Ralph Towsley Lifetime Award

“Rotary can do something”.
A common theme of successful Rotary project is Rotarians who see a need and respond with “Rotary can do something”.
When WWII started, Rotary international suspended Rotary in the occupied countries of the Soviet Union and others. In December of 1991 the Soviet Union Failed.
A man named Ted Segodonia had made a couple of trips to the Ukraine and had the idea of starting a Rotary Club in Kiev. In the spring of 1992 approximately 50 members of 5 Rotary Clubs from North America and Scotland travelled to Kiev to start a new Rotary Club of Kiev. From our District on that trip District were Stu Bird, Malcolm Hunter, Ted Segodonia and Ralph Towsley. Ted had convinced the Vancouver delegation to fill two suitcases each with simple supplies like matches or nylons to take with them because the people there had nothing.
During this trip the delegation visited a hospital. I want you to visualise the impact this had on the Rotarians. It was filled with child patients,  abandoned and orphaned from Chernobyl, a most devastating nuclear disaster.  The conditions were deplorable, dirt, broken and failing sinks and plumbing, ancient enamel hospital beds from the 60’s or earlier. There were very old bandages and supplies on the shelves of which the nurses did not want to use because they did not know when or if the supplies would be replaced. Can you imagine the impact on these Rotarians? I can hear their thoughts and words. “We have to do something!”
Back home Ted Segodonia, Ralph Towsley and a gentleman, well known in Rotary World Help lore, Bill Richwa along with these other Rotarians hatched a plan to “do Something” They made inquiries with local hospitals and discovered that when hospital equipment was replaced the older equipment was retired AND that they would be happy to get rid of it. These Rotarians ventured to send a container to Kiev which they did filled with hospital beds, IV Bag holders some 250 of them, and lots of other supplies.
When finished they had enough medical equipment to fill two additional containers. These men quickly realized that The RCV could not do this alone and asked for help from other Rotary Clubs. This is how what is now called Rotary World Help was born.
Today we honour one of the key instigators. He is one of the originals, who has carried that Rotary spirit through 24 years of inspirational success. Today he is the voice, the inspiration to the Rotary World Help Team; he has been there for all of it including every container loading. A man who is loved by all who know him and a Rotarian who is an author of the words  “Rotary can do something”.  And he did.
I would like to present a Rotary Lifetime achievement Award to District 5040 and Rotary World Help’s own: A long term member of the Rotary Club of Vancouver                   Ralph Towsley.