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Rotary’s district governor visits Danville chapter

By DAVE FAIRCHILD

Danville Rotary

Rotary’s District Governor Michael Owsley was the speaker at the Aug. 10 meeting held in the dining room at the Danville Country Club. He announced that his purpose was twofold: to make members aware of some of Rotary International projects; and to thank Danville Rotary members for their services to the local community.

Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation has established six areas of focus as the organization’s priorities. Rotary service tends to fall within one of the following areas:

• peace and conflict prevention/resolution;

• disease prevention and treatment;

• water and sanitation;

• maternal and child health; or

• basic education and literacy.

Each year, the Rotary Foundation provides more than $70 million in grants for projects undertaken by Rotary clubs. Projects usually total over 1,000 annually. Last year $11.2 million was given to grow local economies. $20 million was given for water and sanitation projects.

Ownsley spoke about two projects, both considered international, but one has very significant meaning to Kentucky.

The first project he chose was the 2010 Haiti earthquake, with a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale and epicenter at Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Ultimately, at least 52 aftershocks were measured with 4.5 or greater magnitude. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake.

Barry Rason of the East Nassau Rotary Club was at that time the hospital administrator for the Bahamas Lourdes hospital and wound up being Rotary’s point man for humanitarian relief. He later wrote a story about arriving at the airport and being picked up to be shown the stricken area. He was tired, hot and dusty, and asked to clean up first. His host asked him to wait about half an hour first. Later, when they were driving to location, he asked why he had to wait before taking his shower. He was told, “the town only has water in the morning and so I needed to get the water turned on for you.”

“I chose the Haiti project to setup my second story. Please remember that water and sanitation is one of Rotary’s six areas of focus for our global grants. The phrase ‘global grants’ means what it says – Rotary International approves grants annually to fund projects globally. The majority of those grants are used on projects overseas. But this time, the Rotary clubs in District 6780 are partners with Rotary District 4170 in Mexico City, Mexico, to undertake a water sanitation project in Clay County, Kentucky.  The $165,000 ‘Global Grant’ will help families in the Appalachian region of southeastern Kentucky.  This area is wracked by unsafe drinking water.

“In 2015, a former president of Farragut Rotary, Bruce Williamson, met with Rotarians in Kentucky Rotary District 6740 to discuss writing a grant to help the people and families of his impoverished area. Many of the homes there drain waste directly into streams, which in turn contaminates the groundwater. Part of the focus of the planned project is to correct the practice of dumping waste directly into the streams.

“Two Farragut Rotarians, Leah Berry and Becky Duncan formed a partnership with the Rotary Heart 2 Heart project partners in Mexico City, Mexico to sponsor the project. Rotary usually goes somewhere else overseas for global grants, but in this case, we have a global grant right here in our own backyard.

Since 2015, the project has been on-again, and off-again. In May, 2018, Kathryn Hardman, past president of the Rotary Club of London, Kentucky, told her club the project will start this year. The grant covers the cost and installation of a water storage tank and a water kiosk for the residents and families, septic systems for 25 homes, plus an educational component for the homeowners about how to use and maintain the systems and the effects of contaminated water. Each septic system costs $5,400. ‘It’s not going to solve all of the problems, but it will for sure make a big difference in the lives of many people there,’ she says.”

The balance of Owsley’s talk thanked Danville Rotarians for their community projects. In particular, he cited the Millennium Park Soccer field, the International Dinner fundraiser and Centre College’s Rotaract Club, which has the largest membership in the district.  Rotaract brings together adults ages 18-30 to take action in their communities, develop their leadership and professional skills, and have fun. Rotary clubs sponsor them, but Rotaract members manage and fund their clubs independently.