Posted by Charles Rehberg
North Notes
Spokane-North Rotary Club
April 8, 2024
           April 15: Noon meeting at the Bark. Speaker: Hunter Abell, developments in the legal profession.
           April 22: Noon meeting at the Bark. Speaker: Rod Tamura, Japanese incarceration impacts on the Tamura and Oba families.
           April 29: Noon meeting at the Bark. Speaker: Mike Kobluk, Expo 74 50th anniversary memories.
Happy Buck$:
          Melinda Keberle was $10 happy for the spring break trip with son Landen to Washington, D.C. to watch the Nationals game.  That was their 26th major baseball stadium they have visited. Adding to her happiness as her son said “this was a great trip.”
          Laura Zahn was $5 of success for the supply drive with KHQ for the Ronald McDonald House March 30.  Worried that the Easter weekend would not earn as much, the amount of supplies equaled or surpassed the previous year. 
         Sheila Fritts was $3 happy for the three guests she brought to this meeting.  
         Eric Johnson was happy for his April 7 birthday and for the birthdays of his dad, Leroy, and Leroy’s twin.  Leroy, now 93, a retired Real Estate Broker, joined our club in 1973.
         Steve Boharski was happy for a pleasant Arizona trip.
         Board member Nancy Hanson said that as part of the 50th anniversary of Expo ’74 six area Rotary clubs will staff a special table Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. near the Rotary Fountain in Riverfront Park “to make aware of Rotary.”  Sheila Fritts has signed up for the entire day, but other club members are welcomed to staff the table for one-hour each.
         Remember: Construction continues on North Washington near the Bark for our luncheons.  Access should be available via North River Drive west of Division.
Special solar treat
         As the moon darkened a small slice of the sun during the April 8 solar eclipse, club members were treated to “solar doughnuts” by Jerry Logan, sergeant-at-arms for the day.
         Jerry’s tribute included a base of a Krispy Kreme doughnut topped by one side of an Oreo cookie and whipped cream.  Too bad we have to wait another 20 years for the next full eclipse in our area.
                  (Sorry the photographer was too busy eating to take a picture!)                      
A gift of giving back
         Rick Clark didn’t wear a backpack to our April 8 luncheon, but that’s because he probably gave it away to a needy person on the way to the Bark.
         What he never gives away is his will to help people in need.
         Clark nearly teared-up as he recalled his challenges and successes.  His riveting life story also brought strong emotions to the full crowd.
         Clark, now 53, was born in the Spokane Valley.  Dad left early, leaving poverty and numerous challenges for the family.   He said he dropped out of high school and already had a baby.  His sisters also had babies by then.
         Rick said by age 44 “his third marriage was on the rocks,” had five children and 50 different jobs “all entry-level.”  By then he was “squatting in a trailer in Medical Lake.”
         Emotions raw, Clark said he screamed, saying “you’re not going out like this.”
         “I wasn’t a bad guy, but I just didn’t want things that way,” he said.
         “I was 28 years as a drop out and this was my ‘Hail Mary’ shot” to do something, Clark said.
         That’s where he met Jerrod.  Clark had gone to the downtown bus plaza and saw Jerrod, dirty clothing, no shoes.  “He looked like one of my son’s age,” Rick said. 
         So Clark made a connection to someone “who was doing worse than me.” 
         Jerrod told him he had slept under the Monroe Street Bridge the previous night and muggers took his backpack and most of his meager belongings.
         Rick offered the question which he now knows connects people most: “Are you hungry?”
         Clark offered his $10 at the plaza food court.  Jerrod wanted a pastry and a Mountain Dew.
         Rick wrote down Jerrod’s clothing sizes, a backpack, and promised to find him again.
         “You are low, but others are even lower and my job is I want to be a helper,” Rick said.
         He gave out a backpacks and started at Spokane Community College.  Rick graduated the same day his son graduated from Spokane Falls Community College.
         Buoyed by that success he borrowed $100 and sent a heartfelt letter about his travails to Gonzaga University. 
         “This opened the door to ending his chain of poverty,” Clark said.  He said at GU classes, he was in his 50s and one student in his 30s and they used to nod at each other since every other student was so much younger. 
         GU provided $35,000 to start school and a donor paid most of the rest.
         With his communications degree in hand, Clark started out to help “Giving Back Pack.”  More than 7,000 backpacks, with toiletries, clothing and other essential items were given to the needy.
         When the backpack needs were met, Clark changed the program to “Giving Back Spokane,” and the non-profit provides a variety of necessities and food, especially for youngsters in need who may not have food when schools are not in session.
         Because all the money is private community funds, no governmental red tape limits donations, he said.
         During the Covid pandemic, Clark said, the group helped 110 restaurants keep open.
         Talking about the homeless, here and elsewhere, Rick said the key “is to make a connection. When there is no hate, there is dignity,” he said.  “Give people a reason to get up in the morning.”
         He said his Facebook responses have numbered 36,000…”and 80 percent are people over age 40.”
         Clark said he did find Jerrod a few years ago, finally recognized as schizophrenic, living in North Idaho.
         And Rick Clark, whose life has gone very far indeed, now operates his agency on West Sprague, just a block or so from that bus plaza where his life changed forever.  
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink.