After a sampling of the Hickory Rotary Club’s renowned vocal “talents” and a rousing rendition of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” Rotary District 7670 Governor Ronnie Thompson regrouped and spoke to the club’s membership, outlining his goals as District Governor for District 7670, July 2013- June 2014.
Highlighting Rotary’s theme of “Engage Rotary – Change Lives,” Thompson emphasized the importance of local service projects which benefit the community, the recipients of club efforts, and the Rotarians who participate in club projects. Hickory Rotary is on board with the local projects imitative with a goal of at least one local service opportunity for club members monthly, beginning with the club’s support of the Carolina Cycle Challenge (formerly Brett’ Ride, a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research) in October.
Beyond the local level DG Ronnie spoke of District 7670’s Wheelchair Project which provided 3380 wheelchairs to people internationally, who needed a wheelchair but could not afford one. He pointed out that a project like this not only benefits the recipient, but also the recipient’s family members or caregivers.
Thompson also underlined the importance of continuing the fight to eradicate polio. Rotarians began the Polio Plus effort in 1985 to eradicate polio worldwide, and only a few isolated pockets of the disease remains endemic – Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. At the 2013 Rotary International convention in Lisbon, Portugal a partnership was announced with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supporting world efforts to eradicate polio. The joint effort called End Polio Now means the Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to US$35 million per year, every dollar Rotary commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018.
Thompson suggested clubs organize a Polio Plus “Purple Pinkie” Project. Children in polio-endemic countries know that a freshly marked purple pinkie means that a child has received the polio vaccine and is a sign of freedom from the disease. When members of your community make a small contribution to Polio Plus, have Rotarian volunteers mark their pinkies with the same dye used on National Immunization Days around the world. The purple pinkie will serve as a personal symbol of helping one child become free from polio forever. Learn more in the handbook provided by District 6940 (Florida, USA)
Also stressed was the importance of Rotarian support for the CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Trust) project. Rotarians in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia are the sponsors of The CART Fund dedicated to raising funds to provide the “seed” money for cutting edge, high impact research in hopes of finding a cure/prevention for Alzheimer’s disease. Hickory Rotary club is a strong supporter of CART, placing 3rd in funds raised in Rotary District 7670 in 2012.
Governor Thompson also highlighted the importance of Rotary’s New Generations Avenue of Service. In 2010 the Rotary Council on Legislation approved an enactment to add a fifth Avenue of Service – New Generations. New Generations joins Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, and International Service as the foundation of club activity.
Hickory Rotary is a strong supporter of Rotary’s fifth Avenue of Service “Youth Service” (formerly New Generations), through the club’s efforts supporting:
- Rotary Youth Exchange (global student exchange and Rotarian hosting for student study abroad and foreign students hosted by Rotarians studying in the United States)
- RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) which is Rotary’s leadership training program for young people. RYLA participants can be ages 14-30, but most clubs and districts choose to focus on a narrower age range, such as 14-18 or 19-30
- Hickory High school’s Interact Club (Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 12 to 18), and Lenoir Rhyne University’s Rotaract Club (a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30)
- Local scouting initiatives, such as the club’s assistance with the recent Boy Scout Cabin Restoration Project
Thompson also announced an effort to send 250 Rotarians who participated in the Normandy invasion to a 70th anniversary of D-Day next year in Virginia. He also invited Rotarians to take advantage of proximity and attend the 2017 Rotary International convention in Atlanta.