Spokane North Notes
A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club
November 24, 2014
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Program coordinator and photo: Jim Minkler
               ‘Tis the season: Club members were greeted at the Nov. 24 luncheon with an array of 40 requests from needy Holmes Elementary children and families for holiday gifts.  Coordinator Nancy Humphries said, “I was a little worried” by the number of requests and short time frame (due date is Dec. 15), “but all the gift tags were picked up.  You came through again.”
               Season, cont.:  At the club’s Christmas luncheon Dec. 15 at The Lincoln Center, not only will we enjoy the holiday songs from a dozen or more Holmes students, but the children and the Holmes staff members who accompany them will join us for lunch, said coordinator Lenore Romney.  Members are encouraged to bring spouses and special friends and sign-up sheets will be available next week.
Changes due, but not the location
               After unanimous approval in a conference call club board meeting earlier in the day, President Jon Heideman announced Nov. 25 that the menu and weekly lunch price will change next year, but the club will continue to meet at The Lincoln Center.
               Faced with declining revenues, The Lincoln Center has hired Red Rock Catering to prepare meals.  The club, which just moved to the Lincoln Center on Oct. 6, faced either a substantial increase in meal costs or a sizable weekly room fee, effective immediately.
               The club had been operating on a one-year contract due to expire next September.  The new catering management said the standard room rate was $300 a week, but it would cut that in half and hold the lunch price at $16.  Board members contacted several venues downtown and on the near North Side with little success.  The Spokane Club, for example, which hosts Club 21 and Rotary South, said it could not add new luncheon meetings.
               Changing venues again would be problematic, as would paying for parking in downtown lots or at meters, and no better options surfaced, the board concluded.
Heideman and board member Chuck Rehberg met with Salli Dutton, Red Rock’s director of sales and marketing, to discuss options.  Red Rock agreed to provide a luncheon of soup and/or salad, sandwiches and cookies, plus coffee, tea and water, for $17 per person – and no separate room charge.
               The board discussed the options and agreed, with some reluctance, to accept the new plan. Heideman said the club will continue the hot meal program through December, including the Dec. 15 club Christmas party.  Traditionally, the club does not meet between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
               Beginning in January, with the next fiscal quarter, the “casual lunches” will be served at $17 per week for members.
               Heideman said the club will review the service in spring and decide whether to continue the plan after the end of the Rotary year on June 30.
Job help for some low-income ‘Next Geners’
               If you like to weld things, have we got a job for you.
               “Welding is in hot demand.  One company alone has 35 openings,” Trina Clayeux of the Next Generation Zone, said at the Nov. 24 club luncheon.
               The Next Gen Zone, operated by the Spokane Workforce Consortium, offers education and employment help to low-income youth ages 16 to 21 in Spokane County.  The consortium includes Career Path Services, the Employment Security Office, Goodwill Industries and the Northeast Washington Education Services District 101.
               Next Gen Zone operates all-day Thursdays and Friday mornings at 901 E.Second, near other workforce offices.
               Clayeux, the Director for the Center for Future Pathways at the Next Generation Zone, also did workforce development in eastern New Mexico before moving to Spokane.  At SFCC, she won the prestigious Saling Award for Excellence, named for the late Jerry Saling, former club member, state senator and SFCC president.
               Next Gen Zone, described as the area’s only youth career and employment center, opened in 2007.  Some 350 clients get help attaining their GEDs or enrolling in the community college or other training programs.
               “What we do is really unique, nationally,” Clayeux said.  “It’s a one-stop system for support, education, training, placement and employment.”
               Participants earn money while in the program, she said, “but we want them to get off our payroll and on someone else’s.” 
               In addition to welders, jobs for nurse assistants and aviation maintenance also are available, she said.
               In education, the practical programs prevail.  “About 77 percent of our people go to the community colleges,” Clayeux said.  “Our kids live in crisis, so getting a sociology degree doesn’t make sense.”
               She added: “A lot of our kids are multi-generational in poverty and haven’t seen a lot of employment in their families before.”  Clayeux said the target is to place youth in sustainable jobs with skills.  “No McDonalds or retail jobs, unless they want a career there.”
               The Next Gen Zone programs also work on “soft skills,” like proper hygiene, getting to work on time, how to work well with others, she said.
               Since most of the kids do not have cars, “transportation is a major issue,” Clayeux said, citing one client for whom bus routes don’t work, so “he got up at 5 a.m. to walk there” (to his job).