Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay



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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
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Rotary announces $35 million to support a polio-free world

News Release

Contact: Michelle Kloempken, (847) 866-3247,

EVANSTON, Ill. (17 January 2017) — Rotary today announced $35 million in grants to support the global effort to end polio, bringing the humanitarian service organization’s contribution to $140 million since January 2016.

Nearly half of the funds Rotary announced today ($16.15 million) will support the emergency response campaigns in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin (Chad, northern Cameroon, southern Niger and Central African Republic). Four cases of polio were detected in Nigeria in 2016, which had previously not seen a case since July 2014.

With these cases, funding is needed to support rapid response plans in Nigeria and surrounding countries to stop the outbreak.

While significant strides have been made against the paralyzing disease, with just 35 cases reported in 2016, polio remains a threat in hard-to-reach and underserved areas, and conflict zones. To sustain this progress, and protect all children from polio, experts say $1.5 billion is needed.

In addition to supporting the response in the Lake Chad Basin region, funding has been allocated to support polio eradication efforts in Afghanistan ($7.15 million), Pakistan ($4.2 million), Somalia ($4.64 million), and South Sudan ($2.19 million). A final grant in the amount of $666,845 will support technical assistance in UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Office.

Rotary has contributed more than $1.6 billion, including matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio immunization program, PolioPlus, in 1985. In 1988, Rotary became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was later joined by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year to 35 confirmed in 2016, and no cases in 2017. 

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. To access broadcast quality video footage and still photos go to: The Newsmarket.

We Want YOU! District Conference - Sitka
The 2017 Sitka District Conference Committee has openings for individuals who are talented in the following areas:
and more!
Leadership Opportunities for All District 5010 Rotarians
One of the great opportunities in Rotary that sometimes doesn't get much fanfare is leadership training and hands on leadership experience. It usually starts in the club and depending on the size of your club the opportunities might come very soon after joining.

Pakistan's Rise to Zero


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Pakistan and Rotary are cutting through a whirl of migrating families and cultural barriers to turn what was 'a badge of shame' into a model for disease eradication.

By Produced by

At a busy toll plaza in Kohat, Pakistan, a three-member vaccination team is working fast. 

Outfitted in blue Rotary vests and flanked by armed military personnel, the vaccinators approach a white van as it pulls away from the scattered stream of traffic, cars rattling east toward Islamabad and west to the nearby border with Afghanistan. One worker leans toward the driver to ask a question as another reaches into a cooler to prepare the vaccine. Among the crush of passengers in the van, they identify one child who has not yet been vaccinated.

There is no time for second-guessing. 

There is not even enough room for the boy to crawl toward the front of the vehicle or through one of the doors; a relative must hand the young child to the vaccinators through one of the rear windows. He is quickly inoculated with two drops of oral polio vaccine, and his pinkie finger is stained with purple ink to indicate that he’s received his dose. He cries as the vaccinator hurriedly passes him back through the window. The van speeds off, fading back into the dizzying hum of traffic, as the vaccinators look for the next car and child.

This scene plays out thousands of times a day at transit posts like this one — makeshift vaccination clinics set up at bus stops, border crossings, army posts, and police checkpoints across the country in an effort to reach children who are on the move. 

Here in Pakistan, home to almost all of the world’s polio cases just a few years ago, these moving targets require a vaccination strategy as agile and stubborn as the virus itself. At hundreds of sites, teams of health workers verify that every child passing through receives the vaccine. 

The interaction is fleeting — faster than getting a meal at a drive-through restaurant — but the benefit is permanent. Another child, another family, another generation is protected, and Pakistan moves one step closer to having zero polio cases.

More than 700 children are vaccinated daily at the busy Kohat Toll Plaza, which borders Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Photos by Khaula Jamil

Setback year

In 2014, Pakistan’s effort to wipe out polio, a disease that can paralyze, was in crisis.

Political pressure to root out the virus was being tested, reports of violence against vaccinators were common, and perceptions that the country was an incubator of the disease grew. Massive population movement and displacement had pushed the anti-polio campaign to its limit. 

The consequence? Reports of the disease spiked to alarming levels. 

The explosive outbreak that year totaled 306 reported cases, up from 93 the previous year. Pakistan had 82 percent of the world’s cases of polio in 2014. One newspaper editorial at the time called the epidemic Pakistan’s “badge of shame.”

Dr. Rana Safdar, director of the National Emergency Operations Center in Pakistan, on the success of Rotary’s PolioPlus strategy.

A pointed 2014 report from the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative spotlighted Pakistan’s missteps, humbling government leaders and health officials, who scrambled to find solutions. 

“We were emotional and somewhat defensive,” says Dr. Rana Safdar, director of the National Emergency Operations Center in Pakistan. “But the report pushed us to get our act together on polio, for first time. Our program was a threat to the global polio eradication efforts. The upsurge we had in Pakistan was unprecedented.”

The government effectively declared war on polio, condemning the outbreak as a national disaster. Words were soon matched with action.

“The motivation and the commitment of the vaccinators on the front line and government officials became stronger,” says Aziz Memon, chair of Rotary’s Pakistan PolioPlus Committee. “We had more reason to say, ‘Yes, we need to get rid of this disease and fulfill the promise we made to the children of this country: No child in the future will be crippled by this disease.’”

Led by this renewed commitment, the country rallied, intensifying immunizations through new strategies that resulted in a dramatic decrease in polio cases over the next two years. 

The number of new infections dropped from 306 in 2014 to 56 the next year, a decrease of 82 percent. In 2016, only 15 cases of polio caused by the wild virus were reported. 

‘A paradigm shift’ 

Continued in "Read More" Section

Important Links:

RI Convention 2017:

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Rotary Foundation!  Join us in Altanta Georgia from June 10-14, 2017.

Book now and get the Early Bird registration fee of $340 (increasing over time to the full rate of $490).  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

While you are registering for the Convention, register for your hotel.  Here are some recommendations of hotels near the Convention Center.  These will book quickly so register now - cancellation policy gives you until May 2017 in case you change your mind.

Hotel Recommendations:

Only 5 hotels remaining at this point. (July 14)

The best option for location and price is the Mariott Marquis at $205 per night and about a 20 minute walk.  It has a rating of 4/5 and ranks 41 on TripAdvisor.   Amenities include the Sear restaurant, High Velocity Sports Bar, Pulse (50' sail), and Sear Bar

The two low cost options are about 3 miles away from the Convention Center:

  • W Atlanta Midtown $189
  • Renaissance Atlanta Midtown  $194

Two closer  (around 2.5 miles) but more expensive hotels:

  • Four Seasons $266
  • Loews Atlanta  $236.80

As the Convention is Saturday, June 10 to Wednesday, June 14, consider arriving early (ie Thursday June 8) to enjoy the city first and leaving on Thursday June 15 or later.

Typically there is a District Get Together after the closing ceremony, so make sure you stay in town and are available on Wednesday, June 14.

Hotel booking is through Experient on the RI Convention website - here's the link:


Technology: Tricks of the trade


Awhile back, I got a call on my landline phone from a pleasant-sounding fellow who claimed to be from Microsoft. He said that a problem with my computer had been detected over the internet and it was urgent that I let him fix it.

“Thanks, that is so nice of you,” I said. “What should I do? ”

He told me to go to my computer and click on my Google icon.

“Click on my what?”

“Your Google symbol. Do you see the Google symbol?”

“Uh, no, I don’t.”

“What do you see?”

“I see a picture of my wife and my kids and my dog and my cat,” I said.

“I need you to click on your Google symbol.”

 “I don’t see it,” I said. “Where is it?”

“It’s near the bottom of your screen.”

“Do you think it would be closer to my dog or my cat?”

Call me perverse, but I take great pleasure in painting a con artist into a corner. Especially when I know I have tricked one into believing that he (it’s almost always a he) has found an easy mark. In this case, I was stealing a page from my friend Tony, a fundraising whiz who delights in thwarting telemarketers by coaching them on their sales delivery. He’ll ask them to go through their pitch again, but this time do it slowly and with feeling.

The object of this game is to occupy a caller’s time until he gets so exasperated that he hangs up. Every minute a scammer spends being played is one less minute that he could be playing someone else.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to avoid being scammed, and there are plenty of scammers at work. The Federal Trade Commission received more than 1.2 million fraud complaints on its Consumer Sentinel Network in 2015, and a comprehensive review of consumer financial fraud research since 1990 conducted at the Stanford University Center on Longevity found that consumer fraud is significantly underreported.

About three-quarters of those FTC complaints identified the telephone as the initial method of contact. If you haven’t yet received a call from someone saying you’re being sued by the IRS, you may want to make sure your phone is working properly.

My mother-in-law, who is 84, recently found an IRS warning message on her answering machine from a Mr. Gray, who left a phone number with a Washington, D.C., area code. A widow living alone on a farm in Wisconsin, she sleeps with one eye open, can spot a $3 bill a mile away, and does not hesitate to use her rifle to scare off any varmint who gets close to her tomatoes. But this message worried her enough that she thought it necessary to check in with my wife right away.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center – a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center – the tech-support scam is one of the most popular cyber frauds going. Typically the caller will identify a nonexistent problem and offer to repair it for a fee. A variation on that scheme involves the scammer calling to offer a refund for services rendered and getting the victim to log on to his bank account to process the transaction, possibly providing future access for electronic theft.

Phones are pretty much a level playing field – we all know how to hang up – but not so the internet. As the web enables us to see the other side of the world without leaving our homes, it also makes us visible to strangers at far greater distances and from many more angles than we once would have thought possible.

“Technology has definitely allowed con artists and scammers to get more sophisticated and therefore harder to spot,” says Kristin Keckeisen, a senior adviser for the AARP Fraud Watch Network. And she points out that some are able to hijack names, email addresses, and social media profiles of people you know or do business with.

Bob Becker, a member of the Rotary Club of Paw Paw Lake (Coloma Hartford Watervliet), Mich., says his Facebook activity is pretty much limited to keeping up with his family. So when one of his daughters received a request to become his friend, he knew something was amiss. “It was a pretty easy fix,” says Becker. “We solved it by changing my password. I think if you have half a noodle, you can tell what’s legitimate and what is not.”

Yes, but some of us may feel our noodles are getting a little past al dente.

Becker recently received an email with a link that appeared to be from a friend, but he sensed that something was not right with it. He emailed the friend asking if he had sent it and promptly received a reply saying that he had. But Becker was still wary, so he phoned him and learned that the email was bogus.

“I’m 75; if I were 76, I might have fallen for that,” he jokes, acknowledging the widely accepted notion that we older folks are more at risk of being scammed. But he also finds it plausible that younger people who take technology for granted may also be at risk, and research on the topic bears that out.

A 2014 AARP study concluded that behavior, personality, and state of mind are more determinative than age in predicting victims of online fraud. The study identified nine internet behaviors – among them clicking on pop-ups, opening email from unknown sources, and signing up for free offers – that make people more susceptible to fraud, especially when linked with four “life experiences”: loneliness, job loss, worry about debt, and negative change in financial status. Two other factors relate to lack of knowledge about the internet: mistakenly believing that a company or website’s privacy policy guarantees one’s privacy and not knowing that financial institutions do not send emails asking for personal information.

AARP fraud expert Keckeisen warns: “Never engage a stranger in a dialogue about your personal life, always ask more questions than you answer, and never make a decision about an investment or payment when you are overly excited. Wait at least a day after hearing a particularly enticing pitch before making a decision, and recognize that anything that seems too good to be true usually is. Any legitimate offer will not threaten you with a short time frame to act on it.”

I’ll go that advice one better. Even if it is a legitimate solicitation, do you really want to do business with someone who called you out of the blue? If a guy tells you there’s never been a better time to buy gold, you may want to ask why he’s selling it.

Avoiding scams all comes down to common sense and paying attention – following the kind of advice that you received from your parents and passed on to your own kids: e.g., never accept rides from strangers or invite people you don’t know into your house. Of course in our topsy-turvy technology-dependent modern way of life, those no-nos have become bedrock components of the sharing economy.

Says Becker: “Whether you’re 25 or 75, it behooves everyone to be very cautious.” Indeed.

The Rotarian

This is among the projects that we have donated time and effort to, and we have seen some real progress.

Member interview: Writer sheds light on FDR’s right-hand woman

Illustration by Monica Garwood

Battling breast cancer in 2000, Kathryn Smith found comfort pursuing her lifelong interest in Franklin D. Roosevelt. The more she read, the more intrigued she became with the 32nd U.S. president’s private secretary, Marguerite Alice “Missy” LeHand. “I thought, what a fascinating life she had because she was by his side through the polio crisis, establishing the polio rehabilitation center in Warm Springs and then after his return to politics,” she says. Smith, a past president of the Rotary Club of Greater Anderson, S.C., and a longtime newspaper journalist, turned that curiosity into a book, The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency. FDR historians have praised the work for its scholarship in detailing the life of LeHand, who was not only a private secretary but also a de facto chief of staff, confidant, and source of inspiration to Roosevelt as he fought the polio that paralyzed him from the waist down. Smith shared LeHand’s story with The Rotarian.

THE ROTARIAN: How was LeHand involved in Roosevelt’s polio rehabilitation center in Warm Springs, Ga.?

SMITH: When FDR and Missy first came to Warm Springs in 1924, it was kind of like riding into a tribal village – unpaved roads, a lot of houses didn’t have doors or windowpanes, and Eleanor Roosevelt was so appalled she only stayed a couple of nights. She never stayed long. She didn’t like it there. Missy was always the hostess in Warm Springs. When Roosevelt started the polio rehabilitation hospital, there were no doctors, no nurses. It was just “Dr. Roosevelt" and “Nurse Missy."

TR: What was her role at the White House?

SMITH: FDR had four secretaries. The press dubbed them the White House secretariat. She was his private, or personal, secretary, and she was the only one to have an office adjoining his. She also lived in the White House. Missy was one of the people who helped FDR become the FDR of history. But she also enabled Eleanor to become the Eleanor of history. She was Eleanor’s backup at the White House so Eleanor could go off on her trips and inspection tours and always knew Missy would take care of things at the White House. People have ignored how important she was as an adviser and how important she was as the de facto chief of staff of the White House.

TR: Didn’t LeHand’s closeness to FDR raise eyebrows?

SMITH: The person who really perpetuated the rumor that Missy was FDR’s in-house mistress was his son Elliott, who was the black sheep of the family. He said this in print for the first time in his 1973 book. All four of the other children disavowed the book. In fact, the whole time she had a long-term [love interest], William Bullitt Jr., the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union.

TR: What would LeHand have said about your endeavor?

SMITH: I hope she would like it. I’ve come away with tremendous respect and affection for her. In political circles there are people who hate each other. But all [at the White House] liked Missy. She was described as a saintlike person. She wasn’t a gossip and she didn’t play to those rivalries. Her No. 1 loyalty was always to FDR. He knew he could always count on her that she wasn’t playing those games.

The Rotarian


The Rotarian Conversation with Ban Ki-moon

Illustration by Viktor Miller Gausa

One of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s earliest memories is of fleeing with his family into the mountains during the Korean War, his village burning behind him. His father and grandfather had to forage for food in the woods; his mother gave birth to his siblings away from anything remotely resembling a health facility. “I have known hunger,” he says. “I have known war, and I have known what it means to be forced to flee conflict.”

The soldiers who came to their rescue were flying the blue flag of the United Nations. The UN provided them with food and their schools with books. And the experience sowed in Ban a belief in the transformative power of global solidarity, a belief he has spent his career working to achieve. 

A meeting with U.S. President John F. Kennedy at the White House after winning an essay-writing contest as a teenager inspired Ban to become a diplomat. He entered Korea’s foreign service in 1970, serving roles including ambassador and minister of foreign affairs and trade before being elected UN secretary-general in 2006.

Ban made polio eradication a top priority of his second five-year term. In 2012, he chaired a polio summit on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly, securing strong commitment to eradication from all the heads of state where polio is endemic as well as ministers from key donor governments, Rotary, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has included polio messages in his briefings, during visits to polio-priority countries, and in statements at multilateral events including the General Assembly, African Union, and Group of Eight summits, and has personally participated in polio vaccination campaigns.

In 2016, Ban addressed the Rotary International Convention in Seoul and donated his $100,000 honorarium to Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. “The ‘wind in our sails’ is Rotary International,” he now tells The Rotarian. “Thanks to its advocacy, we have been able to come within striking distance of a polio-free world. I will always be grateful to its leaders and its many volunteers on the front lines of this effort. They are truly noble humanitarians.”

Ban is stepping down from his position at the United Nations after a decade that saw declines in poverty and achievements in public health. But it was also a rough period for the UN, with rising violent extremism and an unprecedented population of refugees. His successor, António Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal, begins 1 January. The Rotarian’s Diana Schoberg interviewed Ban about polio, his legacy, and how Rotary and the UN can work together. “I believe the world is moving in the right direction,” he says. “I am generally hopeful.”

THE ROTARIAN: A cornerstone of your legacy will be the Paris Agreement on climate change. How were you able to rally people together about this issue?

BAN: It has been a long, hard road, but it has paid off. I went against all of my advisers by raising climate change with then-U.S. President George W. Bush in my first visit to the White House during my third week in office in 2007. He was a bit surprised – but he came on board. At the meeting in Bali where we adopted the first road map leading to the Paris agreement, the United States gave its last-minute support. President Bush confided to me at a private farewell lunch in 2009 that the U.S. delegation leader had phoned him from Bali for advice and he told her to do what I wanted.

While the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009 was not what we had expected, it was the start of a long road that led to the Paris Agreement. My vision to get to an agreement was based on one word: inclusion. The issue of climate is too important and too big for only governments to take on. We opened the doors of the United Nations to civil society and to the business sector. They, too, needed a seat at the table. Civil society has kept pressure on governments to act. Whether it’s the energy sector, the insurance industry, or transportation companies, they all have a role to play.

TR: What is your most unsung achievement at the UN?

BAN: I have made human rights a top priority, which is reflected across all areas of the United Nations. Human rights are integral to the Sustainable Development Goals [a set of 17 goals adopted in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all within 15 years]. And after hearing “never again” over and over again in response to atrocity crimes, I created the Human Rights up Front initiative to prevent and respond to warning signs of looming atrocities.

I have also been proud to be the first secretary-general to speak out against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And because I believe in leading by example, I backed up my words with full equality in terms of benefits. 

Sometimes in the world of diplomacy, “unsung” successes are destined to remain so. I have often employed quiet diplomacy, whether to ensure the release of an imprisoned journalist or convincing a leader to truly listen to the aspirations of his people. Quiet diplomacy is about letting the other party get the credit for doing the right thing. It’s not about me getting accolades.

TR: With the recent setback in polio eradication in Nigeria in mind, what is the key to ending polio?

BAN: Trust is essential. To earn and maintain trust, it is absolutely imperative that there be no politicization of polio eradication activities. Community and religious leaders are our best advocates in this effort.

The detection of wild poliovirus in Nigeria is a serious setback, but it is only a setback. The world has never been closer to eradicating polio, we have the tools and strategies that we know are effective in stopping the disease, and together we have reduced polio transmission to the lowest levels in history in just three countries worldwide. If we continue, with courage and determination, on our current trajectory, we will stop polio once and for all. Failure is not an option, and in the very near future, I believe we will deliver on Rotary’s promise of a polio-free world for all generations to come.

TR: What decision or course of action from your time as secretary-general would you change if you could?

BAN: I have made clear to the member states, and particularly to the members of the Security Council, that they work best when they are united. That is why I have felt so frustrated about the disunity in the Security Council when it comes to Syria. As I have argued, it shames us all that we as an international community have not been able to come together and halt this brutal war.  While that disunity has persisted, more than 300,000 people have died. I will keep working until my last day in office to resolve this horrific crisis, but I need the support of the member states – all of them.

TR: UN peacekeepers played a role in introducing cholera to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in that country in 2010. The epidemic has since killed 10,000 people and sickened 800,000. What can the UN do to restore trust?

BAN: It is clear that the United Nations has a moral responsibility to the victims of the cholera epidemic and for supporting Haiti in overcoming the epidemic and building sound water, sanitation, and health systems. During my own visit to the country, I made it clear that I deeply regret the terrible suffering the people of Haiti have endured as a result of the cholera epidemic.

I am working to develop a package that would provide material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by cholera. These efforts must include, as a central focus, the victims of the disease and their families. The United Nations also intends to intensify its support to reduce, and ultimately end, the transmission of cholera, improve access to care and treatment, and address the longer-term issues of water, sanitation, and health systems in Haiti.

TR: The UN’s recent Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 are more numerous and seem more detailed than the Millennium Development Goals – 17 goals with multiple subpoints for each. What was the thinking behind that, and how can the UN and partners keep so many goals in focus?

BAN: I have heard the criticism that we have too many goals and they may be unwieldy.

These new goals matter because they will be the yardstick that everything between now and 2030 is judged against. These goals are far more than aspirations. They provide a guide for action in the key areas where countries will have to invest in order to move forward.

Moreover, the goals, including their subpoints, were not imposed by the United Nations bureaucrats like some forced agenda. The 17 SDGs are the product of long and detailed consultations by member states as well as the broader civil society through online portals and local meetings. We may have a big number, but the goals are a true reflection of what the world has been asking for.

TR: We are seeing globalism being rejected in many pockets. Nations are becoming less stable, and tribalism or religious sectarianism is gaining some appeal. What can the UN offer to counter these trends?

BAN: This has been a period of multiple challenges – from the financial crisis to the uprisings in the Middle East, from the rise of violent extremism to renewed geopolitical competition in Europe and Asia.

In times of uncertainty, we do see a rise of politicians who prey on people’s fear, especially when it comes to the rising number of refugees and migrants. We must reject the dangerous political math that says you add votes by dividing people, and we need to stand against bigotry and xenophobia in all its forms. The United Nations has just launched a campaign against this poison. It is designed to foster communities of inclusion and mutual respect – and we call it, simply, “Together.”

This time of uncertainty has also witnessed a rise in violent extremism. While it’s of course critical to counter this extremism, we must also work hard to prevent it. I recently put together the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, which places heavy emphasis on human rights. Experience with counterterrorism measures has underscored the need to avoid stoking the fires we are trying to extinguish. To this end, civil society organizations, like Rotary, have an important part to play by promoting inclusion and dialogue between communities.

TR: What advice can you offer Rotary leaders on working with people in a diverse, multicultural, global organization?

BAN: I’m not sure that I can offer any advice to Rotary leaders. Your organization is older than the United Nations and, arguably, you have a broader representation than we do. When I had the privilege to address your members recently in Korea, I think I counted more flags in the hall than we have at the United Nations!

Since you are asking, I will share some thoughts. Every day that I have worked at the United Nations, I have combined my efforts with people from every part of the world, and that has shown me the value of having as broad a range of viewpoints as possible when dealing with the world’s problems. I found that I gain much from listening to people from cultures other than mine who approach problems and solutions differently. That intellectual diversity, whether in the UN or any other organization, is to be cherished and nourished. We all have much to gain from listening to others. No one culture holds the keys to all the solutions.

TR: How can Rotary and the UN make the most of our partnership?

BAN: Rotary and other similarly engaged civil society organizations represent the best that the world has to offer. You understand the need to get involved and participate positively in the lives of your communities and the world around us.

We now have a global agenda to build a better, more equitable, more sustainable world. I would encourage Rotary International to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals and find within them areas where we could, as partners, replicate the success of the polio eradication campaign. 

The Rotarian


In case of emergency

From Malawi to Fiji (above), ShelterBox response teams help displaced families around the globe.
Photo Credit: ShelterBox

Three days after Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the Philippines in November 2013, Derek Locke was tramping among the sinews of uprooted palm trees, downed power lines, and fragments of homes shattered by one of the region’s deadliest disasters. As he delivered tents and other essentials in Santa Fe, a small community on Bantayan Island, he came face to face with the crushing need and finite resources of the eight-person response team dispatched by ShelterBox. The aid recipients had been identified as families most at risk, and as Locke assisted a young single mother and her toddler, he felt a sense of dread as two neighbors, with four children of their own in tow, approached.

“I turned around and they said, ‘Thank you for helping our people, ’” recalls Locke, a member of the Rotary Club of Dearborn Heights, Mich., who has spent 38 weeks as a ShelterBox first responder since 2012. He has traveled to 11 countries and participated in 13 ShelterBox response team missions, yet that moment sticks with him. “It was heartwarming, because despite their obvious plight, they were just grateful we were able to help somebody else.”

“That’s the kind of thing you lie awake at night thinking about,” says Bruce Heller, a veteran of seven ShelterBox deployments and a member of the Rotary Club of Allen Sunrise, Texas. “You’re handing out that last box and you see that mom and her small baby waiting and you don’t have any more to give. There’s never enough aid.”

Amid catastrophes produced by nature and mankind’s cruelest impulses, ShelterBox teams of volunteers rush forward. From the earthquake that killed hundreds of people in Ecuador in April to the continuing refugee trail out of the Middle East, ShelterBox has sent aid to help hundreds of thousands of displaced households. Notable missions since the disaster relief charity was founded 16 years ago include the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 quake in Haiti, where some 300,000 tents were supplied. In the United States, ShelterBoxes were delivered to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Sandy in New York and New Jersey, and tornadoes in the Midwest.

In July, RI and ShelterBox announced the extension of a three-year project partnership to provide emergency shelter, a natural fit according to both organizations. Rotarians, along with Rotaractors and Interactors, have contributed $48 million, or 40 percent of ShelterBox’s revenue, from the UK-based nonprofit’s inception in 2000 through 2015. (ShelterBox was founded by a Rotarian but is independent of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.) The signature green boxes feature Rotary’s logo and are adapted to fit the emergency before being transported on scant notice. Most boxes include family-size tents, though the contents differ depending on the disaster and climate. Many are packed with solar lights, water storage and purification equipment, thermal blankets, and cooking utensils. Depending on need, the organization may deliver ShelterKits, smaller aid packages that include tools, ropes, and heavy tarpaulins used to provide emergency shelter and repair damaged structures.

“The partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox has provided a place of refuge to people facing some of the most difficult and uncertain moments in their lives,” says RI General Secretary John Hewko. Tapping Rotary’s strengths, not just its funds, has nurtured ShelterBox, adds its chief executive, Chris Warham. “The partnership is absolutely fundamental to what we do,” Warham says. “Ninety percent of our deployments involve working with local Rotarians. In almost every case, our first call is to the local Rotary club to see how they can help us as the teams start to deploy. We ask Rotarians everything from ‘can you get us a truck?’ to ‘can you introduce us to a local or central government figure?’ These needs are often crucial to the success of our deployment – and Rotarians invariably deliver.”

Rotary has been a key player in ShelterBox’s success, beginning with the adoption of the nonprofit by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard, England, in 2000. “One of the most important elements of our partnership is creating opportunities for Rotarians to serve in countries hit by disasters,” says Warham. “We just completed a mission in Sri Lanka, and Rotarians were fundamental.” Members of the Rotary Club of Capital City spent five days using boats and kayaks to rescue villagers marooned by flooding in May. “We built temporary camps for individuals who had lost their homes as result of landslides” and housed 126 families in six camps. “Providing shelter is far more than just providing a tent,” Warham adds. “It’s helping a community start on the right path. … There is a blurring of lines when the emergency phase ends and when the recovery phase begins. Rotary is involved in all stages of that. We’ve seen Rotarians who have helped people long after we have disappeared from the scene.”

Shortly after the 7.8 magnitude temblor in Ecuador in April, local Rotarians met the response team at the airport and jointly attended coordination meetings. ShelterBox assisted more than 2,500 households in Comuna Las Gilces. After significant aftershocks, it returned to support another 690 families. “We often work with Rotary contacts throughout deployments,” says Mark Boeck, ShelterBox’s senior training officer. “Through their own businesses and personal networks, they have contacts for drivers, interpreters, and even warehousing.” Ron Noseworthy, a member of the Rotary Club of Kenora, Ont., says that he and his wife, Claire, have been volunteering with ShelterBox since learning about it in 2006. They both signed on, with Claire joining Rotary afterward. 

Joining Locke, Heller, and the Noseworthys on the front lines are about 70 more Rotarians out of the 180 responder volunteers globally. The required commitment is hardly casual, with ongoing training and a minimum deployment of two weeks per year, and the selection process is rigorous. After applying, prospective volunteers are interviewed and, if chosen to proceed, undergo a four-day field assessment. “Successful candidates are invited to what we call a pre-deployment training course,” says Boeck. Those selected spend nine days in England where they are trained in everything from customs forms to personal safety and the use of satellite phones and GPS devices.

“We need people who can react and work together under extreme conditions,” says Boeck, noting that sponsoring a standard ShelterBox costs about $1,000. “In the early days [of a deployment] a volunteer may be going to a country where the infrastructure has been wiped out. There is often no food, communication, water. … They might land in a country and not meet their fellow team members [immediately]. We look for self-awareness – people who really understand their own abilities and limitations.”

“The training is tough,” says Liz Odell, a member of the Rotary Club of Nailsworth, England. “If you make it that far, and many don’t, there’s the nine-day course in Cornwall, living in a tent in the rain, deprived of food and sleep, and never knowing what challenges they were going to throw at us next.” Odell has served on 15 deployments since 2010. Ron Noseworthy, who has been on 11 deployments and counting, found his four-day test a challenge in itself. Four groups of four applicants had assembled in the Blackwater River State Park in the Florida Panhandle. “We had been walking for miles,” he says. “They said to take an hour for supper, but we knew there was something coming. After supper, they said, ‘This is a mock terrorist threat. You’ve got to take the tents down, pack all your gear, and get ready to move out.’ We had a four-mile walk on rough trails, all in the dark, in the bush. You’re tired after a long day and then that. They’re testing to see if you’ve got the physical capacity, but the biggest thing is to not lose your cool.”

“Historically, some of the training was like a boot camp,” Boeck concedes. “Since 2013, when we revamped and refreshed the nine-day training course, we’ve made it into much more of a learning environment. We’re training people in, not assessing people out. We want to give people the information and skills so that when we drop them into a post-disaster situation, they know what’s required of them.”

The training has come in handy on deployments, says Noseworthy, notably in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, where he was in Port-au-Prince with the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. “It was dangerous. People were hungry and desperate,” he says. “A commander told me that they had people with good intentions coming to help. One couple with a truckload of bags of rice pulled up in front of a makeshift camp. People came out of the woodwork. They started to fight over the food. The military had to come in and stop the rioting. With our training, we knew not to do that. We went to a campsite first. If we determined 200 tents were needed and we only had 100 tents, we waited.”

“You see people who were not living in the greatest of conditions to begin with,” notes Locke, a 2015-16 recipient of the Service Above Self Award, Rotary’s top honor, for his work with the organization over the past four years. “I’m sitting here in my beautiful house in the living room. I just can’t imagine losing everything so quickly and being left with nothing and needing the help that we bring. That applies to every type of disaster. It doesn’t matter if it’s a natural disaster or the Syrian refugees we see fleeing the violence.”

With 18 ShelterBox affiliates around the world assisting its headquarters, the organization is ramping up for a heightened demand for the shelter and gear it provides, particularly with an expected increase in Iraqi refugees as that country’s army tries to retake cities from Islamic State. “We live in really, really challenging times,” says Warham, yet he points out Rotarians as a bright spot. “They don’t just go the extra mile, they go 10 miles.”

To explore service and partnership opportunities with ShelterBox, Rotarians should email .

The Rotarian

An unsolicited letter from one of our past Exchange Students, Lily Westphal!
Michelle O'Brian
Jan 19, 2017
District Governor Visit
Mike Illg
Jan 26, 2017
Kenny Rogers, RN
Feb 02, 2017
South Peninsula Hospital ER Telemedicine
Hannah Gustafson
Feb 09, 2017
Kris Holdereid
Feb 16, 2017
Dan Zatz
Feb 23, 2017
Doug Waclawski
Mar 02, 2017
The State of Homer High School
Ken Dendurent
Mar 09, 2017
New School Bus Schedule
Ed Hutchinson
Mar 16, 2017
Malcolm Baldridge
Mar 23, 2017
National Quality Award
Rick Abboud
Mar 30, 2017
Karen Zak
Apr 06, 2017
Tom Early
Apr 13, 2017
Club Assembley
Lori Evans
Apr 20, 2017
Jan Knutson
Apr 27, 2017
Charlie Franz
May 04, 2017
Sherrie Hartley
May 11, 2017
Boyd Walker
May 18, 2017
Youth Exchange - Outbound Student
Van Hawkins
May 25, 2017
Heather Beggs
Jun 01, 2017
International Diplomacy
Kathy Hill
Jun 08, 2017
Mark Hemstreet
Jun 15, 2017
James Gorman
Jun 22, 2017
Tom Early
Jun 29, 2017
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