Life has been renewed for the community members of Buffujja and Naluhonjohe by two back-to-back water, sanitation, and hygiene projects coordinated by the Rotary Club of Bweyogerere Namboole Ease Uganda, Africa) and the Rotary Club of Bellingham (Washington State, USA).  The people of Buffujja (population 6,000) and Naluhonjohe (population 10,000) now wake up every day with assured access to safe drinking water thanks to Rotary.  These two impactful projects were funded by grants provided by the Rotary Club of Bellingham, District 5050, and the Rotary Foundation (GG 1417543 and GG 1743510).

The Buffujja Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project was developed in response to the persistent water flooding in Butalejja District caused by the overflow of River Manafa.  This flooding destroyed gardens, which affected food production and cash crops.  Already problematic sanitation was worsened as toilet facilities were often filled to overflowing by the flooding, which in turn forced the river’s now highly contaminated water into the only open water sources for the village of Buffujja and its surrounding communities.  This flooding dramatically and negatively affected the health of the people living in these villages and communities by spreading a number of diseases, such as Cholera outbreaks and diarrhea.  Over 80% of illnesses were linked to poor water and sanitation conditions: over 90% of the area residents lacked access to safe drinking water; and over 80% of the residents lacking access to adequate sanitation facilities.

I met our speaker, Bethany Lerch, after she spoke at TEDxOshkosh 2016 about the pitfalls of taking the wrong approach to international aid from her time in Afghanistan.  After returning from Afghanistan, Bethany, founded “able to” as a pilot student in September 2016.  This program recognizes that women are in the forefront of positive change in Afghanistan.  This initiative offers graduate degrees to qualified Afghan women.  Candidates will develop their expertise and leadership skills while completing a two-year Masters Degree at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh.

June is Rotary Fellowships Month.  Rotary Fellowships consist of members who share a common interest in recreational activities, sports, hobbies, or professions. These groups help expand skills, foster vocational development, and enhance the Rotary experience by exploring interests while developing connections around the world.  The benefits of joining a Rotary Fellowship are making lasting friendships outside your club, district, or country; helping to advance Rotary’s public image and identity; providing an incentive for joining Rotary and for maintaining active membership.

Several ReCSWUSA members belong to one or more Rotary Fellowships.  Eclubber Debbie Conover is currently serving as president of the International Recreational Vehicle Fellowship of Rotarians.  This week she shares her experience in this fellowship.

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The Rotary Foundation transforms your gifts into changed lives that are close to home and around the world.  For more than 100 years, your Foundation has spent 3 billion USD on service projects.  The PolioPlus and Annual Fund-SHARE contributions go to solve problems with solutions proposed by fellow Rotarians from the 35,633 Rotary Clubs worldwide.  District Governor Nominee David Simmer shares his journey in Rotary learning about our Foundation.  Along the way, David Simmer is reminded of the saying, “From those to whom much is given much is expected.”

Music is an integral part of daily life.  Some of us will place an LP or a 45 onto a turntable.  Others have songs and playlists that we carry around on our phones and tablets.  Another group of us listen to local radio stations or subscribe to a streaming service.  We use music to energize us, to set a mood, or to transport ourselves back to a place and time.  For most of us, we have had access to music whenever and wherever we wanted.

While on tour in Russia with his British band, The Real Tuesday Weld, singer and producer Stephen Coates stumbled onto rich piece of history in a flee market.  This item lead Mr. Coates down a path of discovery.  This is the story of how citizens of the Soviet Union listened and shared music that was banned by the government.

The mounting accusations of fake news are creating an atmosphere of skepticism toward institutions and the media.  People’s faith in statistics, especially government data, has taken a hit.  Data journalist Mona Chalabi believes that this is a “total disaster.”  She explains why it is crucial to accept statistics - only after testing their validity.  In her TED Talk, she provides advice on how to distinguish the good numbers from the bad.  Ms. Chalabi explores why people are growing more skeptical of statistics, how this phenomenon impedes productive debate, and how to identify a bad statistic.

While Youth Service is the newest Avenue of Rotary Service, local clubs have a long and rich history of working with youth and young adults.  Youth Service recognizes the positive change made available by through leadership development activities, service projects, and exchange programs.  The programs and projects aim to provide innovative and practical opportunities to assist young people in our communities to acquire learning and life skills.

After World War II, Frank C. Hibben, then chairman of the New Mexico Game Commission, initiated a plan to provide exotic big-game hunting opportunities.  The offspring of the first 18 Oryx transported from Africa now roam the 2.2 million-acre parcel of land known as the White Sands Missile Range.  In addition to Oryx, Persian Ibex and Barbary sheep were introduced New Mexico desert.  Nigerian-born travel and adventure writer, Aaron Gulley shares his photo safari experience in search of Persian Ibex.

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Imagine the world as a street ordered by income.  Everyone lives somewhere on the street.  The poorest lives to the left and the richest to the right.  Everybody else live somewhere in between. Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Gapminder co-founder, created a web application where you can view this street.

The Cloud Appreciation Society (CAS) is a society founded was the United Kingdom in January 2005.  This society aims to foster understanding and appreciation of clouds.  CAS grown to over 42,000 members worldwide from 115 different countries.  Its founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, asserts that you do not need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration.  Rather, just look up.  As he shares charming photos of nature's finest aerial architecture, Mr. Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.

Pleasant Valley Rotarian Rose Bonheur visits RadioRotary to tell about her seven medical missions to Puerto Rico, aided by her husband Roberto, also a Pleasant Valley Rotarian, and a host of volunteers.  Dr. Bonheur is a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Nurse Practitioner, so in 2010, when a terrible earthquake struck Haiti where Rose was born, her husband suggested that they bring medical help to the devastated island.  That year, and each year since, the Bonheurs have put together a team to provide primary care for a location in Haiti where such care has been lacking.  Well in advance of their arrival, Haitians with such medical problems as untreated diabetes sign up for the visit, being given a number for efficiency.  Because of this kind of organization, Dr. Bonheur and her helpers are able to treat five to six hundred sick Haitians in a visit that is only about a week.  The entire operation is funded by donations.  This interview contains many fascinating details and stories about how the incoming team helps the patients.

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Only one in nine people in the United States gets the care and treatment they need for addiction and substance abuse.  A former Director of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli is working to end this epidemic and treat people with addictions with kindness, compassion and fairness.  In a personal, thoughtful talk, he encourages the millions of Americans in recovery today to make their voices heard and confront the stigma associated with substance use disorders.

As Director of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli led the Obama Administration’s drug policy efforts to diminish the consequences of substance use through evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery support services.

It's never easy to get across the magnitude of complex tragedies -- so when Brenda Romero's daughter came home from school asking about slavery, she did what she does for a living -- she designed a game.  She describes the surprising effectiveness of this game, and others, in helping the player really understand the story.

For decades, Brenda Romero has been a major figure in the field of game design.  After a long career as a game designer, she became an educator.  She teaches the next generation of artists, coders, and mechanics how to create the world’s most popular media form.  A game is the tool she uses to think about problems, to explain, to put concepts into form.

In his keynote address at the Carolinas’ PETS on 11 April 2015, Rotary International Director Holger Knaack discussed the relationship between young professionals and Rotary.  He commented that in Germany as in the US Rotary Clubs appear to be comfortable with being overaged.  RID Holger talked about a study where the key learning included that the Rotary image is outdated and uninviting, that our identity and value proposition is unclear to young people.

In support of his belief that “there is no wrong age to become a Rotarian,” RI Director Holger Knaack tapped into the skills and abilities of the Rotaractors for his Zone Institute.  Involvement and engagement is key to attracting our Rotary Clubs to young people.  He carried this message to the incoming District Governors at the International Assemble earlier this year.  As you watch his presentation, please consider how we can guide more RYLA delegates, RYE students, Interactors, and Rotaractors to the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise.

Holger Knaack is a member of the Rotary Club of Herzogtum Lauenburg-Mölln, Germany.  He served as the 2006/07 District Governor for RID 1940.  From 2013 to 2015, Holger served as a RI Director and 2014/15 Treasurer of Rotary International.

On August 15, 2007, central Peru suffered an earthquake that went down in history known as the Pisco Earthquake.  Measuring in at a staggering magnitude of 8.0, the earthmover and the following four-meter tsunami caused extensive damage to the city of Pisco and the surrounding area, damaging more than 80 percent of the homes in Pisco and killing roughly 600 people.

Houses fell, and families struggled with the aftermath, living in makeshift houses constructed of cardboard, scrap wood, and plastic.  Government aid left a lot to be desired, and some families did not have access to food and water for four days.

Three years later the city still stands in rubble.  Muros de la vergüenza, walls of shame, hide evidence of the earthquake’s damage, serving as a temporary fix but also acting as a constant reminder that the city is far from full recovery.

Rotary has designate March as Water and Sanitation Month.  Water is at the core of sustainable development.  It is critical for socio-economic development, energy and food production, healthy ecosystems, and for human survival itself.  Water is also at the heart of adaptation to climate change, serving as the crucial link between the society and the environment.  As the global population grows, there is an increasing need to balance all of the competing commercial demands on water resources so that communities have enough for their needs.

It can be overwhelming to be asked to make healthcare decisions for someone who is dying and is no longer able to make his or her own decisions.  It is even more difficult if you do not have written or verbal guidance.  How do you decide what type of care is right for someone?  Even when you have written documents, some decisions still might not be clear since the documents may not address every situation you could face.

This fall more than 2 million students will flock to U.S. universities and colleges to begin their first year of higher education.  They’ll arrive on campus with the goal of obtaining a degree, a proven ticket to a life of higher income and better opportunity.

But here’s a sobering statistic that should concern us all: Based on the latest college completion trends, only about half of all those students (54.8 percent) will leave college with a diploma.  The rest—most of them low-income, first-generation, and minority students—will not finish a degree.  They’ll drop out. 

This is tragic.  Not just for the students and their families, but for our nation.  Without more graduates, our country will face a shortage of skilled workers and fewer low-income families will get the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

Dame Ellen MacArthur is a successful solo long-distance English sailor.  In February 2005, she broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe, a feat which gained her international renown.  Dame MacArthur retired from professional sailing in September 2010.  In retirement, she launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – a charity that works with business and education to accelerate the transition to sustainable production.

In 2007, when Summer Lewis started to consider returning to school, she recalled thinking, “The problem was that I had too many areas of interest.  Economic development, fair trade, sustainability, social justice.  How was I going to find a graduate school program that allowed me to pursue all that?”  Ms. Lewis found her answer as a Rotary Peace Fellow.  She attended the Rotary Peace Center at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, AU.

The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy, says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar.  And happiness, he suggests, is born from gratitude.  An inspiring lesson in slowing down, looking where you’re going, and above all, being grateful.

Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old girl from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England, hanged herself in her bedroom on August 3rd, 2013.  Her body was discovered by her older sister.

In the weeks leading up to her death, Smith had been subjected to cruel taunts and insults about her weight and a family death on, a question-and-answer social networking site that allows anonymous participation.  Bullies on urged her to drink bleach and cut herself.  According to Hannah's father, she went to to look for advice on the skin condition eczema.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worldwide demand for water in the last century has been grown at a rate greater than twice the rate of population growth.  Additionally, the number of regions which water services can be sustainably delivered is increasing.  Demographic growth and economic development are putting unprecedented pressure on renewable and finite water resources – especially in arid regions.  Current estimates forecast that 1.8 billion people are expected to be living in countries or regions with "absolute" water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under "stress" conditions by 2025.

A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food.  The usage of the term considers the type and quality of food available to the population.  Food deserts are characterized by a lack of supermarkets which decreases residents’ access to fruits, vegetables and other whole foods.  When I first learned about food deserts, it focused on those living more than one mile from a supermarket in urban or suburban areas.  Last November, I learned of the food deserts in rural America where people are living more than 10 miles from a supermarket.  Due lack of availability to fruits and vegetables, residents rely on processed, sugar, and fat laden foods for their daily caloric intake.  These foods are known contributors to the United States’ obesity epidemic.

Past Rotary International President Cliff Dochterman was a keynote speaker at the RI Presidental Celebration held in Vancouver, BC, CA on July 18 & 19, 2003.  This celebration's focus was Vocational Service and was billed as an opportunity to:

  • Exchange ideas on Rotary's second Avenue of Service
  • Share experiences with Vocational Service projects
  • Learn unique ways to promote The Four-Way Test
  • Explore opportunities to volunteer vocational skills

Brian Rocha is a member of the Rotary Club of Goleta, California, USA.  While Brian was fortunate to have travelled in his life, he felt an urge to turn his passion for travel into something much more rewarding.  This urge was fueled by a desire to make an impact and make a difference in the world.

Brian conceived of a trip with a threefold mission to inform others about Rotary.  The first mission was to educate others on Rotary through online content such as blogs.  The second mission was to show Rotarians and others the impact that Rotary is making in the people’s lives around the world.  Lastly, Brian wanted to inspire Rotarians to do more and non-Rotarians to join us in service.  He pitched the idea to his Rotary club and Rotary International.  With their moral support, Brian began a self-funded trip around the world.  This eight-month journey began with 2013 Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal.  He visited several different countries around the world, capturing pictures and video throughout his experience.


Nine years ago, eClub member Kim Covill co-founded From Books to Brilliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on the problem of illiteracy in rural communities.  Since its founding, they have completed 8 library projects to promote literacy in impoverished rural communities of Nicaragua, Guatemala and New Mexico, US.  The Rotary eClub of the Southwest USA has been a partner on some of these projects through our mini-grant program.

Launched in 2011, Rotary Family Health Days (RFHD) is now active in a half-dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  This program is led by Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention in partnership with the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, the U.S. Mission – including the Centers for Disease Control, USAID and the health service delivery expertise of their implementing partners – and Ministries of Health.   Media partners promote Rotary Family Health Days in each of the countries.  In each country, Rotarians work alongside thousands of volunteers to help in various ways.

Becky Blanton is a writer, photographer and former journalist who found herself homeless, but bounced back to tell her story and inspire others.  Ms. Blanton had planned on living in her van for a year and see the country with her cat and dog.  When depression set in and her freelance job ended, her camping trip turned into homelessness.  In her talk, she describes her experience of becoming one of America's working homeless.

First and Foremost, I wish to thank the members of the Rotary eClub of Southwest USA for their support of the Float promoting Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation in the annual Tournament of Roses, Rose Parade.  This is the fourth consecutive year the Float has received your support!

2017 Rotary Rose Parade Float

As hopefully most of you watched the Rose Parade last year, you are aware that our Float won the Princess Trophy for the most beautiful float under 35 feet.

The Rotary Foundation transforms your gifts into changed lives that are close to home and around the world.  For more than 100 years, your Foundation has spent 3 billion USD on service projects.  The PolioPlus and Annual Fund-SHARE contributions go to solve problems with solutions proposed by fellow Rotarians from more than 35,000 Rotary Clubs.  Mary Beth Growney Selene states, “Once I was introduced to The Rotary Foundation, I felt good.  I wasn’t until I really understood our Rotary Foundation and its many nuances that I became committed to our Rotary Foundation.”

Our meeting this week will be the first online of the Rotary year and will be a joint meeting with our sister eClub in the District, the Rotary E-Club of Arizona.  District Governor Nancy Van Pelt will be sharing her thoughts for Rotary District 5495.

DG Nancy believes that the magic of Rotary is our capacity to bring together individuals with common interests and shared values, offering them a way to pool their talents and resources to benefit a greater good.  She places great value on capacity-building and leadership development.  Her visit is your opportunity to see Nancy’s commitment to using her vocational skills to support Rotary International and the Clubs in Rotary District 5495.

As many of us are aware, ReCSWUSA has had a large turnover in members since we were first chartered in April 2004.  While we do a good job introducing our new members to the Club, we do a poor job introducing our current members to each other.  Throughout this Rotary year, President Don Griffing has talked about member engagement.  It is difficult to engage with someone who you do not know.  This fireside chat program is an attempt to change that.

We are taught to try to live life without regret.  But why?  Using her own tattoo as an example, Kathryn Schulz makes a powerful and moving case for embracing our regrets.

William Ury, author of Getting to Yes, offers an elegant, simple – not easy – way to create agreement in even the most difficult situations -- from family conflict to, perhaps, the Middle East.

Shivani Siroya is the founder of Tala Mobile, a Santa Monica, California, US, which makes micro-loans in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Philippines.  Tala developed an app that would-be borrowers download onto their cell phones.  The app uses a person's routine habits to identify behaviors that are more meaningful than traditional credit scoring for loan repayment.

Rotarian Bouba Hamadou shows how Rotary Clubs can come together on any of the six areas of focus in his home are on Malam Petel in Extreme-Nord, Cameroon.

Rotary eClub of the Southwest USA member, Linnaya Graf, shares some of her vocational knowledge and research on the importance of basic education and literacy.

The Computer-Assisted Literacy Solution (CALS) is a program that helps children and adults with varying skill levels build fluency in the foundation skills of reading and math.  Individualized training streams and a focus on motivational principles improves self-esteem and confidence to deliver impressive results.  The program can be accessed anywhere using a computer with high speed/broadband access to the internet.

In his February 2017 program Sam Brown described the initial stages of his project to have volunteers knit squares that would be part of afghans.  In the current program he describes the process of assembling the afghans and distributing them to students in Mexico who are being sponsored by Project Amigo,

What value can we can through transformative change?  Relevance, growth, greater global impact, and more are possible if we have the courage to change.  RIPE Barry Rassin touched on this at the 2017 Rotary International Assembly in his remarks to the 2017/18 District Governors.

Sherry Turkle studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships: with others, with ourselves, with it.  She has observed that we use online personas to redefine human connection and communication.  

In 2003, a Rotary Youth Exchange student sat next to Brittany Arthur in class at her suburban school in Australia, and changed her life forever.  Inspired to study abroad, Arthur graduated from universities in Australia, Germany, and Japan.  She received a scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education and was a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar in Germany.  Today, Arthur provides businesses with the tools and talent they need to expand into international markets.

The mission of the Learning Technologies Media Lab is to inspire and create opportunities for global collaboration in addressing humanity's most pressing educational, social, and environmental issues by designing and evaluating innovative technology-mediated solutions for learners, educators, researchers, and organizations worldwide.


Storytelling is a way that our society and cultures educate and share values with others in a way that entertains and can be preserved for the future.  It has been a while since we have had a short story as our program.  Leopard is a short story by Wells Tower about an eleven-year-old boy and his day off from school.

Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes.  Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change.  He urges us to do so.

President Don has prepared a short video to give some of his background, concerns for the Club, the goals for the coming year.