Friday Feb 28, 2014

What is it in this life that you Can't Not Do?

Paul Shoemaker

Executive Connector Social Venture Partners Seattle

Scribe: Colleen Turner Editor: Jim Kindsvater

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In this issue

Paul Shoemaker speaks about philanthropic giving and finding a deeper purpose in life.   Imagine Scholar Program.   BBRC’s Dine Around. Promoting the Bellevue 10K.  Western Safari Trivia.

Speaker Program

Paul Shoemaker opened his presentation by asking us the following question:  What is it in your life that you can’t not do?

Social Venture Partners (SVP) connects and engages individuals to help them make the greatest impact with their time and philanthropic giving.  Paul left his position as Group Manager for Worldwide Operations for Microsoft in 1998 and founded SVP because he was seeking a deeper sense of purpose.

Paul told us stories about three SVP partners who have had a positive impact on people’s lives.

Paul told us the story of Kerry McClenahan, who became a passionate advocate for ensuring every child in our community arrives at kindergarten ready to succeed after discovering that over one-third of kindergartners show up to class two years behind in development.   Since Kerry has been working on her initiative to ensure that every kindergartner arrives at class with an equal chance to learn, hundreds of kids have had a much better start in school.

Paul then talked about Paul Gross, whose son William was born 10 weeks prematurely and suffered from Hydrocephalus, an excessive accumulation of water on the brain that can cause severe brain damage or death if not treated immediately.  Year after year, the shunt implanted in William’s brain had to be replaced.

Paul discovered that the shunt had the second highest failure rate of any medically implanted device.  Determined to prevent others from suffering the same fate as William, Paul decided that he needed to change the treatment and research both locally and nationally.  This was a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  After years of pushing the rock uphill, his organization, Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network, is now the largest private funder of hydrocephalus research.

Paul’s third story was about Lisa Chin, who joined Social Venture Partners after retiring from Amazon – exhausted and craving something different.    She wasn’t sure what, but she knew it involved giving back.  She dove deep at Social Venture Partners.  She attended every workshop, accepted every volunteer opportunity and developed a giving strategy.   Today, Lisa is the Executive Director of Year Up Seattle, helping young urban adults reach their full potential.

Paul spoke about how a small group of Rotarians 36 years ago asked what they couldn’t not do and the answer was to eradicate polio.  In 1978, that seemed an insurmountable goal.   Today, there are only three countries where people are suffering from polio.    Paul then quoted Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

If you can’t yet answer the question, What is it in your life that you can’t not do?, start by answering these three questions:

  1. What are you fundamentally optimistic about in the world?
  2. What are you willing to go to hard places to do?
  3. What connects to who you are at your core?

How you live your life matters.

Club business

Scott Sadler called the meeting to order at 7:30am.

Invocation and Introduction of Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Alan Pratt gave the Invocation and John Cherry introduced visiting Rotarians and guests.

Imagine Scholar Program

Mike Ralph spoke briefly about the Club’s involvement with the Imagine Scholar Program, which is an after-school mentorship program for talented, disadvantaged youth from the Nkomazi region of South Africa.  We are sponsoring a student named Enky, who wrote a postcard expressing her appreciation for BBRC’s support.  Enky likes poetry and collective storytelling.

Dine Around

Tanya Franzen-Garrett asked everyone to indicate on a sign-up sheet whether they prefer to be a host or guest for our next Dine Around and whether they prefer the night of March 28, 29 or 30.  Tanya explained that the Dine Around was one the first social events she attended shortly after joining the Club and she thought it was a wonderful way to get to know Club members and their spouses.  The host prepares the entrée while the guests bring the side dishes, dessert and wine.

Bellevue 10K

Mike Ralph, Wendi Fischer and Dick Brown kicked off a skit to promote the Bellevue 10K, which is happening on Sunday, April 27.   Mike was wearing a Bellevue 10K shirt and showed us the back of it with all of the sponsors’ logos.  If you want your logo on the shirt, you must commit to a sponsorship within the next few days.

Wendi called Kate Fischer, Jason Cherney, Carmela Ramaglia, Steve Goldfarb, Sheldon Sweeney and Paul Chapman to the front of the room.  She proceeded to give each of them a card listing a task which needs to be done for the Bellevue 10K to be successful:

  • Recruit 20 volunteers
  • Recruit volunteers and runners from Newport High
  • Load equipment
  • Park set-up
  • Help on race day
  • Recruit booth sponsors

Let Mike, Wendi or Dick know if you have any leads for sponsors.

Dick Brown asked everyone to sign up to volunteer at   Once you’re on the site, scroll down to the We Need Volunteers button.  (It’s easy – I just did it!)

Jim Gordon mentioned the Marines were coming again this year.


  1. Morris Kremen reminded us about our monthly Rotary First Harvest event scheduled for March 8.
  2. Christine Rose announced that the Flex Club will be meeting at the Koral in the Bellevue Hyatt on Wednesday, March 5.
  3. John Schwager announced that the sale of Norm Johnson’s Rotary accessories raised $205 for the Club.
  4. Joellen Monson invited Club members to join her at Childhaven’s Celebration Luncheon on Tuesday, March 11 at the Washington State Convention Center.  The keynote speaker is Patty Duke.

Western Safari Trivia

Colleen Turner and Paul Chapman teamed up to raise money for our exchange student’s Western Safari trip with a game of Western Safari Trivia.  They asked amusing questions about the places our exchange student will be visiting and about sites along the route.    Amazingly enough, a couple of people actually knew the answer to one of these obscure questions.   In the end, we raised $69.thought for the week

Thought for the week

“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”  George W. Bush.



About the Speaker

Paul Shoemaker is Social Venture Partners’ Executive Connector. Anyone who has met him knows why. If you’re out to change the world, he is there to connect you to people and organizations on the same journey.

Paul is committed to work in the community, serving on the boards of several organizations. He is the Founding President of Social Venture Partners International and currently sits on their Board of Directors, as well as the Board of the Microsoft Alumni Foundation and Partners Our Children.

Paul holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from the University of Texas and a BBA in Accounting from Iowa State University. Paul enjoys life with this wife and three sons and is an avid sports fan, especially of his own kids’ teams. He enjoys his hobby as a high school basketball referee.