This year’s program committee chair, Om Sukheenai, has been hard at work to come up with interesting, inspiring, fun, educational and relevant topics for our meetings. She welcomes your ideas. Last week, she tried a new format to help us connect better as members. We had the juxtaposition of a Classification Talk by a new member, Shannon Buckmaster, with a “Reprise Talk” from a long-time member, Auggie Gonzales.
To quote Auggie after Shannon’s talk, “Wow.” Both talks were amazing, presented different perspectives, and helped us to really get to know these two Rotarians.
Shannon began her talk with the lovely Mary Oliver poem, “The Journey.” And what a journey she has been on. “I was built for hard things,” she said, “and I wouldn’t trade mine for a gentler journey.”
Hers started with being born to a 15-year-old mom and 17-year-old dad, and not meeting her father until she was age 12. She said she was “in and out of foster care and experienced every possible type of abuse.”
However, she was always a top achiever in school, and had “angels, mentors and protectors” who helped her. At 16, she became a ward of the state of Washington.
At one point, she tried to force her mom into drug rehab. Her mom responded by telling her she had 30 minutes to pack up and get out.
She was able to turn to one of her angels, Carol, who took her in and taught her a lot…even how to apply for scholarships. She was accepted to George Fox.
“Here I was, someone who grew up without rules or curfews. I was a troublemaker. I kept the campus leaf-free with all the community service I did.”
At GFU, she met Dr. Paul Anderson, who kept asking her, “Where are you going to go to grad school?” With his help, she applied to top schools like Yale and Harvard, and decided on Yale.
“So I got married and went off to Connecticut and Yale.” And then surprises started hitting: she got pregnant, found out her husband was mentally ill and abusive, and her daughter was born prematurely.
She said she “played the biggest game of poker in my life. I sat down with one of the deans and asked for help.” It turned out they were able to help her and her daughter– with rent, health care, meals and other living expenses.
She was able to finish and accepted a teaching position back at GFU. “So, here I was, a professor at a dry campus in the morning and working to sustain myself and daughter as a bartender at night,” she smiled. It was while bartending that she met her current husband, Paul Buckmaster, and they have been married for 10 years. She taught until 2008, when her son Bennett was born. She wanted to spend more time at home with the kids, so in 2010 she started a side business to earn extra $$$. She joined Mary Kay Cosmetics, partly because she was aligned with the company philosophy of “Faith, first; family, second; career, third.”
Within 22 months of starting, she had earned the coveted “Pink Cadillac” for outstanding sales. She became a trainer for the company’s 650,00-strong U.S. sales force. Three years ago, Mary Kay sent out a film crew and interviewed her on her life story and condensed it to a three-minute Public Service Announcement. She said people still recognize her and come up to her to talk about its message of eradicating domestic violence.
A new part of her journey started last year when she felt called to start her own company– Shannon Buckmaster LLC, and embark on a speaking career. “I hope you hear that I am not bitter, not angry. I love my mother as my sister. She is giving me a gift. I have forgiven her and I am inspired. I stand for compassion, for resiliency, for self agency. I’m a survivor. I’m not a victim.” She hopes to use her talks to share that message, offer hope and inspire others.
Why would she join Rotary?
“Because I am already in alignment with the values of this organization. I am committed to using my talents to do good. I come to you as a partner and as a student…”
And we are so glad to have you, Shannon. We expect this next part of the journey will be amazing.
Auggie did his first Classification Talk in 1996 (there were only two people in the room last week who were present for that). He said that after joining Rotary back then, he was really impacted by one person in particular–Ed Stevens, the former president of George Fox. “Ed used to see good qualities in people and say, ‘Now there is someone you want on your team.'” And then Auggie pointed to Shannon.
He started with “10 Descriptors of Auggie” and asked us to guess which ones were true or false. Amazing things, like one of his great grandparents rode with Poncho Villa. Turned out each and every one of the them was true!
Auggie was born 64 years ago and is from Topponish, Washington. He has two older and two younger siblings, and lived a block away from his grandparents. He said, “Looking back, even though we were poor, I did not know it. My parents’ attitude overshadowed” their situation.
In 1970, he did not know he was going to college, either. University of Washington recruiters came to him, and he figured he would take advantage of a free trip to Seattle. Turns out he was accepted, and he said that out of 125 Hispanic students recruited, five graduated….and he was one. He got a B.S. in Social Welfare.
He went to work in Yakima as an in-house consultant, and then was recruited to work in LA. He said L.A. is a great place to work, but not to raise a family, so he came back to Portland and became a “Mr. Mom” for awhile. He relishes the time spent with his children.
He got interested in the health care field, and found an opportunity, in partnership with his brother-in-law, in the emerging area of “urgent care.” After researching possible locations for a clinic, Newberg was his top choice due to the feeling of community here.
When his brother-in-law had some financial challenges that impacted the business, he said “Rotarians helped me,” and he was able to purchase the business in its entirety.
He described what “urgent care” is and the services his clinic provides, from on-site lab work and x-rays to small surgical suites. “The cost is seven to ten times less than going to the emergency room,” he said. They can treat everything from a minor cold to a fracture, and also do drug screening.
“One of my personal life highlights is being a Rotarian, “Auggie said. It is gratifying to serve in a capacity of helping others. It’s a very important part of my life.”
About last week’s program, Om also wanted to add that the idea of combining two talks “was a trial run. From what I observed,” she said, “it was well accepted, even though it went a bit longer. Both speakers were outstanding!”
Sigh…..The last Tunes on Tuesday concert is this week. Come listen to the music of Hit Machine and enjoy the waning days of summer. 6:30pm on the 29th at the Cultural Center.
Speaking of the end of summer, the Early Birds Club will be doing Oktoberfest at the Cultural Center this year on Sept. 15 and 16.
The countdown is on for the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21. Our Peacebuilder Committee has lots planned. For the second year in a row, a “Random Acts of Kindness Day” is planned in Newberg, so please start thinking about a nice thing you can do that day to help make our community an even better place. The committee will help sponsor a new “Peace Poles Trail” walk on Saturday, Sept. 16 at noon, and will unveil its new “Peace Poles” brochure, to be distributed around the local area. Volunteers are needed to help with brochure distribution starting Wednesday, Sept. 20. Wineries, dental and doctor offices, public spaces….anywhere we can get approval to place them. If you have a location that would work, please contact Suzanne Miller.
Don’t forget the pig roast… a fun, casual get-together of local service clubs at the third annual Newberg Early Bird Rotary end-of-summer BBQ.
Dr. David Krier
At “The Grove”
18891 River Rd. NE, St. Paul
Thursday, September 7th
5 to 9pm
Please bring a side dish to share, a drink and a chair. Plates, tableware and cups provided. Look for the Rotary “wheel” sign at the entrance to the driveway.
And last but not least, Sept. 1 from 10am to 6pm is the special event at Avamere Newberg. Please contact Rachel Huber if you haven’t RSVP’d yet.
Denise Bacon brought new Newberg City Councilor from District 1, Matt Murray, as her guest. He has lived in Newberg for five years, and said he keeps busy restoring a 1910 Craftsman-style house.
Rick Kaufman joined us again….should be an official member of our club this week!
HERE AND THERE
Auggie mentioned that dates for the 2018 Guatemala dental trip have been announced…..It will be the first week of March.
The Auction Committee is planning to meet on Sept. 6th.
Last week, Al Herriges announced grandchild #6 is on the way….this week he announced #7 is, too. And Curt Walker announced his first great grandchild!