Imagine the hole there would be in the world without Rotary......

That was the theme of DG Larry Ripley's presentation to our club at last week's meeting. After an introduction as an "Itinerant Saloon Singer and Part Time Bartender" by AG Rod Seifert, Larry asked "Why are we here, and why do we keep coming back?" Yes, we enjoy the company, we like to hang out with our new friends, etc., but it's much more than that - Rotary is one of the strongest forces for good on the planet and we like being part of it.


From it's humble beginnings in a small group of business professionals brought together by Paul Harris rotating meetings in each office (hence the name "Rotary"), to the worldwide organization it is today, Rotary has been a part of several major international projects and too numerous to count local community projects. After WWII, when the world was looking for a way to promote world peace, Rotary was a part of forming the United Nations - and still has a (non-voting) seat. In 1912, then Rotary Treasurer Archibald Klumpf, looking for a way to put his clubs leftover $26.70 to good use, started the RI Foundation. From that small seed, the RI Foundation funds have grown to billions of dollars supporting many, many project worldwide. In 1985, when Dr. Sabin challenged Rotary to find a way to eradicate Polio, Rotary began their ambitions (and still ongoing) project to "End Polio Now". In 1999, a High School Exchange Student in Argentina came across a 4 yr old girl who needed, but had no access to, heart surgery to save her life. Her parents (also Rotarians), found a way to bring the little girl to the U.S. to get the surgery. This was the beginnings of the Gift of Life Program which has helped 16K children.

Rotary, through the Foundation, is also focusing on other diseases such as Malaria, by providing mosquito netting and medicine. Both items are cheap (by our standards), but financially out of reach for many in the 3rd world. Clean water and Sanitation is another major worldwide project. 780 Million people in the world have no access to clean water and toilets. Not a "nice" subject to discuss at dinner, but the reality is that more people worldwide have cell phones than a toilet. Agricultural programs help farmers to learn better farming  methods, such as crop rotation and irrigation, to grow better quality and more food. Rotary raises funds to build and equip medical clinics. Montville, for example, raised $180K to build and equip a medical clinic in Kenya.

Locally, Rotary clubs help support many community programs, provide scholarships and dictionaries (helping to further education), jump in when there is a need (i.e., the recent district wide blood drives), help support and raise awareness for programs started by local people (for example we support Maggie Doyne's orphanage and school in the Kopila Valley, Nepal and Tommy Johnson's Africa Surgery in Sierra Leone), and do many other small projects that help both the local and worldwide community.

Yes, Imaging the hole there would be in the world without Rotary......



Left to Right: AG Rod Seifert, President June Cioppettini, DG Larry Ripley



June and Larry exchanging banners