Cause & Effect: Service Above Self; Rotary Club Roundup
Once dreaded, polio outbreaks are now a fading memory. In the world, only 17 cases occurred last year—and those in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much of the credit for conquering this cruel disease goes to an unusual source: Rotary International’s PolioPlus campaign. The worldwide service club has been working to eradicate polio since 1979, and its success, notes Rita Gordon, public image chair of Rotarys District 5180—which covers 41 Northern California clubs—will be the first time a non-government organization has wiped a disease off the planet. Members of Rotary—1.2 million worldwide—literally put boots on the ground delivering the oral vaccine to more than three billion children.
“Boots on the ground” has been a Rotary hallmark since Paul P. Harris of Chicago founded the organization in 1905 to provide humanitarian services and advance peace around the world. But Rotary’s sights are set not only on diseases—such as polio, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes—but also on improving education and economic conditions for disadvantaged people both internationally and locally. With polio nearly extinct, “clean water is now bubbling to the top of the list,” Gordon says. Most of the world takes clean water for granted, but contaminated water in developing nations causes around 842,000 diarrheal deaths a year, according to World Health Organization data.
With “Service Above Self” as Rotary’s motto, local clubs are responsible, often quietly, for a variety of local programs, including dental care for disadvantaged kids, literacy support, refurbishing bikes for needy youngsters, student scholarships, enhancing parks, and sponsoring foreign exchange students. This year, through a grant from Rotary Foundation, the district as a whole is tackling one of the region’s most troubling issues: human trafficking—“a dire problem,” Gordon says, “because we are a transportation crossroads.”
Sacramento has one of the highest trafficking rates in the country, with girls ages 12-14 the primary target. Rotary’s strategy focuses on two areas: education (for grades 5, 7, 9, and 11) and outreach to raise public awareness. Similar campaigns in other cities have achieved marked success, says Roseville Rotarian Brian Gladden, who—along side past district governor from East Sacramento Rotary, Bob Deering—is spearheading the effort.
In the U.S., anyone interested in humanitarian service, locally and abroad, can join Rotary. Women have been active since 1987 and once-stringent attendance rules have been relaxed. “Meetings are fun,” says Rotary Club of Placerville President Cher Williams. “Through the fellowship, we build lifelong relationships.”
Rotary Club of Roseville
Meets Thursdays at noon at Sierra View Country Club; 115 members. Projects include Miles of Smiles, which provides free dental screenings, referrals, and sealants; Book Buddies with third graders; community cleanups; international water project; a bus donation to a Rotary club in Mexico; and active PolioPlus participation. rotaryrsvl.org
Placer Valley Sunrise Rotary
Meets Thursdays at 7 a.m. at Window Box Café in Rocklin; 16 members. Past efforts include planting trees at schools and building shade structures and exercise stations at parks; scholarships; and providing solar cookers for families who must otherwise carry and burn wood in Africa. They also hold Purple Pinkie Days to raise money for PolioPlus. placervalleysunriserotary.com
Rotary Club of Granite Bay
Meets Fridays at 12:15 p.m. at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in Roseville; 40 members. Provides scholarships and Christmas baskets. They also constructed a sports equipment storage facility and installed benches at Granite Bay High School, completed sports fields at Cavitt Junior High School, donated $100,000 to PolioPlus, supported a blood project in Africa and a dental project in New Guinea, and assisted with bringing safe water to Peru and Africa. portal.clubrunner.ca/9110
Rotary Club of South Placer
Meets Wednesdays at noon at Whitney Oaks Golf Club; 35 members. Serves the Rocklin and South Placer area; major fund-raiser is the Rocklin Brewfest (June 2) whose proceeds fund numerous community giving programs locally and internationally, including senior citizen smoke detector checks, free Little Libraries, Mexico orphanage projects and student scholarships, and assistance for foster youth attending Sierra College. rotary5180.org/clubInfo/south-placer-(rocklin)
HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROJECT
According to the FBI, human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world and is believed to be more than a $150 billion industry. To address the cause in Sacramento, Rotary District 5180—which encompasses the Rotary Clubs of El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Folsom Lake, Historic Folsom, Granite Bay, Roseville, South Placer, Sunrise, and others across the region—is partnering with 3Strands Global and the Voices and Faces Project. The program—a result of the Rotary District being approved for the biggest global grant in the U.S. and largest Rotary grant to fight human trafficking worldwide—is the largest collaborative project to prevent human trafficking in the history of the Sacramento region and includes education and training to teachers and students, as well as a public awareness campaign. For more info and to volunteer or donate to this effort, email Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or Desiree at email@example.com.
By Linda Holderness