Working Dogs for Warriors
Meeting was called to order by club president Jim Ripley, “Shoutout to Zoot Velasco for filling in for me. I appreciate that very much.” He gave a public service announcement, “make sure your driver’s license is not expired if you have to check out a loaner car while your wife’s car is being serviced!” Looks like President Ripley had a rude awakening about his expired dl in the worst way. President Ripley announced from the District that for Maui Relief Fund, District 5320 has raised $200,000. Great Job!
Today’s guests include everyone from “Marty Burbank’s office,” joked Jim Ripley. Alicia Meza, Naomi Vazquez, Kristine Guerrero, and Julia Wong, all work or intern for Marty Burbank. In addition, Julia Wong is Frank Kawase’s granddaughter. Guest of Matt Howells was Lindy Howells and their service dog. Welcome to all guests! Last week, Zoot Velasco helped induct new members; Sally Williams, Amy Choi-Won, and Liza Wozab. Congratulations new members! Jim Ripley had the honor of inducting 2 new members today, Steve Miyamoto and Randy Tierney. He presented them with Rotary Badges. “Steve is an oral surgeon with a successful practice here in Fullerton. And Randy is a publisher and editor in chief for Parenting Orange County Magazine.”
For our Commencement Ceremonies, Matt Howells and Judy Atwell were asked to come up. Matt Howells led us in our Patriotic Moment, asking all past service and current service members to salute the flag and all else to place their right hand over their hearts. He led us in our Pledge of Allegiance. Judy Atwell gave us our invocation, “today’s invocation is emotion by definition. It’s a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain meaning.” She led us in prayer, “Almighty God, we are your humble servants. We come before you today in need of your help. Lord give us hope and love so that we may serve our world, our nation, and our community. Amen!”
Our Songmaster Johny Hong led us in the Macarena. He encouraged all those in attendance to stand and do the Macarena. If you want to see those photos, please follow the Fullerton Rotary Club’s Facebook page.
Today’s Finemaster/Recognition Master is Brett Ackerman. He asked Bob Jahncke why he had a problem with accessing the website and fined him $1. Minard Duncan was recognized and fined $9 for his birthday, he turned 91. Mniard negotiated to $5 to which John Phelps offered to pay his other $5. He fined Bill Mathy $2 for giving him a list full of people who were not present. Rick Crane was recognized and fined $4 for his 40th wedding anniversary. Jim Williams was asked to stand and be recognize for his and Sally’s wedding anniversary, but Jim mentioned to Brett that he is RSVP’n his and Sally’s invitation for October 7th Boys and Girls Club annual Fundraiser. Brett was so taken by this that he decided not to fine Jim and instead fined Sally, “Sally, you put in $2.” Sally Williams responded, “I’ve put in a lot more than that,” to which got a big reaction from the members in attendance. He then fined anyone not wearing a rotary pin $1. He ended with humble brags worth $5, David Gillanders bragged about his son finishing 12th overall in cross country at his high school. Great Job Brett on generating revenue for the club.
Today’s announcement, Rebecka Forrester announced on behalf of OC United. On September 23rd, OC United is hosting an event called Reimagining Housing in Fullerton at the Gilbert Fullerton Community Center. Registration is done through OCUnited.org/housingjustice. For more information contact Rebecka or the OC United website. Zoot Velasco announced Fullerton College Football team will play their first football on Sherbeck Field on September 2, 2023. VIP Tickets are available for purchase as well as season tickets, “all money generated from the proceeds will go to athletic scholarships,” said Zoot. HortnetScholars.com is the site if anyone would like to contribute towards the scholarships.
Today’s Program at Hand was introduced by President Ripley, “if you were here for my very first meeting as president, you heard that rather than give speaker’s gift, the money allotted for that purpose, I would rather give as a charitable donation. I just recently watched a documentary on an organization that trains dogs for people that have PTSD. I’ve always felt that Rotary could do more for our veterans. I got on the internet and researched an organization that does that and found Working Dogs for Warriors in Fontana.” President Ripley gave them a call and lo and behold, the co-founder of the organization is also a Rotarian, past president of the Rotary Club of Fontana. “I am so glad you are here, come on up and tell us about Working Dogs for Warriors.” Mike Welsh is the president and founder of this organization, he brought along two guest, Jenn Southern who is a retired law enforcement officer and service dog Stanley. “Thank you for the support with your club donating to us, and as a fellow Rotarian, I am happy to see this large group.” Mike was the President of Fontana Rotary Club from 2019 to 2020. He remembers the first fantastic 6 months and then it was all downhill and rocky after that. The pandemic made them change over to zoom meetings from in person. He wants to experience being president once again, but he is in no rush. Over the years, his organization has continuously added programs to extend their impacts to help care for individuals working to keep their community safe. Some of their programs include mental health education service, dog training, CPR first aid classes, a 24-hour helpline app, a 24-hour hotline for suicide prevention and a suicide prevention training for organization group leaders and weekly support meeting for physical therapy recovery. They also offer path walks, a pantry program, and food drives for their communities. “We have reading events for our local students and health resources and affairs,” said Mike. Working Dogs for Warriors is much more than a dog training organization, they focus on the mental health and well-being of veterans and first responders. With their Care Team Program, its purpose is to help mitigate the effects of post traumatic calls for service and first responders. Their dogs are trained to provide PTSD recovery as peer support dogs. Jenn Southern, a recent addition to the Care Program, explained that part of the care team is that they are able to go out to departments or cities after critical incidences occurred and provide peer support dogs for those struggling. Dogs are able to sense elevated heart rate cortisol levels and they provide deep pressure therapy comfort when needed. “Stanley will look at me, back and forth, and kind of wait for that command and I can release him to go out and provide that therapy for folks who are suffering.” The Care Team Program has worked with LA County and Riverside County departments on wellness visits and also worked with kids. They have had their dogs involved with groups of students that have participated with their reading programs over the years, giving them the opportunity of going from station to station reading to the dogs, “it’s a great way for these kids to really worry about service dogs,” said Jenn. “To learn how to properly engage with dogs.” Some signs of PTSD include self-isolation or avoiding large crowds. Reading events give those veterans and first responders the purpose to come out and be amongst others. Mike shared a story of how a service dog helped an Army veteran be more socially active and do things he wouldn’t do because of his PTSD, “that day, he told me it was his first time in 8 years that he had stepped foot in a warehouse, let alone go into an elevator, but he was able to do it with his dog.” Now, this man volunteers all the time and loves coming out to events. Working Dogs for Warriors programs are different from any other out there, because they focus on the PTSD recovery aspect versus the “I’m going to train you” aspect. The veteran and first responders are in the program for a minimum of 2 years, making sure they hit those benchmark that they have to meet. The first 3 months of the program involves no one-on-one dog training. It involves working in the kennels, volunteering their time to work with all the dogs. During that time, they build a bond with a dog that will in turn eventually become their service dog. Part of the recovery portion is to open up during the fellowship groups and peer support groups, which is the direct impact that they have on combating suicide. Once the veteran or first responder chooses a dog, they are required 360 hours of constantly working with their dog on foundations and related functions. They also offer a mental health resource fair at their wellness events called Sound Mind, in Fontana. They also donate to Cherish Ministries, an outreach program that helps young women or young mothers and help support their events. The amount of participation this organization does is unbelievable; Christmas events, Spaghetti Dinners, Trunk or Treat Halloween, 5k walk from Bolsa Chica State Beach to Huntington Beach, A September 11 Memorial Bike Ride and more. Mike and Jenn took questions from the audience to end their presentation. Those with any questions or want to know more about Working Dogs for Warriors, please visit their site https://www.workingdogsforwarriors.com. President Jim Ripley provided Mike and Jenn with a certificate with a donation to their own organization made by the Fullerton Rotary Club.
The last thing on the agenda was the 50/50 drawing. Lucky ticket holder ending in 0759 wins the drawing. Congratulations Pat Hartnett! Next week’s program is the State of the County report with Supervisor Doug Chaffee, “Don’t forget to hit that Like and Subscribe button. Tell a friend and invite someone to our next meeting. Meeting Adjourned.”