Rotary exists in 200+ countries. The reason Rotary exists in all these countries is while Rotarians gain much more from Rotary than they will ever give, it is an outward reaching organization working to accomplish good works and peacemaking throughout the world. Rotary International has ongoing partnerships with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Global FoodBanking Network, ShelterBox, UNESCO – IHE (Institute for Water Education), UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), United Nations, and the WHO (World Health Organization). These are the global efforts accomplished on a large scale.
What really counts and makes the in person connections that is so essential to Rotary though, is the project accomplished by each individual Rotary Club. Individual Rotary clubs are given support and encouragement to find their own meaningful projects internationally and accomplish them with the physical, financial and intellectual resources from their own club. As they need help, they can reach up to the District level or even Rotary International. Rotary International encourages such projects through their DDF (District Designated Funds) program. That’s the beauty of it. If what you are trying to accomplish is bigger than you can handle, you reach up and out for more support. You become a mouthpiece for the people around the world that need your help in their lives.
No wonder that peace is accomplished from the various international service projects, the youth exchanges, and business leader international trips and the various conventions offered through Rotary. When you are two feet steadfast on the ground standing toe to toe with someone you are serving, looking into their smiling face and brilliant eyes – how can you not “feel” what Rotary is all about.
Many of the Rotarians in the Niles Rotary Club have had these wonderful experiences. Many haven’t and hopefully we go. The ones that have gone come back and share their experiences and memories of their international service trips – many times with tears in their eyes and halting voices as the share how ‘their’ particular project changed their life.
Niles Rotary has been very active in the international service arena. With a good-sized club and many generous members, it has been possible to bring about good works. Here are few of the projects we have recently completed.
Matibabu Hospital Project
Our own Dr. Rich Godfrey, an orthopedic surgeon and former Chief of Surgery for two Bay Area hospitals, has long been trekking to Africa to do good deeds. Many years ago while on a trip with a mentor of his, his heart was touched and he has never recovered from the need to do good works in Africa. This makes Rich a quintessential Rotarian.
Training and paying for the education of Dr. Walter Adero, a local supported to become an orthopedic surgeon, has been a long-term project of Dr. Rich Godfrey. The projects were you solve longer term problems, as opposed to short fixes, are extremely meaningful and this is one of those. The Matibabu Hospital has been built as of 2015 and now the key is to supply the hospital with proper medical equipment and supplies. Dr. Godfrey found a local nonprofit that gets equipment and supplies from US hospitals that is unused, but for some reason unable to kept and they get these items at a steep discount. They turn around and offer these supplies in bulk order to organizations that want to donate the funds to get them to the people in need – such as the people in Kenya living around the Matibabu Hospital. This project is currently going on and continued in 2016 and we hope to raise the right about of funds, $26,000, to be given the market value equipment and supplies of $300,000.
As a side note, Dr. Rich Godfrey jumped on a plane and flew directly to the center of the Ebola breakout in Africa and helped curb that dangerous outbreak from spreading and killing thousands more. This speaks to what a Rotarian are in their heart of hearts. It is nice associating with people like on a weekly basis at our club.
Four Projects Completed in Chile by Niles Rotary
Hogar Mi Familia (My Family Home) Orphanage & Patronato Sagrado Corazon (Unwed Teen Mother Home)
Almos Adorjan, another amazing Rotarian, served as International Service Chair from 2009-2013. He quickly became passionate about his projects outside of Santiago, Chile and organized several groups to travel there. Niles Rotary Club sent between approximately 5 Rotarians each time to help build needed structures, provide clothing and accomplish physical structure and aesthetic improvements to the homes of these the orphans and the home of the single mothers trying to take care of their children. The orphanage had approximately 25 children all under the age of 6. Our projects there supplied washing machines, dryers, a refrigerator, a water heater, changing tables, sterilizers, juicers, comfort heaters and thermal curtains. The room where potential parents come to meet with the child was decorated to look like a home environment as well. Niles Rotary worked with partner Rotary Club of ConCon in District 4320 on this project. Total funds raised by Niles Rotary was $6,427. Rotary International matched through District Designated Funds (DDF) $3,419. The local Rotary Club of ConCon in Argentina donated $400. The children come from dangerous home situations including abuse, abandonment, drugs, prostitution, incarceration, etc., and are available for adoption.
The fourth project in Chile was to replace a roof and rebuild a kitchen for unwed young women with children. These young mothers are all under the age of 18. Fifteen pregnant mothers were supported by our international service project in Chile. Teenage pregnancies are all too common and often result in teenage girls being thrown our of their parents homes. These special homes teach the young girls how to be good mothers, reach out to their families of both the girl and the young father to build a support system. The girls are provided the day care needed in order to study and prepare to support themselves. This project was funding $5,000 by Niles Rotary and an additional $5,000 by Rotary International. By helping rebuilt this home badly in need of a new roof and a kitchen, Niles Rotarians are allowing these girls to stay in this home until their 18th birthday, continue studying and helping prevent them ending up on the welfare roles of the government.
Hearing the stories and seeing the photos after our Rotarians returned home was touching. It even felt good for those who couldn’t go, to know that people we know and trust were on the ground delivering the supplies and spending the funds we all contributed to the betterment of these people’s daily lives.
Guatemala Elementary School Kitchen Project
Manuel Franco, a local owner of the Whispering Ranch, became involved in many of Niles Rotary Club’s international service projects only to be the International Service Chair himself. Manuel’s family grew up in Guatemala and came from a heritage of highly educated legally trained stock. Manuel decided at a young age to move to the United States and began living his dream of becoming a rancher. He has successfully done so. But not to stop with his dreams, Manuel then became involved with the good works of Rotary and eventually turned back to his homeland to do good works there. He became aware of an elementary school that was cooking lunches for the children out of a fifty gallon steel drum – open flame – who knows exposed to what kind of carcinogens… He decided that with the help of his friends and family in Rotary, he was going to change that. He organized a Niles Rotary Club project and off they went. We raised funds at our Annual Elimination Raffle as well as individual contributions when ‘passing the clipboard’ at our meetings. Seeing the photos of what existed previous to the project and what had been afterwards was amazing. What a blessing he is to these children that everyday now have a fully functioning kitchen where their food can be prepared in a manner that is clean, respectable and efficient. Manuel’s heart was touched when he attended the project in Chile with Almos. In fact, the Club members present at the meeting to hear him speak when he had held a child in his arms in Chile, will never forget how spiritual and emotional that meeting was. Thank you for what you do Manuel!
Wheelchair Foundation Distribution in Serbia
Rotarians walk and serve the most humble of earth, but that’s not all. There are times when they are meeting royalty to accomplish good works. Just ask Steven Lloyd, a Realtor in Livermore and fellow Rotarian, about his experiences in Serbia. His heritage is from Montenegro, a neighboring Balkan country (former Yugoslavia). You can see that the Bay Area and the Niles Rotary Club is truly diverse culturally, ethnically and religiously. Here is another story of one of our Rotarians going ‘home’ to bring about good works in an area sorely in need of Wheelchairs. The wars that ravaged the Balkans in the early 1990’s was a terrible time for those living there. There were many families torn apart and many injured, both civilian as well as military, during this time. Many were left without the ability to move around their home and their city. Imagine being disabled and not able to leave your home or even possibly your room. Imagine that foreign people show up in your town one day, of whom you nothing about, and they want to give you a wheelchair, which in effect, will change your entire life. That kind of project creates peace and feelings of goodwill. The Princess of ‘Yugoslavia’, Her Royal Highness Princess Katherine, worked with the Wheelchair Foundation and Steven Lloyd to do just this. Rotarians would provide the wheelchairs and come to present them to the Serbians through their government and then the government would help facilitate the delivery and presentation of these chairs to those in need. What a beautiful and meaningful project Steven! Thank you for what you do. Steven had this to say about his experience in Serbia.
“Being in Serbia was a life changing experience for me. To be in Serbia on behalf of all those Rotarians and participants that had done and given so much, was truly unforgettable. A lot of hard work and effort went into making this project happen. Being there to witness it take place made me feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. It filled my heart with love and jot to have such an impact on these people’s lives. I was asked not to be a ‘fork and knife’ Rotarian just attending weekly lunches. I was told you get out of Rotary what you put into it. Richard King helped expose me to the Wheelchair Foundation, which inspired me to create our fundraiser, “A Majestic Evening of Hope”. As a result of all of our efforts, I was able to attend the formal distribution at the Royal Palace in Serbia along with former MBA Star Vlade Divac. It took me two years to get this project going. When I met Vlade in Sacramento, I put the idea in his head that we can accomplish this project in Serbia with the help of the Princess, his friend. And we did just that”.
Steven Lloyd and Niles Rotarians ended up delivering 280 wheelchairs to Serbia. On top of that feat, an additional $40,000 was provided for medical supplies too. The Niles Rotary Club, in association with the Peja Stojakovic Children’s Foundation, Group 7, and the Wheelchair Foundation, is hosted an event to benefit HRH Crown Princess Katherine’s Lifeline Humanitarian Foundation. Wheelchairs and medical supplies were sent to Serbia regardless of ethnicity or religion. Attending the event in the United States were members of the royal family – HRH Prince Alexander and HRH Crown Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia. This in addition to NBA stars Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic, plus Ken Behring (former owner of the Seattle Seahawks and founder of the Wheelchair Foundation) and Chris Lewis (son of Jerry Lewis) of the Wheelchair Foundation, who was the M.C. for the event. Members often here Steven still talking about how great this event was and how meaningful it was in his life. At this point, that was many years ago – but he feels like it was yesterday. He has even suggested possibly doing another one. Thank you Steven!
If you are a Niles Rotarian, or even if you were to become a Niles Rotarian, ask yourself, what meaningful project would you want to accomplish for others in the international arena? Perhaps you should share this idea with us, or even better, join us to do that and many more. Let’s make this life beautiful and meaningful together.
Polio Plus Project
We can’t write a international project service page without addressing the largest scope international project Rotary has ever been involved with – Polio Plus. Since its inception in 1985, Rotary International, with the help of the individual members of its clubs, has immunized 2.5 billion children in the fight against Polio. Rotary International has committed $1.3 billion dollars to this cause since that time. On a local level, individual clubs have pressed membership for their support in accomplishing this grand cause and with much affect. Worldwide there have been less than 100 cases reported in two countries in the year 2015. We are “this close” to seeing it completely eradicated from the world. Many wonderful videos are available to view regarding
From the year 2014 Rotary International Fact sheet there were 98 Rotary Peace Fellows from 41 countries, and program awards for the fellows and the Rotary Peace Centers totaling $5.3 million.
Rotary International approved 488 district grants and project requests totaling $23.5 million. This comes back to those District Designated Funds that individual clubs use to accomplish smaller scale, hands-on projects.
Global grants supporting large-scale international activities with sustainable measurable outcomes were 868 grants with a total of $47.3 million.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about what Niles Rotary Club is doing internationally. If you are a member, start saving some money for their international service trip and go experience these things first hand. Members that have gone will assure you it has changed their lives. If you are not a Niles Rotarian, what are you waiting for? Speak to a member to learn more about Niles Rotary can be a part of your life.