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Immediate Past President
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Club Administration Chair
Peace Pole Committee Chair
Membership Chair
Service Projects Chair
Foundation Chair
Newsletter Editor
Youth Services Chair
Sergeant-at-Arms
 
 
Club Information
Welcome to our Club!
Tucson Kino

Dream Big, Have Fun & Get Stuff Done!

We meet In Person
Fridays at 7:00 AM
Temporarily Meeting Online - See Below
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Tucson, AZ 85706
United States of America
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Home Page Stories
The Tucson Kino Rotary Club honored seven area high school students with Character Awards. Awardees are nominated by school administrators, counselors, teachers, or other students.
 
The Tucson Kino Rotary Club established the Spring and Fall Character Awards in 2011 to honor high school students who serve as role models in their schools and in society via service to the community.
 
This fall, the Honorees are:
Cecelia Antone, Baboquivari High School
Jamie Mejia Ana, PPEP TEC High School
Juan Manuel MorenoSunnyside High School
Evette Magdalena Cervantes, Star Academic High School
Bradie Edward BlackDesert View High School
Esmeralda Mora, Alta Vista High School.
Ana Aguilar Jerez, Pueblo Magnet High School
image
President Dennis Bergquist
with the In-person Honorees
 
The students were recognized at a community breakfast attended by family and representatives from each school. Each honoree received a Certificate of Recognition and a $50 gift card. In addition, Tucson Kino Rotary will donate $25 to a charity of each student’s choice.
Tucson Kino Rotary Club Celebrates International Peace Day
 
On Tuesday, September 21st Tucson Kino Rotary Club dedicated its second traveling Peace Pole at Santa Clara Elementary School in the Sunnyside Unified School District. The traveling Peace Pole is a 4-foot pole mounted on a base that can be easily moved anywhere in the school. The pole has the word Peace translated into four languages spoken in the Santa Clara Community--English, Spanish, Tohono O’odham Nation, and Pascua Yaqui Tribe.
 
The dedication ceremony was a collaboration among students, teachers, and Kino Rotarians. This dedication is a continuation of Peace building efforts by Emma Carrillo,  a Kino Rotarian and interim principal at Santa Clara. 
 
Students used peace-themed books donated to Santa Clara by Kino Rotary as inspiration to create their own poetry and art work which was shared at the ceremony. It was so enlightening to hear students from Kindergarten to sixth grade share their thoughts about Peace.
 
A Peace Quilt Made By Students
 
The Peace Pole was unveiled by Kino President Dennis Bergquist, Sunnyside Superintendent Steve Holmes, and Sunnyside’s Native American Studies Director, Ernesto Badilla.
 
In keeping with celebrating International Peace Day, Rosette Nabuuma a Rotarian from Kampala, Uganda spoke to the students from Uganda via “What’s App” about peace in her country.
 
Beki Quintero, Sunnyside School Board President and author of In The Peace Garden, presented each classroom with Peace Seeds to create their own Peace Gardens and gifted each student a Peace Garden bookmark.
 
 
To conclude the dedication all attendees took a Peace Pledge and signed Peace Pledge Posters that will hang in the school.

Peace Pledge
I pledge to treat everyone around me with respect, honor, dignity, and with an open mind.
I will refrain from both physical violence and violence of the heart and mind.
I will treat others as I want to be treated, so that we all may reach our fullest potentials.
 
Tucson Kino Rotary thanks District Governor Hank Huisking and Peter Huisking, Past District Governor Ellie Patterson and D5500 Peace Committee Chair Joe Daniszewski for joining us on this special day.
Melani “Mele” Martinez is a dancer, teacher, mother, and writer from Tucson, AZ. Her personal and lyric essays often braid cultural narratives and spiritual reflection with a voice that is particular to the Southwest.
 
She has an MFA from Goucher College in Creative Nonfiction and her work has won the Fourth Genre Editor’s Prize, the Bacopa Literary Prize and the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Prizes.
 
She teaches food writing and Latinx-themed first-year writing courses for the University of Arizona's English Department and Writing Program.  
 
editor: If you would like to hear our guest speaker Friday, September 24 at 7:00 am MST, send your email address to editorkino@gmail.com
Lisberkis Paulino - Southside Community School Family Liaison
 
Southside Community School is a free, non-profit, public charter school serving grades preK-9. It works with the community and parents to foster academic excellence, community responsibility, cultural awareness, and a safe campus with a school-wide policy of non-violence.
 
Lisberkis, born in the Dominican Republic, educated in The Netherlands spoke to us about her journey to Tucson and her position at Southside Community School.
 
Liberkis Paulino
 
Liberkis said the school has 287 students enrolled this fall. Many come from families deep in poverty. She helps manage a food and hygiene supplies pantry in the school. Also, they operate a drive-through food distribution every month. Some families are not able to come to the distribution, so food is delivered to their homes.
 
 
Liberkis said that many families lack legal status so they don't qualify for many of the available city, county, state and federal benefits. A few years ago, many students did not attend school regularly because of shame about their lack of good clothing, shoes, and backpacks. The school was able to raise funds to provide $1300 to these families for basic items needed for school. Attendance went up 67%!
 
For more information, Southside Community School has a Facebook page.
 
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To hear more great speakers, send your email address to editorkino@gmail.com.
Greetings Lions, Rotarians and Friends
 
Welcome to the 2021-2022 Tucson Cyber Lions Vision Screening Season.  We think that you, or someone you know, might be interested in being a volunteer to help us vision screen the children of Sunnyside Unified School District and surrounding schools.
 
We are starting by getting together a list of people who may be interested in joining us. There is no cost to be on the list and no commitment on your part for doing so.  We hope you will join us for this fun and important project that we perform for our children. Please refer this to any others that you feel may be interested.
 
Vision screening is an important and required function for our schools to perform for our children each year, and we do it for free.  We will be vision screening all of the SUSD schools and some other schools from August 30th to the end of November, typically from 9AM-11AM weekdays.  It is possible that we may continue after the first of the year. For a complete explanation of vision screening click here:  https://www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/stucsoncyber/page-6.php  
 
We maintain an email list of all who desire to volunteer with us.  Two weeks prior to each screening we will send an email to everyone asking if they desire to screen on that specific day and school.  If so, we will ask you to respond to that email with a Yes, and then we will put you on the list.  So, if you would like to join us, please send an email to Lola, who manages the volunteers at lolastevenson@me.com asking to be put on the mailing list.  It costs nothing to be on the list, but you will not be invited if you are not on it.
      
We will be starting our season with training with real children on the 25th and 26th of August at St. Joseph’s Catholic School, 215 South Craycroft Road and Ochoa Community School, 101 West 25th Street.  We recommend that all screeners attend these sessions, since we need a refresher course after having been away from screening for 18 months .
For newcomers, this will be a chance to learn with schools that are willing for us to go at a slow pace.
 
 
If you cannot make one, or both of these dates, no worries, as you can join in when we start the regular screenings and we can give you on-the-job training.  We are only able to do that with one or two people at a time, so please, make an effort to come on the 25th and 26th of August.  
 
We hope to see you then,
 
Warmest Regards,
And thank you for being a Lion, Rotarian, or Volunteer
 
Lion Richard Stevenson
Vision Screening Team Leader
Tucson Cyber Lions Club
Tucson Kino Rotary Club
 
Join us for this presentation by Tucson Kino Rotary Member, Deborah Dimmett. Deborah will be speaking to us from the Dominican Republic where she is working to stem gang violence in neighboring Haiti.
 
Deborah Dimmett
Tucson Kino Rotary Club
Executive Director Youth Envision
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
 
 
Topic: A Partnership is Born as Unprecedented
Gang Violence Grips Haiti's Capitol
 
Passcode: 026598
 
Friday, July 9, 2021, 7-8 am MST
FOOD AND HYGIENE SUPPLIES DISTRIBUTION
 
The final food and hygiene supplies drive-thru of this school year was held June 8th at the Sunnyside Opportunity Center. Assisting were volunteers from the Sunnyside Foundation, Tucson Kino Rotary Club, Tucson Cyber Lions Club, Latino Amazon, United Health Care, and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
 
Each family received a bag of fresh produce, a bag of grocery dry goods, and a bag of hygiene products.
 
Here are the numbers helped Tuesday:  
# of Household Served:  106
# Adults : 291
# Seniors: 38
# Children: 234
A total of 563 persons were helped.
 
Kino Member Ralph Nickl Readies a Bag for the Next Car
 
Members David Fawcett, Maria Patterson, Ralph Nickl
and Joan Fawcett and the Hygiene Bags they packed
 
Also helping were members Chris BejaranoTiffany Emerson, Emma Carrillo and Richard Stevenson.
 
The experience of helping our neighbors is so much FUN and REWARDING!
 
 
This was the final drive-thru event until the beginning of the next school year.
 
MULCAHY YMCA PEACE POLES
 
A Peace Pole was presented to the Mulcahy YMCA Early Learning Center in a ceremony on April 21, 2021.
 
Eight members of the Tucson Kino Rotary Peace Pole Committee, chaired by member and President-Elect Dennis Bergquist, dedicated countless hours into the preparation and presentation of the Celebration of Peace Ceremony. Other Committee Members are Emma Carrillo, Buck Crouch, Debbie Haddock, Ralph Nickl, John Palacio, Maria Patterson, and Daniel Stringham.
 
Dennis Bergquist Emceed the Event
 
The stage was set with a long table upon which stood a mysterious three-foot tall item under wraps as the children marched out and a group of Rotarians and YMCA of Southern Arizona Metro Board Members stood by in anticipation.  Dennis began the celebration with an inspirational moment on Peace.
 
Debbie Haddock recognized Carolyn Schwartz, the Director of Youth Development for the YMCA of Southern Arizona, with a Paul Harris Fellow (an award given by Rotarians to outstanding community members) for her dedication to youth.  Emma Carrillo shared the history of the Peace Pole and Maria Patterson read the poem “Recipe for Peace” from the book Peaceful Pieces, by Anna Grossnickle Hines.
 
The Peace Pole was then revealed to the children and awaiting adults. Debbie presented 16 peace-themed books to the YMCA which will enhance their future peace discussions.  Beki Quintero, author of In the Peace Garden and the creator of the Peace Garden located in the Manuel Herrera Jr. Park, donated four copies of her book, and gave each child a packet of “Peace Seeds” to take home and plant. 
 
Carolyn Schwartz Received her Paul Harris Pin
 
Two children, Anabell Estrada and Zayleigh Clark, came forward and shared their thoughts on peace. 
 
About 60 Children Attended the Event
 
The traveling pole, constructed by John Palacio and Buck Crouch, is made of a light plastic on a wooden base.  This Peace Pole will go from room to room, and from YMCA to YMCA, and be the focal point of the peace lessons and activities developed by Emma Carrillo. Group leaders will use the pole to expand the children’s understanding of peace far into the future.  Debbie, Emma, and Maria hope to work with the YMCA students once Covid restrictions are lifted.  Fifteen proud members of the Tucson Kino Rotary Club were in attendance along with Past District Governor Ellie Patterson, District Peace Pole Chair Joe Daniszewski, and Rotarian Kurtis Dawson who is the CEO of the YMCA of Southern Arizona.  KGUN9 and KVOA4 news channels were there to record the event.  A short news piece with interviews appeared on KVOA4 at 4:25 and 5:25 pm that night.

 
 
Another taller, permanent pole, constructed out of metal to increase its durability, will be installed outside the Mulcahy YMCA entrance.  The message on the Peace Poles’ is in four languages -- English, Spanish, Yaqui, and Tohono O’odham, which represent the languages spoken most often in the Sunnyside School District. 
 
As a finale, all present recited the Peace Pledge and signed a Peace Poster:
 
PEACE PLEDGE
  • I pledge to treat everyone around me with respect, honor, dignity, and with an open mind
  • I will refrain from both physical violence and violence of the heart and mind
  • I will treat others as I want to be treated, so we all may reach our fullest potential
 
For more information, visit kinorotary.org.
 
On April 13, Tucson Kino Rotary, the Tucson Cyber Lions Club, and other community partners assembled and distributed over 130 Food and Toiletry Boxes that served 225 adults, 129 seniors, and 318 children. The event happened at the Opportunity Center at Los Ranchitos Annex of the Sunnyside Unified School District.
 
A Pop-Up Food Stand was also available for SNAP clients to purchase food and vegetables at reduced prices.
 
Araceli Mendoza, SUSD’s Homeless Liaison and ESSA Foster Care Point of Contact said, ”Way to go team! Thank you so much volunteers and community partners!”
 
The Bags are Ready
 
A Rewarding Experience for all the Volunteers
About the First Tee
 
Judy McDermott is a veteran of Professional Golf Association Event Management with corresponding executive-level expertise in Nonprofit Agency Management. After receiving a B.A. from UCLA as a member of the women’s golf team, McDermott spent her early career in sports and event management in Los Angeles. Before moving to Tucson in 1992, she managed LPGA golf tournaments in Los Angeles and Orange County.
 
McDermott recently transitioned to the full-time executive director of First Tee Tucson after over twenty-five years as the tournament director/ executive director of the Tucson Conquistadores Inc., Tucson  Conquistadores Foundation, and part-time executive director of First Tee - Tucson.
 
McDermott is thrilled to devote 100% of her time with First Tee - Tucson to pursue her lifelong passion of giving kids the chance to play a game of a lifetime. The program currently operates Golf and Life Skill programming at nine green grass program locations in Tucson and Southern Arizona.
 
McDermott was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the Women of Influence Non-Profit Champion Award in 2017 from Inside Tucson Business.
 
She currently serves on the Beacon Group Board of Directors as Vice Chair, Board Member with Act One, past president of Women at the Top, member of the City of Tucson Greens Committee, and member of the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
 
Sunnyside Neighborhood Association Tree Planting
 
The planting event, Saturday, March 13 at 9:00 am. We will meet at Manuel Herrera Jr. park located at 5901 South Fiesta Avenue.
 
There will be 79 trees ready for planting at 53 households.

If you want to be part of the fun sign up to volunteer at:
tucsoncleanandbeautiful.org/events/

Please wear masks, closed toed shoes and dress for the weather. Tools and gloves will be provided.
Recently, members of the Tucson Kino Rotary Club lent helping hands to a group of volunteers at the Sunnyside Opportunity Center, which is headed by Araceli Mendoza, to organize, pack and distribute hundreds of pounds of citrus, vegetables and 100 bags of toiletries as part of the Sunnyside Foundation’s monthly drive-up Food Box Distribution. 
 
In preparation for this event, Tucson Kino Rotary purchased over $1,000 in shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, bars of soap, hand sanitizer and seventy $10 grocery store gift cards to supplement the food donated by the Community Foodbank of Southern Arizona. 
Araceli Mendoza Receives the Toiletries Donation
from Kino Rotary President Raul Bejarano
 
Rotary District 5500 of Southern Arizona matched Kino Rotary’s donation with $500 and the South Tucson Cyber Lions contributed as well so that 100 families received the toiletries.  Benefitting from this event were 257 adults, 237 children, and 30 senior citizens.
 
 
Volunteers Package all the Items
 
A Tucson Kino Rotary Member Helps Load a Package
Saturday, February 6th, University of Arizona Rotaract members with help from Tucson Kino Rotarians cleaned a large part of the Turquoise Trail in Downtown Tucson. The Rotaractors, under the leadership of President Andy Le, have adopted cleaning the Trail as a Service Project. Eleven members from both groups took part. A Rotaract Club is for young, usually college-age or older members. Members of Rotaract Clubs enjoy full membership in Rotary International.
 
The Turquoise Trail meanders around 23 various sites of interest including Hotel Congress, Armory Park, the Pima County Courthouse, and Fox Tucson Theatre. A turquoise-colored line keeps walkers on track, while plaques along the way provide historical information.
 
 
Some of the members also visited the Tucson’s January 8 Memorial. While not completed, much can be seen and experienced by looking through the fences. The Memorial is directly behind the Old Pima County Courthouse, one of the stops on the Trail.
 
After the cleanup, the Rotaractors went shopping for donuts!
As part of our Covid-19 relief efforts, Tucson Kino Rotary recognized the contributions made by the Sunnyside Unified School District's Security Staff. They secure school buildings, check on absent students, and a hundred other things necessary both in and out of a pandemic.
 
Here, Tucson Kino President, Raul Bejarano, presents Certificates of Appreciation and Gift Certificates from the Sunny Daze Cafe (specifically requested by the Security Staff).
 
l - r, Marcelino "Nino" Sanchez, Chris Higgins, Ryan Powell (in charge),
Secretary Margaret Grijalva, President Raul Bejarano, and Dave Romero
 
Ryan Powell will be a Tucson Kino Rotary Guest Speaker in April.
A Rotary International  Peace Fellow sponsored by The Tucson Kino Rotary Club
 
Here is the Bio for our Speaker, Friday, Feb. 12, 7:00 am MST. If you would like to join us, send your email address to editorkino@gmail.com
 
Josué Tambara - Mozambican national born in 1979, he grew up in Malawi in a refugee camp. He had not seen his father until he was 21 years old. He has 4 children. He participated in the 2009 Cochran Fellowship Program in Minnesota. In 2014, he was nominated for the 2015 IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program, the U.S. Department of State's premier professional exchange program) by the US Government through their Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique. He participated in the IVLP in Washington DC, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Portland, and New Orleans.
 
 
Josué worked as a Program Development Officer for USAID-OTI PCVE (preventing violent extremism) program from 2019 to 2020. He also has worked as the Political and Cooperation Advisor for the Municipalities of Nampula and Quelimane. He has travelled to Australia, Sweden and many African countries representing the municipalities, leading the delegations. He is a leader-in-the-making who puts “Service above Self” (A Rotary motto.)
Bringing Water to Mwongeti, Kenya
 
Tucson Kino Rotary partnered with the Litchfield Rotary Club, District 5950, in Minnesota in 2017 to apply for a Global Grant to bring water to Mwongeti, a village of 6,000 in Kenya.
 
The Rotary Foundation has just approved the Grant and is transferring the funds to begin the project. Dennis Bergquist, President -Elect of Tucson Kino Rotary, is a transplant from District 5950 where he initiated the project.
    
In Mwongeti, women walk up-hill an hour from the water source to the village with a jerry can filled with 42 pounds of water balanced on their heads.  They rest at their houses and then repeat the trip for another can of water.
 
  
 
Damaris Nyamkabaria, who lives in Minnesota, but whose mother lives Mwongeti, brought the need for the well to the Litchfield Rotary Club.
 
 
 
Dennis’ friend, Fred Rau, then President of the Litchfield Club, and George Ngotho with the Rotary Club of Kikuyu, Kenya, joined in partnership to secure the Grant.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Rotary Making a Difference” at home and around the world.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tucson Kino Rotary Club members participated in a Jacket and Shoe giveaway for families of three local elementary schools. Those receiving jackets and vouchers for shoes were: 30 students from Mission View Elementary School, 30 students from Ochoa Community School and 37 students from Southside Community School.
 
The Bags are Ready and Waiting for the Families
 
The Families Line Up
 
A Happy Student with a New Jacket
and Kino Rotary President-Elect Dennis Bergquist
 
Other sponsors for the 7th Annual Project include United Hearts of Arizona, Jim Click, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Richard Ortiz Barker Foundation.
In the fall of 2020, Tucson Kino Rotary gave dictionary/reference books to over 1600 third grade students in 21 local elementary schools. The students in Mrs. Molina's class at Liberty Elementary School wrote thank you notes to our club. Here are a few:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Getting into the Holiday Spirit, Tucson Kino Rotary kicked off its 2020 Annual Holiday Social with Rotarians and spouses dressed in holiday hats, sweaters, and glittery bling.

To celebrate safely, our Zooming experience provided an opportunity for all to share some wonderful family memories with each other.

In between our reminiscing, Kino Rotarians participated in several activities including:
 
  1. A virtual holiday scavenger hunt (winter boots, cinnamon stick, Rotary pin, something from home, and holiday movie) won by Buck Crouch and Bob Kuyper.
  2. The Naughty List with each Rotarian holding up 10 fingers and lowering a finger if you had committed the act, e.g., “you are on the naughty list if you don’t know the Rotary 4-way test or if you ever re-gifted a present, etc”. Congratulations to Ada Crouch who had 5 fingers remaining.
  3. Playing Bingo with holiday words resulted in three winners—Maria Patterson, Joan Fawcett, and Buck Crouch.

We all agreed it was a special evening of supporting each other with laughter, memories, and spirited competition.
 
‘Tis the Season to be Jolly!
 
 
Each Finger Represents a Naughty Thing
Members Had (or Had Not) Done This Year! YET?
Saturday, December 5, a beautiful, but CRISP morning, 11 Tucson Kino Rotarians, 10 members of the Lions and Cyber Lions Clubs, and 5 members of the U of A Rotaract Club picked up trash at the Rudy Garcia Park (old Rodeo Park). As usual, we had a lot of fun and performed a valuable service for our city.
 
Rarin' To Go!
 
Helping from Kino Rotary were Fil Barrera, Chris and Raul Bejarano, Dennis Bergquist, Buck Crouch (also a Lion member), David and Joan Fawcett, Debbie Haddock, Ralph Nickl, Maria Patterson, Richard Stevenson (also a Lion member), and Daniel Stringham.
 
From the U of A Rotaract Club were Andy Le, Andrew Le, Benjamin Karls, 
Hamzah Firman, and Siera Moreno.
 
Lions and Cyber Lions Clubs were represented by Gerson Gonzalez, Ada Adams, Kim Freidah, Evelyn Jacobs and Jim, Ed Trejo, Adella Mason, Lola Stevenson, Cathy Sepulveda, and Richard Stevenson (also a Kino member).
 

 
 
And Off We Went!
 
Even though children are not in classrooms, Rotarians from the Tucson Kino Rotary Club once again distributed over 1,600 dictionary/reference books to all third graders at 21 local schools in the southern part of Tucson and as far west as Baboquivari in Sells. 
 
“We do this every year and normally are able to hand them directly to the children to witness the joy each child expresses when they can write their own name in the book and take it home with them,” says Rotarian Buck Crouch, President of the SUSD School Board. This year, due to the pandemic, the books were distributed by school staff.
 
The program is financially supported by the Tucson Kino Rotary Club, the Long Realty Long Cares Foundation, and the South Tucson Cyber Lions. “This is such a great project that it motivated me to become a Rotarian,” said the newest Tucson Kino Rotarian, Richard Stevenson. 
 
Pictured are Rotarians Buck Crouch, Andy Townsend (Principal at Elvira Elementary) and Richard Stevenson. 
 
Learn more at kinorotary.org.
 
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A few months ago, member Dennis Bergquist asked the club to support the application of Josue Tambara from Mozambique for a Rotary Peace Fellow scholarship. He was successful!
 
"The Rotary Peace Centers program promotes the mission of The Rotary Foundation to improve health, support education, and alleviate poverty." RI
 
Tucson Kino Rotary is the supporting club and District 5500 is the supporting District. There are only about 100 Peace Fellowships awarded annually, worldwide, so this is quite a feather in all of our caps. Thanks to Dennis for initiating this effort. Dennis had met Josue when he was on an agricultural tour in Minnesota a few years ago and has stayed in touch.
 
                                 
Josue has been assigned to the Rotary Peace Center at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, to attend the 2021 autumn session.
 
Past District Governor, Ellie Patterson, wrote to Josue, "This is such exciting news for everyone. Dennis and I spoke last night and we both shared our happiness for your opportunity. You make us proud! And we must also say that you are so deserving of this opportunity. Look what you have accomplished in your life and more doors are opening now!  You have a very bright future!
 
Here in District 5500 we couldn’t be happier for you. Congratulations!"
 
Yours In Rotary Service,
Past District Governor Ellie Patterson
Members Dennis Bergquist, Daniel Stringham, and David Fawcett from Tucson Kino Rotary and members of the Tucson Sunrise club participated in this event sponsored by the U of A Rotaract Club on Saturday, November 8.
 
The workshop was led by Jacob Benabou, a Junior, and a two-year Rotaract member.
 
Guests made short presentations about their careers and answered questions from the students about the Four-Way Test, interviewing, networking and what membership in Rotary can do to jump start careers.
 
The students participating had varied majors in computer science, journalism, statistics, physiology, economics and pre-med.
 
This workshop is being planned as an annual event.
As of Aug. 25, it is official. The World Health Organization African Region has been certified free of the wild poliovirus.
This is great news and has been a long time coming. At this time last year, Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa, had gone three full years without a case of wild polio. But certification takes longer, to ensure that the virus is completely eliminated in all countries in a region.
 
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988 when there were still 125 countries across the planet that were polio-endemic. In that year, there were more than 350,000 cases of polio. As of today, there are only two countries remaining that are still polio-endemic: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 
While continued vigilance and vaccinations are needed in Africa and in other regions of the world, the focus is now on eradicating polio in those two countries. As of this week, there have been 37 cases in 2020 caused by the wild poliovirus in Afghanistan and another 65 cases in Pakistan for a total of 102 cases worldwide this year. When compared with the 350,000 global cases in 1988, the progress has been huge.
 
Each partner in the GPEI brings a set of strengths to the effort to finish the job, working with the national health services in these last two countries. The World Health Organization (WHO), which works with governments around the world on disease prevention, has the expertise and health care specialists on the ground. UNICEF is working in Pakistan and Afghanistan to open health care centers that will provide services beyond polio vaccinations to meet multiple health needs of rural populations that do not have access to many vaccinations and medicines.
 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have set up high-functioning labs that can be used to test cases of polio. At the same time, these same labs are already fighting to control the spread of the novel coronavirus in both countries, as well as in nations around the world that still use these labs to monitor for poliovirus.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined the GPEI in 2007, and has brought their expertise and their network of funding sources to the effort, while Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has recently joined the effort and ensures funding for the global polio vaccine supply.
 
Each partner has an important role, including Rotary International, which has been a key partner in the GPEI from the start. Rotarians have raised over $2.1 billion for polio eradication since 1988, including matching funds from the Gates Foundation, which matches every dollar raised by Rotarians 2 to 1, up to $50 million per year.
 
While Rotarians have been traveling around the world for many years to participate in National Immunization Day (NID) events, even a large group of Rotarians can only vaccinate a fairly small number of children. Their most important role when they take part in a polio eradication campaign is to bear witness to the incredible work being done by Rotarians, national health workers and volunteers across the globe.
 
When India was struggling to eliminate polio within its borders, thousands of Rotarians traveled to participate in campaigns and then returned home to raise awareness of the effort in their communities. India has been polio-free since 2014.
 
Dr. Dick Huston of Faribault, MN was given a rare opportunity to see Pakistani Rotarians in action when he visited the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad in November 2019. He was invited by Aziz Memon, Pakistan National PolioPlus Committee Chair.
 
Dr. Huston was not sure what to expect during his trip to Pakistan. Their hospitality left a lasting impression. He got to see Rotarians at work and came away full of hope that Pakistan has the determination, knowledge, creativity, cultural sensitivity, and passion to finish the job.
 
The polio eradication efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan were temporarily paused earlier this year to avoid spreading COVID-19 in house-to-house vaccination campaigns. New protocols have been put in place to allow the vaccinations to continue.
 
There is a lot of work still to be done, but the needed willpower and resources will be mobilized, inshallah! (God willing!) If you would like to learn more about this effort or make a contribution (to be matched two-to-one by the Gates Foundation), please go to endpolio.org.
 
Charles Adams Cogan, of Northfield, MN, is PolioPlus team co-leader for Rotary District 5960 and a former Peace Corps volunteer to Togo, West Africa. Article submitted by David Fawcett, Tucson Kino Rotary.
Feel the Energy in Taipei
 
 

Our potential to create lasting change is limitless. And there’s no better place to explore your full potential than the 2021 Rotary International Convention, 12-16 June in Taipei, Taiwan:

  • Discover the many aspects of Taipei, from its tranquil temples and abundance of colorful hydrangeas to its jubilant festivals and lively night markets.
  • Find new opportunities for service by learning practical skills and exploring innovative ways to make a lasting impact in your community.
  • Experience the invigorating city like a local when you attend exciting host-ticketed events.
  • Take part in motivating breakout sessions to learn new skills and get ideas for projects, fundraising, and more. Help us build a breakout program that celebrates Rotary’s diversity! Submit your breakout proposal by Wednesday, 30 September.
  • Explore the Rotary Fellowships at the House of Friendship to build relationships, collaborate, and ignite inspiration.
Want more reasons to attend? Watch our video about Taipei or download the promotional kit and use the materials to invite friends to join you in attending.