“ROTARY? WHA?”

Fire Chief Daren Bellach proudly showed off the new Kenwood truck and equipment during his visit to VOM Rotary.
Fire Chief Daren Bellach proudly showed off the new Kenwood truck and equipment during his visit to VOM Rotary.

Star Power

“ROTARY? WHA?” (that’s “What” in adult-speak), I asked, 11 years ago.
I was shooting a few games of pool with a friend and, after she obliterated me 3 games in a row, she invited me to sit for a glass of wine and chat. Ever-so-sneakily, she announced that she wanted me to be the “bulletin editor” for Valley of the Moon Rotary club during her upcoming year as president of that club. “Wha?”, I repeated. I had no idea what Rotary was, so she gave me a very convincing crash course.
The bulletin editor writes what was talked about at the meetings then transcribes that on the computer. It’s easy now, but at that point, I only knew 2 out of 50 members. I caught on.
Let’s see, what was it that hooked me? Was it that Rotary is full of kind folks sharing their stories and laughing a lot? Was it a place to go each week where there is camaraderie, community support, all walks of life coming together? Oh, wait, the motto of Rotary is “Service Above Self”. I always wanted to help others and to make the world a better place. It’s hard to do that as an individual, but when you get a group of like-minded people together, they can do wondrous things. And then, when you get millions of people world-wide traversing in the same direction, it’s phenomenal what can accomplished. Oh, I was hooked!
My husband had passed and I was alone with no direction, so I decided to join something and along came Rotary.
Rotary meetings consist of many segments, including fund-raising ideas for donations to local and International non-profit charities. Many of the Sonoma County charities our club donates to involve under-privileged youth, families in need, education scholarships, food providers and many more. Plus, each meeting has a speaker-of-interest.
One of our speakers in July was Kenwood Fire Chief Daren Bellach, who arrived in Kenwood’s brand-new, hi-tech fire engine. Chief Bellach shared his own harrowing story about being trapped during the 2017 Nuns fire, plus gave his insight on our current fire conditions.
He told us the department started noticing changes in fire mannerisms back in 2010 with devastating fast-moving fires. Then, 2017 happened, the first major event, which are now called “career fires” with 2 and 3 a year. As the Chief said “we can fight fires but we can’t fight the wind”.

This year, as of now, fuel moisture levels are the lowest ever. Wind conditions have not been big events and none are in sight (but this is only July). There have been over 600 fires already this year which the fire crews have doused quickly keeping the damages down. This year, the entire western United States is enduring these drought conditions.

I hope I have captured your interest and you will think about coming to a Rotary meeting. We meet at the Oak Restaurant at 8am most Thursdays and everyone is welcome. Check out our Facebook page for information about upcoming speakers.

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