Written by President Rose
This year our club lost our Gentle Giant Steve Barnett. Steve Loved Rotary, he was a Past President 1997 -1998. He and his wife Lynn went on an international trip to Guyana to give polio drops to the children and he was the leader of our bad joke contest. Steve and I share a Birthday, June 4th but soon after I joined Rotary I realized we shared something else, a heart for people, especially people in the shadows of our community. The first community service project we did together was “Feed the Hungry.” Our club would purchase meat loaf gravy and all the fixin’s from then Lucia’s and take it to the Free dining room. Our guests ranged from families that were struggling or just need a hot meal before the end of the month to the homeless and marginal adults. Steve and Lynn were always there. On December 29, 2016 Steve and Lynn celebrated their 55th Wedding anniversary at the Free Dining Room with their Rotary Family serving others.
Steve was instrumental in organizing our Pizza with Santa project. Long story short, we created a party for families in need and called it Pizza with Santa. Guess who our Santa was? Selected families arrive at the Free dining room in Fremont and began the day with crafting, a bounce house, and horseback rides. While this was going on Steve would move through our guests talking with all the kids, asking questions. He always had a pen and as he would move from one child to another you would see him writing on his hand. Steve would disappear about 11:30 and Santa showed up. The kids would jump up especially the little ones and run up to hug him and he would hug them back and call them all by name as he peeked at his hand! They just knew he was the real deal. One year we had a little girl named Gianna. She wrote a note to Santa saying that she wanted a unicorn bike and drew a picture of it. Her mother passed the note to us and, we in turn passed it to Steve. We called the family up and Gianna with wide eyes approached Santa. Steve looks at her and said, “Hey aren’t you Gianna?” Gianna anxiously said YES, I am! As she jumped onto his lap, Steve said I think you wrote me a letter. Shaking her head rapidly she said, “Yes I did.” Steve reached into a pocket and said, “Is this the letter?” With the biggest smile she said, “YES, it is.” Steve then yells “Where are my elves, bring Gianna her gift” and yes you know it, it was the purple Unicorn bike she had drawn a picture of. There was not a dry eye in the place. Pizza with Santa has been going for about 18 years now and Steve has been our Santa most of those years. He had such a unique way of touching parents, bored teens, that were not bored after talking to Steve, and especially the little ones. I will miss his jokes, his laughter, his friendship, and his amazing prayers. Steve and Lynn will always be a treasure to our club and in my Life.