At our April meeting, RCA charter member Jim Todd received the highest honor that our club bestows: the Galileo Award. Jim has been the Director of Space Science Education at OMSI for the past 35 years and was a key figure when our club was founded in the merger of two smaller clubs over 30 years ago. He provides our facilities at the museum, paying for us to use spaces at the museum from his own budget, which sometimes means venues such as the Empirical Theater when we need extra seating for special events. Aside from meeting rooms, such as the auditorium we’re currently in tonight, this includes storage space for our telescope and book libraries, our sales inventory, and other supplies. He cares so much about the club that he’s willing to risk tripping over all of that stuff while he’s working at his day job in the Planetarium. He even provides a mailbox for our official mail.
As if that wasn’t enough, Jim has also provided us with special programs, such as movies, planetarium shows, and special speakers, which has occasionally meant astronauts. As you will see a bit later tonight, he has always been ready and willing to fill in with a high-quality sky report whenever we have needed. He advocates and mediates for us with OMSI, championing our cause as the OMSI administration has changed over the years. He has advocated for us with city officials, such as the fire marshal, sometimes absorbing additional costs that we would otherwise have to pay. Jim has also gone out of his way to make our holiday events special, providing decorations, music, and presentations highlighting events important to the club or to the wider world. He is always flexible and works with us to meet special requests or when we need to adjust to unusual circumstances. Altogether, Jim has probably supported the club more than any other individual in ways both large and small and continues to be a very valuable and deeply appreciated member of the RCA family.
Jim’s generosity allows us to use our resources to reach more people and to provide more services to our members than would ever be possible otherwise. In return, we do our best to provide volunteers to help with official OMSI events, such as the OMSI star parties, Astronomy Day, the Makers’ Fairs, and significant events, like the Venus transit. But having the opportunity to participate in these events is yet another benefit for our members. Providing a kid’s first view of Saturn, Jupiter, or a globular cluster is a magical experience and sharing our passion for and knowledge of astronomy with other people is a lot of fun. If you haven’t volunteered yet, we strongly encourage it.
We owe a great deal to Jim and we would be a very different club without him!
Remarks by Vice-President of Programming, Mark Martin