November is Rotary Foundation Month
by Bob Augustin Jr.
Bill Phillips, Chairman of the Rotary Foundation Committee, presented a program on the Rotary Foundation at the October 29, 2010 meeting of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club.
Phillips said as Rotarians we are all very familiar with three of the Five Avenues of Service in Rotary: Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, but we are less familiar with the other two, New Generatins Service, because it is brand new, and International Service. Since the Foundation deals predominantly with international projects, it is less visible, and therefore a mystery, to the average Rotarian. Phillips then proceeded to give a brief history of the Foundation and its mission.
In 1917, Rotary International President Arch Klumph purposed the establisment of an endowment designed to "for the purpose of doing good in the world." The first donation to the new endowment fund was $26.50, From these humble beginnings, the endowment evolved into the Rotary Foundation, a non-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions, to date over $1 billion, from Rotarians and friends of Rotary.
The Rotary Foundation is a distinct entity within Rotary International and acts as the functional branch of Rotary. Whereas Rotary International is the administrative branch of Rotary International, the Foundation is both the fund-raising branch and fund-distribution branch of Rotary International. The Foundation distributes over $100 million annually to projects around the world. Projects funded by the Foundation include bringing electricity to homes in Honduras, drilling wells in Africa, bringing basic literacy skills to children in Latin America and thousands more.
The Foundation's most visible project is the PolioPlus program. In 1985, Rotary embarked on a mission to eradicate Polio from the world. There were 906,000 new cases of polio in the world annually in 1985. In 2007, there were less than 1,000 new cases annually and Polio had been banished from everywhere in the world except Afganistan, Pakistan, northern India and Nigeria. The Foundation has committed over $620 million to date to PolioPlus. In 2007, the Bill Gates Foundation awarded the Rotary Foundation a matching grant of $100 million to continue the fight to eradicate Polio.
Another Foundation program that is more familiar is the Group Study Exchange (GSE) program. The GSE program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for business and professional people. Rotary Districts in two different countries exchange teams comprised of non-Rotarian business professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 and a Rotarian team leader. For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country's culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas. Rotary District 6760, to which the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club belongs, has participated in GSE exchanges with Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Sweden, Australia, England, India, Turkey and many more.
Phillips explained that the Foundation provides matching grant programs to Rotary Clubs to assist in their projects around the world. The Lawrenceburg Rotary Club received matching grants from the Foundation for its projects in Honduras. Phillips said that the Rotarians who participate in Foundation program experience a "life changing event". If you don't believe it, just ask any of the Lawrenceburg Rotarians who participated in the Honduras project or the Group Study Exchange.
For more information on the Rotary Foundation, go to RI's web site at www.rotary.org .
Photo: L to R: Lawrenceburg Rotary Club President Chris Williams and Bill Phillips.