Redondo Beach Rotarian of the Year - Jeff Weigel
Rotarian Jeff Weigel represents everything a Rotarian aspires to be. If ever the members of this club need a large table to meet around, Jeff welcomes the meeting to his dining room. Whenever Jeff recognizes something that might interest another Rotarian, Jeff makes the call. Whenever Jeff recognizes an opportunity for another Rotarian, Jeff makes the invite. But perhaps most impressive is the Jeff’s selflessness in Rotary’s mission to improve the lives of others. For some years now, Jeff, together with his wife, Rotarian Karen Weigel, have spearheaded WASSUP, a program to bring clean water to rural areas of Fiji. A water-borne disease, such as typhoid, can mean economic catastrophe to this island paradise heavily dependent on tourism. Dysentery can mean lost wages, lost school days and even death to the very young and old. Jeff, in cooperation with a water engineering firm, has taught the local populations how to construct and maintain water filtration systems. Moreover, the WASSUP program is self-sustaining and is being replicated by the Fijians themselves and includes vocational training in the schools. For this and for so much more, Jeff Weigel has been awarded the 2017 Rotary Club of Redondo Beach Rotarian of the Year.
Jeanne O'Donnell, Senior Program Manager for the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management
While one might consider a disaster, whether natural, manmade or a combination thereof, to be a singularity, for Jeanne O'Donnell, Senior Program Manager for the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management, “disasters never go away.” Disasters always fall into one of these places within the “long arm of recovery” cycle: mitigation, preparedness, field response, and recovery. And within each of these places in the disaster cycle, there are a myriad of physical, government, social and economic factors which must align in a highly stressful, uncertain and changing environment.
Furthermore, disasters create battles for the future. There are competing interests as to how to bring “it” back and often, whether “it” should be brought back. “Disasters reveal what others think of you. Recovery overlays ideas of what we should and shouldn’t be like,” Jeanne explains, “Who should say, for example, what life ‘should’ be like in New Orlean’s Ninth Ward?”
In a strange new landscape, where familiar landmarks have been erased and, where one does not know which systems have and will fail, fear and stress take hold. “A strangeness comes over. Disasters change the way we think, feel and act,” Jeanne explains.
Those affected become strangers in their own neighborhoods. It is often the social institutions, like community choirs or Little League games or Rotary Club meetings, which breakdown, as such activities are sacrificed to address more pressing needs. However, it is these very community institutions which play a very important role in maintaining community identity, which in turn is vital to recovery. In a disaster situation, because 90% of rescues are performed not by first responders, but by neighbors, it is community institutions which can actually save lives. When the assistant soccer coach doesn’t show up to practice, that could very likely mean it is because he is in dire straits.
While government organizations and well-meaning volunteer groups mobilize, often priorities and agendas compete and field response can become a “hot mess” of competing centers. Preparedness can help to alleviate stress. The Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management has a great deal of helpful information available and it is recommended that everyone take the time to prepare.
New Members
The Rotary Club of Redondo Beach is beyond thrilled to invites two new members into the fold:
Thais Viana and James Mellert. Welcome!