The mission of Community Health Care is "To provide the highest quality health care with compassionate and accessible service for all." Community Health Care is a private, non-profit organization created in 1987 when the clinical system moved from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department after several years of operation by that organization. The total history of the clinic system dates to 1969 when local physicians and concerned citizens, recognizing the problems of access to quality health care for the county's low-income and uninsured residents, established two volunteer clinics to help fill that void. They have done a wonderful job of improving the health of our community. Lunch & Laughter is a yearly fundraiser.
Fellow member of The Rotary Club of Tacoma #8, Rick Oldeburg asked me to join him for the event. I turned out to be a table captain. Paul Akiyama joined me at our table and he wasn't the only one surprised to find this out . . . or maybe he was just surprised when I set the envelope of pledges afire. By accident, by accident.
The table had a contingent of Rotarians and others interested in health. Lunch was a nice green salad with a grilled chicken breast. The lemony dressing was wonderful and worked well with the greens and the chicken. A beautiful strawberry and grapes accompanied the salad.
The event was being held at the Bi-Centennial Pavilion at the Murano Hotel in downtown Tacoma. I recognized a number of the wait staff from my days as Rotary president twenty years ago. We used to meet there at the then Sheraton Hotel.
The Master of Ceremonies for the event was long-time KING 5 News anchor Jean Enerson. The program was short and sweet, but still very informative.
David Flentge, President and CEO of Community Health Care was the lead-off speaker. He introduced Kyle Shimamoto, the Chairman of the Board. Together they gave a nice review of success and challenges in 2015. Next up were "faces of Community Health Care" Valerie Calvert, and Jo Bauer, ARNP who presented a glimpse into the work they do.
Last up was Dr. Jeffry Smith, the Medical Director. He presented a video and then asked for our support. He began by taking off some of his clothes. He was told he had to wear a tie, so that came off first and he stripped down to a comfortable tee-shirt and colorful shorts. He then put his tie back on around his forehead. This is my kind of guy!
I passed around envelopes and pens so the people at our table could make out their donation pledges. I gave a small testimonial about the free Rotary clinic we had run at PLU for several years and how our founder Jan Runbeck even appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Community Health Care was a supporter of our efforts. As I had already set the main envelope on fire, this seemed like a hot subject.
Although we had already had a little laughter at our table, the program turned to comedian Brad Upton for entertainment. This 25 year veteran comedian is one of the best in the business. He appeared recently at Caesar's Palace as part of the HBO Comedy Festival and is a past winner of the Las Vegas Comedy Festival. He is a frequent guest on The Bob & Tom Show and his CD is heard regularly on XM and SIRIUS Satellite Radio and is available on iTunes. Because of his ability to work clean and be hilariously funny, he is a favorite headliner for several of the major cruise lines and for corporate clients such as Microsoft, Nintendo, ATT Wireless, Pillsbury, BP Oil, Hertz, Motorola, Tyson Foods, Expedia and many, many more.
Brad mentioned that he was a widower and then checked his watch to confirm that it should be true by now. He mentioned appearing in Phoenix during August. He suggested it was a hundred and forty degrees. People always say, it's a dry heat. Brad answered, "So is fire." Brad gave an excellent interlude and had everyone laughing. It's a great way to end a fundraising program.
Jean Enerson provided a few closing comments and we were done. She is always pleasant. Even when she delivered bad news on TV, you had to love her. Nice lady.
The whole Lunch and Laughter event lasted just under an hour and a half and felt like it was less than an hour. That's high praise, indeed.
People gathered around David Flentge for questions and comments, and around Dr. Smith to laugh at his clothes. I passed long the envelope full of pledges to Rick and he walked out on top of the world.
Rick had even been on stage. I thought he was bowing to Brad Upton when he came on stage, but in reality Rick has moving the lectern out of Brad's way.
Rick did a great job all around. Everything worked like clock-work.
Of course after we were dismissed, my buddies started giving me a bad time. I had originally picked up the pledge envelope and then laid it back down on the table. Why were there votive candles on the table? I don't recall praying.
I had been talking with Evelyn Ryberg of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation as the flames were going, so I said, "Blondes always distract me." Smooth, so smooth.
I was happy to see John Spencer alive and well. He didn't give me counsel, but did poke me a time or two. Larry Gaffney is always there to help me at any awkward moment. We laugh at each other all the time. Rick was happy to point out the damage to the envelope. This is what friends are for, or course.
I was soon joined by Barry Benson, freshly returned from New York where he and his wife, Sharon had been enjoying Broadway shows. I was jealous.
This was an excellent fundraiser and I was happy to attend.