and introduced Harvest Against Hunger (HAH), Executive Director, David Bobanick as an innovator who has invested 20 years helping provide food to those in need.  “David is the perfect example of what a leader is about by putting other’s agenda before his own, and he doesn’t get in the way,” she said.  “He works with a diverse set of collaborators and innovators who have put more than 1.5 billion pounds of fresh produce in the hands of those in underserved communities, statewide.”   David was recently named a “Food Waste Innovator” by ReFED, and currently serves as a board officer for four local, statewide, and regional non-profit organizations.


“Providing healthy food to people in need builds healthier communities,” he began and described Harvest Against Hunger as creating a positive ripple effect from truckloads of nutritious fruits and vegetables to those who would not have access to it. 


As both a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and a program of Rotary District 5030, Harvest Against Hunger works with farmers, truckers, volunteers and others to bring valuable skills and resources into hunger relief efforts in communities across Washington state and beyond.  HAH leads what he calls “lines of business” that could be called ‘Life Lines of Business’  that include Harvest VISTA, Capacity Building, Core Work, Farm to Community and Connect & Collaborate.  


He said the fresh produce donations is just a piece of working in communities -- to think about nutrition as a first step to help them build a better life.  “Farm to Community is a program where we coordinate with the Washington State department of Agriculture and Conservation Districts to establish contracted relationships with local growers for specific produce for distribution,” he said. “ Having access to healthy nutritious produce especially those going through crisis influences a situation in which one event produces effects which spread and produce further effects.”  


HAH focuses on three key areas of work: hunger relief, food insecurity and food assistance.  He says scale with the types of growers we work with provide a wholesale channel that is a win-win.  Engagements with underrepresented growers and communities to help build sustainable farming programs that help them continue to grow and thrive.  “We aim to create a ripple effect to build healthier food systems across the state.  Providing healthy food to people in need builds healthier communities”. 


For more information, to volunteer and to learn more visit the Harvest Against Hunger Home Page - Harvest Against Hunger


Mark Wright came to the podium to introduce and interview John Oppenheimer, , CEO of Seattle based Columbia Hospitality, and founder of five hospitality related companies.  “It all begins with a great team of people who love going to work every day,” he said as he introduced staff members in the audience including our own Ken Grant. 


John Oppenheimer launched Columbia Hospitality 26 years ago as CRG Events, winning the contract to manage Bell Harbor Conference Center.  “Our contracts aim to meet certain benchmarks, and nobody understands the customer like we do,” he said.  The Bell Harbor contract was recently renewed for another 20 years.  He said Columbia Hospitality operates under the premise that we “celebrate the team and that it all starts with the team”.   He says his company lives by key values of  accountability, enthusiasm, and inclusion.   “We have experienced our biggest growth from 27 properties to now managing 98 properties in several states,” he said.   


The pandemic shook the hospitality industry hard, he called it “the scariest thing.”    Since then, Columbia Hospitality is booking more business internal meetings, where companies wanted to get together for three days to relaunch themselves.  Hotel visits is not coming back as much.  “The internet has changed how the hospitality industry does business I have a bias perspective, but the business traveler wants all the amenities,” he says, “and for family vacations that want to rent a home it can be dicey.”


He said he wants to preserve Columbia Hospitality’s DNA as it grows.  “We celebrate people that have had success with their properties,” he said.  “ Our values we reemphasize and that is a team sport, and the first Interview is key to asking what kind of questions do they have…what will make it right for them.  What will make this the best ever decision you’ve ever made “.   


President Beth introduced Nicole Klein who highlighted coming Rotary after hours events that can be found on the website.  ‘Prince of Programs’ Ken Grant announced coming speakers that can also be found on the website.     


President Beth closed the meeting with sports highlights from the Superbowl as the most watched TV show of all time, and UW Track & Field leading the country, and WSU winning the hardwood version of the Apple Cup.  


Thanks to this week's meeting reporter, Pete DeLaunay!

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