Escondido Sunrise Rotary; Meeting to Serve our Community in Person and via Zoom; and “Mei Bautista owner of Humanitote in Escondido”
April 13th, 2023
As we all try to conduct our professional pursuits in new ways, it’s appropriate to remind ourselves of who we are as a Serving Organization… Our accomplishments, our fellowship and the reminder of our many successes is valuable as we seek new opportunities to serve…
We met again in person at the Chamber of Commerce… Great to enjoy the fellowship again and see all your smiling faces…
As a Club, we honored our nation with a salute to our Flag led by Past President Rich Agnew and, an invocation was offered by past President Jack Anderson……
Guests & Visitors:
Mei Bautista – Our speaker for this morning
Kendalyn White – Sister of Mayor Dane White
Now, some Sunrise Rotary member & spouse milestones…
Becky Lund 4/17
No Anniversaries this week
High 5’s and Announcements
Mike Dunlap talked about how he has taken over for Kevin Svetich with the duty of the Paul Harris Foundation. ESR is currently at over 11k in donations however we are a bit behind in the standings so a plea was given
Past President Chris Miller was in Sonoma with his beautiful wife Susy brought back a shot glass and wine but because President Tina wasn’t here, past President Rich Agnew got it (lucky Rich for standing in this morning)
Past President Rich Aeling read a thank you from the Escondido Police Officers Care Foundation for a $2k donation from ESR for their Cadet program. Also, a thank you from the Boys & Girls Club for our help with the Little Jumps Big Changes program
Past President Rich Agnew thanked everyone who brought food in for the food pantry drive at CSUSM
Dates To Remember
Mei Bautista was introduced by Mayor Dane White who had Mei as a guest speaker at his first Town Hall Meeting.  Mei is the owner of three unique boutiques in the Grand Ave area of downtown Escondido.  Her story is one filled with overcoming a life of challenges due to circumstances beyond her control, and a story of redemption and restoration.  She took the hardest challenges and turned them into a passion and compassion project serving those that are now going through similar experiences.
Mei grew up in Escondido with her mother, stepfather, and seven younger siblings.  They faced homelessness when she was nine years old as the result of her stepfather developing a drug addiction after being prescribed oxycontin after a back surgery.  He subsequently became addicted to heroin and could no longer work.  The family bounced around from living in their vehicle, at times relying on shelter from family members, and relying on assistance from InterFaith in Escondido.  At that young age, Mei stepped into the role of mother to her siblings as now her mother was unable to fully provide for their needs.  She found herself struggling in school as the result of needing to stay home to care for her siblings.  She graduated from high school on time and credits her supportive teachers from Orange Glen High School and Charter High School who were aware of her situation and went above and beyond to help her succeed.
Eventually social services stepped in and removed the children from the parents, placing them in the foster care system where they were eventually placed in different homes.  This season in her life was especially difficult emotionally for Mei.  At 18 years old, she was released from the foster care system and was once again facing homelessness.  She decided to move to the bay area and sought out an aunt who provided temporary shelter for her while Mei enrolled in college as a Pre-Med student.  
It was during this time that she attended a fashion designer’s brand relaunch and her life was forever impacted.  As a blogger, Mei wrote about the relaunch experience that made its way to the designer.  The designer reached out to her and offered to mentor Mei in the fashion design industry.  Mei believed she had found what she was truly most passionate about, however, she once again was faced with homelessness.
Mei lived in her vehicle and decided to move back to Escondido with a dream in her heart.  She subsequently reconnected with one of her siblings and her mother who was still homeless.  It was during this time that she learned her stepfather was living on the streets in downtown San Diego and still a heroin addict.  Mei decided to seek him out to let him know that she had forgiven him.  She spoke with several homeless people and met one that knew of her father’s whereabouts.  During their conversation, Mei noticed the individual carried all his belongings in a plastic bag.  The bag suddenly tore open and all of the individual’s belongings were scattered in the gutter and some falling into a sewer drain.  
After seeing how devastated he appeared, as he had lost what little he had, and understanding what that felt like, a seed was planted in her heart to serve the homeless in a way that would give them dignity and provide basic necessities.  That’s where the conception of providing sustainable bags for the homeless began.  Enter Humanitote - buy one give one.  Using her sewing skills she acquired at fashion school, she created bags that could withstand heavy items and reversible use.  Knowing that the homeless face the challenge of acquiring basic hygiene items, she decided she would create a program that would donate a Humanitote filled with personal hygiene items for every bag purchased. 
She eventually briefly reconnected with her stepfather and gave him the gift of love and forgiveness.  He remained in the streets until a fatal overdose took his life one year ago this month.  
She has since partnered with InterFaith in Escondido and has donated hundreds of handbags.  She credits customers who too want to make a difference and either buy one or more bags or donate for items to be purchased.
Her ultimate goal is to reach a global market and envisions approaching the Shark Tank show to invest in this global venture.  For now, she continues to surround herself with mentors that share the same passion, as well as mentor others who wish to either open their own shops or start a humanitarian project they are passionate about.
Mei, thank you for your compassionate heart and stepping into action to make a difference.  We wish you the best as you expand your reach and know that your actions are transformative to those who are ready to give up hope.  Because of you they feel seen, heard, understood, and cared for.  It was truly a pleasure having you as a guest speaker at The Sunrise Rotary Club.
Opportunity Drawing:
$983 in the pot and only 10 cards left!! Rich Aeling was the lucky ticket holder for both the pull and $30 lunch but sadly no joker
Next Week’s Meeting:
Closing: President Tina Pope rang the bell and closed out the meeting.
Will be in person and online at the Chamber of Commerce at 7:30 AM on April 20th .…
Thanks for Attending Today’s Meeting….
Support for our Escondido Community …
Our great community and the success of its businesses is all of our responsibilities… Support the businesses that are doing all they can to survive during this challenging time… Take out some chow… Be ready to support them when the economy begins working again…
The ‘Giving Arch’ on Grand Avenue and Centre City Parkway reminds us that Escondido is a caring, giving community…
To all; be safe and be well…. God Bless those men and women that carry the load at our medical facilities, and God Bless our first responders… May our governmental leaders be wise, thoughtful and smart as this pandemic is overtaken by our hard work and collective support…
Online Meetings:
Technical Support for Online Meetings:
Our meetings will begin as a hybrid setting with in-person and on-line opportunities…The meetings will be technically managed by Past President Richard Agnew… Thanks for that Richard… And, Richard is prepared to support all of our attempts at joining the on-line meetings… Look for his email with details and links to log on to the upcoming Zoom meetings…
Watch for emails defining the next meeting. The system works fine, dependent upon your technical support available through your PC or laptop…
SEE YOU SOON……  In Person or ONLINE… Next meeting; April 20th, 7:30 AM at the Chamber of Commerce…
Check President Tina’s email for the reminder…