Posted by Editor: FDBobko
June 2, 2022 - 
Barb Nielson - Shop Talk 
Article by Stacy Trevenon      
Photos by EJ Dieterle
After asking everyone to put cell phones on mute, Joe Brennan called for the first order of business: who here today has birthdays in May or June? Noting that we’d celebrate those birthdays following that day’s speaker, Joe said that for those lucky birthday folks he had cake and ice cream on hand.
He then moved on to the speaker, a shop talk by new member Barb Nielsen, who has had “a long and magnanimous” career in medicine, “helping many of you,” noting that she “does stand up to a challenge,” and had her stand up so that everyone can see her from home. 
Barb said that when Joe asked her to speak, she was nervous, but realized she was among friends. She had had more than 26 jobs over time, but for this talk, will focus on the jobs that meant a lot to her. She had started working at 13 as a babysitter, and when she turned 16 she moved to Seattle. She worked numerous jobs while going to school and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in comparative religion, then went on to nursing school. She worked three jobs during that time, and had little time for anything else; as she put herself through school. 
Her first job out of nursing school was at Children’s Hospital in Seattle in the oncology/surgical unit. She recalled it was a “tough job” but she learned “a lot of lessons”. The most important lesson she learned was that kids don’t really look forward to tomorrow, but they also don’t look back on yesterday. In response she took care of their pain and their needs; the parents, she said, really were her patients, rather than the kids. Fortunately, she was living with a woman in a house up in the Green Lake District who traveled all the time, and so, since the Children’s Hospital had people coming from all over the Northwest, she opened her home. They weren’t expected to stay in hotels. “I had several families that took advantage of that,” she said.
"So I worked at that job for a couple of years, and then got the grandiose idea of going to live in Canada or on the East Coast; it’s called the fresh-air conduit. … still in place there …."  She mentioned staying with some families,  some of whom had lost kids.  The first one was in Idaho. A family there threw a big party for her, and then stayed with another family in Montana. Going cross-country, she spoke of sleeping in the back of her car or in hospital parking lots, or behind churches. She spoke of the many people she met along the way. 
She was still thinking of going to Canada and driving up the East Coast. She told of “shocking” experiences in New York working a camp job with boys age 8 to 12, with a staff of 18 to 22 young men all from New York City. The kids, she said, had never been outside their neighborhoods. Some of them had dads who had been shot while they were at camp; the counselors had ideas about “gang wars.”
She told about a Fourth of July, when she was a camp nurse in a mountainous terrain. Three of the youth got into their counselors’ personal belongings, found some pills and took them internally, and were brought to the clinic in a rainstorm. She called 911 and the ambulance was en route; but she started going down the mountain with the three kids and counselors in a car, trying to keep the kids awake. She was in the camp car, which had no defroster, in pouring rain with windows open, and the car she was in hit another car head-on. But the ambulance arrived, they successfully got the kids’ stomachs pumped, and all went well with that incident. But then her license was taken away, and she had to hire an attorney to help her get it back.
The most interesting thing about this camp, she went on, was that there were four young men from Ireland who belonged to the IRA who had lost friends to bombs and who came to America with green cards.  She shared her experiences of talking with them.
Then she went back to Seattle and worked at the University of Washington in a 75-bed (a very large) ICU. She decided to move to California to get some sunshine and wound up in Santa Cruz, but only lasted three weeks because this was so different from Washington. In Washington, as a nurse, you were one-on-one with the babies; at Stanford, the residents were the only ones who could interact with the babies. She lasted three weeks there and then got a job at Mills Hospital, where she helped open up the nursing services. And fate was waiting for her here -  her boss was married to someone who knew someone great so set her up with on a blind date; and they’ve been married for 38 years. 
She transferred to Kaiser, SF, where she worked another night shift, where she met some wonderful people. But there was another person who stood out for her, an adopted son of Jim Jones of Jonestown. She told of this young man, Jimmy, who with his brothers was in England when he got a phone call from their adopted father Jim Jones, who earlier had sent them a packet of Kool-Aid, and now informed him that tonight was the night they were supposed to take it. He and his seven brothers had gotten together as a family and decided against doing so, but they returned to Jonestown the next day to find the carnage. He has since written a couple of books on it, and will often go on NPR, she said. 
Fast forward – she started to work as a vaccine research nurse for Kaiser, and opened 13 vaccine clinics in different locations, and orient the nurses, (she had experience working with people in different locales including around California) including the San Mateo County mobile van.  She came to know Carol Young-Holt, who was very well known in health care on the South Coast and who had a grant to open a clinic in Pescadero, and asked her to help.
She was also asked to work at Cunha Intermediate school, and ended up gathering data and writing grants for the school and an MOU for the Boys and Girls Club, (which allowed them to get portables), the breakfast club, and outreach for Latino families,  of which she calls herself “the most proud.” 
That pretty well sums up her career, she said; noting that it ends on a low note in that with Stanford she was not as connected with patients as she would have liked but, in a nod to poet Robert Frost, she took the road less traveled, which made all the difference. That brought resounding applause. Joe asked he if she would mind a few questions, and she happily agreed.
 Bill Johnston asked, could she talk a little about what her life is like now? She said she feels blessed to be part of the community. She said her mom taught her something. Her mom was a single parent for most of Barb’s growing up, and she was a nurse as well.  While she would do anything for her four children, there were two things you couldn’t impose on her: she had her hair done once a week (and you couldn’t interrupt that), and she was a dedicated volunteer and passed that passion on to her children. Barb started volunteering at 11 and is now starting a program at the Boys and Girls Club. Bill asked, what does she do for fun? Barb said, she swims, and goes walking, and keeps well connected with her community.
Asked where did she find her courage to do some of the pretty mind-boggling things she’d done as a young teen, she cited her father. He had been in a concentration camp, and he was also the navigator on a plane that had crashed and he was the lone survivor. He did not dwell on that story with his family, she said, but he also battled addiction and homelessness in later years. Her mother raised the children. One brother is a federal judge. She spoke of practicing her Spanish on a friend who practiced English on her. 
Club Meeting - June 2, 2022
Pledge of Allegiance - Kevin O’Brien led the Pledge of Allegiance. 
Inspirational Thought - Rose Serdy provided several inspirational thoughts to start the meeting, first touching on the gun violence we have seen too much of lately. For that, she zeroed in on Nelson Mandela, touching on the strife among ourselves that wastes our energy and destroys our unity, his message to those involved in this battle of brother against brother is this, take your guns, take your knives and throw them into the sea. 
From there she moved on to a grab bag of jewels for thought: A smile is a language even a baby understands. It costs nothing and creates much, it happens in a flash but the memory of it may last forever. Keep on smiling.
And another, regarding our children : Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such stiving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them, for the extraordinary will take care of itself.
Guests - Bill called for acknowledging the fact the Paul McReynolds was in the house, which brought whoops and applause from all present. 
Home improvement, and garden cleanup activities, run by the Senior center, are coming up Saturday. Joe mentioned that a number of Rotarians have signed up, and that it starts at 8:15 at Canada Cove, clarified  by Susan Kealey. 
Last Saturday, four Rotarians went to Golden Gate National Cemetery planted flags on the graves of veterans. Rose Serdy, Ginger Minoletti, Heather Bodmann and Joe Brennan planted 137,645 flags in less than three hours. The Scouts will pick them up this Saturday. 
The Relay for Life fundraiser will take place Thursday, June 9, at Founders’ Title, and auction items are still needed. Come out and have a nice time in the parking lot, says Joe. But among the items that will be auctioned is a painting titled “I Love Chocolate,” which was shown off at this meeting. It was donated years ago by Rosi Fontana and lovingly kept since then by Warren in his office, until June 9’s Relay for Life event. 
Rose urged everyone to come to the wine-tasting at Barterra Winery tonight!!
Happy/Crappy News yescrying - Soapbox
Mitone and Ginger are both celebrating birthdays on June 29 and everyone lustily sang Happy Birthday for that occasion.
Not forgotten was Kevin’s latest grandchild – a perfect time to initiate the newest grandchild to that familiar tune!
Charise thanked all the Rotarians who conducted mock interviews in this year’s Life Skills at the High School. She offered her thoughts on this year’s graduates, who were forced to skip a year due to Covid, and were yet facing graduation anyway. “There are some amazing kids graduating from our high school ,” she said.
Kevin O’Brien said that in a twist of tradition, his grandson was asked by a young woman to go to the prom this year, at Oracle in San Francisco.
Ginger has planned a trip to Sicily, and Rome, taking in Mt. Aetna, via mountain bike, over a couple of weeks. 
Ginger’s husband Paul will celebrate a milestone birthday tomorrow.
For dessert, Rotarians enjoyed a treat of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, courtesy of President Joe.
Pres. Joe's Weekly 'States of the Union Quiz - ​​​​​​​ARKANSAS
The featured state was Arkansas. We heard about what a huge rice producer it is. It boasted its first woman senator in 1932, and it is known as the “toothpick state”. Franklin Delano Roosevelt went there seeking a cure for polio. It has fabulous hot springs. Hilary Clinton taught law at the University of Arkensas. It’s called the Watermelon Capital of the World. Johnny Cash has a infamous history there, of being hit in private places by a misdirected game shot.
Marble Draw coolsadwink Rose got the magic ticket, but unfortunately pulled the green marble.
President Joe thanked the crowd and ended the meeting.