Past Presidents presented Foundation Grants this week: Tom Loo presented a Foundation Grant to Westside Food Bank, receiving the grant was Geneviev Riutort, CEO. Judy Neveau presented a Foundation Grant to Creative Steps – Aurelia Foundation, receiving the grant was founder and program director, Lisa Szilagyi.
Andrea GressingerThe Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Santa Monica selected Andrea Gressinger as our Rotarian of the month. Andrea has been a member of the Santa Monica Rotary Club for 10 years. Andrea brings enthusiasm to everything she does. She is our choice for Rotarian of the month this January 2023 as we have watched Andrea work with incredible enthusiasm, dedication, and collaboration in bringing our club’s most important fund-raising event of the year, our annual Wine Fest, to life.

Andrea has dedicated herself for the past seven years to chairing and co-chairing the Wine Fest. When she saw the opportunity to grow what was a small and financially insignificant event into a vehicle that now raises tens of thousands of dollars for the causes we care about, she jumped in with both feet. Andrea inspires her fellow Rotarians by her example and our club is greatly enhanced by her contribution. We presented Andrea with a certificate acknowledging her Service Above Self.

Our program of the day was the story of one of the City of Santa Monica’s First Responders, Paramedic and Firefighter, Aurora Paaluhi. She started by giving us her Rotary Connection, her aunt is a former District Governor. Aurora’s journey to firefighting started with her tech career at Yahoo where she got into playing volleyball on a sand court.
She found Beach Volleyball and her passion for the sport led her to firefighting because the work schedule allowed her to work in Sunnyvale for three days and off for three in which she flew to Los Angeles to play beach volleyball.
When Aurora tested for the Santa Monica Fire Department; she took a leap of faith because she knew that she would be only the third woman hired as a firefighter in Santa Monica in 80 plus years. She described the stress she felt to prove herself as equipped to do the job. She was recently selected as Firefighter of the Year in Santa Monica.
Aurora was also a founding member of the City’s Community Response Unit (CRU). Being a firefighter is about making a positive impact. When the City of Santa Monica wanted to implement an outreach program for people experiencing homelessness, Aurora volunteered to be a part of it. She was the first paramedic assigned to the CRU and has worked to develop new ways to help the City’s most vulnerable population. This pilot program continues to evolve, and Aurora has played a key role in the programs continued development. She is always willing to volunteer her time and skills to improve her department.
Additionally, her background in technology has proven to be a tremendous asset to the Santa Monica Fire Department. When the Santa Monica Fire Department had a catastrophic failure in staffing software, they needed someone with special skills to help overcome the problem. This staffing outage lasted more than a month, and without Aurora’s help, it would have been a detrimental hit to daily operations. Aurora willfully and enthusiastically jumped in using her skills to assist in getting staffing accountability and work code tracking back up with the creation of excel spreadsheets. In addition, she spent countless hours working on the recovery and reconciliation of payroll once Telestaff came back online.  She summed up her talk by sharing how impressed she is with other agencies in our city. Mental health issues in the Fire Department exists because of the multiple traumas Firefighters are exposed to. PTSD is a common mental stressor. Now the department addresses the burn out rate and offers counseling to the staff. Her personal journey was inspiring to all of us and gives hope to all in the workplace.

We can feel safer in our city because of Paramedic and Firefighter, Aurora Paaluhi.

DARK for President Day Holiday –Friday, Feb 17th

Nat TrivesPROGRAM February 24th  

Celebrating Black History Month – ZOOM Meeting

 Join us as our very own Rotarian Nat Trives shares with us some black history. Black History Month is a month-long annual observance originating in the United States. It is devoted to education about the history of Black people and the celebration of their contributions to history.
Presenter: Nat Trives
Host Rotarian Introducer: Sharon Perlmutter Gavin

Zoom Host:Len Lanzi

What’s happening in the “Hood”?

Join our own Karin Wallerstein as she takes you on a Venice walking tour.

Help Us Make The International Food and Wine Festival a Success!
We have printed brochures and made them available for you to give to potential sponsors, and to invite your friends and companies you do business with to purchase tickets. The brochures are available at weekly lunches, and they contain a list of the organizations our Club has supported and offers contact information with email addresses for us to follow up and answer more questions.
 Februay 23rd NEW DATE – Book Club – Live Meeting at Karin Wallerstein‘s house.  We are reading “The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Story of the Battle for Paradise” by David K. Randall
March 4th – Wine and Food Festival 2023- more details to come. Purchase your raffletickets now.  See Karin Wallerstein or Kera Blades Snell.
March 11th – Healthy Living Activity – A Venice Canal Tour
March 16- 23rd –District Humanitarian Trip to Belize
Curious about Upcoming Rotary Programs? Go to
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MEETING LOCATION: Hilton Hotel, 1707 Fourth Street, Santa Monica

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 586, Santa Monica CA 90406