Rotary Club of Santa Maria South


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Club Information

Welcome to our Club!

Santa Maria South

Service Above Self

First Three Mondays of Month - 6:00 p.m.
Santa Maria Inn
801 South Broadway
Kent Room
Santa Maria, CA  93454-6668
United States
District Site
Venue Map

Home Page Stories

The last week of August will find Rotary Santa Maria South International chairman Joe Gruba, club president Peter Garcia and past president David Bixby (pictured above left to right) in La Paz, Mexico, reviewing past joint club projects and meeting with the Rotario de la Paz club members about future joint projects. In addition, the three will be purchasing and delivering school supplies and textbooks for village school children.
On Monday, August 24th, the club held an internal club fundraiser to raise funds for the school supplies.
The fundraiser, a replay of the seventies game show “The Match Game”, featured club members in period costume, contestants, “celebrity” players and crazy, “fill-in-the-blank” questions:
“Celebrity Panel” members (pictured above left to right) at the game table included club members Pat Haley and Bob Peters, as well as PCPA celebrity Kitty Balay.
Contestants included club members Phil Sinco and Fran Hutchinson (pictured above far left and second right), Karen Gruba (second from left) and game show champion and club president-elect Steve Wagner (far right).
The “Match Game” fundraiser garnered well over the funds needed for the school supplies and a good time was had by all!

Central Coast Rescue Mission (CCRM) Director Larry Cooney was the featured speaker at the club’s August 10th meeting. In addition to describing CCRM history and residential rehab program for 18 men recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, Cooney shared plans for the organization’s new “hot breakfast” program, which will include the CCRM mobile van traversing Broadway in the a.m. to distribute hot breakfasts and coffee to addicts and homeless individuals on the streets of Santa Maria. CCRM Residential program participants Kevin McGowan (left of Cooney in photo) and Dmitri Milyaskiy shared their touching stories of their descents into abuse, their current activities in the program, and their hopes for a bright future. It was an inspiring and interesting program night at Rotary Santa Maria South!
CCRM - Kevin McGowan (L), Dir. Larry Cooney (C), Dmitri Milyaskiy (R)

Rotary Club member Victoria Conner presented an overview of the Economic Alliance of Northern Santa Barbara County.
Rotary Santa Maria South club members sing at the end of every meeting. Here (from left) Fran Hutchinson, Joe Gruba, David Bixby and Georgia Shore lead the club in "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" accompanied by Club president Peter Garcia on piano (not shown).

Peter Gilli, Planning Division Manager, City of Santa Maria, shared information about the Proposed Revisions to the Downtown Specific Plan.  He invited club members to participate in the July 23rd  Downtown Plan input-gathering meeting in Shepard Hall at the City Library.

On July 6th, new Rotary Santa Maria South president Peter Garcia shared priorities and suggestions for the year amid a rousing, music-filled evening of enthusiasm, laughter, and camaraderie. Starting off the evening with the club singing “God Bless America” in honor of the recent Independence Day, Peter also introduced a musical motto for the year. His choice? Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes. (Two verses were sung by club members!)
Bob Ogden, Ken Parker singing - Peter and Nicolette at computer
On a more serious note (no pun intended), Peter shared information on meeting costs and logistics, community service opportunities, monthly activities, fundraisers, and key dates to calendar.
One highlight of his talk was the announcement, made with Joe Gruba, that the Foundation had approved the Rotary Santa Maria South travel grant for two club members to travel to La Paz in August on a fact finding and service mission to determine previous project status, future needs, and to deliver school supplies to rural village schools. Including other club members planning to go, Peter is guessing that there will be four or five club members participating in the visit this year.
Peter finished his remarks by introducing his 2015-2016 board members to the Club:
David Bixby, Immediate Past President
Stephen Wagner, President-Elect and Membership Director
Richard Best, Secretary
Paul Moe, Treasurer
Joe Gruba, International Service Director
Susan Ziemba, Vocational Service Director
Nicolette Reeves, Youth Service Director
Victoria Conner, Community Service Director
Other leaders announced included Phil Sinco, who will lead the Foundation and handle programs; Bill Thompson, taking charge of public relations; and webmaster Bob Peters, who also coordinates Central Coast Rescue Mission community service opportunities.

A small but mighty contingent of Rotarians served meals for the homeless on June 29.
Pictured above are:  Dr. Peter Garcia, Bob Peters, Joe Gruba.

Santa Maria Rotary South’s first meeting of 2015 was highlighted by a talk from Noelle Tolentino, daughter of club members Ken and Diane Parker, who gave the club an overview of the history of wine grape growing and winemaking in the Santa Maria and northern Santa Barbara County area. Club members were delighted to enjoy a wine-tasting with the presentation, courtesy of Riverbench winery, which provided tastings of its Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.
Club president David Bixby and event co-organizer Jane Kokkinakis gave details on the club’s upcoming “Community Walk” benefiting “Growing Grounds”, a program supporting employment and recovery for local residents with mental health issues.  Zoran Sajovic gave an overview of the fundraiser he is working on and members were encouraged to participate in both to help the club support local causes.


New President David Bixby was installed at a raucous sendoff event for 2013 - 14 President Ken Parker.



Santa Maria South Rotarians supported the Central Coast Rescue Mission meal for homeless individuals on Monday, June 30, at the Foursquare Church in Santa Maria by serving meals and helping with setup and clean up.  Thanks to our club members who volunteered:  David Bixby, Peter Garcia, Fran Hutchinson and granddaughter Alyssa, Bob Peters and Georgia Shore - A great way to end the 2013-2014 Rotary year!


Rudy Gutierrez, City of Santa Maria, will be speaking on the exciting Special Olympics event coming to Santa Maria.  The Monday, July 21 meeting begins at 6 PM in the Kent Room at the Santa Maria Inn.




Interact faculty advisor Phil Norton is requesting two Rotarians to serve as judges for the Interact club-sponsored Orcutt Academy High School Speech Contest May 19th. Contact Vicki Conner if you are interested. She did it last year and claims it was great fun to see what the students included in their speeches. Please consider volunteering, as we want to support our Interactor projects!




Caption: Rotary SM South club president Ken Parker, Talent Show Winner of First Place Coast Hills $1000 prize Isaiah Guerrero and Bob McIntyre, representing Coast Hills Federal Credit Union


Isaiah Guerrera, First Place (r), Melody McCormack 1st Runner-Up (l) and Emily Rich (c) 2nd Runner-Up

Area teens took most of the top honors in Saturday’s "Santa Maria Has Talent!" competition, directed by Rotarians Georgia Shore and Diane Balay.

Fourteen-year-old Santa Maria pianist Isaiah Guerrero walked off with an armload of trophies when he won first place for his performance of his original composition Sonata in G minor as well as the “Outstanding Teen Instrumentalist” award.  Guerrero was presented the first place $1,000 Coast Hills Talent Award by Dr. Bob McIntire, representing Coast Hills and Santa Maria Rotary South club president Dr. Ken Parker. Rotary Santa Maria South and Coast Hills Federal Credit Union have co-sponsored the talent event for five years.

Twelve-year-old Lompoc dancer Emily Rich won double awards as 2nd runner up with her authentic Flamenco and also took the “Outstanding Achievement in Dance” award.   Adult Santa Maria singer Melody McCormick also was a double award winner when she was selected 1st runner up and winner of the “Outstanding Achievement  in Singing by an Adult”.

Santa Maria teen sisters, Kristina and Isabella Melsheimer, won “Oustanding Achievement in Singing by Teens” and took home the coveted people’s choice award as “Santa Maria’s Favorite”, as well.  The Favorite award was presented in honor of Jeff Kuster, who stage managed the event for the past four years.


Caption: Sisters Isabella & Kristina Melsheimer took home "Santa Maria's Favorite" honors

Santa Maria soprano Bridget Lee, 11 years old, won “Outstanding Achievement in Singing by a Child”.


Caption: Bridget Lee won the "Outstanding Achievement in Singing by a Child" award


Caption: Roxanne Ventriglia and Ryan Miller served as hosts for the event, also performing the opening act

Co-hosts for Santa Maria Has Talent! were business owner/community leader and performer Roxanne Ventriglia, and Ryan Miller, executive editor of the Sun and New Times, who also took home a runner-up trophy from the 2012 talent show with his foot-stomping, entertaining performance of "Trouble" from The Music Man.



Caption: Saturday night judges: (l to r) Peter Garcia, Cynthia Valenzuela, Joe Payne, Amy Curti and Judge Jed Beebe

The talent winners were selected by a panel of judges out of more than 100 contestants of all ages over a three-night period, May 8, 9 and 10. Rotarian and judge Peter Garcia, local psychiatrist, has a degree in Music Education and studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Santa Maria attorney Cynthia Valenzuela is a part-time dance instructor for Allan Hancock College, and for eight years directed the Nutcracker Ballet. Joe Payne is a professional music teacher and the Arts editor of the Santa Maria Sun. Trained in piano and voice, Amy Curti teaches music for the Artist-in-Residence program at Joe Nightingale Elementary and leads Glee Clubs at St. Joseph's High School and the Orcutt Arts Academy. Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Jed Beebe, president of the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society, plays violin for the Philharmonic and the Lompoc Pops orchestra and plays viola, cello, piano and organ, sings tenor and directs a church choir, as well. Attorney Matthew Guerrero of the San Luis Obispo firm of Maguire & Ashbaugh, not pictured, served as a judge Thursday and Friday evenings. He serves on numerous local boards and is an avid supporter of the arts in both Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo County.

Santa Maria Has Talent is sponsored by Santa Maria Rotary South.  Proceeds support charitable causes in the Santa Maria area and provide partial support of two elementary schools in La Paz Mexico.



At the May 5th clu b meeting, President Ken Parker announced that the club's collaborative international project to provide a computer lab for the village school in the mountains above La Paz has reached a major milestone. The "Computer Salon" as they call it, is now open, featuring a 21 computer for the instructor and 20 for students (with capability of serving two students at each computer). The computer lab project is a joint effort led by Rotary Santa Maria South, with partners being The Rotary Club of Santa Maria and the Nipomo Rotary in cooperation with Club Rotario de la Paz. Rotary International provided additional funds for the project.

In addition to the computer stations, a projector, large screen and internet capability were installed.

As Ken says, "It's amazing what a small group of international Rotarians can accomplish when they work together as a team!"



A dozen Rotary Santa Maria South club members turned out March 21st at the Madonna Inn to celebrate the club's first female member (Anne Green, inducted in 1988 as the first woman Rotarian in Santa Maria), as well as all the other women pioneering the "women in Rotary" wave. The District dinner benefited the Rotary Foundation, and also celebrated Rotary's quarter century of polio eradication worldwide. Dinner speakers were representatives of the Rotary Foundation's current and previous programs, e.g. Group Study Exchange, Rotary Exchange Student, Ambassadorial Scholarships. Keynote for the evening was Dr. Sylvia Whitlock, first female Rotary president, second woman inducted into Rotary. Dr. Whitlock described the eleven year process of legal efforts to allow women in Rotary, an effort culminating in a Supreme Court decision that also opened the way for women in all service clubs. Dr. Whitlock's club is in Duarte, California, and had only fifteen members when it challenged Rotary International.

Rotary Santa Maria South's Anne Green was also the club's first female president. Her sponsor into Rotary was Dr. Robert (Bob) McIntire, retired Air Force colonel and Cal Poly professor.

Anne, who now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, flew in for the "Women in Rotary" dinner and celebrated her role as the Santa Maria South club's first female member with club president Ken Parker and wife Diane, other longtime friends, and newer club members.




Rotary Santa Maria South members collected and donated several "tubs of love" for the Central Coast Rescue Mission warm clothing drive. The club also helped distribute several bins of warm winter clothing to two organizations for the homeless. Clothing in the bins were collected by Orcutt Academy high schoolers. The warm winter clothing drive for homeless individuals at Orcutt Academy High School was organized by the OAHS Interact Club's Community Service Committee.


 Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers, PhD, Allan Hancock College was the club's speaker January 13th, sharing progress on bond-funded facility improvements, approach for utilizing the College's recent large gift, and his overall philosophy on better serving students.




Rotary Santa Maria South's Club President Ken Parker and President-Elect Nominee Peter Garcia presented an overview of the Club's Rotary District grant project in La Paz at the January 27, 2014 meeting. Rotary South has been partnering with the Rotario de la Paz Club for ten years now, providing a shade structure, classroom paint and supplies, sports equipment and sewing machines and fabric for village single moms. Last year, the Club spearheaded a joint La Paz project to build a 20-station computer lab and provide software and other school support. Rotary Club partners in the grant effort include the Santa Maria Rotary Club, Nipomo Rotary, Rotary Club of Redondo Beach, and the Rotario de la Paz Club. In October, Ken and Peter travelled to La Paz to monitor grant progress. Computer stations had been installed, but needed still to be bolted to the ground and the fiber connection had been lost due to an "errant tractor" incident, but all was being ameliorated and the project was moving forward.

As part of the program, Peter recognized the Orcutt Academy High School (OAHS) Interact Club which provided $500 for school supplies to the school, supplemented with $250 from Rotary Santa Maria South. Students had raised the money from Orcutt Academy High students donating for school supplies for the La Paz village students. Ken and Peter had received two Rotary club banners from the Roario de la Paz club and presented one of the club banners to OAHS Interactors Christian Fernandez and Jordan Bashline. OAHS instructor and Interact Club Advisor Phil Norton attended the Club meeting with the Interactors.






With Club President-Elect David Bixby presiding for Ken Parker who was out of town, Rotary Santa Maria South club members were presented a program January 6th by Matt Murphy, president of Presqu'ile Winery. Matt described how the winery evolved from the purchase of 72 acres of county land on Clark Road, east of Hwy 101, to the opening of the tasting room in June 2013. The winery is named after the Murphy family compound in the Mississippi Delta, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  "Presqu'ile" means "nearly an island" in French. While Matt believes that Santa Maria is "the best place on the West Coast, or possibly in the new world" for pinot noir, the winery also produces sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and syrah wines. The family's 2013 production was 5000 cases, with lots of room for growth, as the potential volume could be around 18,000 cases one day. Matt, who is a board member of the Santa Barbara Vintners Association, spends much time on the road promoting the Santa Maria Valley AVA and Santa Barbara County wines. As he says, he isn't trying to put Santa Maria on the wine map, because it's already there, he's just trying to make the dot a little bigger!





Oct 12, 2015
David Swinson
The Santa Maria Kennel Club
Oct 19, 2015
Jim Bell, District Governor
Annual District Governor's Visit
Oct 25, 2015
Annual Wife Raffle Drawing/Halloween Party
Location to be determined at a later date
Nov 02, 2015
Nov 09, 2015
Jackie MacNeil and Mary Housel
Home Work Help Center (SM LIbrary)
Nov 16, 2015
Philip Sinco
Rotary International Foundation
Nov 23, 2015
Fourth Monday
Nov 30, 2015
Community Service Opportunity
Dec 07, 2015
Santa Claus?
Annual Kid's Christmas Party/Meeting
Dec 14, 2015
Sydney Hunt
Update on Students with Hearts
Dec 20, 2015
Dec 21, 2015
Cancelled for Club Christmas Party
Dec 28, 2015
Fourth Monday
Jan 04, 2016
Surprise Off Site Meeting
It's a surprise (for now)


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