Service Above Self

Interested in meeting new people, getting involved in the community, giving back to others, and having fun? Rotarians in 92024’s two clubs are doing just that, while they work to uphold the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.” Service efforts focus on a variety of worthwhile causes at home in Encinitas, but also expand far beyond to places like Mexico, Vietnam, Nepal, and Guatemala. Discover more as we speak with Encinitas Rotary Club President Jon Krassny and Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club President Paul Abel, Ph.D.

Q&A with Encinitas Rotary Club President Jon Krassny

Please give us a brief history of the Encinitas Rotary Club. When was it founded and by whom?
The Encinitas Rotary Club was founded in 1939 by Encinitas community leaders. We are comprised of local women and men who are invested in and take pride in providing service to our community. We continue to evolve to meet the challenges of a changing world.

What is the overall mission of the club and how do you go about fulfilling it?
Rotary is guided by the ideal of “Service Above Self.” We are People of Action. Our activities are designed to provide service to others, while promoting integrity, and advancing understanding, goodwill, and peace at the local, national, and international levels.

How did you personally become involved with Rotary?
I’m a longtime resident of Encinitas. Several years ago, I realized that I had never really involved myself in any community service activities. I did some online research and came across Rotary although I knew virtually nothing about the organization. I decided to just show up at an Encinitas Rotary lunch meeting and see what this was all about. I was surprised to see several people I already knew. I was welcomed, participated in a couple of meetings, and was hooked by the fellowship and the service projects.

What is your current role within the club? Please elaborate on your specific responsibilities.
I am currently the 41st President of the Encinitas Rotary Club. My role is to guide and motivate the club while ensuring that club members feel valuable, inspired, and connected to each other.

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? The most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect of what we do is the satisfaction of being able to help individuals and organizations that do incredible things. I especially enjoy local projects as they are more “hands on.”

As for challenges, coordinating the efforts of a completely volunteer organization can certainly have its issues.


At-A-Glance | Jon Krassny

Name: Jon Krassny
Community: Encinitas
Education: B.A. – Duke University; M.B.A. – SDSU
Family: Spouse – Lisa; adult children – Lauren and Drew
Hobbies and Interests: Tennis, golf, and soon-to-be first grandchild
Favorite Local Spots: Summer sunsets at Moonlight Beach…with a burrito, of course!


Encinitas Rotary Club

Name of Organization: Encinitas Rotary Club
President: Jon Krassny
Year Established: 1939
Website: www.encinitasrotary.org
Facebook: @EncinitasRotary
Email: info@encinitasrotary.org


Which communities does the Encinitas Rotary Club serve?
Primarily Encinitas and the surrounding area, but we are also involved in projects in Mexico, Vietnam, and Nepal.

How many members does the club currently have?
We have about 90 members, which is a good club size. We have enough people power to work on projects and to access resources in the community. At the same time, it’s feasible for us to get to know each other.

What kinds of activities is the club involved with?
Our activities vary from year to year. This year we will assist with building houses for families in need in Tijuana, support repair of domestic violence transitional housing units for the Community Resource Center, and help with Hands of Peace, an organization that brings Israeli, Palestinian, and American youth together to promote peaceful education and dialog. In conjunction with our sister Rotary club in Katmandu, we secured a Rotary International matching grant to upgrade the equipment and training at 10 rural medical clinics in Nepal. And, through our Wine & Food Festival, we distributed financial assistance to 17 local beneficiary organizations.

Can you elaborate on some of the projects you’ve worked on in the past?
Our annual Wine & Food Festival is an all-hands-on-deck club undertaking. The festival now attracts over 1,000 patrons each year. We have raised more than $1.2 million for our beneficiaries, ranging from Rancho Coastal Humane Society to the Amanda Post Foundation, American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Ecke YMCA, San Dieguito Heritage Museum, Encinitas Educational Foundation, North County Lifeline, and the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, among others.

We’ve volunteered at the San Diego Food Bank, assembled raised planter boxes for the Encinitas Community Garden, helped paint the Boys & Girls Club and the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation and implemented work parties at the Encinitas Historical Society’s Old School House and the San Dieguito Heritage Museum.

Our members help staff Encinitas events such as the 101 Street Fair and the Encinitas Oktoberfest. We participate in Rotary’s Leadership, Ethics, Aspiration and Determination Conference (LEAD) for eighth graders, the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards conference (RYLA) for 11th graders, and an engaging Model United Nations program. Additionally, Encinitas Rotary Club’s unique “Home Team” provides minor household maintenance and repair services to community senior citizens in need.

When and where does the club meet?
Each Wednesday from 12 to 1:30 p.m. at the Encinitas Elks Lodge at 1393 Windsor Rd., Cardiff. Each meeting features a speaker who provides insight into a wide range of topics of interest to our members and the community.

Are there any exciting projects, events, or programs coming up?
On Wednesday, Dec. 11, in conjunction with the Community Resource Center, the entire club will pack holiday food boxes for low income families.

How would interested community members get involved in the Encinitas Rotary Club? What are the criteria for membership?
Visit our website www.encinitasrotary.org, stop by a meeting, or contact our Membership Chair Terry Ahsing at terry.ahsing@gmail.com. We welcome People of Action who want to share their energy to serve others and give back to the community.

What can new members expect when joining the club?
Actually, a rousing good time. The Encinitas Rotary Club sheds any sense of stuffiness and still does incredible things. It’s a wonderful group of people. New members can expect to be involved in service projects, be embraced by like-minded members of the community, and enjoy healthy doses of fun, laughter, and compassion.

Is there anything else you’d like 92024 Magazine readers to know?
Many people are surprised to learn that for over 30 years Rotary International has played a key role in eradicating polio. Rotary has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries and contributed more than $1.8 billion toward eradicating the disease.

We’re 99.9% of the way there, but it’s crucial to continue the work. If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year. Goodbye polio, thanks Rotary.

What is Rotary? Rotary is a global network of over 35,000 clubs consisting of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change in their own communities and beyond.


Q&A with Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club President Paul Abel, Ph.D.

Please give us a brief history of the Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club. When was it founded and by whom?
The club was founded 35 years ago by a small group of people, including three who are still active members: Ralph Bettencourt, Andy Cesare, and Chuck DuVivier. Different from other Rotary clubs, our club is known for not taking ourselves too seriously, while at the same time being ranked as one of the most generous and impactful clubs in all of San Diego County in its charitable giving.

What is the overall mission of the club and how do you go about fulfilling it?
Formally our mission is: “Through social events, hands-on projects and financial support we deepen relationships and make a difference, while having fun.” Essentially, we apply our resources and talents to make the world a better place and whatever we do, we make it as enjoyable as possible.

How did you personally become involved with Rotary?
My first experience was in high school (in the late ‘80s in San Diego). Rotary sponsors clubs in local high schools to encourage kids to get involved in community service and learn leadership skills, called Interact Clubs (there is one at both La Costa Canyon and San Dieguito Academy).

When I moved back to Encinitas in 2010 I was looking for a Rotary club to join as a way to give back, meet new people, and get involved in the community. Online, I found the Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club held a Surf Day event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The event gives those kids (and their families) a chance to see what it’s like to surf. I’m a hack at surfing, but I love doing it.

That event got me interested in learning more about the club. My wife and I decided to join later that year, after attending a few lunch meetings. It is amazing how much we’ve learned about the local community and world, through the people, presenters, and programs in Rotary. We’ve built meaningful relationships with an amazing group of people.

What is your current role within the club? Please elaborate on your specific responsibilities.
My current role is club president (2019-2020). Essentially that means I get a chance to help steer the club to have a greater impact and to facilitate opportunities for members to experience new things.

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? The most challenging?
I’ll give you a fun example that checks both boxes. In September we held our most recent Surf Day event. It was designed to help children with developmental disabilities and their families.

I started with a cute kid (he must have been seven or eight), with the expectation of giving him a surfing experience. Nope. He had a different plan. He laughed at the surfboard, didn’t want to sit on it, pushed it away, and set out running straight into the ocean as fast as he could. He either didn’t know (or could care less) that humans can’t actually breathe underwater.

I spent an hour with him. We were having fun, but on his terms. The game turned into him running as fast as he could into the waves without any fear and me holding on to his rash guard to prevent drowning. We’d then bounce back to shore, full of smiles, then he would run a different direction full speed out to sea. My task: forget surfing, prevent drowning, and help him have fun. It was exhausting, unexpected, and unplanned, but he was having a blast.

Which communities does the Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club serve?
We don’t really have boundaries – we’ll help whenever and wherever we’re needed. Most of our local efforts involve partnering with charities right here in Encinitas and helping Encinitans. However, we also have international efforts we’re working on. Through Rotary we have the ability to join other clubs around the world to make an even greater impact. What we do and where we help really depends on the needs and members’ passions.

How many members does the club currently have?
Our club has about 45 members – men and women that vary widely in age and backgrounds with a strong desire to help the community. We are actively looking for new, like-minded individuals with a passion to help make a difference and address new challenges.

What kinds of activities is the club involved with?
There are a lot. Here is just a highlight of a few. We’re involved with helping children and adults who are food insecure (cooking/serving meals, donating and packing boxes of food), supporting the military and their families, helping local people with basic supplies, supporting youth in leadership programs and healthy living in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs, and a whole slew of projects that help with peace, education, and alleviating poverty abroad.

Can you elaborate on some of the projects you’ve worked on in the past?
I first joined a Rotary club when I was living in Oregon. With that Rotary club (Beaverton Rotary) I traveled to Uganda and learned firsthand how a small number of dedicated people can have a huge impact on the lives of others. One American living part-time in Kampala, Uganda started Beads for Life, a business giving local women an opportunity to make beaded bracelets out of paper. These bracelets are sold in the U.S. (www.beadforlife.org). That program has become an incredible success at helping improve the quality of life of many women in Kampala.

The Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club has worked on many international projects around the globe, including Uganda, South Sudan, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Belize, to name a few. We are well engaged in several ongoing projects in Mexico and are headed to Guatemala in January.


At-A-Glance | Paul Abel

Name: Paul Abel, Ph.D.
Community: San Diego County
Education: B.S. from UCLA; Ph.D. in psychology from University of Washington
Family: Wife – Cecile; son – Maxime; daughter – Emmanuelle; dog – Whiskey; cats – Snoopy and Charlie
Hobbies and Interests: Traveling, running, surfing, mentoring, and reading
Favorite Local Spots: Depends on the tide, swell direction, and wind conditions. I’d probably say Beacons when it’s uncrowded, warm, one hour before sunset, with four- to five-foot sets.


Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club

Name of Organization: Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club
President: Paul Abel, Ph.D.
Year Established: 1984
Website: www.encinitascoastalrotary.org
Facebook: @EncinitasCoastalRotaryClub
Instagram: @encinitascoastalrotary
Email: encinitascoastalrotary@gmail.com


When and where does the club meet?
Anyone who is interested to learn about and visit our club is welcome to our Tuesday lunch meetings. We meet at Tower 13 at 2633 S. Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. nearly every Tuesday (check our website first as some of our meetings are held offsite, or contact me directly at paullabel@outlook.com).

Are there any exciting projects, events, or programs coming up?
There are many; I’ll highlight one. We have an annual Golf Ball Drop, held at Encinitas Ranch Golf Course. This is a fun event, open to everyone in the community. Hundreds of golf balls are numbered and dropped from over 50 feet from a helicopter. Prizes are given for the “owners” of the balls closest to the hole. The proceeds from this event directly support the Navy SEAL Foundation, Community Resource Center, our local Boys & Girls Club, as well as internationally focused efforts, such as Hands of Peace and much needed educational scholarships to help children in Sinaloa, Mexico. We’re in the early stages of planning the next event and are looking for support and sponsors – please reach out if you can help!

You can see many of our upcoming events and activities on our website or social media platforms.

How would interested community members get involved in the Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club? What are the criteria for membership?
A good place to start would be to come listen to one of our lunch speakers, meet a few members, and/or get involved and participate in one of our events. The main criterion for membership is a desire and willingness to have a positive impact. There are some financial commitments that each member is asked to make; this helps us do some of what we do. For anyone interested, shoot me an email at paullabel@outlook.com or visit our website.

What can new members expect when joining the club?
New members can count on meeting people with a diversity of experience, backgrounds, and interests, a full calendar of events, parties, projects, and trips to choose from, getting to really know the community we live in, hearing stories from a wide range of speakers (some fun, some emotional, and many unforgettable), and having fun while doing good things that make a difference in our community and abroad.

Is there anything else you’d like 92024 Magazine readers to know?
There is another club in town also being interviewed for this publication. I would recommend that people interested in Rotary visit and compare the two clubs. Even though both clubs are doing great things, our cultures are very different.