Prior to the official start of the meeting several Rotarians and guests gathered for informal conversation on the Zoom platform. 
Among those arriving early was Dave Brauchler, a Rotarian from San Clemente, California by way of Lexington, Kentucky.  He wants to join a local Rotary club and is visiting several in the area to determine which club will be the best fit for him.  Those from Mesa West assured him the best fit would be Mesa West.  The motivation to move to our area was twofold - he wanted to escape California and their daughter and son-in-law and a new grandchild who was born last May live in the area. Dave is in the mortgage business.  He works from home, so can live anywhere.  Dave's wife's name is Lynn.  In visiting, it was learned that, like John Pennypacker, Dave was a military helicopter pilot - though Dave was a Marine and John was an Army pilot.
Wendell Jones let everyone know that Ray would not be attending the meeting.  He and Vickie had traveled to Ruidoso New Mexico for a pre-tax season getaway.
President Dan Coons called the meeting to order at Noon.  After welcoming everyone, he reminded everyone that the 2020-21 Rotary theme is "Rotary Opens Opportunities."  He then recited the Rotary Vision Statement:
Together we see a world where people unite and
take action to create lasting change - 
across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves.
Invocation - John Pennypacker
John began by saying, "All of us have been tested during this past year and some have been tested even more recently.  I offer this prayer as a means for us to take stock in ourselves and to be there to help others in their time of need.  The prayer, written by Rev. Austin Fleming - is the 
Push My Buttons Prayer
Lord, it's likely that sometime today
someone will push my buttons
challenge my good will
misread my intentions
tick me off
try my patience
rattle my cage
judge me in haste
test my kindness
or do all of the above...
Give me the grace I'll need at such times
to respond with patience
to trust and accept
to listen carefully
to reach out in peace
to be fair and just
to anticipate goodness 
in all my words and deeds...
I know this is a lot to ask, Lord, 
but I need your help to do for others 
as I'd have them do for me...
Rotary Minute - Shelly Romine
Shelly began by asking, "What do Rotarians Do?"  Then answered her question stating that 35,000 clubs work together to strive for peace through six areas of focus.  Working through The Rotary Foundation using grants which must align with one of the areas of focus.  Shelly chose to focus on growing local economies.  Projects in this area enhance economic community development, creating opportunities for decent and productive work for all ages.  We also strengthen entrepreneurs and community leaders - especially women - in impoverished communities. 
 Living in the US, it is hard to realize that nearly 800 million people live on less than $1.90 a day.  Rotarians are passionate about providing sustainable solutions to poverty.  Grants and volunteers work to provide training and access to well-paying jobs and financial management institutions.  This help enables individuals and communities to thrive financially and socially.
Projects have included
  • Solar power bringing light to off-the-grid homes on the Navajo Nation
  • Microcredit loans to enable entrepreneurs to become street vendors
  • Agricultural opportunities are expanded when individuals in rural communities can borrow money to buy livestock, plant corps, or get training in sustainable farming.
  • When Rotarians adopt a village, they use a multifaceted, coordinated strategy to break the cycle of poverty in extremely impoverished communities.
  • Rotarians get involved in human rights in situations like Tanzanians with albinism who experience stigma and superstition by helping them find safety and the ability make a living.
  • Some Rotary projects involve training such as working with Heifer International to teach farmers to extend their growing season and help residents eat healthier, local food.
AG Lee Holmes was welcomed to the meeting.  Visiting Rotarian Dave Brauchler was introduced using some of the information learned before the start of the meeting.
Happy Bucks with Greg Okonowski
  • Geoff White pledged $100 to the Guaymas project to celebrate his birthday.
  • Steve Ross pledged $74 to the sponsorship program to celebrate his upcoming birthday.
  • Allan Cady pledged $10 for spending New Years in Tubac, Arizona at a golf resort.  They then spent three nights in Tucson where Polly's great nephew was married on Sunday, January 3.  They had a great time.
  • Shelly Romine pledged $10.  She was happy her son had come to spend a week with them.  The day he left, her niece from Liberty Lake, Washington came for four days.  Her niece was in Arizona to meet her future inlaws, so there were some fun gatherings.
  • John Pennypacker said 2° in Virginia was a lot less comfortable than Mesa temperatures, but he enjoyed a good time with family - especially his two grandsons and granddaughter.
  • Pam Cohen pledged $5.  She was happy her son-in-law had his first COVID shot.  He is in the first tier.  Pam is in the third tier, but her daughter is in the second.
  • Chuck Flint pledged $10.  He told of an adventure with a friend in a private aircraft.  They flew to Seligman, a Route 66 jumping off place that is near and dear to Chuck because it was where they left the highway for the Havasu Falls expedition he led for Rotary Youth Exchange students for many years.  They walked from the airport to a restaurant which had a new look with the tables spaced out for social distancing.  From Seligman, they flew to Williams to refuel, then flew back to the Valley by way of Sedona.
  • Chris Krueger pledged $10.  She was happy to have enjoyed visits from a niece from Washington and a granddaughter from Omaha.
  • Don Boucher pledged $10.  He was happy to be attending the meeting.
  • Colleen Coons pledged $25 from each of the Coons' accounts.  She said Dan had received a pasta maker for Christmas.  She wants to host a Pasta cookoff at their home.
  • Dan Coons was happy to see so many at the meeting and was happy to have had a good time with Rotary friends at Pam's virtual holiday gathering.
  • Wendell Jones pledged $10 in honor of Vickie Smith who had taken Ray to New Mexico to get Ray out of Wendell's hair.
  • Chuck Flint pledged another $5 for a trip he had taken to Puerto Lobo, Mexico.  He tries to provide some holiday support for a little old lady there who he rents from when he goes down to fish.
  • Jeanie Morgan pledged $20.  She was happy about the final eleven days of 2020 when donations to The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona were nearly equal to those which were received between July 1 and December 20.  They still have a long way to go to reach their $300,000 fundraising goal this year, but now it is feeling a lot more within reach than it did a month ago.
  • Bob Jensen pledged $25 to the Guaymas fund honoring the announcement of Jim Schmidt's retirement he had received in the mail.  Jim explained that because he had turned 65 on his last birthday, he was honoring the terms of his partnership agreement by selling back his interest in the firm.  His retirement will allow him to continue with select activities at a pace that is more favorable to him.   Pam was surprised he was old enough to retire.
  • Allan Cady pledged $25 to Guaymas to honor Jim's retirement.
  • Lee Holmes was very happy to see the way Rotarians stepped in when COVID invaded the Salvation Army in Mesa, jeopardizing their holiday food and toy distribution project.  With the help from Rotarians from all over Mesa who jumped in to help, all those toys and food did get distributed.  He pledged $10 for that and another $10 because the Iowa State Cyclones had beat Oregon at the Fiesta Bowl.
  • Greg Okonowski pledged $50 to the Guaymas project in honor of his wife's birthday, making it clear that Laura was NOT 50 years old.  Before turning the meeting back over to President Dan, Greg noted that there were several club anniversaries in January.  The Goetzenbergers joined Mesa West four years ago.  Greg, himself, will mark 22 years as a Rotarian, topped by Dan Coons with 28 years, Pam Cohen with 29 years, and Warren Williamson with 31 years.
  • It looks like Mesa West will have another record-breaking year of bell ringing, but the numbers are not finalized yet.  
  • See a separate article in the January 13 Messenger to see the final numbers which were reported to bell-ringers by Don LaBarge.
Presidential Humor
President Dan said that because we are taking better care of ourselves, age 60 is the new 40.  The downside of that is that 9:00 PM is the new midnight.
The program - Investing in Uncertain Times was presented by Mesa West Rotary member Geoff White.
Geoff began his presentation stating he would be talking about three principles during his discussion:
  • The Stock Market is Efficient
  • The more risk you take, the greater the potential reward and the greater the potential loss
  • The asset classes you choose to use will have a greater impact  - "Keep an eye on the forest..."
He said that all the information that is known about a stock is already priced into that stock on the market.  He said one thing to look at is whether a particular stock is performing better or worse than the benchmark for that industry.  New information that becomes available about the stock or the industry will influence the market price.  Since there is no way to anticipate from one moment to the next what the next news will be, it is always a "random walk."
To make informed choices that will work in your favor, you need to understand your time horizon.  You also need to determine how much risk you are willing to take and understand the different risk levels so you can set realistic expectations.  You also need to understand that the higher the risk, the more volatility you will see in the market pricing.
The investment classes that you select will have a greater impact, and you will want to set target allocations within those classes:
  • Cash money markets
  • Fixed income bonds
  • Equities (stocks)
  • Alternatives - real estate, precious metals, etc.
To see the slides Geoff used during his presentation, CLICK HERE.  To see a sample client presentation, CLICK HERE.
Dave Brauchler asked about how concerned we should be about the effect of government borrowing and the national debt.  When will the piper have to be paid and what will trigger that pivotal event?  The response was that one possibility would be that we change the way government is budgeted.  Another possibility or both would be inflation.  As inflation takes effect, the value of dollars in the national debt are diminished.  It will be recognized as more of an issue if other nations start buying our debt.
Greg Okonowski asked about impact of a potential currency change.  Geoff indicated he did not feel he had the education to respond to that question.
Bob Jensen asked about the viability of using bit coin as an investment tool.  Geoff felt it was speculative at this point.  Geoff doesn't see it being used widely without protocols being put in place.
With regard to a question about how the election results would affect the economy/markets in the next few years, Geoff responded, "less than you think."  He said studies have proven that.  The actual affect, because we still live in a great country with checks and balances in place is that with democrats controlling all three - the presidency, senate and house - we may see different tactics, but similar outcomes.  He is not particularly concerned.  For him, it will be business as usual.  Corrections in the market are healthy.  We always grow back and beyond.
John Pennypacker asked if we were moving more to a cashless society.  Geoff responded "Absolutely," adding that COVID has driven us even further and faster that direction.
Geoff acknowledged that he and Don and Sharon Boucher are competitors and invited Don to participate in the discussion and share some thoughts of his own.
Colleen Coons had a question about how to find the right advisor for a family.  Don suggested reading an article, "The Seven Roles of an Advisor."
He said that while he and Sharon and Geoff work diligently to exemplify those roles in their individual financial planning practices, his experience is that this is not the case for all financial advisors.  The financial services industry is truly a trust and relationship based business and families seeking a financial advisory relationship should complete a personal due diligence process to meet and interview advisors with whom they share personal, professional and relationship commonalities.  Don said that when he entered the business in March 2000, an old Merrill Lynch broker told him, "You will ultimately attract like minded people, and these people will be the base of your clients."  Twenty years later, Don agrees with this assessment.
Don suggested two other links to interesting and relevant articles on the subject:
Geoff encouraged members to contact he or Don with any additional questions.
Before closing the meeting, President Dan encouraged Dave to visit our club again and congratulated Jim Schmidt on his retirement.