Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay



Club Information

Welcome to the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay - Celebrating Over 30 Years Serving Homer and Abroad

Homer-Kachemak Bay

Four Way Test: True, Fair, Goodwill & Beneficial to All

We meet Thursdays at 12:00 PM
Best Western Bidarka Inn
575 Sterling Hwy
PO Box 377
Homer, AK  99603
United States
District Site
Venue Map
Home Page Stories

Abbas Rajabi, Rotary Club of Denver Southeast, Colorado, USA

In mid-1960s Iran, Peace Corps volunteers made a big impression on student Abbas Rajabi. Rajabi became friendly with volunteer Don Laffoon, who taught in his high school. 

Abbas Rajabi


“We were not all that different, even though our cultures were thousands of miles apart,” remembers Rajabi, now governor for District 5450 (northern Colorado) and a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Denver Southeast.

Rajabi emigrated to the United States for college in 1967, eventually going into the real estate business and joining Rotary. All the while, the memories of his Peace Corps friends lingered. So when a fellow Rotarian asked him if he would like to help foster cooperation between Rotary and the Peace Corps, Rajabi knew where to start.

“I wanted to call Don,” he says. “I tracked him down in California, and I said, ‘Thank you. You made a great impact in my life, and I needed to tell you that.’”

Since that conversation, Rajabi has been encouraging Rotary clubs all over the world to support the Peace Corps’ work. At the International Assembly, he passed out hundreds of flyers encouraging clubs to find ways to work with Peace Corps volunteers; at a Peace Corps conference, he spread the word about Rotary.

“My hope is that people realize that in spite of our looks, our background, our cultures, we are more or less the same,” he says.

• Read more stories from The Rotarian

The road to eradicating polio has been a long and difficult one, with Rotary leading the fight since 1985. Going from nearly 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 10 so far this year has required time, money, dedication, and innovation from thousands of people who are working to end the disease. 

Here are five things you may not know about the fight to end polio:

1. Ice cream factories in Syria are helping by freezing the ice packs that health workers use to keep the polio vaccine cold during immunization campaigns.

John Cena


2. Celebrities have become ambassadors in our fight to end the disease. 

They include WWE wrestling superstar John Cena, actress Kristen Bell, action-movie star Jackie Chan, golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, and world-renowned violinist and polio survivor Itzhak Perlman.

3. Health workers and Rotary volunteers have climbed mountains, crossed deserts, and sailed to remote islands, risking their lives to vaccinate children against this disease. Rotary has funded more than 1,500 motorbikes and 6,700 other vehicles, as well as 17 boats, to make those journeys. Vaccinators have even traveled on the backs of elephants, donkeys, and camels to immunize children in remote areas.

4. In Pakistan, the polio program emphasizes hiring local female vaccinators and monitors. More than 21,000 vaccinators, 83 percent of whom are women, are achieving the highest immunization coverage rates in the country’s history.

5. Thanks to the efforts of Rotary and its partners, more than 16 million people who otherwise might have been paralyzed are walking today. In all, more than 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated since 1988.



Coastwalk 2017 Community Cleanups!  There will be two days for "across the Bay" cleanup!

Free water taxi transportation provided:


September 24th -- McKeon Spit 10:00 - 4:00

October 1 -- Grewingk Spit 10:00 - 4:00


Contact Beth Trowbridge or Henry Reiske to sign up - space is limited.


Let's get ready to knock the socks off of our DG Harry Kieling next week!


1. Showcasing our projects - any and all welcome to join us! 10:00 - 12:00

2. Potluck picnic at the fire pit at the Karen Hornaday park - 12:00-1:00

3. Weather permitting we will head out on the Bay for a bit!  1:00 -3:00

4. Fellowship gathering at Barb Hill's house (directions and details coming) - potluck and a chance to meet and mingle with DG Harry - talk to him about all of the great things our club is involved in and just share a fun and relaxing time.  (joint gathering between the two Homer clubs)






1. 10:30 - 11:30 Monthly board meeting downstairs at the Bidarki with DG Harry attending

2. Lunch meeting and some inspiring words from DG Harry!


D5010 has been asked by Nancy Dodge to share the below information. Her contact information is given at the end of this e-mail.


Category 4 Hurricane Irma has made landfall on the US coastline in Florida.

At this time we do not have any information from RI about Rotary Clubs and Districts in the affected areas coordinating relief efforts, as they did in Houston.  We expect that information to come early in the week after an assessment is completed of the affected areas.

ShelterBox is sending out a highly-trained Response Team today to understand how they can help families who have lost everything. 2,000 Shelter Kits are currently stored nearby in Panama. With Shelter Box teams kicking into action, they are keeping one step ahead by tracking its trajectory.

The IRMA/Hurricane Relief Fund has been launched which provides support for all costs associated with ShelterBox’s response to Hurricane Irma and other 2017 hurricanes.

The Caribbean was badly battered as Irma has claimed at least 80 lives. The prime minister of Barbuda sadly proclaimed the island was now “rubble.” The mayor of the Haitian city of Fort Liberty described the storm as a “nuclear hurricane.”

 As well as being home to communities who are particularly vulnerable to these storms, many of these countries are also holiday destinations with high numbers of tourists from across the world.

Shelter Box has supported communities in several of these places before, including Haiti after the massive earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew, which hit last year.

We also have a strong network of contacts, partners and Rotary connections in the region, who will help us to identify communities in need of support.

Read about ShelterBox’s response in Texas following Hurricane Harvey(



The last two weeks have brought devastating flooding around the world. Shelter Box is working hard to stem the damage and bring back peace to people’s lives.

More than 1.7 million people have been affected in Nepal, while a third of Bangladesh is under water. Huge areas of India and Myanmar are also in need of support.

A ShelterBox Response Team is on the ground, assessing the situation in Nepal. Another team is enroute to Bangladesh right now.

Shelter Box is working with local authorities and Rotarians in both countries to understand how best we can help.

ShelterBox has the connections and the expertise to reach people in need of shelter following disasters such as flooding and hurricanes, but they can’t do it without your help.

Will you support us today to help our ShelterBox Response Teams to go further, to place the right tools in their hands?

Donate today and you can help ShelterBox build a world where no family goes without shelter.

IRMA/Hurricane Relief Fund – Provides support for all costs associated with ShelterBox’s response to Hurricane Irma and other 2017 hurricanes.

In the event that funds donated exceed the cost of ShelterBox’s response to these disasters, the excess will be used to prepare for and respond to humanitarian disasters worldwide. This fund is separate from the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.




Andre' Layral

D5010 DGN 2019-2020

cell 907-460-7786


Nancy Dodge 
Eagle River, Alaska 99577

ShelterBox Ambassador

ShelterBox USA | Pacific Northwest | e-Club Rotary District 5010
e: ShelterBox:
 | w: Cell: 941 993-4335


Our club is in need for someone to step up and help out the Youth Services Committee by attending the Fall Youth Exchange Retreat in Willow next weekend.


Christi is unable to attend and neither am I.  I can commit to attending the January meeting. 


Youth Services - especially the Youth Exchange program - has always been a priority for our club.  Now we need help making sure we can work through this transition year and share responsibilities so that we can continue with the program.


Please let me know if you are available to help with this weekend!  We need a few more members of our club to step up and help fill the gap with Christi leaving if we want to continue offering youth exchange as something our club is involved in. 


Please contact me to let me know if you can help.





Heather Beggs responded to my request for someone to attend the Youth Exchange Fall Orientation with the following inspiration:


The fall orientation weekend in Hatcher Pass is one of the best possible ways to experience what our youth exchange program is all about.  You will meet our recently-returned Alaskan students and hear their moving stories about how this exchange has changed their lives, their struggles and their accomplishments.  You'll spend the weekend in comfortable cabins at a beautiful lakeside camp, surrounded by Hatcher Pass fall colors.  You'll meet our fellow Rotarians from around the district helping our kids have successful exchanges, some brand new to the program and many seasoned veterans.  You'll learn A LOT and not be expected to be an expert - just come to learn.  Even if you are not considering stepping up to more responsibility with our youth programs, this is an incredible way to understand them better and be an advocate for youth exchange.  You won't regret spending your weekend with amazing kids from around the world and a fabulous group of Rotarians.


I added the bold - you don't need to commit to being the Youth Exchange Representative to attend - it could just be a great learning experience for you about the program!






Severe storms, an earthquake, and hurricanes are wreaking havoc across the globe from the United States and Mexico to South Asia and Africa. The Rotary Foundation and Rotary clubs in affected areas are helping bring emergency aid to battered communities. 

The Rotary Foundation is collecting emergency relief funds to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 

Severe rainfall caused historic flooding along the Texas coast, including in Houston, the fourth largest city by population in the United States. About 6.8 million people have been affected by the hurricane.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Irma is in the Caribbean and headed for Florida and the Atlantic coast of the United States. Already, the storm has directly affected 1.2 million people and millions more are in its path.

“The power of Rotary is in the Foundation's ability to pull help from around the world while local clubs provide immediate relief in their own communities,” says Don Mebus of the Rotary Club of Arlington, Texas.

Rotary districts along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana are collecting emergency relief funds and providing immediate aid to flood victims. 

The most powerful earthquake in a century hit the southern coast of Mexico on 7 September. At least 61 people were killed in the 8.1-magnitude quake. Rescue and relief efforts are expected to be hampered by floods and a dangerous storm surge off the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Katia moves into the area.

How to contribute

Two Rotary Foundation donor advised funds have been set up to accept donations for disaster relief and recovery in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma:

Hurricane Harvey
Account name: Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Fund
Account number: 608

Hurricane Irma
Account name: Hurricane Emergency Relief Fund
Account number: 296

You can contribute by check or wire transfer or online with a credit card. You'll need to provide the DAF account name and number listed above. If you would like a credit card receipt, please check the address box to share your address with Rotary. 

Learn how you can contribute.

In Sierra Leone, torrential rains and a mudslide in August has killed more than 500 people and destroyed nearly 2,000 homes. On the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, an orphanage, where more than 60 children slept, was swept away in the slide. More than 600 people are still missing.

An estimated 40 million people across Bangladesh, India, and Nepal have been affected after massive floods hit the area last month. UNICEF estimates 31 million people in India have lost their homes, and 8 million people in Bangladesh and 1.7 million in Nepal have been affected.

Rotary's partner, ShelterBox, is providing support to families displaced by the storms.

ShelterBox teams are working with Rotarians to assess the damage and provide emergency supplies and temporary housing in Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

In Texas, hundreds of light privacy tents were deployed to evacuation centers for families to use temporarily.

If you have questions about how you can help, contact

September 7th our speaker was Chris Figureida, who spoke of biking across the US and LOTS of other places.  It was a really informative and exciting program, but rather than try to explain his program, I'll include some pictures of his presentation, and an excerpt from his website: < >.

What We Do


Since 2005, Chris Figureida has cycled thousands of miles across the globe promoting healthy heart awareness. He has worked with schools to increase health, education and community development programs to help improve the future of our children. Cycle for Heart inspires both children and adults alike to take control of their lives and know they can do anything they put there minds to.

My Mission

To engage people - and especially kids, our leaders of tomorrow - to know that they can make a difference too - starting with themselves and healthy habits. Every day.

What I've Achieved

  • Ridden over 40,000 miles across North America
  • Spoken to over 67,000 students from kindergarten to college about the benefits of a health and active lifestyle.
  • Been recognized by State Capitals across the U.S.
  • Helped enact healthy legislation at local, state, and federal governments
  • Named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International
  • Visited 165 Rotary Clubs around the world for Polio eradication
Chris' Opening Slide
Wet Gloves = Blistered Hands
California, Pennsylvania, That Is!
And This is What it Looks Like When You Get Off the Interstate in the Eastern US
The Most Fun of All--Teaching the Kids
The Other Side of the World (Country)!
And Kids Showing Their Muscles!
Statistics of Chris' First Trip
Chris' Travels Outside Alaska
From the Lowest Point in North America (Death Valley) to the Highest (Mt. Denali) and Back!
Prudhoe Bay South, This Time!
The Next Project?  The Lowest Point We Can Get to--to the Highest!
Chris' Non-Profit Foundation
President Beth and Chris

Barry Rassin selected to be 2018-19 Rotary president

Barry Rassin


Barry Rassin, of the Rotary Club of East Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2018-19. He will be declared the president-elect on 1 September if no challenging candidates have been suggested.

As president, Rassin aims to strengthen our public image and our use of digital tools to maximize Rotary’s reach.

“Those who know what good Rotary clubs do will want to be a part of it, and we must find new models for membership that allow all interested in our mission to participate,” he says. “With Rotary more in the public eye, we will attract more individuals who want to be part of and support a membership organization that accomplishes so much good around the world.”

Rassin earned an MBA in health and hospital administration from the University of Florida and is the first fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives in the Bahamas. He recently retired after 37 years as president of Doctors Hospital Health System, where he continues to serve as an adviser. He is a lifetime member of the American Hospital Association and has served on several boards, including the Quality Council of the Bahamas, Health Education Council, and Employer’s Confederation.

A Rotarian since 1980, Rassin has served Rotary as director and is vice chair of The Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees. He was an RI training leader and the aide to 2015-16 RI President K.R. Ravindran.

Rassin received Rotary's highest honor, the Service Above Self Award, as well as other humanitarian awards for his work leading Rotary’s relief efforts in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there. He and his wife, Esther, are Major Donors and Benefactors of The Rotary Foundation.

Rassin’s nomination follows Sam F. Owori’s death in July, just two weeks into his term as Rotary International president-elect.

The members of the 2017-18 Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International are Anne L. Matthews (chair), Rotary Club of Columbia East, South Carolina, USA; Ann-Britt Åsebol, Rotary Club of Falun-Kopparvågen, Sweden; Örsçelik Balkan, Rotary Club of Istanbul-Karaköy, Turkey; James Anthony Black, Rotary Club of Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland; John T. Blount, Rotary Club of Sebastopol, California, USA; Frank N. Goldberg, Rotary Club of Omaha-Suburban, Nebraska, USA; Antonio Hallage, Rotary Club of Curitiba-Leste, Paraná, Brazil; Jackson S.L. Hsieh, Rotary Club of Taipei Sunrise, Taiwan; Holger Knaack, Rotary Club of Herzogtum Lauenburg-Mölln, Germany; Masahiro Kuroda, Rotary Club of Hachinohe South, Aomori, Japan; Larry A. Lunsford, Rotary Club of Kansas City-Plaza, Missouri, USA; P.T. Prabhakar, Rotary Club of Madras Central, Tamil Nadu, India; M.K. Panduranga Setty, Rotary Club of Bangalore, Karnataka, India; Andy Smallwood, Rotary Club of Gulfway-Hobby Airport (Houston), Texas, USA; Norbert Turco, Rotary Club of Ajaccio, Corse, France; Yoshimasa Watanabe, Rotary Club of Kojima, Okayama, Japan; and Sangkoo Yun, Rotary Club of Sae Hanyang, Seoul, Korea.

To learn more about Barry Rassin, read this interview and vision statement outlining his goals for Rotary.

Check dams increase farm incomes and reverse migration in India’s semidesert areas

Not long ago, young men in the semidesert areas of Rajasthan’s Sikar and Alwar districts were leaving their family farms to find work in the city. Faced with scarce water for crops and unreliable rainfall, they could no longer count on farming to feed their families.
Our villages no longer have only old men and women. Our young men have returned.

An elder from the Neem Ka Thana village in the Sikar district of Rajasthan
“The land here was so dry that you could barely get drinking water at 800 feet [244 meters] deep,” recalls Goverdhan, an elder from the Neem Ka Thana village in the Sikar district of Rajasthanelder. Because using only monsoon water limited cultivation, “young men migrated to cities like Delhi and Mumbai to work.”
Now, a Rotary water project is making farming profitable again and reversing the departure of young people. Farmers harvest rainwater that percolates into the ground by using check dams, which restrain, or check, the flow of rainwater from catchment basins.
Farmers use that water to replenish water supplies, including wells. Unlike dams built across rivers, check dams aren’t designed to create a new water source for irrigation or drinking, but rather to prevent the runoff and loss of precious rainwater.
“Our villages no longer have only old men and women,” says Goverdhan, one of the first beneficiaries of the project. “Our young men have returned.”

Water banks

The Rotary India Water Conservation Trust in partnership with the PHD Rural Development Foundation, built 82 check dams between 2005 and 2017, benefiting more than 250,000 residents of farming communities throughout the Sikar and Alwar districts. Rotary Foundation Trustee Sushil Gupta, chair emeritus of the water conservation trust, spearheaded the program.
  • 82
    check dams built since 2005
  • 250,000
  • village residents' lives changed
The dams include walls 14 feet (4.3 meters) high and foundations 7 feet (2.1 meters) deep to prevent erosion. Their catchment basins range in length from 3 to 7 kilometers (1.9 to 4.3 miles).
Water from the Aravalli hills flows into the check dam catchments and stays for roughly six to eight months. When the water recedes, it leaves behind silt and rich minerals, which offer another opportunity for a quick cash crop before the onset of the next monsoon. Twenty of these dams are now perennial (filled with water year-round) and contain enough fish to help feed the community.
Despite 2014’s disappointing rainfall, Goverdhan, who helps Rotary with its work, proudly points to the area’s greenery.
“Due to water scarcity, these farmers could earlier grow only millets and a little wheat. Now, they have three crops: millets, wheat, and vegetables such as bhindi [okra], tomatoes, and green chilies.” Goverdhan also says the check dams have raised water levels in wells eight feet (2.4 meters).” 
PHD Foundation CEO Atul Rishi says the check dams and increased water availability have dramatically expanded the area that can be farmed, as well as improved incomes. 
Some farmers’ incomes have increased 100-200 times, says field officer Mukti Narain Lal. “From thatched homes, they now have [better-quality] pucca houses; from camels and cattle, they now have tractors to plow their fields,” Lal says.
An aerial view of a check dam. Such dams feature walls 14 feet (4.3 meters) high and foundations 7 feet (2.1 meters) deep to prevent erosion. Their catchment basins range in length from 3 to 7 kilometers (1.9 to 4.3 miles).
Philippe Dangelser (standing second from right) attends the inauguration of the Banari Wala Dam, one of 24 check dams built with support from Rotary clubs. Village residents, above right, wait with marigold garlands to welcome Dangelser.
Photos by Rasheed Bhagat
At a gathering at Goverdhan’s home, a farmer tells his story. Some years ago, his five sons departed for cities to find work doing menial tasks. They’ve all come back, he says, adding that now, there is plenty of water, plenty of grain, plenty of money. In recent years, the farmer bought a tractor worth roughly $8,000. 
Village residents have taken ownership of the check dams and their maintenance to ensure sustainability. Each dam has a committee overseeing it, with money for maintenance kept in a bank.
One committee “wants to increase the width of the dam wall, which is now being used as a bridge,” says Atul Dev of the Rotary Club of Indraprastha-Okhla, Delhi, India. Dev is the project director of the Rotary India Water Conservation Trust.
“Thanks to the check dams, we have copious water for animals, birds, plants, and trees, too, as you can see from the greenery around,” he says.

A global connection

In November 2014, Dev accompanied Philippe Dangelser, past president of the Rotary Club of Brumath-Truchtersheim-Kochersberg, France, who was in India to inaugurate three completed check dams and help break ground for three more in the Sikar and Alwar districts.
Dangelser comes to India twice a year, bringing money he raises from Rotary clubs in France and Germany. So far, he has financed the construction of 24 dams. On this trip, he brings 30,000 euros (about $32,000) to build four to five more dams. Each dam costs around $12,000, minus the money saved by local volunteers who help with construction.
Dangelser’s India connection began in 2005, when he attended the Rotary International Convention in Chicago. Past District 3010 (now District 3011) Governor Ranjan Dhingra, the district’s water chair, invited Dangelser to visit India. Soon, he was dedicated. As one farmer describes Dangelser, “Another god gave us birth — you gave us life.”
The Latter-day Saints Charities have contributed $188,000 for 21 dams. And Rotary clubs in Russia and the United States have also donated money and labor.
• Read more stories from Rotary News India
Thanks to the check dams, we have copious water for animals, birds, plants, and trees, too, as you can see from the greenery around.

Member, Rotary Club of Indraprastha-Okhla, Delhi, India, and project director, Rotary India Water Conservation Trust
Things were going so well, then the weather caught up with us...!  A very minor detail, like winds of about 12 kts, increasing to 40 kts, but fortunately easterly.  Some quick phone calls lead to a change in transportation.  The small boats we had were going to stay home (pretty good idea), and a much larger one would take those who elected to go to Halibut Cove over to the Gordon's.  Great call!  
The ride over was a bit bouncy, as we were going into the seas, but otherwise uneventful.  Then we got to the Gordon's--WOW!  Fantastic people, fantastic place, fantastic food!  Those of us who made it there had a wonderful time, but we had to leave (several days too soon).  The ride back was considerably smoother, although the seas were much higher, but luckily we were going with them, and the boat handled the weather very well.  What a blast!
The Place
Our Host
and Hostess
How About This View!
Our Transportation--the One on the Left, not the One on the Right!

Rotary clubs along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, USA, are collecting emergency relief funds to help flood victims of Hurricane Harvey, which slammed into southeast Texas over the weekend.

Severe rainfall has caused historic flooding along the Texas coast, including in Houston, the fourth largest city by population in the United States. Deluged towns in the region are in desperate need of aid as thousands of residents were forced to flee their homes. About 6.8 million people have been affected by the hurricane, which made landfall on 25 August.

Several districts located along the Gulf coast in Texas and Louisiana have established disaster relief funds, including districts 58905910, and 5930 in Texas, and district 6200 in Louisiana. You can find information about how to contribute to other district funds in Texas on district 5840's website.

“We know that a disaster of this magnitude will require our financial assistance for months into the future,” says District 5930 Governor Betty Ramirez-Lara. “Our disaster relief committee will provide support where we believe it can best be used.”

ShelterBox, an independent charity and Rotary’s project partner, is also providing support to families displaced by the storm. Hundreds of light privacy tents will be deployed to evacuation centers throughout Texas for families to use temporarily.

“Our normal tents and ShelterKits are not appropriate for the conditions families are experiencing in Texas,” says James Luxton, ShelterBox operations team leader. “The flooding is covering large swathes of land, and is set to rise even further in the coming days, making indoor shelter the best option.”

If you have questions about how you can help, contact

Why one new member decided to join Rotary – and what he found when he hit the road to see how different clubs can be

By Illustrations by

Why I Joined

All it took was a new town, a sense of purpose – and an invitation

I never expected to be a Rotarian. For years, my idea of networking with the business community was paying my Visa bill. My idea of service was helping an elderly lady with her groceries.  

You’re welcome, Mom.

Then I wrote a story for The Rotarian on John F. Germ. It was an easy assignment: The 2016-17 president of Rotary International is good company and a generous host with a trove of stories about his life and work. He also has strong opinions about what Rotary does well and what it could do better. Germ took me on a whirlwind tour of Chattanooga, Tenn., his hometown. I was scribbling notes when he asked if I was a Rotarian. 

I admitted I wasn’t. 

“Why not?”

“Nobody ever asked me.”

He nodded. “That’s one of our problems. We don’t ask enough of the right people,” he said, “for fear of rejection. We’re afraid they’ll say no.”

I wasn’t sure about being one of the right people, but a couple of weeks later an email arrived, inviting me to join Rotary. This was Germ theory in action, turning words into deeds. To paraphrase another business leader known for getting results, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. 

It was a good time to join. My wife and I were moving from New York City to western Massachusetts, where we knew nobody. What better way to get acquainted than through the local Rotary club?

The Rotary Club of Northampton gathers at noon on Mondays in the grand old Hotel Northampton, where the guest list has included the town’s former mayor, Calvin Coolidge, who went on to be the 30th president of the United States, as well as Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, the Dalai Lama, Bob Dylan, Richard Nixon, Tom Cruise, and John Mayer. The dining room where the club meets isn’t quite so star-studded, but it’s congenial. It’s where you’ll find a dozen or so Rotarians doling mashed potatoes and chicken onto dinner plates, catching up on the weekend’s events, listening to a short presentation from this week’s speaker, and hoping to make the world a little better before next week’s meeting. 

For this longtime New Yorker, the good-natured vibe in the room was a refreshing change. The locals hung around to give me directions to libraries and bookstores, tips on restaurants, invitations to lunch or dinner. When I spent a few hours welcoming guests to New Year’s Eve performances by local musicians – my first gig as a Rotary volunteer – Club President Dan Shaver took over for me a half-hour early. “Thanks for helping out,” he said. “Now go enjoy the music.” And he gave me a brownie. 

It’s enough to make you wonder why everybody doesn’t join the club. 

Yet membership is still a challenge in many parts of the world. As Rotarians get older, fewer new members fill the ranks. Over time, attrition can shrink or eliminate Rotary clubs. “We lost a club up the road in Williamsburg and another in Hatfield. They basically aged out,” says my new friend Phil Sullivan, a longtime Rotarian who recalls when those all-male clubs’ members followed rules that sound antique today. “You had to wear a shirt and tie to meetings or you were out. You had to make 90 percent of the meetings or you were out. That stuff wouldn’t fly these days. People are so busy you’re lucky to get them when you can.”

A 2011 survey showed that while Rotary is one of the best-known service organizations in the world, four in 10 people had never heard of it, another four in 10 knew only the name – to them, “Rotary” had perhaps a hazy association with good-deed-doing – and just 20 percent knew something about Rotary’s work. Rotary’s public image campaigns have since improved awareness, but most people still lack a clear understanding of what Rotary is and what Rotarians do: In 2015, only 41 percent of people surveyed were familiar with Rotary clubs, 12 percent knew about Rotary’s work to end polio, and 8 percent were aware of Rotary Peace Centers. 

The same survey asked people why they didn’t join Rotary. The top three reasons: 

“Not enough time.”

“I’m worried about the cost.”

“Nobody asked me.” 

In 2011, Rotary International launched a program to strengthen our image, expand public understanding of what Rotary does, and motivate, engage, and inspire current and prospective members. Four years later, global awareness of the organization had jumped from 60 to 75 percent. 

So why are members joining today? “Having a sense of purpose” is the most popular reason, followed by making a difference, friendship, and networking. Northampton Club President Shaver’s trajectory was typical: “When I moved here four years ago, I didn’t know anyone,” he says. “I needed to join something, but I was looking for networking with a purpose.” Shaver is a chiropractor; he took over a retiring colleague’s office space, and the man was a Rotarian who offered to sponsor him. That sounded good to Shaver, who got so involved that he was soon running the 32-member club. “It’s more work than I ever expected, and the workload just keeps growing. But so does the fun. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

When Maria Maher moved from Chicago to Annapolis, Md., she looked forward to years of boating on the Chesapeake Bay with her husband, an avid sailor. Then he lost a leg in a motorcycle crash. Looking back, Maher says, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell her your plans.”

After months spent largely in hospitals and rehab centers, Maher wanted to reconnect with the business community. “The Rotary Club of Annapolis was a place to put my skills to use,” says the former vice president and chief of staff to the CEO of the American Medical Association. Sponsored by local legend Charles Heller (whom we profiled in our July 2014 issue), she joined and quickly volunteered to help recruit new members. 

“We want the club to get younger,” Maher says, and to that end they recently voted to create a new class of membership called Active Under 40, which allows younger members to join at a reduced dues rate. “But young people today are also very time-poor. Jobs and family take up almost every minute. The question is, how can we adapt to the lives they live?”

Maher is now part of the Annapolis club’s membership committee, floating new ideas such as flexible meeting times and ways to attract young parents as members. “For one thing, we’re looking at weekend service projects where younger members might bring their families,” she says. “It might be a chance for children to see their parents giving back to the community. Wouldn’t that help instill Rotary values in the next generation?”

On a recent road trip to Texas, I visited the Rotary Club of Cross Timbers, near Dallas (read the story in our July issue). The hard-charging officers of that club evaluate prospective members by asking, “Do they have the three T’s: talent, time, and treasure?” I like their spirit. For them, Rotary isn’t a 112-year-old bunch of businessmen trying to keep up with the times. It’s the hottest service organization of the future. 

What I Saw

On Day One, I get lost in a rotary on my way to Rotary. In most of the world, such a traffic circle is called a “roundabout,” but in New England it’s a “rotary.” I take a wrong way out and wind up east of Westfield.

This is no way to start my undertaking to visit seven Rotary clubs in a week – all of them within an easy drive of Northampton, Mass. Having recently moved from New York City, I’m a newcomer both to the area and to Rotary, and I figure this would be the perfect way to make contacts, learn about the area – and to get a sense of what different Rotary clubs have in common, as well as what makes each one unique. 

As long as I don’t get lost. 

“Westfield?” a pedestrian says. “Well, first you head back to the rotary …”

MONDAY, 12:05 p.m.; Westfield, Mass. 

I hustle into the Westfield Technical Academy, a vocational high school with a sign out front: “Tiger’s Pride Restaurant.” 

Westfield, also known as Whip City, was once the world’s buggy-whip capital. Today the spirited kids at Westfield Tech study information technology, collision technology (don’t call it auto shop), aviation maintenance, and culinary arts. I’m here for the last specialty – the culinary arts students run a full-service restaurant in the auditorium.

“Welcome to Tiger’s Pride,” chirps the freshman who leads me to my table. The menu features baked chicken stuffed with cornbread and sausage, pecan-crusted catfish, pork roast, and a carrot cake I want two pieces of. 

A friend had told me not to eat in a high school restaurant. “Would you get your hair cut at a barber college?” 

I would if it were Tiger’s Pride Barber College. That’s how good my catfish is.

Almost all 38 members of the Rotary Club of Westfield turn out for the lunch that the high school is hosting for them this week. About half are Rotarians of long standing; the other half are younger, more recent members. “We’re the new blood,” one says. 

This club is a foodie’s garden of eatin’. As Tim Flynn, the club’s 2016-17 president, announces a $1,300 donation to the city’s food pantry that made the local news, John Slattery digs into his lunch. Slattery, a professional chef, pronounces his taste buds “impressed. The asparagus was perfectly cooked, and the flavors in the pork roast were spot-on. These kids are getting great instruction.” 

Incoming President Lynn Boscher tells me about the club’s main event: “Our Food Fest in August. We take over the town with food and drink!” 

Later, circumnavigating the rotary that threw me off before, I have a thought: This story has a chance to be delicious. 

MONDAY, 6 p.m.; Chicopee, Mass.

A town known for foundries that turned out Civil War cannons, Chicopee seems to be made of red brick. The vast Cabotville Mill on the Chicopee Canal, City Hall with its 147-foot clock tower, and Munich Haus, a locally famous rathskeller where the Chicopee Rotary Club convenes once a month – all these buildings are 100-plus years old, as sturdy as the club that has been meeting in the town since 1969.

The club usually meets at a Chinese restaurant. “But once a month we get together here after work to give people who can’t make a noon meeting a chance to join us,” says President Tania Spear, leading me into a red-brick dining room festooned with mounted boars’ heads and a stuffed pheasant. 

That kind of flexibility is crucial, says longtime member Lucille Kolish. “We can’t simply wait for people to come through the door.” 

Spear runs down a list of club causes: the Sandwich Ministry, a charity that provides meals to people who need them in Chicopee; an upcoming Veterans Appreciation Dinner; and a new freezer for the Chicopee Senior Center. Biggest of all is the annual Celebrity Bartender night, when the mayor and other local luminaries mix drinks for charity. John Arthur rises to his feet. “Madam President,” he says, “we’re gonna raise a whole lot of money that night!” 

When dinner comes, Spear offers a typically to-the-point toast: “Enjoy.” Then she hands me a bottle of hand sanitizer. “What do you expect?” she says. “I’m a nurse!” 


Here is information about the Ecuador Projects Fair and Galapagos trip that Noko spoke to us about.  Looks pretty neat!


Purpose:  To enjoy a 5 day excursion (12-16 November 2017) to the Galapagos Islands followed by the D4400 Project Fair in Guayaquil, Ecuador (17-19 November 2017).


Features:  Meet Homer youth exchange student Felix Minuche, who lives in Guayaquil.  Promote the Health Fair Project at the Projects Fair.  No visa required.  US dollars are the official Ecuadorian currency.  Fly Alaska Airlines / American Airlines to Guayaquil.  Get back home in time for Thanksgiving.


Costs:  $200 Project Fair registration, Guayaquil hotel $133/night for 3 nights, about $1,700 for Galapagos Island tour, including R/T airfare from Guayaquil and $100 park entrance fee.


Contact:   Steve Yoshida for more information.  






Sam F. Owori was elected to serve as president of Rotary International in 2018-19 and would have been the second African Rotarian, and the first Ugandan, to hold that office. He died on 13 July, at age 76, from complications after surgery.  

Owori is largely credited with the tremendous increase in clubs in Uganda, from nine in 1988, when he was district governor, to 89 today. 

Owori was a district governor during the term of Rotary President Chuck Keller in 1987-88, when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the first fundraising campaign was launched. A member of the Africa Regional PolioPlus Committee and the International PolioPlus Committee, he brought an unyielding sense of right and wrong to his work with Rotary, as well as to his position as CEO of the Institute of Corporate Governance of Uganda and his previous work with the African Development Bank and other institutions. 

He held a graduate degree in labor law from the University of Leicester, England; a business management degree from California Coast University; and a management graduate degree from Harvard Business School.

Owori is survived by his wife, Norah; three sons, Adrin Stephen, Bonny Patrick, and Daniel Timothy; and grandchildren Kaitlyn, Sam, and Adam. Condolences can be addressed to Mrs. Norah Agnes Owori, c/o Institute of Corporate Governance of Uganda, Crusader House, Plot 3 Portal Avenue, Kampala, Uganda, or via 

The Sam F. Owori Memorial to Polio has been established to honor Owori’s commitment to Rotary’s polio eradication efforts. Go here and select "Sam F. Owori Memorial to Polio" to contribute to this memorial fund.

EVANSTON, IL (August 7, 2017) — About 80 percent of the world's 285 million visually impaired people have treatable eye diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Rotary and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) aim to promote eye health to underserved communities.   

Under the one-year partnership signed today by Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko and Vice President of IAPB Victoria Sheffield, Rotary clubs can partner with IAPB member agencies to provide access to continuous eye care and blindness prevention services such as eye exams, cataract screenings and treatment, and diabetic eye examinations and follow-up services. 

Victoria Sheffield, vice president of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, and John Hewko, Rotary International general secretary, sign the partnership agreement.

Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

“IAPB champions the belief that in the 21st century no one should have to live with avoidable blindness or sight loss,” said Rotary General Secretary John Hewko. “Rotary also sees global health as a core priority. With IAPB’s expertise, and the power of Rotary’s volunteer network, we will strengthen our ability to transform the lives of millions of people who live with a visual impairment.” 

"The impact of blindness prevention efforts is lasting and has a palpable effect at the local level. This service partnership agreement will help eye care agencies and hospitals tie-up with local Rotary clubs to deliver positive, lasting eye care to local communities" noted Victoria Sheffield, CEO, International Eye Foundation and Vice-President, IAPB. “Eye care work will greatly benefit from the passion, energy, and support of Rotary members worldwide”.

IAPB’s mission is to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness and visual impairment by bringing together governments, non-governmental agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector to facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of sustainable eye care programs. 

Rotary members develop sustainable projects that fight disease, promote peace, provide clean water, support education, save mothers and children, and grow local economies. The recent partnership will help clubs further their efforts to provide disease prevention and treatment and maternal and child health programs worldwide. Over the past three years, nearly a quarter of a million people benefited from Rotary’s interventions for disease prevention and maternal and child health, supported by almost $100 million awarded through its grants programs.

IAPB joins a list of Rotary service partners including, the Peace CorpsDollywood Foundation, the Global FoodBanking Network, and Youth Service America

About Rotary

Rotary  brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. 

About International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness 

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is the coordinating membership organization leading international efforts in blindness prevention activities. IAPB’s mission is to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness and visual impairment by bringing together governments and non-governmental agencies to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of sustainable national eye care programs. 


Rotary contact: Chanele Williams 847-866-3466  

IAPB contact: Tejah Balantrapu

EVANSTON, IL (August 10, 2017) — As part of Rotary’s year-long centennial celebration of The Rotary Foundation – the global membership organization’s charitable arm, Rotary clubs raised $304 million to support positive, lasting change in communities around the world.

Since its inception in 1917 with its first donation of $26.50, The Rotary Foundation is today a leading humanitarian foundation that has spent nearly $4 billion to help countless people live better. Each year, The Rotary Foundation provides more than $200 million to end polio and support sustainable projects and scholarships that promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, support education, save mothers and children, and grow local economies

Rotary’s top humanitarian goal is to eradicate the paralyzing disease, polio. Rotary launched its polio immunization program PolioPlus in 1985, and in 1988 became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year to 37 confirmed in 2016. Rotary has contributed more than US $1.7 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.

“When we say that our Rotary Foundation is saving and transforming lives, we are not exaggerating,” said Kalyan Banerjee, Trustee Chair, The Rotary Foundation – 2016-17. “With the continued strong support of our members, we will keep our promise of a polio-free world for all children, and enable the Foundation to carry out its mission of advancing world understanding, goodwill and peace.  We look forward to another 100 years of Rotary members taking action to make communities better around the world.”

About Rotary

Rotary  brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. 


Contacts: Chanele Williams 847-866-3466

DG Harry Kieling
Sep 28, 2017
District Governor Visit
Dr. Sean Dusek -- Superintendent of KPBSD
Oct 05, 2017
Kenai Peninsula School District
Sam Gingerich and Duane Hrncir
Oct 12, 2017
Chancellor and Provost of UAA
Boyd Walker
Oct 19, 2017
Inbound Youth Exchange
John Mouw
Oct 26, 2017
Bernie Griffard
Nov 02, 2017
Nov 23, 2017
No Meeting
Dec 21, 2017
No Meeting
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