Dear District 5010 Rotarians:
I want to spread the word about how District 5010 Rotarians are substantively delivering upon our promise to help Alaska's communities, despite the impediment of Covid this year.  Rotary in Alaska is truly Service Above Self.
In this Email, I'd like to highlight a few of District 5010's substantive District-wide projects around the state, service about which virtually every Rotarian in our District has helped in some manner and about which we can all be justly be proud.  There are so many such projects across our District that I know I've missed many.  Email me with your Club's activities so that I can share them with all of our Rotarians! 
This Email discusses some of our current in-state projects.  In a later message, I'll detail some innovative international projects being done by our District Rotarians.
Food Security- Covid 19 has been a severe blow to many Alaskans, putting a higher proportion of Alaskans at risk for hunger, even in a relatively rich state like Alaska. Over the past year, PDG Andre` Layral, in concert with Anchorage Downtown Rotarian Diane Kaplan of the Rasmuson Foundation,  has raised more than $75,000 to help local food banks feed Alaskans.
The Kenai Rotary club under President Scott Seitz organized a peanut butter challenge where clubs around Alaska and a few out-of-state Rotary clubs pitched in to provide pallet loads of highly nutritious, low cost peanut butter to local food banks.
Many other clubs such as Anchorage East, Anchorage Downtown, Anchorage South and Soldotna have long-standing food security projects, including mobile pantries, support for the Children’s Lunchbox program, anonymously-donated Fred Meyer cards, and other food security related projects throughout Alaska. 
Similarly, Fairbanks, Kenai and some other Rotary clubs have announced clothing drives to help economically distressed Alaskans over the winter .
Rotary Cares For Kids is a now-classic district-wide project started by PDG Harry Kieling to assist children who are often left bewildered and clinging a black garbage bag of hastily-gathered clothes and personal care items when OCS is forced to remove them from their home due to abuse or danger. Many clubs currently participate in support Rotary cares for kids and it has been very active this year.  New clubs have signed on to actively participate in the coming year.  
Grassroots Community and Economy Building:  The District and several Rotary clubs are now bringing no-cost rural community and economic development expertise to smaller areas in our state that have been negatively impacted by the slowing of Alaska's economy over the past five years.   Very recent State of Alaska employment statistics show that Alaska has lost 7% of its employment compared to just before Covid and those earlier low employment levels reflected already-diminished employment over the prior four years of recession. 
Supported by a small District Excess Reserves grant, District 5010 is working with the USDA-supported Western Rural Development Consortium headed by our eClub Rotarian Professor Don Albrecht.  The Consortium has developed an award-winning process that helps local communities take charge of their own community and economic destinies, identify and better-use under-utilized local economic resources to build stronger communities and local economies, and  to access the Consortium's extensive rural community and grassroots economic development expertise.  This is particularly pertinent in more rural Alaska communities.
District 5010 has already started that grassroots community-based process in Nenana, Minto, and Haines.  In Kodiak, a very strong Rotary-based working group has formed, involving both Kodiak Rotary Clubs, Kodiak's Chamber of Commerce ( headed by Kodiak Rotarian and Chamber Director Aimee Williams) and Anchorage Rotarians like our past Foundation Chair Woody Angst.   
Through the good offices of another Anchorage Rotarian, we've also been in contact with the Alaskan Native Village Corporation Association about making a presentation about Rotary District 5010 and this District-wide project to the ANVCA conference late this summer and further extending this project to the most heavily impacted rural parts of Alaska.  If you would like to know more, check out our District's YouTube channel at:
Emergency Safe Water for Alaskans, and beyond:  
Safe water is one of Rotary's traditional areas of focus and such problems are not confined to far-away developing world countries.  Every year in Alaska, emergencies and natural disasters affect community water supplies across our state. 
So far this winter, six villages have lost their water systems due to fire or other disasters.  Of course, the same can occur in our urban areas struck by natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunami, and severe storms.  Some of these Alaska water system losses, such as the recent Tuluksak water facility loss, repeatedly made national news in publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post.  Buying bottled water and flying that water into stricken areas is cost-prohibitive and not sustainable in any event.
DGN-D Mike Pollen and a Delta-area water engineer have a better idea, devising a very cost-effective, highly portable emergency water system that can be promptly taken as needed within Alaska by readily-available helicopters or small cargo planes.  The systems are suitable for Arctic conditions and fit on an 8 foot square aluminum pallet, while producing several thousand gallons of safe water every day.   Two or three such emergency systems that can run for the duration of a disaster would cost less than the amount of money that was recently spent flying a limited amount of bottled water into Tuluksak.    
This is a technology demonstration project - the same design can be reproduced by the State of Alaska, FEMA or Rotary International's WASRAG safe water group and can provide a  highly portable, flexible and cost-effective approach to providing safe water after disasters in many parts of the world.  
District 5010 needs help devising and implementing a hybrid multi-source fundraising effort to fund this safe water project, raising funds from both traditional Rotary sources as well as more recent avenues such as GoFundMe.  Please Email DG Joe Kashi at if you're interesting in helping.
New and Interesting on District 5010's Website and YouTube Channel:
1.    A conversation about effective club leadership:    Effective, motivating  leadership depends primarily upon your interpersonal skills.
Join  Past District Governor Harry Kieling,  Bernie Griffard,  and 2020-2021 District Governor Joe Kashi for a conversation between them about how anyone become a more effective Rotary Club leader by developing the  interpersonal skills that help your members feel positively upon their involvement with Rotary,  reach consensus, feel energized,  and WANT to work with you.  Like any organization, Rotary clubs thrive when the club’s leaders develop their leadership skills.  PDG Harry Kieling and  Homer-Kachemak Bay Club Past-President Bernie Griffard have taught those skills for decades to new leaders. 
2.   A frank conversation about PTSD, alcohol abuse, and preventing suicide:  Retired US Marine Jeff Shilanski (ironically, no known relation to our own Floyd Shilanski) came to the brink as a result of 20 years deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan during the global war on terror.  That inevitably takes a total on every person.  Jeff’s lively and intense presentation to the District 5010 eClub looks squarely at that toll and how it nearly cost him his life.  He now helps similarly affected veterans in an innovative manner. 
3.   In the next several days, we hope to post Anchorage Downtown Rotary Club's recent program by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce about why improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness is good both for the community and for business.
Thank you and best regards to all District 5010 Rotarians
Joe Kashi
District 5010 Governor 2020-2021