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Rotary in the News
For the past five years, Rotary members around Tucson, Arizona, USA, have bicycled as many as 111 miles in a day to raise money for polio eradication. This year’s team of 70 cyclists and their supporters raised $730,000 in the Ride to End Polio, which, after matched two-to-one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will make $2.1 million available for polio eradication.
“With every penny going to end polio, we’ve immunized an awful lot of kids against this horrible disease,” says Gary Hirsch, a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson and a ride organizer.
The Ride to End Polio is part of the annual El Tour de Tucson bike event. This year’s ride, which took place 23 November, was dedicated to Rotary General Secretary John Hewko, who once again participated. The honor was given in recognition of his contributions to the bicycling community and the global eradication of polio. Hewko has raised more money than any other rider in a single El Tour event: over $243,000 in 2012.
“It was an incredible honor to accept the 2013 Dedication Award on behalf of Rotary and friends of Rotary — including our fine staff at the Secretariat — who supported the effort this year and also in 2012,” Hewko says. “And I can’t thank Rotary members in Arizona enough for inviting me to participate in their Ride to End Polio.”
Give to End Polio Now
Become an advocate for polio eradication
By Arnold R. Grahl
K.R. “RAVI” RAVINDRAN
We in Rotary aspire to great deeds. We admire those who gave great gifts to humanity: Abraham Lincoln, who gave the gift of human dignity to the downtrodden; Mother Teresa, who gave the gift of compassion to the forgotten; Mahatma Gandhi, who gave the gift of peaceful change to the oppressed. Their very lives became gifts to the world.
We can be inspired by their example. We can be inspired to ask, how can I, in the life that I live – without neglecting the responsibilities that are so dear to me – how can I, too, become a gift to the world? As I considered my theme, I thought of the lessons I have learned through my Hindu faith. I thought especially of the story of Sudama.
Sudama was a poor child and a bosom friend of Krishna, who was born in a royal lineage as an avatar – an incarnation of the divine. As the two boys grow up, they drift apart, and while Krishna becomes a military leader and king of great repute, Sudama remains a humble villager.
The years go by and Sudama’s poverty deepens. Finally, he lacks even food to feed his children. His wife reminds him of his childhood friendship with Krishna: Perhaps it is time to go to the mighty ruler for help. Reluctantly, Sudama agrees, but resolves that he will not go empty-handed. He gathers together a few handfuls of rice – all the food his family has left – and wraps them in a piece of cloth as a gift for his friend.
When Sudama enters the palace, he is overwhelmed by the grandeur and by Krishna’s gracious welcome. His meager gift, so carefully prepared, seems a humiliating reminder of his poverty. Krishna embraces Sudama, who hides the hand holding the rice behind his back. Krishna asks what he is holding.
Far from being disdainful, Krishna accepts the rice with gratitude and consumes it with joy as the two sit and talk together. Hours pass, during which the pleasures of their rekindled friendship push all thoughts of his desperate plight from Sudama’s mind. When evening falls, Sudama sets out for home – and only then realizes that he has neglected his task. He is returning with nothing, and Krishna has eaten his family’s last grains of rice.
Sudama steels himself to return to his hungry children. But standing before his gate, as dawn begins to break, he sees that the hut he left yesterday has become a stately home, and waiting to greet him is his own family: well-dressed, and well-fed by the baskets of food that appeared in their kitchen as Krishna ate each grain of Sudama’s rice.
Krishna understood what Sudama had brought him: everything he had to give. In return, Krishna gave him everything he needed. It is never the material value of a gift that matters – it is the love that comes with it. Just as Sudama’s gift to Krishna became a gift to Sudama, what we give through Rotary becomes a gift to us. And we all have a choice: whether to keep our gifts to ourselves or give them to others, and Be a Gift to the World.
We have only one chance at our lives. And we will have only one chance at this new Rotary year. This is our time. Let us grasp it. Let us Be a Gift to the World.
By Nancy Yancey
Rainbow Village has so many wonderful success stories from the more than 300 families (almost 900 men, women and children) who have found homes and hopeful futures here during the past 22 years.
Rainbow Village is a story of hope, transformation and permanently breaking cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence for today and many generations in the future.
It does “take a village” in order to make this important work possible. We are grateful for each family member, staff person, board member, and more than 1000 volunteers last year. Everyone who becomes a part of Rainbow Village becomes a part of the story and all our lives are transformed by the love, grace and mercy witnessed.
A Rainbow Village friend and volunteer who began working with a 10-year old deaf boy in the program writes . . . “My passion is working one-on-one, on ASL and English language development through fun activities, particularly with this deaf child in the Rainbow Village program. He is energetic, fun-loving, sweet, inquisitive, and loves to tell stories about his day at school and about his family and friends. He loves life and is looking forward to a happy future. I teach through activities ranging from art projects, games, and storytelling, to simple instructional time. I was first introduced to Rainbow Village through my church and interested in working with him since no other individuals were identified who could meet his need.”
And this, firsthand, from a recent Rainbow Village graduate . . . “My journey at Rainbow Village was full of lessons learned, and I thank you for providing me with the ability and tools necessary to learn as much as I learned and to grow as much as I have. And now I begin the journey we all worked so hard to prepare me for. I’m ready, and I thank the entire staff at Rainbow Village for working with me to make this day come to pass.”
There are many family successes at Rainbow Village. Here are just few in 2013:
Developing financial independence is the most crucial aspect of long term success for graduates. In 2013 Rainbow Village served 21 families (69 people ranging in age from 3 months to 54 years old.)
Six families moved to homes of their own without subsidies and a solid plan for the future.
100 percent of adults are continuing to build their Rainbow Village savings accounts and life skills to sustain them and their children now and for future generations.
100 percent of adults increased their wages through the work force development program.
100 percent of residents completed their taxes thanks to the assistance of Rainbow Village partner, Wilson Lewis CPAs.
We look forward to sharing all their successes in the upcoming 2013 Annual Report. Please sign up for the newsletter to receive the report.
Rainbow Village children and youth continue to excel and live up to their potential in our after school and evening programs. All children passed the CRCT as a result of excellent tutoring from Gwinnett County School teachers. After school is not all work but involves play as well. In fact, we believe so much in the importance of play in children’s lives that one evening weekly a “big recess” program is held following a community meal. Thanks to our community partners, they also participated in one field trip per month. Last month, two members of one of our faith partners, within a few hours after posting a challenge on social media, had reached their goal of purchasing tickets and lunch for all Rainbow Village children and youth to visit the Georgia Aquarium. Needless to say, every child was thrilled! They also attended summer, winter and school break camps thanks to our partner, Duluth Rotary Club that provided scholarships.
With assistance from Community Partner, HomeAid of Atlanta, construction of a third three bedroom apartment building for an additional six families will begin next month. These families will join the current 12 in our community. At the completion of the capital campaign, an additional 12 apartment homes will be available bringing our capacity to 30 families who will call Rainbow Village home and break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. The Community Center is under construction and we will add early childhood education to our comprehensive program by year end.
There are so many stories of transformation, hope and possibility every day. There are many opportunities to get involved now and in the months ahead. Each of these stories and accomplishments touches the hearts of those privileged to work, volunteer, invest, and serve at Rainbow Village. We encourage you to become a part of the story. Please visit www.rainbowvillage.org to learn more, sign up for the monthly newsletter and get engaged.
Nancy Yancey is CEO of Rainbow Village.
People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services.
For more information contact Ellen Gerstein – email@example.com or at 770-995-3339.
Published Gwinnett Daily Post February 3, 2014.
Rotary International Doing Good Around the World