How mentoring expands the Rotary experience

Clara Montanez
               Clara Montanez                      (Rotary Images photo)

By Arnold Grahl
Rotary News

When Clara Montanez was a student, she never heard the word “mentoring.” The idea of having a role model help you pursue your ambitions was unfamiliar to her.

“You basically chose your career based on personal interest and hoped you could find a job,” says Montanez, senior director of investment for Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. “I went the route of getting married and having children first, and started my career later in life. I had no model for how to do that.”

That changed for Montanez the day a friend invited her to join Rotary.

“Frankly, I was dragged into Rotary. I didn’t see a connection at first,” says Montanez, who’s been a member of The Rotary Club of Washington, DC, since 2003. “But, then I met several women, including Doris Margolis, who took me under her wing and started mentoring me on how to get more involved. I began seeing the value in having someone I could count on as a mentor, and I have become more of a leader in our club, in my community, and at work.”

Montanez, who is Rotary’s alternate representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), says Rotary has given her a platform to mentor young women as they balance career and family, as well as manage the challenge of repaying student loans. According to , the student loan debt burden weighs more heavily on women because of the persistent gap in pay between women and men.

“I think Rotary has given me access to young people, like Rotaractors, and they are ready to accept guidance because Rotary is a safe place to reach out and get advice,” says Montanez.

Similarly, Jackie Huie, a member of the Rotary Club of St. Joseph & Benton Harbor, MI, recognizes Rotary’s mentoring power. In 2007, Huie’s club created that matches high school juniors and seniors with a mentor in the field they’d like to enter. The program started with 40 students at one high school and expanded into a number of schools across the area.

“I got a letter from a girl who came from a poor background, and through the program, she got a chance to meet with an attorney in town,” says Huie, who is president of JohnsonRauhoff, a multimedia company that fosters creative thinking for artists. “It inspired her and gave her confidence to go to school and study law. She got accepted into four law schools, and is on her way to becoming an attorney.”

Besides the investment in young people’s futures, mentoring brings clubs important community recognition. For example, Huie’s club has 150 members, a large number for a club that doesn’t hold membership drives, she says.

“Everyone in southwest Michigan knows about Rotary,” says Huie. “We had a student who wanted to be a CEO for a large corporation. After we arranged for him to meet with the CEO of Whirlpool, his father was so impressed with the whole program that he joined Rotary.”

Many of the program’s early participants went on to form an Interact club, and there now are more than 200 Interact members at four area schools. Forty of them will travel to the Dominican Republic this summer to install water filters and take part in a medical mission.

“It’s important for Rotary to make an investment in young people,” says Huie. “My own daughter is in Interact because of my membership in Rotary. I think her world is broader, and she looks at the world differently. We all do, because of what we’ve learned through Rotary.”


Being a ‘Rosnarian’ can expand your networking

Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 2.59.31 PMNo, that isn’t a typographical error in the headline.

A “Rosnarian” is the insiders’ term for an active Rotarian who belongs to Rotarians On Social Networks Fellowship (ROSNf).

The group, recognized by Rotary International, is an online fellowship of Rotarians around the world to network via Facebook, Twitter and other social media and to assist individual Rotarians and Rotary Clubs in expanding their expertise and reach.

ROSNf’s statement of purpose:

Our mission is to promote Rotary fellowship, service and public relations utilizing all the tools available on social networks.

Social networking is invaluable for building and reinforcing Rotary friendships, with the ability to share snapshots of your personal life in a non-intrusive way that enable you to find more in common with other Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors and Rotary alumni. It also provides a free, easy and effective way to share your Rotary story with the wider world.

ROSNF is not just a website. What sets us apart from other computer-based fellowships and Rotary-related groups and pages is that we provide comprehensive education and practical training and support about social networking, for all levels of experience.

Go here for the full details on ROSNf’s programs, membership application, and more.

And, scroll down for a chart of ROSNf websites.

Rose Parade float to tell the world our story

Screen shot 2014-10-27 at 3.43.29 PM

The motto for the 2014-15 Rotary Year is “Light Up Rotary.” That is a reference to the global effort to raise public awareness of Rotary and its many services.

In addition to whatever we can do on a daily basis locally, Rotarians from the U.S. and Canada have for decades supported a Rotary float in the iconic Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, CA.

This coming January 1, we will have a Rose Parade float for the 36th consecutive year. The theme this time around will be “Changing Lives Through Clean Water.” The design as shown above gives you an idea of what you’ll be seeing. You can get more details on the project website and on its Facebook page.

‘There are many messages competing for attention today — more than ever before. Too many … It’s no longer enough to passively assume people will notice our good works on their own. Sure, some will, but many won’t. We need to get their attention first.’
Daniel Thomas
Float Committee chair

The float typically receives 60 to 90 seconds of TV coverage to a viewing audience of millions. Commentators work from a fact sheet prepared with the support of the RI Public Relations Department describing the good work Rotary performs in local communities in the U.S. and around the world.

While the hands-on work to create a float is done by volunteers, it takes money to purchase machinery and materials  to create such a work of art that will help focus public attention on Rotary.

This promotion receives no financial support from Rotary International; it is funded entirely by Rotarians and friends of Rotarians.

You can help make it a reality once more by making a contribution in any amount. Simply make your check payable to “Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee” and mail it to the committee at P.O. Box 92502, Pasadena, CA 91109-2502. Or, you can donate via credit card by going online here.

Rotary Women of Action honored at White House

Tina Tchen, an assistant to President  Obama and chief of staff to Michelle Obama, thanks the Rotary honorees for their humanitarian work. (Photo: Alyce Henson)
Tina Tchen, an assistant to President Obama and chief of staff to Michelle Obama, thanks the Rotary honorees for their humanitarian work. (Rotary Photo: Alyce Henson)

From Rotary International News Service

WASHINGTON, DC — Senior Rotary leaders gathered Tuesday at the White House to honor 10 women for their service projects, an event attended by several members of the president’s staff.

[Editor’s Note: President Barrack Obama was not in attendance. He was on a fundraising tour, this time in California with a stop at actress Gywneth Paltrow’s house.]

The Rotary members presented their projects, in hopes of creating new inroads for government partnerships and support.

“This is recognition of the great work that they do but also serves as a great vehicle to inspire others to do similar kinds of things,” said Rotary General Secretary John Hewko. “One of the things we’re doing a better job of is sharing our story to the non-Rotary world.”

The honorees were selected by Rotary senior leaders and endorsed by the White House from clubs around the U.S. but their projects touch lives across the globe.

Carolyn Jones, of Anchorage, AK, has served numerous times as a Rotary volunteer in Russia, three of them as a preschool teacher for developmentally delayed children in orphanages. During her presentation she lamented hearing about a child sold for a bottle of vodka, and vowed to use her honor as a stepping stone to save more lives.

Jacqueline Parsons, a licensed professional counselor from San Antonio, TX, works on projects in her community and abroad, including the FLAG (Fitness, Literacy, Attendance, and Grades) program, which provides incentives to students to go to school, including bikes, sports equipment, and other items.

Ginger Vann, from Baker, LA, coordinates tutoring for at-risk students. With the help of her club, she renovated an uninhabitable school building, and worked with tutors to reach 50 students each day. She’s also passionate about workforce development in Baker, where well-paying craftsman jobs often go unfilled. “We just don’t have enough craft workers, people who are certified to do the jobs,” she said.

Michelle Candland, from San Diego, CA, works with Monarch High, an alternative school designed for homeless children. “Right now there are over 1.3 million homeless kids on the street in America. That’s more than there are Rotarians around the world,” said Candland. “Twenty thousand of those kids are in San Diego alone. How can a child focus on school if their tummies are growling, their shoes don’t fit, and they don’t even know where they are going to be sleeping the next day? It takes an entire community to work together to solve this problem.”

Jane Winning, a registered nurse from Chowchilla, CA, has provided immunizations and health exams to more than 2,500 people in need across Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, and Guatemala. She also has worked with Rotaplast International to provide free cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgery to those who cannot afford it. “A gentleman was 65 years old and he said, ‘I can kiss my wife for the first time,'” Winning said of the man post-surgery. “Those are incredible experiences you don’t get to share every day.”

Carol Butler, also from Anchorage, AK, highlighted two projects. The first is a statewide suicide prevention plan. According to Butler, Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the nation. The public awareness plan educates Rotary members and Alaska residents to recognize the warning signs of someone in crisis. She also talked about her club’s partnership with the Alaska Mission of Mercy, a collective of dentists, staff, and other volunteers who provide free dental services throughout the state. “Dental care is a gateway to good health,” says Butler. “There’s an increasing problem nationwide with people seeking dental care in emergency rooms.”

Elizabeth Usovicz, of Shawnee Mission, KS, has worked on service projects in Missouri as well as abroad. In Malawi, she helped to reduce the rate of malaria deaths by 65 to 70% in less than a year by supplying the community with mosquito bed nets.

Deepa Willingham, of Solvang, CA, is the founder and chair of Promise of Assurance to Children Everywhere (PACE), an organization that educates girls and their mothers, and works to prevent child trafficking and early marriage in India.

Marion Bunch, of Atlanta, GA, is the CEO of Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention. She has received numerous awards on behalf of her work for AIDS, and considers herself a mom who represents the face of AIDS because she started her work after losing her son to the disease in 1994. “Because of that one single tragedy, my life’s journey changed dramatically from a very engaged business woman to a warrior on AIDS and advocate of human rights,” Bunch said. As a result of her leadership, in April some 343,660 people received health care, medical checkups, and counseling from 8,150 Rotary volunteers during Rotary Family Health Days across Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, and South Africa.

Bernadette Blackstock, of Franklinville, NJ, has turned her love of service into a career, launching the People for People Foundation, which assists families struggling with financial hardships. To date, the foundation has helped some 10,000 families afford food, clothing, rent, utilities, medications, and other life necessities. “Our combined mission today is not only to provide small grants but to serve as advocates for our families and provide life-skill training and mentoring and case management where needed.”

Registrations due now for Rotary UN Day

Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 1.28.09 PMFellow SRC Rotarians:

Several of you have indicated an interest in participating in the Saturday, November 1, “Rotary United Nations Day” in New York City. Here’s what you need to do:

Go online and register.

Space is limited, so time is of the essence. District 7190 is planning on running two buses to the city for the event. Cost per Rotarian is just $35.

District Governor Dave Hennel says, “I strongly encourage that you quickly register online as that will provide you with a confirmation number. If you mail paper, by the time it’s received there may not be spaces remaining. And, you must provide your CONFIRMATION NUMBER (name, club) to reserve a seat on one of our buses. We are considering having at least one of the buses return late for those who may wish to have dinner in NYC after UN Day.

“Send confirmations/bus reservations to DG David and Jessica at — use subject line ‘RI UN Day Registration.’ Bus information will be shared as we finalize details and confirm the number of buses that may be needed.”

ALSO — if you do register, please let Bill Dowd know as soon as you do.

Thank you.

SRC’s 1st quarter project for 2014-15 Rotary Year

Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 3.28.06 PMOne of the most-needed items at food pantries is milk. But, it is one of the least-donated.

That’s what is behind the creation of “The Great American Milk Drive,” a 2014 push to provide milk for food pantries across the country.

The drive has been selected by 2014-15 SRC President Bill Dowd as the first of four quarterly club projects he’ll be designating during his presidency, which begins July 1. It fits the criteria of one of Rotary International’s six areas of focus — enhancing maternal and child health.

“In New York State, 3,150 gallons of milk have been donated so far this year of the 24,359 gallons donated nationwide,” Bill says. “Even though that is only 11% of the total, given our club’s history of effective quick-turnaround fundraising, imagine what a concentrated three-month effort can accomplish.

“Although people can make donations online of $5 and up to support the program, what I’m hoping for in SRC is for donations to be pooled, then donated as one lump sum as of August 31, the end of the Rotary first quarter. A onetime donation of as little as $35 per club member would result in a $1,000 contribution.”

In addition to the two-minute video above, you can access plenty of background information on the program by going to “The Great American Milk Drive’s” official website. There, you will find a continually-updated donation tracker, a state-by-state breakdown of how the drive is progressing.

In addition, the site has a variety of videos, including one from Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America, the national network of food banks that is behind the milk drive.

Push is on to support Rotary float in the Rose Parade

This year’s Rotary float theme: All the Places We Go.”

For 34 years, Rotary International has been participating in the renowned Rose Parade, held each New Year’s Day in Pasadena, CA.

Why? As Rotary founder Paul Harris said, “In the promotion of Rotary, it is important to reach large numbers and you cannot reach them privately.” And the Rose Parade receives international television coverage.

In support of that philosophy, the Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee is asking for financial support from Rotarians all over the country through its “Dollar a Flower” campaign.

To be part of the campaign, Rotarians individually and Rotary clubs as a whole are asked to contribute no later than November 15. Donations may be made by check or credit card sent via USPS or by contributing online.

The Rotary float receives no money from Rotary International. It is entirely funded by club members and friends. Your club’s “Dollar a Flower” donation will allow you to be entered in a drawing to send one local Rotarian to be a float participant in the 2013 Rose Parade.

Go here for the Events Calendar.

Joplin Rotarians provide contacts to receive help

• At our May 26 meeting, April Dowd expressed interest in finding out if there was any way we could assist people in devastated Joplin, MO, through Rotary there. She came up with the photo above and the letter below from two Joplin area Rotary clubs.

Thank you so much for reaching out to the Joplin community as the recovery process begins. We have been forever changed by this event, but we refuse to let the storm define us. As we look ahead, this area we love so much is looking to rebuild the 8,000 homes and businesses lost. Friends, families, and Rotarians are putting their lives back together piece by piece. We have been overwhelmed with support from Rotarians from all over the world asking how they can help.

The absolute devastation caused by the tornado has brought much national media attention. It has allowed the nation to hear the amazing stories of courage and survival. However, we know that when the media attention leaves is when our work will truly begin.

Rotarians will be an integral part of the rebuilding process. This work will be challenging and will take years to complete, but we believe that our community will return even stronger. The Joplin Rotary Club and Daybreak Rotary have been working together to raise funds to assist families and organizations in their efforts to get their lives back to normal. Any financial assistance you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Through an advisory council between our Joplin Rotary clubs, the funds will be distributed where there is a need and 100 percent will be used locally. If you would like to help, please send your tax-deductible donation to the following:

Daybreak Rotary – Joplin Tornado Relief
P.O. Box 542
Joplin, MO 64802

Your donation in any amount will be appreciated more than you may realize. We look forward to sharing with you the wonderful stories of redemption and service that will come from this storm.
 If you would prefer to send supplies or other materials, please contact Logan Stanley at (417) 768-1228, or Jenny Hocker at (417) 439-5793, for more details.

Thank you so much for thinking of us in our time in need and for truly living “Service above Self.”

Yours in Rotary Service,

Logan Stanley, Joplin Rotary President
Jenny Hocker, Joplin Daybreak Rotary President

[Go here for the Events Calendar.]

Rotary bikers raise $50,000+ for PolioPlus

Here’s the latest from the International Federation of Motorcycling Rotarians (IFMR) fundraising ride to the RI Convention in New Orleans. Our own Charlie Foote was among the intrepid bikers who braved weather-related detours and the rigors of a lengthy ride to help raise funds for Rotary’s PolioPlus campaign. [Can you spot Charlie in  the crowd? Look at 11 o’clock waaay in the back; he’s in black hat and shirt.]

By Bob Shriner
President, IFMR North American chapter

What an exciting day!  We met in the parking lot of the Baton Rouge Harley dealer at 9 a.m. for coffee and fellowship.  As we awaited the arrival of the Blue Knights (off-duty motorcycle policemen who provided the core of our escort), more local Rotary motorcyclist joined us for the final ride to New Orleans.

By the time the Blue Knights arrived at 9:30 we had a total of 52 motorcycles, plus several passengers, and we had them pose for a photo (above)  before we left.

We were escorted by a squadron of eight Blue Knights, including police from New Orleans, Baton Rouge and cities along our route, plus numerous state trooper vehicles and local police in the cities we passed through.

Once we got on the Interstate, the Blue Knights and other police vehicles blocked every intersection as we progressed.  We traveled most of the 85 miles from Baton Rouge at 70-75 mph to minimize the time we were tying up other traffic on the route. The police were traveling faster as they finished blocking one intersection then raced past us to block intersections ahead, or blocked traffic to permit us to change lanes when required en route.

It was quite an impressive performance. We all arrived safely and on time at the convention center.  Here’s a photo of a line-up of some of our bikes in the convention center parking lot.

We were greeted on our arrival by a huge crowd of Rotarians and photographers along the street.  After we parked our motorcycles and went inside, we were welcomed by RI President Ray Klinginsmith and Rotary Foundation Vice-Chair John Germ.

We held a brief ceremony and press conference in which I presented John Germ (shown at right, below) with a ceremonial check prepared a couple of days in advance.

I indicated that we had continued to receive donations since the ceremonial check was prepared, so that we estimate that IFMR riders have collected about $50,000 for PolioPlus. John Germ and I then were interviewed by video crews, as well as posing for this photo of me presenting John with the IFMR check.

As we finished the check presentation and the press conference, there was a big round of applause and congratulations from the crowd that had gathered around us.  It was really exciting to be part of something like this, and we were all proud of having contributed.And, thanks to all of you who helped us make it happen.

I want to especially thank Mark Shirley, who orchestrated the arrangements in Baton Rouge and our police escort to New Orleans.  The Blue Knights also deserve a huge “thank you” for their outstanding performance of moving us 85 miles in heavy traffic and arriving safely and exactly on time.  I also want to recognize the Ride Captains who led their groups to New Orleans from various parts of the country:

• Marc Baker from Seattle, Doug Holck from Sacramento, Dave Phelps from Chicago, and Allan Leggett from Miami.

• My co-Ride Captain from Albany, Charlie Foote, who helped me keep up with 17 motorcycles in our group by the time we arrived here.

• And, PolioPlus rider Bob Mutchler in his side-care rig, who was instrumental in helping me initiate the idea for this fund-raising ride in the first place and who bike is on display in the IFMR exhibit booth at the convention.

John Germ and Rotary Foundation chief executive John Osterland also provided exceptional assistance and encouragement all along the way, as did numerous other Rotary leaders and staff members.  Without the participation, encouragement, and support of all these key people this project would not have been possible. It has been a huge team effort we can all be very proud of.

[Go here for the Events Calendar.]