In this edition....
  • News and Updates
    • George Floyd Memorial Rotary Scholarship - Second Anniversary
    • Rotary's Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    • Tsehai Wodajo is MURC's Member on District 5950's                             Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Team
  • Announcements
    • Fundraiser! for Africa Strong - Saturday, April 30th
    • Help Ukraine
    • Wallin 30-year Anniversary - Join the Celebration
  • Upcoming Speakers 
  • Member Moment
    • Lori Simpson - Remembering my Father's Service
  • A Thought 
  • Community Service

George Floyd Memorial Rotary Scholarship

Second Anniversary

Led by MURC, eight Rotary clubs came together quickly to make this scholarship possible.   

"We wish our scholar the very best in her studies!” 

Rotary Club Member in 2020


In 2020, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the unrest that followed, Minneapolis University Rotary Club developed a plan to provide a scholarship for a Black student from Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota. 

MURC collaborated with Rotary District 5950 and seven other area Rotary clubs, and together we funded the George Floyd Memorial Rotary Scholarship. 

Over four years, the scholarship will provide $24,000 towards tuition for Gabby, pictured right, to study at the University of Minnesota. Wallin Education Partners, a nationally recognized college-completion program, manages the scholarship, and Gabby is mentored and advised by Wallin.

Gabby began her studies at the University in the fall of 2020. We understand she is doing well, and we continue to wish her all the best in her college career!



Rotary's Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

     Diversity Equity and Inclusion

At Rotary, we're committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect, allowing everyone's voice to be heard, and providing equitable opportunities for fellowship, service, and leadership.

Our members want and expect Rotary to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. We're committed to creating supportive environments that foster open communication and shared learning. And although the Rotary experience may differ from country to country, the dynamics, histories, and structures that create inequality and bias can be found all over the world. Issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are globally relevant.

The Rotary International Board of Directors and The Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees embrace the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and Rotary is taking action to follow these principles in everything we do. We recognize that being a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization will enhance the experience that members have in Rotary, allow us to carry out more meaningful and effective service efforts, and create open, welcoming environments that appeal to people who want to connect with us.

A guide for the future

The Rotary International Board convened the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force to assess the state of DEI within Rotary and develop a comprehensive plan to establish these values even more firmly in our culture. To develop the plan, the task force used the responses from 31,000 members around the world who reported their experiences with DEI in Rotary through our first diversity, equity, and inclusion survey.

View a snapshot of DEI at Rotary.

This article originally appeared in Rotary magazine and was updated in January 2022 -

click here to read the entire article

Tsehai Wodajo is MURC's Member
on District 5950's 
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Team

Diverse Voices: Education

Posted by Tsehai Wodajo (this article was originally in the March edition of the MURC Newsletter)


As Nelson Mandela stated, “Education is the most powerful weaimagepon which you can use to change the world.” This quote illuminate education to be the power that changes the world and not a power that destroys. That is what Mandela accomplished by being in jail for 25 years and stand for truth and reconciliation. While to be educated is a privilege for most people, some pay a big price for being privileged to be educated, know the truth, and stand for freedom like Nelson Mandela. The question for all of us is, how can we make education “Equitable” for all and not for some? Why is that those from the marginalized be castigated for being intelligent to challenge the status quo or hypocrisy of society? Well, I assert that we are in the business of answering those questions.  

As Rotarians, we are educating our minds and hearts. We have proven this to be true. We use education as a primary tool to promote peace, to fight diseases stand for equality and much more to make the world a better place. Education could be a simple, active, and permanent way to give possibilities to the most people to obtain hopes and motivations in a difficult situation, learn basic skills and find their talent.

I was privileged to be educated in a country, Ethiopia, where the education of women is not that important or a priority. I am passing the torch by providing educational opportunity for disadvantaged Ethiopian girls.

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

Diverse Voices is a regular column written by rotating contributors from the Rotary District 5950 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Team.







Posted by Erin Bagniewski, MURC President


Teacher Professional Development

Did you know:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of uneducated youth in the entire world

  • 90% of children have limited resources and are taught by untrained teachers

  • 133 million children are not learning in schools

  • Uganda had the longest school closures due to COVID in the world

  • 1/3 of Ugandan students will never return to school and thousands of schools will not re-open

The Path Forward:  
Africa Strong believes teacher professional development is the most scalable lever to expand our reach to a million children across sub-Saharan Africa.  

  • Why is teacher professional development so critical?  

    • A shortage of 17 million teachers is projected in Africa by 2030

    • Current training is rote and a teacher-centered approach

    • Professional development is needed to upskill talented teachers

  • What can Africa Strong do to solve this growing problem?  

    • Africa Strong is piloting a Teacher Professional Development curriculum developed and tried in other sub-Saharan African countries led by our local Ugandan trainer, Dominic

    • We are helping teachers learn inquiry teaching techniques and practices to incorporate social emotional learning.  Teachers in the community are eager to learn these new skills, and we are working with education officials to expand our reach. Our goal is train teachers in 6 school districts, reaching over 16,000 teachers and 450,000 students by 2026.


How you can help...
Fundraiser: Train a teacher, educate a classroom of kids!

Sign up to join our upcoming virtual fundraiser on Saturday, April 30th at 10:30 am CT/11:30 am ET for a 30 minute overview on our Teacher Professional Development Program.

Join us to hear from the Ugandan community of school leaders, teachers, and a student about how your donor dollars have benefited Rwemiyenje Primary School. Your support is essential, and our team in Uganda is eager to share the impact your donations have had, and what future contributions can do!

Can't make this event and live in Minneapolis? Keep an eye on our social media for details for an in-person fundraiser coming in May.




Help Ukraine

through Rotary International's direct channel to 

Ukranian humanitarian support by donating to:


You're Invited to
Wallin Education Partners 
30th Anniversary Celebration
October 14, 2022
Wallin Education Partners has made a difference in our communities for 30 years, maintaining a commitment to equity in higher education through a unique model that provides financial aid and comprehensive support for students from low-income backgrounds in Minnesota. This commitment is at the center of all they do, and the result is measurable and clear – increased graduation, reduced student loan debt, and entry into meaningful careers.
Two years ago, after the murder of George Floyd, MURC led a collaboration with several other Rotary clubs, our District, and Wallin to create the George Floyd Memorial Rotary Scholarship.  As part of the scholarship funding process with our Rotary District 5950, MURC committed to have hands-on involvement with Wallin's activities.
We would like to have a table of ten MURC members and friends attend Wallin's 30th Anniversary event.  A table of ten is $1,000, or $100 a person. 
Please grab your calendars and mark October 14, 2022, as a date with Wallin! 
Please contact Jean Westberg at to say you'll come
or if you would like more information.  

Everyone is welcome at our meetings!  Please contact us at for Zoom information.


Wednesday, May 11, 2022, Noon to 1 p.m.
Speaker:  Monica Moses Haller
Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota
Veterans Book Project

Monica Haller will speak about the Veterans Books Project, which is a library of books authored collaboratively by Ms. Haller and dozens of people who have been affected by, and have archives of, the current American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Ms. Haller works across a variety of mediums, including photography, video, writing, installation and design. she highlights complex, at times volatile, activities within environmental and human systems, often through long-term collaborations with individuals or small groups of people.

Ms. Haller has a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies and an M.F.A. in Visual Studies. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and support from the National Endowments for the Arts. She has given talks at venues ranging from Centre Pompidou to the Hennepin County Juvenile Justice Center.



Wednesday, May 25, 2022, Noon to 1 p.m.
Speaker:  Mark Ritchie
President, Global Minnesota


Bringing the World to MinnesotaMark Ritchie will speak about Minnesota's bid to bring a World's Fair to Minnesota; Minnesota has bid to host "Expo 2027 Minnesota USA" - with "Healthy People, Healthy Planet" as the theme. Mark Ritchie will cover a bit of the history of Minnesota's connection to the World's Fair and will discuss how Rotary's deep roots in global health make it a serious partner for this effort.

As President of Global Minnesota, Mark Ritchie works to connect Minnesotans to the world and the world to Minnesota. He was Minnesota's Secretary of State from 2007 - 2015. In 2018 he co-founded and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Expo 2027 Minnesota USA. In 2019 he became Minnesota's Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the U.S. Army where he currently serves.

Remembering My Father's Service
on the 98th Anniversary of His Birth
posted by Lori Simpson, MURC Member

My father, pictured at right in Brussels in 1945, was Paige Aurelius Simpson. He was a man of few words; he was more comfortable with silence than anyone else I've known. My mother had told me long, long ago my father had been a paratrooper, but my father didn't talk about it. As he got older, I wanted to know more, and during his last year, 2016, I asked him about his service during World War II. 

My father told me he was in the 82nd Airborne, and on D-Day (June 6, 1944) his division was dropped behind enemy lines into Normandy, France. D-Day was the day the Allies launched their invasion of western Europe. In September the unit parachuted into the Netherlands, and a few months later was redeployed to thwart the German offensive during the Battle of the Bulge. My father told me he broke his ankle during a jump, but he rejoined his unit after some weeks of healing.  In February 1945, the division advanced into Germany, crossing the Elbe River.  

On May 2, 1945, troops of the 82nd Airborne came upon Wöbbelin, a concentration camp near Ludwiglust, Germany. The troops broke down the camp's main gates, to no resistance.  The German guards at Wöbbelin apparently left camp through rear gates even as U.S. troops approached.  

(The 82nd Airborne Division is recognized as one of 36 liberating units of the U.S. Army during World War II.)

My father told me when they entered the buildings where prisoners were housed, they found horrors; there were hundreds of dead prisoners in piles, and many dead were lying together with still-living but starving, skeleton-like prisoners.  My father said to me "we could not tell who was alive and who was dead." He turned 21 on May 5, 1945, a few days after arriving at Wöbbelin camp.

Over the next days, troops provided food and clothing to survivors, and they transported the living to Army field hospitals for medical care. They exhumed bodies from mass graves the Germans had created.  

Under the supervision of the troops, the U.S. required the townspeople of Ludwiglust and other nearby towns to properly bury the bodies of prisoners killed at the camp (pictured at right).

One mass funeral was held in Ludwiglust (pictured below) on May 7, 1945, attended by townspeople and troops, and other funerals were held in nearby towns.      

 Eulogy from the funeral at Ludwiglust:
    "The crimes here committed in the name of the German people and by their acquiescence were minor compared to those to be found in concentration camps elsewhere in Germany. Here there were no gas chambers, no crematoria; these men of Holland, Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and France were simply allowed to starve to death. Within four miles of your comfortable homes 4,000 men were forced to live like animals, deprived even of the food you would give to your dogs. In three weeks 1,000 of these men were starved to death; 800 of them were buried in pits in the nearby woods. These 200 who lie before us in these graves were found piled four and five feet high in one building and lying with the sick and dying in other buildings."                                                                                          

My father told me his unit was redeployed from Wöbbelin to Berlin to become part of the occupying forces, some time shortly after Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. Hitler had committed suicide in his Berlin bunker on April 30, and Berlin had fallen to Soviet soldiers on May 2, 1945. 

I don't know what lasting impact the horrors he saw may have had on his young self, and he was not given to sharing his feelings with me and my brothers. But I do know by the way my father lived his life that he believed in freedom, equality, and forgiveness. 


My father in 1945. 

No Man is an Island 
by John Donne, 1572 - 1631
No man is an island, entire of itself;                                      
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, 
as well as if a promontory were, 
as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.
John Donne is often considered the greatest love poet in the English language. He is also noted for his religious verse and treatises and for his sermons.

Join Us to Volunteer at the Simpson Food Pantry -

Everyone is Welcome - Members, Friends, Family! 

What:    Stocking food on shelves in the food pantry

Where:  Simpson Food Pantry at 2740 1st Ave S, Minneapolis 

When:   9 a.m. to Noon, Friday, May 20th, 2022

Newsletter Editor
Lori Simpson
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