District News

Regional Service Award for a Polio-Free World

Past District Governor Leigh Hudson should be recognized for creating two innovative fund raising programs that are creating awareness and enthusiasm within District 7710 Rotarians as well as beyond our district to continue the global fight to eradicate the polio virus.

The first began with an idea in 2012 to create a print to sell and donate all proceeds to Polio Plus. His inspiration was a limited edition Thomas Kinkade framed print of “The Rotary Meeting” that was printed in The Rotarian Magazine in 1990. He was confident a painting in this style would be a welcome addition to many Rotary offices or in Rotarian’s homes. He had also discovered this Kinkade print was no longer available.

Leigh commissioned a local painter, Vincent Wood, to capture the essence of a Rotary club enjoying that special moment of friendship just before the weekly meeting begins in a 3’x4′ original oil painting. The painting depicts 2013-14 RIP Ron Burton and 2012-13 RIP Sakuji Tanaka leading a group of Rotarians as they prepare to hear Bill and Melinda Gates deliver a special program on “End Polio Now.”

From the original painting, Leigh has manufactured 22″x28″ framed prints that he has been selling for $199 (like Kinkade did in The Rotarian in 1990) and donating all proceeds to Polio Plus. Since March 2014, he has sold over 219 prints regionally raising over $64,485 for Polio Plus. Leigh works tirelessly to promote the eradication of polio at club, district, and zone events, raising awareness and funds for Polio Eradication.

The second unique approach that Leigh has used to build enthusiasm and fundraising momentum for polio eradication is to create a Polio Plus Society in District 7710. When he became the District Polio Plus Chairman in July 2016, he again looked for an innovative approach to bring enthusiasm and commitment to attract additional gifts that would be needed to finish the job by 2018. To become a member, you must donate a minimum of $100 per year until polio is eradicated worldwide. Since its inception ten months ago, District 7710 has 72 members of the Polio Plus Society. We expect it to continue growing in membership and provide a sustainable source of funding until this terrible disease no longer plagues children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and most recently in Nigeria.

Leigh Hudson has a passion to eradicate polio that has fueled his inspired approaches to raise awareness and funds. His exemplary commitment and successful results make him a deserving recipient for the Regional International Service Award for a Polio-Free World.

The Impact of Rotary

One of the many captivating speakers, and definitely most moving, was Jessica Holmes, a member of the Cary-Kildaire club.

Jessica explained how she uses the “Four Way Test” in her role as Wake County’s youngest County Commissioner.

She also demonstrated how a note from her Club President, Sue Pruskin and the support of her club members helped her through a trying time which made the a life-long Rotarian.

Rotary Youth Exchange

Helen Holt chaired a panel of two incoming students and one outgoing student.

Colleen Kane, the Outgoing Student, sponsored by the North Raleigh Club. Her responses to some of the questions gave an insight to the Youth Exchange Program.

“My experience with Youth Exchange started before my own exchange year, because my family hosted three exchange students from Japan, Argentina and Brazil. While I was growing up, and my older brother also went on exchange to Santiago, Chile.

I lived with three Chilean host families, attended Chilean high school, and traveled a lot with the other exchange students. I visited the Torres del Paine National Park, which was the most spectacular place I think I’ve ever been. I rode a moto-taxi in Paraguay, a boat under the Iguazu falls in Brazil, and a very stubborn horse in the Andes Mountains. I climbed to the top of a volcano in Easter Island and watched a traditional Rapa Nui dance. I visited our old exchange student from Argentina with my brother.

Most importantly for me, I learned that a vast and rich world exists outside of the pressures of high school and college. What’s moving to another city, when you just lived in another hemisphere for a year, immersed in a foreign language and culture?

30 Years of Women in Rotary

Our first woman District Governor, Carol Allen (2000-2001) with the assistance of Mary Kamm coordinated the recognition of woman in each club that strongly supports the club, but often does not get recognition.

Central Johnston Recognizes Major Donor

Recently, Carol Arnn, was recognized as a Major Donor of The Rotary Foundation. She donated $25,000 to the PolioPlus program in the memory of her husband David Arnn, who was a District Governor of District 7710 from 2001 – 2002.

In the photo at the left from the left are Leigh Hudson, Carol Arnn and Pat Bridgers.

Peace Fellow Down Under

The Rotary Peace Fellows at the University of Queensland held our annual seminar last weekend at the State Library and Events Centre in Brisbane, Australia. The event was a grander affair this year, as it coincided with the 100th anniversary of The Rotary Foundation, and was offered as part of a series of centennial events. The venue was gorgeous, and we incorporated a cocktail/social hour after the event to allow further networking and interactions between fellows and Rotarians.

I am so grateful for everything this fellowship has offered me, not the least of which is the opportunity to meet the other fellows in my cohort. We are a diverse group of 11, representing a combined eight countries, fifteen ethnicities (some combined), and countless personal and professional experiences. Seminar presentations ranged from emphasizing the importance of education in preventing political extremism in youth to post-disaster management, from human trafficking to maternal health, and the global refugee and asylum-seeker crises to reconciliation between incarcerated people and the communities they injured in the Solomon Islands. I am humbled by the accomplishments of these amazing people and so proud to count myself as a friend and colleague.

My presentation was around the power of storytelling and narrative to transform conflict. As someone who has now worked on peacebuilding and conflict resolution in seven countries, the thread between them all had been the ways in which transmission of true stories, from the people directly impacted, humanizes conflict and promotes change at every level from individual attitudes to political policies. I have found that Rotarians are able to connect deeply with this approach, and am honored to have been invited to speak at a large number of clubs across Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Currently, I am working with the Peace and Conflict Studies Institute of Australia (PaCSIA)  on several projects. The first is locally, training staff at a youth shelter in mediation techniques as well as coaching the homeless and at-risk youth there, many of whom identify as Aboriginal, to prepare them to engage in mediation and self-advocacy as they move through court and foster care systems. The second is as part of a long-term and large-scale peacebuilding and reconciliation effort in the Pacific Island of Bougainville, which is currently an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. Concurrently, I am writing up a PhD proposal for a project that will have me working in Bougainville periodically through the year 2021 on a video-based dialogue project between communities that face logistical and relational barriers to communication. This design supports reconciliation as part of efforts to prevent the re-eruption of old tensions and potential reemergence of war in the region.

And, as though I do not have enough to do, I have accepted a position with a local service agency in their housing unit. I am working with several families that live in our crisis housing, as they transition from homelessness into longer-term housing. As homelessness and housing insecurity is part of my own backstory, I find this work deeply rewarding. The families I work with all come with their own strengths and my job is to help them build on those to establish a strong foundation from which to move into more stable and sustainable situations. And, I am happy to announce that my connection with this agency came through my Rotary host counsellor, Merv Richens. Merv was the first person we met in Australia (literally- he picked us up at the airport) and has become like family here. I cannot stress enough the importance of host counsellors for Peace Fellows and again, as always, urge all Rotarians in Peace Center areas to consider giving it a go. I also extend gratitude from all Peace Fellows for those of you who already have.

Much love and gratitude to all of you, and my next dispatch will be at or around graduation time!

Greetings from Edinburgh

I hope you all are well! My apologies for the delay in this update– I was preoccupied with final essays and my research proposal the last couple weeks. I’m very happy to say that I have officially handed in the last of my master’s coursework! Dissertation, here I come…

This last month has flown by, and I haven’t been doing much aside from studying and writing. My coursework was particularly demanding this semester, but I thoroughly enjoyed my classes; they were a perfect mix of theory and practice, and I learned a lot. To celebrate the end of term, I went to a masquerade ball hosted by the postgraduate law students at a very swanky hotel in Edinburgh’s New Town. Venetian masque balls are surprisingly popular in Scotland. (Some handy British lingo: “fancy dress” = costume, NOT formal wear).

Last month I also officially accepted a placement with Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Glasgow! I will be interning for the organization and conducting my dissertation research there. CPAG works on behalf of low-income families and children; my work will focus on the impact of social security policy on poor families in Scotland. If you’re interested in learning more about CPAG, here’s a link to their homepage: http://www.cpag.org.uk/scotland

There were no Rotary events in March, and so far the other scholars and I don’t have anything lined up this month either. There will likely be a few more gatherings and presentations this summer, however. I’ve had such wonderful experiences with the clubs in and around Edinburgh, and am looking forward to meeting more members in the near future.

Another notable Edinburgh attraction to add to the list: the Royal Yacht Britannia. She served Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip from 1953-1997, and is now moored at Ocean Terminal, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The yacht is absolutely beautiful– very well maintained and a fascinating piece of history. I highly recommend the audio tour!

I hope you all are enjoying the warm, spring weather and GO HEELS!!


Launch Raleigh

The first class from Launch RALEIGH graduated on March 28, 2017.

They have now each been assigned a business mentor and will be applying for microloans up to $2500 next month to build their business.