Amy Lisewski – 6/30/15

Improvisation, the art of the extemporaneous.  The ability to create something out of what is at hand.  The ability to be optimistic in the mist of total confusion and bedlam.  The best job you will ever have because “I get to make up stuff!”, or so says Amy Lisewski, the Founder and Artistic Director of Finest City Improv.

Tom and AmyAmy visited with the Point Loma Optimist Club this morning.  Or, more accurately, Amy introduced us to Finest City Improv by getting our members involved in improvisational conversations and activities.  Finest City Improv is located at 4250 Louisiana Street, in the North Park community of San Diego.  Amy performs, teaches and lives improv.  She is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory and IO West.

“Improv is all about possibilities.  We use an empty stage, with maybe a chair,” she explained.  And then, “we create something out of nothing, because everything is possible and the feedback is always positive!”

Amy uses improv to coach employees at major San Diego companies, like GoPro, Green Flash and Kaiser Permanente.  “It is an art to teach a customer service representative how to say ‘no’, when the customer wants to hear ’yes’.  But it can be done!”  Improv can also be used for team building, employee relations, communication skills and igniting the passion in your employees.   Or, as part of an entertainment program at your business function, fund raiser or celebration.  It is a great way to entertain and engage your friends, business associates and employees.  Besides, who doesn’t want to “make stuff up?”

Thanks Amy!  We had a great time this morning

Dave McVean – 6/9/15

On September 28, 1542, the San Salvador sailed into San Diego Bay, under command of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.  He brought with him the first European explorers to visit the west coast of California.  They were cautiously welcomed by the local Kumeyaay Native Americans.  Today, a replica of the 200 ton, Spanish Galleon is nearing completion at the Spanish Landing Park, along North Harbor Drive.  The plan is to move the San Salvador to a barge within the next 30 days.  Then move the barge down to NASSCO where a large crane will set the ship afloat!

San SalvadorDave McVean is the former Chair of the Maritime Museum, an avid supporter, historian and volunteer for the San Salvador build, he provided the Optimist Group with an update on the San Salvador project.  Did you know the cargo of the San Salvador included about 150 crew members, numerous goats, chickens and two horses?  How did they fit all those people and animals in a ship that is 100 feet long and 24 feet wide?  The build operation has cost about $6.5 million in lumber, supplies and paid staff, and over 90,000 hours of donated labor.  There are more than 20 varieties of wood used in the construction of the vessel.  Some coming from as far away as Nigeria and Central America.

According to Dave, “San Salvador was the most powerful war ship on the west coast of the Americas when she set sail from Guatemala in 1539.  In 2015, she will be the most powerful educational tool on the West Coast.”  The San Salvador will offer insights into the history of San Diego and California, allowing teachers and students to explore the social, political, cultural and economic growth of the state.

We are all awaiting the successful launch of the San Salvador and wish to congratulate and thank the San Diego Maritime Museum on the near completion of this mighty venture.


Commodore Gene Doyle – 6/2/15


Submarine Squadron 11

United States Navy submarines, they run silent, deep, fast and are very powerful, everything that Jim Dennison’s golf game is not!  Luckily, Jim’s game is not patrolling the Pacific Ocean.  Commodore Gene Doyle, Commander of Submarine Squadron 11, was our guest speaker this morning.  He is the area’s senior operational submarine commander in charge of all San Diego based submarines.  His boats, support facilities and staff provide “Silent Service” capabilities that are essential in ensuring the US Navy’s undersea dominance.

Submarine Squadron 11 consists of 6 Los Angeles-class fast attack submarines, the floating dry dock ARCO and the Undersea Rescue Command.  In total, Captain Doyle oversees more than 110 officers and 820 enlisted personnel.  Captain Doyle took command of Submarine Squadron 11 on February 15, 2014.  His prior service at sea included 3 submarines before taking command of the USS Alexandria (SSN 757) in 2008.

Today’s US Navy utilizes four classes of submarines.  The largest boat, the Ohio-class ballistic missile boats are 560 feet in length! Most of these boats are 30 years into an expected service life of 42 years.   The most numerous boat, the Los Angeles-class, are also the oldest submarines in the fleet.  First commissioned in 1976, these boats are being phased out. The Seawolf-class was built as a faster, deeper, more powerful submarine first built in 1989.  A product of the Cold War defense plan, only three of these boats were built.  The newest member of the fleet is the Virginia-class fast attack submarine.  Entering service in 2004, these boats are innovative and designed for longer service life.

The priorities for today’s submarine fleet include a replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic missile boats, a program to increase the number of submarines in the fleet to a minimum of 48, to cover mission responsibilities from 2025-2035 and the design of new armament programs, specifically torpedoes.  Captain Doyle has his mission clearly defined and Submarine Squadron 11 is well prepared to meet its demands.

2015 Youth Appreciation day Winners – 5/26/15

Sometimes you just want to stand up and cheer!

Nine students from nine schools were selected by their teachers and principals to be recognized by the Point Loma Optimist Club at Youth Appreciation Day.  The day started with a celebratory breakfast at the San Diego Yacht Club, with family, friends and Club members.  These students were then recognized by their schools for contributing to a better school and classroom environment.  And, the Club recognized them with a framed certificate and $200 in cash for their optimism, leadership, initiative and responsibility.  We are very proud of our 2015 Youth Appreciation Day Winners!

The Point Loma Optimist Club salutes and congratulates:

Lily Eros of Warren Walker School for being a hard worker, a helper in the classroom and always having a smile on her face.

Ava Plummer of Ocean Beach Elementary for being an outstanding student, a role model and putting forth great effort with a positive attitude.

Jacqueline Riddle of Sunset View Elementary for being a volunteer, a leader, showing great effort and being an amazing student.

Max Feiler of Silver Gate Elementary for being a great helper in the classroom and excited about every challenge presented to him.

Michelle Medina of Cabrillo Elementary for expecting the best of herself, looking for the best in others and being a leader.

Madison Decker of Dewey Elementary for being a leader and role model while working hard and helping others.

Anissa Nunez of Loma Portal Elementary for being the best helper in the classroom, working through recess and lunch, and volunteering to write her own evaluation for her teacher!

Lydia Sandy of St. Charles Borromeo for her outstanding service to the school, for her artistic displays in dance and theatre, and her optimistic outlook.

Isaac Martinez of Explorer Elementary for being a friend to everyone he meets, for his sense of humor and generosity, and for his resilience and determination.


These are special young people.  They are the leaders of tomorrow, and today.  We appreciate their hard work, optimistic outlooks and responsible actions.  So, STAND UP and CHEER!

For a slideshow (with music and captions) of the event, click here.

Lt. Col. Louis M. “Dutch” Schotemeyer – 5/12/15

This morning Lt.Col. Louis M. “Dutch” Schotemeyer, USMC, Commanding Officer of 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, provided an overview of the training offered to new recruits and new Drill Sergeants here at MCRD and Camp Pendleton.

The Corps focuses on their recruiting efforts on high school juniors as potential recruits through a delayed entry program. This focus enhances a young man or woman’s chances of becoming a successful recruit through preparation during their high school senior year. Less than 5% of the new recruits entering basic training wash out of the school, usually for an unforeseen reason.

Basic training is a 63 day experience, detailed in its application and practices. Physical, mental and psychological training is interwoven through a series of programs designed to build the confidence, teamwork and knowledge of the new recruit. From the basic physical training programs, through
classroom and field training exercises, to close order drills and platoon activities, every Marine Recruit is trained first and foremost, to be an infantryman.

Training is split between MCRD and Camp Pendleton. Recruits are trained in self-defense, firearm usage and maintenance, field survival skills, physical conditioning, mental conditioning, first aid, teamwork and Marine Corps history and traditions. The training concludes with the Crucible Challenge. This is a 54 hour strength, conditioning, teamwork and knowledge based exercise. Recruits are allowed 3 meals and 4 hours of sleep while they complete 32 different events, during which they will cover 40 miles over the ground. The culmination event is a 3 mile hike, uphill, to the Emblem Ceremony, where they will be officially called “a Marine”. Then they get to hike 3 miles back to base.

Graduation follows for those successful recruits and their career in the US Marines begins.

Ooh Rah!

Major Neil Ruggiero – 5/5/15


Good morning, Optimists. This morning Major Neil Ruggiero, USMC, the Director of Public Affairs for
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego presented a report on the status and mission of the Corps in
today’s post 9/11 environment. The highlights of his presentation are outlined below.

The Marine Corps was established by Congress on November 10, 1775. “We were born in a bar!”

The Marine Corps is an integrated service providing mission response from air, sea and land.

The Corps is known for “centralized planning and decentralized execution. We have the ability to respond to any crisis, anytime, anywhere in the world.” The Marines are “forward deployed and forward engaged. Whether we bring an Expeditionary Unit (2-3,000 personnel), a Brigade (15-17,000 personnel) or a Battalion (20-90,000 personnel), we are always ready to go.”

Their missions range from Peace Keeping and Disaster Response, to First Strike, and Full Engagement.

Today’s Marine Corps:

Has 174,000 personnel,
With an “All Recruited” force,
Where the average age of a Marine is 19 years,
Uses 7% of the Dept. of Defense budget, and
Has 6% female personnel.



Gil Cabrera – 4/28/15

This morning, the PL Optimist Club heard from local attorney Gil Cabrera.

As a volunteer with The Make a Wish Foundation of San Diego, Gil Cabrera has helped 35 children with life threatening diseases make their wishes come true. “Can you imagine a more rewarding sensation then that?” he asked.

As a lawyer, Mr. Cabrera seeks to make the wishes of his clients come true. He focuses his legal skills on representing small and medium size businesses. “They generally come to me because they are being sued, or they need to sue someone,” he explained. “But, after that work, I try to assist these companies as a general counsel, so they can avoid law suits in the future.”

Mr. Cabrera has extended his services to the City of San Diego as well, serving as Co-
Chair on the San Diego Police Department Use of Force Task Force, a Commissioner on the San Diego Ethics Commission and a Board Member of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. “I believe in giving back to my community. I
believe my legal training is an asset for these groups and boards with whom I volunteer.”

Mr. Cabrera’s legal training comes by way of Boston College School of Law and the law firms of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps and Cooley Godward Kronish LLP. After 10 years with these major firms, handling large scale litigation matters, Mr.
Cabrera opened The Cabrera Firm in 2007.

Gil Cabrera is now considering the job of City Attorney for the City of San Diego. This open seat election will be held in 2016, and if Mr. Cabrera could get his wish, he would ask for your support and your vote. Good luck Gil!

Rafael Castellanos – 4/14/15

Did you know 400,000 automobiles are delivered through the Port of San Diego every year? That is 10% of the imported automobiles which enter the United States each year!

Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos, appointed by the City of San Diego, visited the Tuesday morning Optimists breakfast to give us an update on activities involving the Port of San Diego. The fast paced tour of San Diego Port projects included the obvious (like North Harbor Drive improvements, the Lane Field Park and hotel development and the Marriott Marquis remodel). He also discussed upcoming opportunities (like the new 535 acre Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan and the Airport Rental Car relocation).

Commissioner Castellanos then gave us an insight in the new Port Master Plan update. This process started over one year ago and has included a public and stakeholders visioning process and the creation of a Vision Statement and set of Guiding Principles to guide the Master Plan update. The goal for the update is a new Master Plan that will be fully approved by the CA Coastal Commission, while maintaining flexibility to entertain new ideas on Port land use.

An interesting item on today’s Port Commissioners Agenda is the potential acquisition of 29,000 acres of submerged lands by the Port, from the State Lands Commission. This area is also known as the “donut hole” in San Diego Bay. It includes the non-Port jurisdiction waterway and channel of San Diego Bay. The benefit to the Port is the ability to deal exclusively with Port tenants wishing to enlarge their current operations and to expand environmental mitigation lands. This process has just begun with the public and the State.

Have you noticed the Dole Banana ship in the harbor? It arrives on Sunday and leaves on Tuesday. Almost 2 billion bananas are delivered every year through San Diego. That is over 500 containers per week off-loaded, which results in 100 containers per week being trucked out of the Tenth Avenue Terminal complex. Last week, a Princess Cruise boat was closely following the Dole Banana boat out of the harbor … there’s gotta be a great caption for that picture!

Denise Vetter – 4/7/15

Have you dialed back your watering times for your landscape irrigation? Governor Brown has just called for 25% mandatory water conservation in the wake of an ongoing 4 year drought. Denise Vetter, the Sr. Public Information Officer from the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), shared valuable information with s this morning regarding San Diego’s water usage and the need for conservation. The good news is San Diego has been actively pursuing water conservation over the past 4 years and is in a better condition to meet this conservation requirement than many other water agencies.

“In 1990, San Diego used 641k ac-ft of water for a population of 2.4 million people,” she told us. (This equates to approximately 240 gallons per person per day.) “In 2014, San Diego used 566k ac-ft and the population grew to 3.1 million,” she continued. (This water use is equivalent to 163 gallons per person per day, a 32% reduction!) But the goal is still another 10% reduction, to get us in line with a 25% overall reduction from our 2013 water usage the Governor has mandated.

“After 17 consecutive months of above normal temperatures, our water supplies are stressed to the limits. We need new sources and more conservation,” according to Mrs. Vetter. The new desalination plant in Carlsbad will add about 56,000 ac-ft per year, when it comes on line in late 2015. This equates to about 7% of the County’s need. The City of San Diego Pure Water program could add as much as 33,000 ac-ft per year, once distribution systems and treatment facilities are upgraded by 2020. These are good additions, but they still leave us thirsting for more conservation.

So, turn off you faucet while brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers. Replace your water guzzling lawn with artificial turf or low water use, native vegetation. Remember, every drop saved is important!

Robert Dean – 3/31/15

“Vista Hill is all about serving people: the individuals; families; and communities of San Diego.” Robert Dean is the Chief Executive Officer, of this $26million community based organization providing mental health and addiction services to residents of San Diego County.

They offer over 25 different programs for children and adults. They are funded by public entities like school districts, County and State agencies. According to Mr. Dean, “94% of our budget comes from ‘fee for service’ programs, and 6% comes from public fundraising programs.” As a service provider for public agencies, Vista Hill cannot turn away a patient. “Our biggest challenge is retention of clients for services and treatments,” he told us. “Half our clients don’t return after our first encounter. That is the sad truth.”

Vista Hill is currently working with about half the school districts in the County. Their focus is on behavioral problems, addiction issues and truancy, usually related to the behavior or addiction challenge. “If we can get a child to complete 12-24 sessions with our therapists, we can reverse their truancy problems and raise their GPA by a half of a point in one semester!”

Vista Hill sees over 20,000 individuals each year. They provide comprehensive treatment programs for the individual and their family. And, their services continue beyond the initial treatment, providing follow-up and maintenance programs to assist patients with long term success.