RadioRotary interviews Marisol Rodriguez, Executive Director of Literacy Connections of the Hudson Valley, a nonprofit using local volunteers to help people to read, write, and reach their potential. One in five Americans are functionally illiterate, which means that their reading and writing skills are at a sixth-grade level or lower. Literacy Connections trained volunteers work one-on-one with the functionally illiterate to teach them the specific skills they need for a given goal, such as passing a driver’s test. They also can teach English as a Second Language (ESL). Before a learner enters the program—which is free—they are evaluated by certified testers to determine the specific source of their difficulties. In a separate program called “Book Buddies,” volunteers read to children in schools. Volunteers for either program can be anyone who is able to read and write comfortably.
RadioRotary interviews Rhinebeck Interact’s Grace Steele and Morgan Rakow, two of the 23 participants in the 2015 edition of that Interact Club’s “Nicaragua Project.” Interact is the high-school service organization sponsored by Rotary. Each year members of the Rhinebeck Interact Club, some adults (mostly Rhinebeck Rotarians), and some college students travel to the León department of Nicaragua where they work for a week on building and improving schools in impoverished rural villages. Under the supervision of a local foreman, the students bend rebar, mix cement, lay bricks, paint, and perform other basic construction tasks. Local workers continue the process. This is the second school that Rhinebeck Interact students have help build. Listen to these two enthusiastic girls tell about their work and their other Nicaraguan adventures.
Newburgh Rotarian Doug Sturomski is the unofficial Peace Ambassador for Rotary District 7210, which encompasses the eight counties in the Mid-Hudson Region. One of his several projects related to peace is building and placing Peace Poles in parks, high schools, colleges, and various public places around the region. The Peace Poles that Mr. Sturomski builds are 8-feet high, resembling the Washington Monument, and have the message “May Peace prevail upon the Earth” in 80 languages. Another project is the Peace Bell, related to the Peace Bell permanently placed in Hiroshima, Japan. Rotary, which has Peace as one of its six areas of service, has over 500 different ways to symbolize Peace, and among the examples are over 200,000 Peace Poles worldwide.
Highland Rotary Club’s Charter Member Steve Laubach and Don Verity, the Highland Rotarian who manages PAMAL Radio, the network for RadioRotary, describe the 11th annual Hudson Valley Ribfest, one of the major summer events in the Hudson Valley and primary fundraiser for their Rotary Club. They use their part of the income from the Ribfest to support The Rotary Foundation, ShelterBox, and several local charitable causes, including defibrillators for various locations around Highland (one of which saved a customer having a heart attack at the diner where the Rotary meets). Each year the Ribfest brings the best in barbecue to the Ulster County Fairground in New Paltz, along with children’s activities and specialty booths of all kinds.