By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
For Jeannie Quave, District Governor of the Rotary Club from Panama City, Florida, charity literally begins at home. Ever since her two daughters, Olivia and Molly (now 12 and 14) were very young, they have chosen of their own accord to celebrate their birthdays not by accepting presents from their friends, but by choosing a charitable organization to support and having their friends bring donations for that organization.
That same spirit of charity, of giving, of “reaching within to embrace humanity” (the 2011 theme chosen by Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee of India) was the subject of her presentation to the Rotary Club of Madison.
Quave’s remarks touched on everything from learning to balance her family, work, and Rotary life, to the Rotarian Polio Plus project that is so close to eradicating polio forever (of the three distinct strands of the polio virus known to humanity, the Rotary’s immunization programs have eliminated two), to a recent Rotary trip to Haiti, a country still devastated from the earthquake.
There, on the island nation of Haiti, Quave and her fellow Rotarian workers saw children playing on mounds of steaming garbage, an “orphanage” out in the middle of the woods with no shelter, food, medicine or running water for the children, and streets still filled with rubble from the January 2010 earthquake. Yet, even in a place of so much despair, destruction and disease, the Haitian people recognized the Rotary Wheel and gravitated toward it as a symbol of peace and hope for their children.
From the personal to the global, from the oh-so-close-to-success of the world polio immunization program to the rubble-filled streets of a country that lacks even the basic heavy equipment to clear away the debris and rebuild – a country where even everyday sanitation garbage removal is a near-impossibility – Quave stressed the importance of the kind of sacrificial giving of time, energy and financial resources that make a difference, the kind of “live-to-give” philosophy that has distinguished Rotary Clubs around the world.
As part of the spirit of giving, Quave recognized two local Rotarians, Brian O’Connell and Peter Bucher, as Paul Harris Fellows, Rotary members who had contributed $1000 or more to the Rotary Foundation.
In just a few short weeks all 51 District Rotary Clubs, representing 2500 members will be participating in the February 25, 2012 “Rotary Rocks.” On that Saturday, Rotary members throughout the district, including the one in Madison, will participate in a service project in the community to create awareness of the Rotary, the kind of work they do and the difference they can make in a community.