Cindy Fung, a member of the Vassar Rotaract club and co-founders of the Vassar Haiti Project, Lila and Andrew Meade, discuss how promoting Haiti’s varied and unique art forms has improved Haitian lives (Rotaract is a college service club sponsored by Rotary). Andrew Meade, Vassar’s Director of International Services, and his wife Lila, lived in Haiti at different times when young and are familiar with its problems. The Vassar Haiti Project (VHP) works with the Poughkeepsie-Arlington Rotary Club to implement the projects they have developed to solve some of these problems. The VHP has raised funds for a health clinic, a school, and clean water projects in rural mountain areas. VHP plans additional clean water projects in the future. The project’s members emphasize the Haitian people’s strong spirit of optimism in spite of recent devastations and hardships.
Two past Rotary 7210 District Governors, Tam Mustapha (1999-2000), IMRF President, and Knut Johnsen (2003-2004), discuss their involvement in the International Relief Medical Foundation (IMRF), founded by Dr. Hrusi Parida from Rotary District 7210’s Middletown Club. The IMRF, a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization collects surplus medical supplies and equipment for distribution to poor areas in need in developing countries around the world and in the United States. Perfectly sound equipment, gently used but slightly outdated, is tested by IMRF and shipped. Rotarians in recipient countries receive each shipment and assure effective distribution. No medications are exported, but almost all other medical supplies, even Band Aides, are welcome. Listeners were encouraged to ask their doctors and dentists about discarded equipment that could be donated. Each area around the country houses the donated equipment until it is ready for shipping. In the Hudson Valley, Guardian Storage volunteers its storage facilities for IMRF needs.
A good example of how a Rotary club works on the local level can be found in this Club Close-up interview featuring the Red Hook Rotary Club, which emphasizes two of its many local projects. Niki Weaver, Past President, describes her Therapy Dogs project, including the training required and the dogs’ successes, especially with stroke victims. Red Hook Rotarians, including Dave Wright and Bruce Martin, also describe the club’s yearly signature project, the Apple Blossom Festival. The Festival, this year held on May 11, is a strong community event involving a multitude of activities, such as food booths, craft vendors, live entertainment, a petting zoo, and church-run flea markets. Red Hook Interact (the high school service club sponsored by Red Hook Rotary) also describes its fundraiser, which will bring clean water wells to Africa.
District Governor Elect Drew Kessler (North Rockland Rotary) describes his vision for Rotary District 7210 during his tenure as District Governor (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014). His emphasis will be on integrating Rotary into 21st century life. Mr. Kessler describes what he calls the “trilogy of life”: family, work, and service. Bringing the family into service events to help the younger generation recognize the rewards of service is one important way to accomplish this integration. DGE Drew Kessler also describes creative ways that many Rotary clubs can meet more conveniently for its members: cocktail clubs that would meet after a business day, early morning breakfast clubs, meetings centered solely around a service project, and eClubs for members around the world. Mr. Kessler ended his interview with heartfelt words to explain why folks should join Rotary.