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History of the Hayward Rotary Club

In 1920, group of Hayward businessmen began meeting for lunch every day. They called themselves the "Barnacle Club" because the ashtrays at the restaurant where they met were made out of clam shells. Some of the Barnacles were interested in the idea of a service club, so they decided to form a Rotary Club in Hayward. They petitioned the local Rotary District for sponsorship. At first, the district was reluctant, believing that Hayward was too small a community to sustain a club. But they were soon convinced, and the Hayward Rotary Club came into being on June 23, 1922.

The first service project of the Hayward Rotary Club was the sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop. Three of the members of that troop - Don Harder, Mel Henningsen, and Marlin Haley - eventually became Hayward Rotarians.

Also in 1922 plans had just been approved for a new bridge to link Hayward and San Mateo. The bridge was to be called the San Francisco Bay Bridge. We now know it as the San Mateo Bridge. The bridge was a project of the PG&E Company. I.B. Parsons, one of the founders of Hayward Rotary, was on the Board of Directors.

Great hopes were placed on the new bridge. It was expected to bring even more prosperity to Hayward. The bridge was completed in 1929, just in time for the collapse of the world economy.

The 30's

The depression was as hard on Rotary as it was on the rest of the country. Membership declined, as did the number of clubs. In Hayward, many club members had to drop out because they couldn't afford the dues. Fines were decreased all the way down to ten cents.

But even during these difficult times, the Hayward Rotary Club did what it could to help the community.

* It continued its sponsorship of Boy Scouts.
* It initiated a yearly Christmas party for underprivileged children - a movie matinee, complete with Santa and gifts.
* And, along with the Lions and the 20-30 Club, it staged an annual Halloween party at the Hayward Plunge to help keep kids off the street.

One feature of the Halloween party was a swimming race between the Rotarians, the 20/30 Club, and the Lions. The 20/30 club seemed to have been the stronger swimmers. But as one Hayward Rotarian remarked, "Well, they swam faster than us, but we won a moral victory. Nobody drowned."

The 40's

The 40's were about the war, and the aftermath of war. After Pearl Harbor there was great concern that the United States mainland might be attacked. "Listening Posts" were set up all along the coastline. The Hayward Rotary Club volunteered to help finance and man a listening post in the Hayward hills.

The "Listening Posts" were actually "Watching Posts." The volunteers were supposed to monitor aircraft traffic and report on it.

John Sandoval, a Rotarian and a local historian gives this account of working at the Listening Post:

"We watch from Rotary's observation post on Sunday nights from seven to eleven. There are three of us on and we alternate to conserve on rubber by taking our cars successively. In the early part of the shift the sun is in our eyes, and all three stay outside and watch dusk descend upon the village below us and the majestic sweep of the Bay. One by one the lights twinkle on like a scale map with flashing miniature bulbs like those we saw on Treasure Island. The sheriff patrol car slithers by and we call out our weekly greeting and enter the call in our log book. Tonight we have a search-light test and we're pretty busy logging the planes that come over - they try to sneak up on the searchlight crews at the army posts below us."

Many Japanese Americans lived in Hayward. When they were interned, Judge Jake Harder went to great efforts to assure that all of the proper legal documents were filed on their behalf, and he looked out for their interests while they were away. In some cases he even saw to it that their land was farmed so that it would not deteriorate.

Hayward Rotary projects immediately following the war included sending bundles of clothing and food to the war-torn European countries, especially Greece, Norway, Denmark, and England.

The Hayward Area Recreation District (HARD) was formed in 1944.

The 50's

For its project in 1953, the club helped pave the schoolyard at Russell School.

In 1957, during Mel Henningsen's presidency, Hayward Rotary provided benches at many bus stops around town. The benches are labeled "Courtesy of Hayward Rotary". You've probably seen them around town. Many of the benches are still in place today.

Also during Mel's term, the club began sponsoring a troop of Explorer Scouts in addition to the Boy Scout troop.

In 1959, an organization called "Scholarships Inc." was founded. It was organized by Hayward Rotarian and high school principal Don Oakes and teacher Esther McStay and was strongly supported by the Hayward Rotary Club, under the leadership of then president Bob Cook.

Many Hayward Rotarians are still involved with Scholarships Inc. Nels Nelson, a long time supporter, serves on the board.

The late 50's were when Hayward Rotary, as well as many other local service clubs, started becoming more and more involved with the Rowell Ranch Rodeo. Over the years, the rodeo became an increasingly important source of funding for the club's projects.

The 60's

Landmark events in the 60's included the construction of Southland Mall in 1964, and the opening of two colleges, Cal State and Chabot.

Jack Smith was appointed mayor in 1961, and elected to that position in 1966.

Hayward Rotary projects during the '60s included

* supporting the boys club,
* continuing to sponsor the Boy Scout and Explorer troop,
* starting an Interact club,
* publishing a family relations book for high school seniors,
* and sponsoring Little League.

During Jack Wagle's term as president (1964-1965), the club began putting on a picnic for handicapped children at Bud Jordan's ranch in the Castro Valley hills. That event eventually became known as "Let's go Fishing".

The 70's

In 1974, we shipped 75 tons of textbooks to Pakistan. The books were scheduled for destruction, because they were obsolete, by our standards. But Kasim Dada, a visitor from Pakistan, realized that the books would still be useful in Pakistan. The books were free. The problem was transportation - about $100,000 worth.

President Earl Dawes used Rotary connections to get the books transported. The first leg of the trip - to Oakland - was provided by Dick Warren's trucking company. There they were stored temporarily in the warehouse of Ben Nutter, an Oakland Rotarian. Earl was able to find an airline that would ship the books to London for free, where an organization called the Ranfurly Library Service would distribute the books to Pakistan.

The 80's

In 1982, Hayward Rotary, HARD, the Rowell Ranch Advisory Board, and the Junior Rodeo Committee collaborated to build a barbecue area at the rodeo grounds. It was dedicated to the memory of Earl Dawes.

The '80s were a period of transition for Rotary in general. They were especially transitional for Hayward Rotary. (The Tea House)

Rotarians Eddie Friedrichs, Jerry Fry, and Alden Oliver proposed financing a project which would symbolize the community-minded contributions of Rotary to the City of Hayward. A committee, which included Rotarians Dick Warren, Joe Perez, and Leo Parry, selected the tea house as that project.

The tea house, designed by garden superintendent Kimio Kimura, and built by HARD, stands on the edge of the reflecting pool in the Japanese Gardens.

In 1987, during the presidency of Joel Thornley, the first two women - Joan Castenada, Hayward Airport manager, and Kathy Delaney, then Executive Director of the St. Rose Hospital Foundation - were admitted to the club.

The 80's also saw the beginning of the Polio Plus program. (New Directions)

Although the rodeo continued to make money, the income was at the mercy of the weather. So the club began exploring new methods of fundraising.

For several years, the club staged a Concourse D'Elegance - first at Sunol Country Club, and later at the Cal State Hayward Campus. Leo Parry managed the first Concourse during his term as president in 1979-1980. The Concourse proved to be a money-maker, but also a lot of work, difficult to sustain. And it was also subject to the whims of the weather. It was abandoned in 1987.

The club also held auctions, starting in 1987. The auctions were also discontinued after several years due to the difficulty of obtaining donations.

(The Origins of the Foundation)

In the mid eighties, the idea arose to establish a club foundation to insulate the clubs finances from the irregular cash flow of the rodeo income, and to be able to make more money available for local projects.

The Hayward Rotary Club Foundation was incorporated in October of 1990.

(The Emergency Shelter Program)

In the late 80's, the Hayward Rotary Club contributed funds and helped the Emergency Shelter Program to repair and refurbish the shelter buildings. Founded in 1972, the Emergency Shelter Program seeks to assist women and children in crisis.

The 90's

In the 90's, with the support of the newly formed foundation, the club undertook a number of very ambitious projects. 1994-1995 (The Silva Pediatric Clinic)

The project for Gary Smiths' year as president in 1994-95 was the construction of a full-service Pediatric Clinic in the city of Hayward.

Gary started out to just provide inoculations for children in Hayward, but Dr. Jack Singleton convinced him that what was really needed was a full-service pediatric clinic.

The Silva Pediatric Clinic is named for long time Hayward resident Angelina Fontes Silva, whose estate made a generous bequest to the project.

Rotary International Service projects are funded by a combination of money from a club in the project country, money from a club in the sponsoring country, money from the district, and matching grants from Rotary International. Until the Silva project, International Service funds had always flowed out of the United States to less developed countries. Gary realized that there are other countries who have money, and that there was no reason that some of it couldn't come to us. He found a partner club in Taiwan that was willing to participate. This made the whole project feasible.

Since the successful completion of the Silva Clinic, other clubs in the U.S. have used the same technique. And we used it once again to expand the clinic to include a full-service Dental Clinic in 1999. 1996-1997 (The Community Education Technology Center)

In 1994, the Hayward Adult Education School determined that there was a strong need for a computer center to provide computer education and access to underserved Hayward residents.

The Hayward Rotary Club had been looking for a very special project to undertake, in celebration of the club's 75th anniversary. It had considered the idea of a computer educational center, but the project seemed to be beyond the capabilities of the club.

But Nels Nelson got the school district and Rotary to partner, and together they were able to create an expanded project.

The computer center was originally intended to benefit adults seeking education and training on computers. Rotary's strong interest in youth issues caused the scope of the project to be broadened to serve the interests of young people as well. Ed Avelar extended the design of the center which is now known as the Hayward Community Technology Center.

1998-1999 (Newman Park)

In 1987, the Shafer Building on the corner of B and Mission caught fire and burned, leaving a gaping hole in the ground where the basement had been. For over ten years, the property remained vacant, fenced off and untended. The City, the Chamber of Commerce and the owners of the property had had many discussions about what could be done with the property, but no consensus was reached.

Manual Newman, a well known and well liked Hayward businessman and property owner, left a substantial sum of money to the City of Hayward, stipulating that it be used to build a park.

At about the same time, the City was successful in acquiring the property, a gaping hole filled with garbage and a tangle of weeds.

Kathy Streeter, the incoming Rotary president and advocate of downtown revitalization, had long envisioned a community park on the Shafer site.

A partnership between Rotary, the City of Hayward, and the Hayward community, along with Manny Newman's gift made the park a reality.

Now Newman Park is a welcome addition to the heart of downtown Hayward; a popular spot to take a brown-bag lunch, to meet friends, or just to enjoy a moment of serenity and contemplation.

1999-2000 (The Silva Pediatric Dental Clinic)

Many of the children seen at the Silva Pediatric clinic were suffering from what has been called the silent epidemic - deteriorating dental health.

So when dentist Ken Meirovitz became president in 1999, it was time to expand the clinic to include a dental facility.

The Silva clinic now includes a full-service, modern dental facility.

These projects - the Silva Clinic and Dental Clinic, the Community Technology Center, and Newman Park - were all supported by the Hayward Rotary Club Foundation.

John Hunter's goal during his term as president was to increase the endowment of the Foundation to $1,000,000 by 2005. Since 5% of the corpus is available each year, this will assure the club of $50,000 a year to undertake a community project, regardless of the weather.

Earlier, when talking about the 80's, I mentioned the Polio Plus project. In 2000, and again in 2002, a number of Hayward Rotarians went to Ghana to participate directly in that project. Gary Smith was one of the people who went, and while he was there, he discovered that there was an urgent need for water wells in Ghana. He also met a man was willing and able to help provide them. We've currently helped to drill 11 wells, and the success of that project has encouraged Rotary International to fund 30 more.

In 2001, Past President George Pacheco initiated a project to buy a tractor and later a truck for a village in Kenya to aid in their efforts to grow crops for themselves and to sell at other villages.  This project was completed in the early 2000's and the results have been tremendous. 

Never being one to say "no",  George Pacheco's President's Project was called "Fields of Dreams," a project to provide lighting, scoreboards and other facilites improvement for all the high schools in Hayward.

In suceeding years, each President has made an impact on the lives of many others as they helped inspire and fund several other prominent projects.