Members Showcase—Myron Burse and Bill Koen

Posted by on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 in Blog

Reported by Phil Thoden

President Dale Lowe called the first Rotary Club of Austin (RCA) meeting of 2017 to order. Nadir Abdeladim led the pledges and Michael Portman gave the invocation of the day. Jim Bryce led us in saying The Four Way Test. Bill Koen served as greeter and Carl Noble introduced the large number of guests and visitors.

District Governor Bruce Golden then came forward in recognition of late RCA member Jerry Ray who posthumously honored his wife, Betty, and four grandkids (Chance, Chase, Kimberly and Myles) with a Paul Harris Fellowship. Congratulations to the Rays and a special thank you to the late Jerry Ray! Next, Past District Governor Rich Kaye presented the RCA with a 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club Banner. Congratulations to everyone for your 100% support! Finally, Jack Mayo educated us about the history of The Rotary Foundation. Started in 1917 with $26.50 for the purpose of doing good in the world, the Foundation has received contributions totaling more than $4 billion!

Four Rotary Group Youth Exchange (GYE) students (Bryn, Emma, Isabelle and Maddison) from Perth, Australia, then came forward to share an interesting 20-minute presentation about their lives back home and fun facts about their country including local sporting games, foods and other amusing Aussie trivia. GYE Chair Diane Ventresca presented each student with an honorary RCA Red Badge and several Austin-related souvenirs. Thank you for your leadership Diane!

Next, Mary Reynolds introduced new member Sharon Golden, much to the surprise of her husband Bruce Golden. Congratulations Sharon, and welcome to our Club! Bruce then reminded us about the District Foundation Dinner coming up at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol on Saturday, February 4. Register now at or contact Bruce for more information.

Michael Abelson urged everyone to attend our Spring Membership Soiree/Recruitment Event at the Headliners Club scheduled on Tuesday, January 24 from 6:00 to 8:00pm. Reservations are required from this exclusive event so start thinking of who you might like to invite to learn more about RCA membership so we can add “30 more by the 24th”! Ann Graham is the person to contact to RSVP.

President Dale then announced the sad news about the loss of two former members, Past President Bert Hooper and William “Lee” Prentice. Also, he noted that Bill Baker has been battling pneumonia and asked everyone to sign a get well card for him.

Jim Bushnell introduced our first Member Showcase speaker, Myron Burse, who is the Founder and Executive Director of Clean Investments and has over 25 years of experience in treating substance abuse. Myron spoke from the heart about his purpose driven life, escape from addiction and commitment to helping others. He also holds a 9th degree black belt in karate.

After Myron, our second Member Showcase speaker, Bill Koen, spoke. He is a 3rd generation member of the RCA, and a 4th generation jeweler working for his 134 year old and family owned business, Joe Koen & Son Jewelers located on Congress Avenue in the heart of downtown Austin. Earlier, as everyone came in to the meeting, Bill had distributed a gemstone in a small plastic bag to each attendee. He revealed a big surprise to everyone that 2 of the bags contained a genuine diamond with a retail value of $1,250. Bill pledged that for any further work he performed on the diamonds or CZ, he would donate the store proceeds to our Rotary Club Foundation. Attendees eagerly lined up after the meeting to learn if their package contained a real diamond or simply a CZ (cubic zirconia)! As of press time, there was no announcement as to the lucky winners [ed. note: The two lucky winners were Doug Brown and Sherry Workman…CONGRATULATIONS!!]. Thank you, Bill, for this fun and exciting way to support the RCA Foundation!

Next week’s speaker will be Mike Miller with the Austin History Center.

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