Posted on Feb 28, 2019
Congratulations to 2019 Rotary Peacemaker Award winner WRC (Women’s Resource Center), and to finalists Community Interface Services, Ginny Scharbarth of Kathy’s Legacy, club member and retired Marine Corps General David Brahms, and club member Linda Sundram of the Pendleton Community Service Fund.
The Women’s Resource Center, for 45 years a safe haven and facilitator of fresh starts for domestically abused women and their children, won the coveted 2019 Rotary Peacemaker Award Thursday night. WRC Development Director Lauren-Jane Stephenson was presented the award by Rotary Club of Carlsbad President Bill Jensen and Peacemaker Committee Director Jeff Schafer at the Hilton Garden Inn.  “We’ve dedicated ourselves to one of the most tragic problems in society, the crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Stephenson said. “We are so honored to win this award.”
 Other finalists included Community Interface Services, led by Executive Director Kim Larsen; Ginny Scharbarth of Kathy’s Legacy; attorney and retired Marine Corps General David Brahms, an advisor to eight U.S. Presidents and the Pentagon; and Linda Sundram of the Pendleton Community Service Fund. “This was one of the best presentations — and groups of finalists — that we’ve ever had,” Jensen said. “The personal stories shared as part of the nominees’ causes were so inspirational that club members were on the edge of their seats the entire meeting. Led by Jeff Schafer, the committee obviously gave thoughtful consideration to all involved.”  “The quality of our nominees was stellar, and reflected very well the particular areas of service that Rotary represents, most of all service above self,” Schafer added. “They raise awareness that there are a lot of people and organizations in the county you might not have heard about that are doing a lot to help others while expecting nothing in return. The breadth and depth of services and commitment of the organizations and individuals we had here tonight is really impressive.”
Each of the five finalists, selected from the original group of nominees, gave a five-minute summary of their organization’s activities, the people they serve, the degree of their outreach and how their service has benefited countless lives and the community at large. Schafer and his Peacemaker Committee gave awards to all, then after a piece by renowned concert pianist Violeta Petrova, awarded the Peacemaker Award.
 A further look at the winners:
            • Since 1974, WRC has helped 250,000 women and children victims of domestic violence on the road to safe, secure, productive lives. The organization has not only assisted victims with getting out of harm’s way, but restoring their dignity and empowering them with training and assistance in rebuilding their lives. Stephenson told the story of one client, Lily, who went from living in store parking lots with her children — and being assaulted by her estranged husband there while he tried to kidnap the kids — to attaining her Masters Degree in Nursing and supporting her family after WRC took her in. WRC combines housing, food, legal, medical, life skills, safety and family training to deliver peaceful lives from some of the most horrifying situations.
            • Community Interface Services has helped tens of thousands of developmentally and intellectually disabled adults since 1983 in a variety of ways. Now serving 1,500 clients with a 270-member staff, CIS offers assistance in housing, job training, securing jobs that pay living wages, life skills training, integrating into the community, making friends, and becoming valued members of society. CIS clients now work in jobs locally and throughout the County; some have gone beyond that. “We work with people dealing with things like cerebral palsy, autism, seizure disorders, social disorders, and other disabilities. We help our clients live up to their individual potential, the lives of their choosing,” Larsen said. “We work to increase their self-esteem, get them out of isolation and poverty.”
            • The night’s most touching speech came from Ginny Scharbarth, who started Kathy’s Legacy in 2014 after her 34-year-old daughter, Kathy, was murdered by her ex despite the issuance of a restraining order. That led to the passing of Kathy’s Law on a 68-0 vote in the State Legislature, which requires offenders to wear electronic bracelets after being issued restraining orders. The three core programs of Kathy’s Legacy protect women, children, and even pet victims of domestic violence. “Kathy wanted us to move forward, to help out all the other Kathys,” Scharbarth said. “She will be remembered for what she inspired.”
            • Linda Sundram of the Pendleton Community Service Fund spoke of a program that delivers furniture and household items to needy Marines and their families weekly. Marines fill a U-Haul truck with contributions from private citizens, then haul them to a warehouse for the weekly distribution. “Some think of Marines as people who want to kill, but truth be told, Marines want to keep the peace,” she said. “They are the people that built schools for 130,000 Afghani children who’d never been to school (Rotary contributed 3,000 pounds of school supplies.). Then they come home, and… if the three lowest ranked servicemen have families, their salary makes them eligible for welfare. That’s wrong. We’re helping them out.” Linda is a member of Carlsbad Rotary’s satellite club on Camp Pendleton.
            • Rick Borg accepted Dave Brahms’ award on behalf of the retired Marine Corps general, who is recovering from an illness. Borg spoke of Brahms’ tireless work as a USMC and civilian lawyer, his service in Vietnam, the position paper he wrote for President Nixon upon the return of the Vietnam POWs, and his advisory work for the Pentagon and all Presidents from Nixon through Obama. He also wrote Supreme Court briefs on conflict resolution. Gen. Brahms, a Carlsbad Rotary Club member, also has served as Santa Claus at the Carlsbad Village tree lighting ceremony and Brother Benno’s Kitchen.