By Rotarian Dr. John Baumrucker
Before we talk about what Rotary is, we need to know who is Rotary. Rotarians around the world are all connected through this organization to exchange ideas, form friendships, and make a difference in their own backyard. Members, through their diversity, see challenges in unique ways. Applying their leadership skills, they address social issues, often finding unique solutions. Ending polio in a worldwide effort is just one example of what Rotary leadership was able to do, bringing such diverse groups together as the UNICEF, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The World Health Organization, and the CDC in the United States. Donations came from most of the developed countries of the world. To get all these entities involved and coordinated in this difficult task shows how efficient this worldwide organization functions. The power of Rotary transforms communities and transforms the members too. Being involved in projects, exposes members to new ideas and makes them develop new skills that makes them better individuals, community leaders and humanitarians.
Rotarians are people of action. By working together, they increase their impact, expand their reach, and increase the ability to react. Working with Peace Fellowships and Rotary Peace Centers, Rotarians are making efforts in conflict areas to bring peace to the world. If peace ever comes to this world, it is likely it will have been the result of programs like these rather than being imposed by force or by a political organization like the United Nations.
So, what is Rotary? Rotary is one of the largest service organizations in the world. Made up of 35,678 clubs worldwide, there are 1,200,000 members who volunteered for more than 111 million hours and raised more than $414,000,000 dollars for projects in virtually every country in the world. 94 scholarships were granted for Rotary Peace Fellowships and 1,306 Global Grants were awarded, even one here in Highlands with cooperation of the Rotary Club of Highlands, the Mountaintop Rotary Club and the Waynesville Sunrise Rotary Club. That Grant provided funds to equip the Mama Joanna Guest House in Montero, Bolivia where the facility will provide real world experience to the boys in the foster home that will manage the home, learning marketing, administrative and bookkeeping skills that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Other areas of Rotary Global Grants include: Disease Prevention, water and sanitation, basic education and literacy, maternal and child health and peace and conflict resolution.
Rotary inspires youth by sponsoring Interact Clubs in high school and Rotaract Clubs for more mature young adults in college or just entering the work force. Interactors helped by volunteering at the Halloween Project distributing candy and the Christmas tree Lighting.
On Friday, March 8, the Rotary Club of Highlands Mountaintop will hold the Taco Dinner from 5-8 p.m. at the Highlands Recreation Park to raise funds for Polio eradication and for Alzheimer’s research. Although polio is practically gone from the face of the earth, there are still places where the virus is still found in the water. Until the virus is gone from these water sources, the threat is still with us. Successful eradication will require more time and money. Alzheimer’s Disease is a scourge that has and will affect every family in the world. Rotary supports small researchers that may come up with new and different approaches to this horrible disease.
This year’s dinner will offer something different adding chili and a vegetarian option to the menu. Tickets are available from Mountaintop members for $10 each and you can have all you can eat for this price. Also, no family will pay more than $50.
The Mountaintop Rotary meets each Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation on Main Street and the noonday Rotary meets every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the conference center near the ball field on Highway 64. Come and see what Rotary is all about.