The purpose of the St. Helena Rotary Blog is simply to document our journey going forward as an organization. Our Club was established in 1926 and we have a proud legacy of service. Our efforts have resulted in the Club having a significant positive impact on helping create a better St. Helena Community. As leaders, we realize we have an important responsibility to be good stewards, and to ensure St. Helena Rotary is a vibrant, innovative, and enduring community service organization. We look forward to the journey ahead as we begin the process of implementing our new vision and strategic plan.

- January 1, 2019


March 11, 2019

Dear Fellow Rotary Club Members and Friends:

It is with a heavy heart and much sadness to let you know that our dear friend and fellow Rotary Club Member, Donn Black, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Donn was an incredible human being and friend to all who will be missed dearly. Our hearts go out to Toni and their family during this time of Donn's passing.



Ben Hill
Club President
St. Helena Rotary Club

February 26, 2019

Our eighth meeting of 2019 was held on Tuesday, February 26th at Native Son’s Hall. Our Speaker Program guest speaker was our very own Kathleen Patterson. Kathleen is a Past President of St. Helena Rotary, and is our President-Elect for 2019-2020. She is a longtime local business owner at Central Valley, and has always been a very committed community service leader and fundraiser. We are excited she will once again be serving as our Club President beginning in July 2019.

Kathleen recently completed a wonderful trip to Chile and Patagonia. She shared the story of her journey via a compelling travelogue presentation. During her presentation she shared information about the history, people, and culture of each stop along her journey. We had a great turnout, on a very rainy day, with many community guests who enjoyed a scrumptious baked Eggplant Parmesan lunch provided by local caterers Tony and Catalina Velazquez.

Also attending the meeting was Kathy Flamson, who is the Rotary District 5130 District Governor-Elect for the 2019-2020 year. Kathy is a longtime resident of Calistoga and Past President of Calistoga Rotary Club. She was accompanied by her husband, Jim Flamson, who is also active in Rotary and a well-known community service leader in the Upper Napa Valley. Kathy and Jim have known Kathleen and her family for many years, and Jim actually worked at Central Valley as a teenager. Such a very small world!

February 19, 2019

Our seventh meeting of 2019 was held on Tuesday, February 19th at Native Sons Hall. Our Speaker Program special guest speakers were Linzi Gay & Meg Barkley of Clif Family here in St. Helena. Linzi is the General Manager at Clif, and Meg is Director of Hospitality. Together, they gave a wonderful presentation about The Clif Family Story, that included history, company mission, business overview, and the Clif Family 5 Aspirations. The 5 Aspirations include Business, Brands, People, Community & Planet. Sustainability is a key theme throughout everything they do. St. Helena Rotary is excited about Clif Family’s community service commitment to the St. Helena & the Greater Napa Valley. Clif Family is truly a very special organization and we look forward to partnering with them as we continue our efforts to transform St. Helena Rotary. Thank you Linzi, Meg & the entire Clif Family Team for all you do!

February 12, 2019

Our sixth meeting of 2019 was held on Tuesday, February 12th at Native Sons Hall. In honor of Valentine’s Day, John & Jennifer Muhlner, long-time Rotary Club & Community Leaders provided candy & roses to spruce things up a bit! A big thank you to John and Jennifer for all you do for our St. Helena Community! ❤️ After a wonderful lunch with fresh salmon provided by Tony and Catalina Velazquez, we then broke into two groups to focus and work on The Youth Initiative, and the Customer Service Initiative. We are excited about our progress and will share details with the community during the coming weeks.

February 5, 2019

Our fifth meeting of 2019 was held on Tuesday, February 5th at Native Sons Hall. Our Speaker Program guest speaker was our friend and fellow Rotarian Richard Hyde, who was in town trying to escape the cold and snowy winter in Portland, Maine. After being a resident of St. Helena and Washington D.C. for many years, Richard moved to Maine several years ago and now serves as Pastor of First Congregational Church of Gray (near Portland). Richard gave a very interesting presentation on the history of war monuments and what happens to them over time as the world changes and history is revised.

January 29, 2019

Our fourth meeting of 2019 was held on Tuesday, January 29th in the Wine Library at Meadowood Napa Valley. Our fourth meeting every month is an Evening Social Event at one the many great venues in St. Helena. After cocktail hour and lovely appetizers, we welcomed Lettie Smeding, who gave a wonderful presentation about her involvement with the equestrian sport of Endurance Riding. Lettie has over 4,000 competitive Endurance miles, typically riding at a pace of 50-120 miles per day. Thank you Lettie & Past Rotary President, Hendrik Smeding, for all you have done for St. Helena Rotary over the years! After they were done speaking, many of our members remained at Meadowood for dinner in The Grill. We appreciate the wonderful hospitality provided by the Meadowood Team!

January 22, 2019

Our third meeting of 2019 was held on Tuesday, January 22nd at Native Sons Hall. Our Speaker Program guest speaker was longtime St. Helena resident and community leader Susanne Salvestrin, President of the St. Helena Historical Society. She was introduced by Past Rotary Club President and community volunteer John Sales, and accompanied by member so the Historical Society Team. She gave a fun and interesting update on activities at the Society, and announced their upcoming fundraiser, “When History Becomes Art” at Brasswood Estate on Saturday, March 9th from 1-4PM. St. Helena Rotary truly appreciates all Susanne Salvestrin has done serving our St. Helena Community over the years!

Past Rotary President Margo Kennedy was recognized by Ben Hill for her continued commitment as a Paul Harris Fellow.

Finally, St. Helena Rotary wishes to thank Tony and Catalina Velazquez for the amazing job they are doing catering our luncheons and special events. It is wonderful to have them as a part of our family!

January 15, 2019

Our second meeting of 2019 was held on Tuesday, January 15th at Native Sons Hall. Our guest speaker, as a part of our Speaker Program, was Michelle Laymon, Community Investment Manager at Napa Valley Vintners. Michelle provided an update on the amazing work NVV is doing investing in community programs. In addition, she updated us on their Signature Programs and Napa Green. St. Helena Rotary feels fortunate to continue our excellent partnership with Napa Valley Vintners, and is grateful for all the good work Napa Vintners does for the people of Napa Valley.

January 8, 2019

Our first meeting for 2019 was held on Tuesday, January 8th at Native Sons Hall. This was a working meeting and served as our Transformation Project Implementation Kickoff. During the prior eighteen months (June 2017-December 2018), Club membership worked together, and with members of the community to develop a new vision for our organization in order to better serve the Greater St. Helena Community. We called this effort “Creating Our Preferred Future” and completed our new Strategic Plan in November 2018.

With the beginning of the new calendar year (2019), we are beginning the implementation of that plan. As we go forward, St. Helena Rotary will focus on three key initiatives.

They are: 1) The Speaker Program; 2) The Youth Initiative; and the 3) Customer Service Initiative.

Current President Ben Hill kicked off the working session after a wonderful lunch, and then we broke into working groups for the three initiatives. We are excited about our “Preferred New Future” as a vibrant and innovative community service organization, committed to serving the people of the Greater St. Helena Community!