The 2014 District 5890 Rotary Foundation Seminar, held on September 20, 2014, was a celebration of the many International and Local Service Projects which were larger in size and scope due to funding from Our Rotary Foundation and was also a celebration of giving by our District’s Rotarians!

 I started off the Seminar by saying “If you are one of those Rotarians who think Rotary is still an old man’s organization which never changes – or is changing too slowly – you are in the wrong place, because today, you will see a new face of Rotary and will see how Rotary is changing the world!”


Right out of the box, we had an appeal by PDG Rhonda Walls Kerby (R/C of Katy) for assistance to help the R/C of Monrovia, Liberia in it’s effort to contain the terrible Ebola epidemic there.  I’m happy to report that the Rotary Clubs of Katy and Alvin donated a total of $4,870 that morning and with the contacts and help of Katy’s Ed Bland, the Monrovia Ebola Response Chair has already acknowledged the receipt of the funds and is using our donation to buy food and medicine for the workers and patients there as well as for Ebola awareness materials to distribute in the area.

DG Lisa Faith Massey’s  explanation of how participation in both the giving and the service programs of The Rotary Foundation can make your Club a more active and inspired one was right on the money.  PDG Bob Gebhard honored and presented certificates to the Top Clubs (Annual Fund Per-Capita, PolioPlus, and Total Giving) and then presented new Major Donor recognition to Wally and Kathy Kronzer (West U) and new Bequest Society recognition to Tommie Jurek (Houston Heights).        

Our featured speakers included Nicole Heydari, a peacemaker who spoke about “Education in a War Zone” (Afghanistan) and Dr. Isis Mejias, recently back from leading a group of Rotary’s top water experts to Uganda where they planned a large scale water and sanitation project in schools there.  Isis spoke of “The Role of Sustainability in Today’s World”.  Both Nicole and Isis were introduced to our District by members of the Humble Intercontinental Rotary Club and both have led amazing International Service Projects (in Brazil, Kenya, and Afghanistan) with the help of District 5890 supported Rotary Foundation District Grants and Global Grants.  Following their talks, Humble Intercontinental’s Oren Bain honored both of these great Rotary Ambassador’s with Paul Harris Fellows.

Our Keynote Speaker, Marion Bunch, a Rotarian from Atlanta and founder of the Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention (a Rotary Action Group), opened her heart to all present to tell of the day, while mourning the loss of her son to AIDS, a hand tapped her on the shoulder (at her weekly Rotary meeting) and said it’s time to get to work!  Marion explained how Rotarians, through the power of the partnerships they have made, are changing lives by the hundreds of thousands with Health Screenings in Africa.  What a great and inspiring Rotary Leader with a great story of “Making a Difference - Through Rotary”!

Our final Featured Speaker was our own, PDG, member of the Rotary Club of Gulfway/Hobby,  immediate Past RI Director and RI Treasurer, Andy Smallwood  who explained the “New Rotary Foundation Funding Model” which will help sustain Our Rotary Foundation for even greater service in the years ahead.  Andy never fails to make subjects which could be dry into ones that are interesting and humorous.

In addition, our Paul Harris Society (PHS) Chair, Don Raskin ( West U), explained the impact of the Paul Harris Society in our District, how having a few PHS Members can drastically increase your club’s per-capita giving,  and showed how easy it is to give at the $85 per month level by making recurring contributions through Rotary Direct.  Don then presented PHS Certificates to several new PHS Rotarians who recently pledged to donate $1,000+ per year to a combination of TRF’s Annual Fund & PolioPlus.

Benefactor Chair, Graham Sharp (Galleria Area), demonstrated how each of us can help provide for the future of Rotary by becoming Benefactors (an estate or current gift of $1,000+ to Rotary’s Endowment) or Bequest Society Member at the $10,000+ level.  He explained how your Endowment gift lives on forever and how you can designate it for specific uses at higher gift levels.  He encouraged each Benefactor to tell others why he or she has made Rotary’s Endowment their choice for estate planning.  And it doesn’t cost you any current cash!  Graham says he will personally repay any Endowment gift you find that you need after you pass on!

Wayne Staton, our District’s PolioPlus Chair (Sharpstown), introduced “The World’s Greatest Meal”, an effort to raise funds for the final push to END POLIO NOW through a meal or a snack at your Club, local café,  or home.  He also encouraged everyone to celebrate World Polio Day, Oct. 24, 2014, by making a donation, wearing your END POLIO NOW pin, advocating for the effort at your Club and in your local media, and thanking  public officials for our government’s support of the effort.

Also, Raymond Gonzalez (Highlands) informed us of the ways his Club members raised and donated funds to become the Top Per-Capita Giving Club in the District last year ($735 per member to the Annual Fund + $4,350 to PoioPlus).  Believe me, it was a multi-pronged attack!  And last, I rolled out the new Triple Crown Club Challenge – a challenge for Top- Performing Clubs to: 1.  Become 100% Benefactor 2. Become 100% Sustaining Members (personally giving $100 to The Rotary Foundation during the Rotary Year) and 3. Becoming 100% Paul Harris Fellows (or PHF again in the last 12 months if the club was previously 100% PHF).  If your club is an effective one, you might consider taking on this Challenge.  Prizes will be awarded for the Top Clubs!

Generous Donations of $34,956 made at the Seminar ($10,486 for PolioPlus + $24,470 for the Annual Fund) are on the way to TRF and will be matched with Rotary Foundation Recognition Points from generous donors.  Thanks to all of you who attended.  Please take action now on the new programs you learned about at this year’s Rotary Foundation Seminar and be on the lookout for the 2015 Rotary Foundation Seminar date!

Questions?  Terry Ziegler, Rotary Club of West U, District Rotary Foundation

 Committee Chair, cell 713-825-1176