By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
“We are this close…this close…this close….”
To eradicating polio, to ending world hunger, to building world peace.
The theme of being so very close to these goals echoed throughout the presentation at the Rotary Club’s Sept. 28 meeting.
As the Rotary finished up the month of September, guest speaker Dr. Brian O’Connell of St. Leo University gave an overview of the Rotary Foundation. Accompanied by compelling slides and videos, it summarized how the money raised and contributed by Rotary Clubs all over the world is spent, and how Rotarian volunteers worldwide are making a difference.
32,000 Rotary Clubs throughout the world, with 1.2 million volunteers, provide medicine for the sick and food for the hungry, teach reading and promote literacy, provide shelter for families and work toward global peace.
Additionally, the Club is working toward meeting the challenge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pledging a matching grant of $355 million, if the U.S. Rotary Foundation can raise $200 million by 2012.
“It’s getting close,” said O’Connell.
O’Connell’s presentation told of the Rotarian Foundation’s work in several major areas, the first and foremost being “Polio Plus” – the eradication of polio from the face of the planet – an effort that counts for 63 percent of the Foundation’s spending.
“We can’t stop now,” said O’Connell, because until every child is immunized, the virus could simply come back again, stronger and more immune to the vaccines.
Already, in the Uttar Pradesh region of India, some children have to be given the vaccine multiple times before they are effectively immunized. Since 1980, over two billion children have been immunized worldwide.
“Health, Hunger, Humanity” is the second largest area of charitable spending. It includes basic health and food programs, new community wells, water purification projects and disaster relief.
Education is another big area, recognizing the importance of literacy in people’s ability to pull themselves out of poverty. Often, said O’Connell, a village’s very survival depends on its children leaving for college, and then bringing their knowledge back home to help. But first, the children need a solid education at home. The Rotary Foundation funds this basic education, including schools, school supplies and teachers.
The Foundation also works toward world peace through Peace Fellowships and Ambassadorial Scholarships.
“We are this close….”
O’Connell encouraged the members to give whatever they could as he read from Proverbs 19:17 – He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.