Friday, June 16, 2017

What Does Rotary Mean To You? Felipe Vidal's Story

Felipe Vidal, IT extraordinaire and our club President for the 2017-2018 Rotary Year, shares his thoughts on what Rotary means to him!

Felipe describes himself as a "geek through and through", he comes at everything from a technical perspective, like finding out how the bits and pieces work and is a "Big Sky" thinker. He also describes himself as a person who isn't super social, but sociable. Felipe has been happily married for the past 23 years and is a father to three daughters!

Felipe Vidal is, without a doubt, a man of boundless energy and imagination, the 2017-2018 Rotary year should be an exciting one with him at the helm!

RCSM, "Felipe, who or what brought you to Rotary?"

Felipe, "That's an easy one, it was Asaad Masoud, Sail Boat Captain, I had chartered his boat and we got to talking about computers, one day, after I fixed his computer, Asaad said, 'Come visit me at Rotary!' And he kept inviting me back and back, until I became a member, 6 months later."

RCSM, "What inspired you to join? What kept you coming back and back?"

Felipe, "Rotary's mission, that was the core thing, because there was a reason to BE in Rotary, not just being a part of a club. And, I just found the club to be full of incredibly nice, self effacing people, who were serious, but didn't take themselves too seriously.

And it was basically really the first time I got this sense of belonging somewhere, even though I was the youngest person at the time, and I felt odd, because it was not my norm. But, it got me out of an uncomfortable place of just not socializing as much as I should, with a bunch of people who made me feel at home and that's why I'm here 11 years later."

RCSM, "What is your favorite Rotary memory?"

Felipe, after a pause,"That one is kind of hard...then again..."

RCSM, "Too many memories to choose from?"

Felipe, "It's not just that, I have a kind of relativistic memory which basically means I don't recall things with accuracy. I tend to be prompted, I remember things when other things happen. It's part of the reason I got into photography, it helps me remember.

I don't know, I guess it's more a feeling. I certainly feel like the first time I went out on these homeless ventures, it was memorable because it was an eye opener. I also appreciate learning about the fact of the concept of humanizing people, where that engagement creates an opportunity for people to get out of their situation, but it's mostly a feeling.

It's being in a place where I see people, like Gabriel, ( Gabriel De Armas Jr. a Past President and a moving, inspirational speaker) where I sit here... I had one of the moments right now! I felt like I'm so bloody grateful just to associate with someone like that! This place is like my drug, let's put it that way, I can't name any specific instance where I injected myself with Rotary, but every time I do something with it, I like, 'Wow! showing up was so worthwhile!' Even when it doesn't go great, because I was there, I supported my friends and they supported me, that's just the way I feel about these things. I keep trying to think of something specific, I bet if I flip my photos I would be prompted!"

RCSM, "What would you like to see Rotary do going forward?"

Felipe, "Well for our club at least, I really like to see us get more engaged in our area of service mostly in the city of South Miami. I want us become so well known that all the merchants and the members of the local government will come to us whenever they want to solve a problem in the community. Where they say, 'We're working on this, but Rotary is going to help us make it happen!'

We're a long way from that, but I firmly believe, that's what it's going to make our club valuable in our community. And, it's going to create, then, the ability for us to project elsewhere to other countries because the network we build in conjunction with the officials, merchants and all of that stuff, will create leverage to do bigger things than we can do today. That's what I look forward to in the next three or four years, just to get us to that point and I think that will be a game changer! Want 50 people in this club? That's how it's going to happen!

When those merchants say, 'Who are those Rotary guys? They did this, that and whatever, I should go join them!' We want a nice mix, the common guy, the merchants and the government people really working together, so it's not elitist and, I think that kind of diversity is what really makes us kick butt!"

RCSM, "Thank you Felipe!"

Interview by Jeff McNabb

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Make Your Moments Matter! Gabriel De Armas Jr. on Senior Health Care!

June 6, 2017 - Our speaker for the day, couldn't have come at a better time as our previous speaker had a last minute cancellation! And so, Gabriel De Armas Jr., a club past president and current president of Home Instead Senior Care came to the rescue with what was undoubtedly the best lecture of this Rotary year!

Make Your Moments Matter!

Gabe started out his lecture with a scary statistic! Every 1 in 9 will, at some point, suffer from some form of mental impairment, some form of dementia and potentially, some form of Alzheimers! "We are all very fragile, things happen, we need to make our moments matter! We're only as good as our memories!" Gabe began.

Ways to Help!

Dementia can lead to confusion, then, disorientation and ultimately fear! The elderly can go quiet, withdraw from the world, sometimes sleeping 16-18 hours a day! As a caregiver one technique to use, while helping them to feel like they are more in control, is to present them with options. Never say, "Do this, or do that!"

Flavia Berti, our newest board Director, asked "So, how do you ask them to do things then?"

Gabe, "You give them two choices, A or B, always give them two choices!"

Memories and Music

Gabe continued noting that some memories, especially feelings, are always going to be there, these are just stored in another location, more like in the back of the mind, and, are just a little more difficult to access. However, each mind is wired differently, and it may take other varying kinds of prompts to bring those memories forward. For example, with a sports fan, you might ask them about baseball statistics, suddenly, with just a simple question, a withdrawn person, who may have been quiet and reserved, will light up, recalling astronomical numbers! 

Julia, our exchange student from Hungary working on her Masters in Music, shared her story of her Grandmother and how they were able to connect after considerable time. Gabe followed up noting Julia's remarkable sense of empathy and how she instinctively knew how to relate to her loved one through her own unique approach! 

Dr. Michael Newman observed, “Well, musicians actually have to be empathetic to be good, and Julia must be greatly empathetic because she’s a great musician!” 

There's no doubt, music itself is huge! One sure fire way to connect with a Jazz fan, even if they have lost the ability of speech, is to play a record and watch as they suddenly start moving to the grove and begin to dance!

Connections are still there!

The fact, as Gabe pointed out, some of us may lose a part of our mind as we grow older, but fond memories and feelings have no expiration date! It just takes time, empathy, patience and love, to reconnect, for our elderly loved ones are still with us here and now! We just have to find the intellectual key to unlock this emotional door! That key can be through music or, just the right question sparking the unforgettable!

Thank you Gabe for your continued service to our community! 

by Jeff McNabb