Newly installed Downtown Rotary Club President Marty Anderson attended the 106th Rotary International Convention held in early June in Sao Paulo Brazil. Over 18,000 Rotarians from more than 150 countries were in attendance. Prominent guest speakers included Oscar R. Arias, former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. Two Rotary trademarks, “Ending Polio Now” and “Stopping Hunger Now” were a large part of this year’s convention.
Attending the Rotary International Convention helped Marty gain a stronger perspective of the humanitarian mission of Rotary, not to mention the connection, fellowship and friendship among Rotarians, worldwide.
Rotary International President-elect Ravi Ravindran introduced a member benefits program during the closing session, saying that many more hands are needed to continue Rotary’s work around the world. A new program is being planned called “Rotary Global Rewards” which aims to boost membership and enhance member satisfaction. It will debut in July. Stay tuned for further details.
“This innovative new program will allow Rotary members to connect with hundreds of businesses and service providers from around the world — and that number is growing,” said Ravindran. “These establishments will offer Rotarians discounts and concessions on the everyday business that you do. And, in many cases, not only will the club member benefit, but our Rotary Foundation will benefit as well, by receiving a contribution with each transaction.”
This new program will include discounts on car rentals, hotels, dining, and entertainment. Discounts on more products and services from companies worldwide are expected to be added throughout the year.
“Rotary Global Rewards will be another way to benefit from being a Rotarian and being part of the Rotary network,” said Ravindran, whose presidential theme for 2015-16 is “Be a Gift to the World”.
Paul Reinert of Integrity Home Care has been always interested in Rotary’s international engagement since joining Downtown Rotary in 2002. In April of 2013, Paul led a Group Study Exchange to Central America. Other members of the group were Kim Green from Ozarks Technical Community College, Christi Sudbrock from Missouri State University, Charles Parker, Jr from University of Missouri and Jimmy Stilley from Oakstar Bank.
The group spent the whole month of April touring the four countries of the District (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) – by spending one week in each country. The purpose of Group Study Exchanges is to facilitate networking among Rotarians around the world, increase global understanding and awareness of local cultures, open opportunities for partnerships, and potentially foster co-operation on Rotary driven projects.
Paul and his team members were individually hosted in the homes of local Rotarians, who made them feel as if they were members of their families. In every country they had cultural and touristic experiences and had the opportunity to visit and connect with colleagues in similar businesses and industries.
They visited banks, universities, hospitals, farms, nonprofits, etc. However, local hospitality was truly the most remarkable experience. As Paul remembered, “The main emotion and memory of the actual experience for me is that we were truly welcomed from the heart by many wonderful people, and that we were going nonstop morning to night for 28 consecutive days.”
In Panama, they had the opportunity to board a charter ship through the locks of the Panama Canal and a partial transit of the isthmus – a great conclusion to a great experience! Paul noted, “Somehow we all held up well and find ourselves forever changed by this incredible experience. Rotary truly does offer us opportunities for global fellowship and learning.” A great opportunity to think about in the future.
Polio is a terrible disease that is still threatening mainly children, particularly under the age of five. Great progress has been made so far, but the guard should not be lowered. As reported by the Rotary official web-site, fewer than 250 polio cases were reported worldwide in 2012, which is a 99% reduction since the 1980s, when the world saw about 1,000 cases per day. If we don’t stay the course, experts say polio could rebound to 10 million cases in the next 40 years.
In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus Program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication. In 1988, The Global Polio Eradication Initiative was formed, as a public-private partnership including Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Many Rotarians around the world have donated their time and personal resources to this project. Get involved!
For more information: https://www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/take-action/end-polio