Posted by Diane Gallegos on Nov 06, 2017
Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
Date: 11/6/2017
Today’s Program: Jim Leonard presenting “A Rescuer’s Story of Courage and Love”
Meeting Called to order: President Christy Peters @ 12:20 pm
  • Invocation by: Jay Burney
  • Pledge of Allegiance led by: Chuck Fowler
  • Song: America the Beautiful, led by Don Chalmers
  • Four Way Test led by: Lynn Heinhold
Visiting Rotarians:
None attending
Guest of Rotarians:
  • Judy Jacobs (Tore Nielson’s daughter)
  • Neil Vroegop (neighbor of Gerry Alexander)
  • Heather Antanaitis (Family Education and Support Center)
  • Pat Carlson (Warren Carlson’s wife)
  • Doug Balz (Dr. Jim Balz’s brother)
  • Tina Cohen (Al Cohen's wife)
  • Andrea Heisel (Evergreen Media Services)
  • Jim and Linnea Bremner, and Inge Marcus  (guests of Phyllis Mandel)
Happy Bucks – hosted by Dan Lehuta
  • Heidi Schaiberger - Happy to be having an exhibition of her artwork at Gallery Boom
  • Christy Peters – Happy about the results of the Iowa game!
  • Exchange Student Eve - Had a great birthday
  • Exchange Student Peggy- Looking forward to a trip to Hawaii with her host family
  • Jim Balz - Announced that Olympia High School is sponsoring the Veteran’s Day event again this year with the Interact Club hosting the reception following the event.
Following Happy Bucks all veterans were asked to stand to be recognized and thanked for their service.
Terry Anderson filled in as auctioneer for Steve Bean. Scot Whitney, managing artistic director at Harlequin Productions gave a preview of Season 2018. There is something for everyone in the 2018 Season – drama, music and comedy.
The Harlequin tickets sold for $210 to one of the guests. A bid of $51 won the two bags of smoked Coho salmon and Steelhead.
Making a Difference:
President Christy Peters honored Dr. Jim Balz for his work with the growing Interact Club. Scot Whitney was also honored for his work in the arts and the donation of tickets for our auctions.
John Hough announced that November is Rotary Foundation Month. John reviewed the Foundation workings.
No inductions today
Phyllis Mandel introduced Rotarian Jim Leonard who presented “A Rescuers Story of Courage and Love.”
Rotarians received the following description of Jim’s presentation prior to the meeting: Jim's mother, Nell Vermey, had everything going for her.  At twenty-three she was as bright as she was beautiful.  Her wealthy family provided an enviable lifestyle, and she was in love with a handsome young Rhodes Scholar named Nelson, who had come from New York to study chemistry at Oxford.  As World War II broke out, the U.S. Rhodes scholars were called home.  Nelson begged her to marry and go with him.  She was a free spirit.  She also felt she was too young and couldn’t give up her studies or her independence.  On their last day together, they promised to eventually marry, but he boarded a ship for the United States alone...

This fascinating program took us on a very personal journey through the lives of two different families during the German occupation of the Netherlands in WWII. The Vermey family courageously sheltered different types of people in their very large family home in Holland.  Some were simply fleeing from the eastern border with Germany, there were also Jews awaiting false identity papers, and sometimes the Vermey family hid members of the Dutch underground. 

In April 1942, Kees Hoekstra and Eline Dresden (who was Jewish) became parents of a baby boy named Dan, but they purposefully didn't register his birth in order to protect him.  Eline and her parents were all afraid of being sent to concentration camps. Through a friend of her father, Kees and Eline learned of a Protestant Dutch family willing to hide Daniel, and indeed the Vermey family (and especially their second youngest daughter Nell) agreed to adopt Daniel, stating that his birth mother had died in childbirth in Jakarta. No one ever challenged that story, and Nell Vermey raised Dan Hoekstra as if he were her own child for the duration of the war.  Eline's story is detailed in a book, Wishing Upon a Star: A Tale of the Holocaust and Hope, (link HERE at Amazon).  In April 1943, the Nazis ordered Eline and her parents to board a deportation transport to a German internment camp.  Eline and her parents survived those horrific conditions at Camp Westerbork until it was finally liberated by Canadian troops on April 12, 1945.

Eline’s son Daniel lived with Nell Vermey until the end of the war (more than three years later), and by then he and his "adoptive" family had bonded deeply.  On May 10, 1945, Dan's mother and father appeared on the Vermey doorstep unannounced, asking for their boy.  Obviously, this was very difficult for everyone; especially for Dan since he didn't remember his birth mother at all, and for Nell because she had to give him up.  It took years for Eline and her son to come to terms with their past, but they did.  Today, Dan and his mother both live in Portland.

To borrow a quote from Eline's book, “The Nazi’s were so methodical in their extermination of the whole race. We’re here to remember. Never again.”

Mr. Snappy:
Peter Brennan won a Rotary District Recipe Book and $25 McDonalds gift certificate, donated by Caroline Manger
Meeting Adjourned: 1:30pm by President Christy Peters
Submitted By: Diane Gallegos