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 Ray Cook, our "Old-timer  Icebreaker" this morning is not new to Rotary. In 1998 he was a founding member of a Club in Illinois and joined the Valle Verde Club in 2001 when he and his wife, Sue, moved to Green Valley permanently.
     Like so many, Ray's army career had a touch of wanderlust. Drafted in 1959, he was moved around the country from base to base  and eventually overseas to Korea. It was the same with army schools - basic training, heavy weapons training, radio school---all in just 2 years. He said his goodbyes to the army as a sargeant.
     His educational career also had a touch of the wanderlust -- Blackburn College, Eureka College, University of Illinois until finally getting his degree in his mid-fifties  from Eastern Illinois University.
     Professionally, Ray spent the bulk of his 30 year career as a laboratory tachnician and supervisor. When Enron purchased the company, Ray was uncomfortable with the new owners and was in the enviable position of being able to take early retirement. "One of the best decisions I ever made."
     In terms of his personal life, he and Sue were married from 1959 until her death in 2008. They raised 3 sons. He latter married an old friend, Dottie and they moved to the Peaks in 2014. Dottie passed away in 2018, Ray is still at the Peaks and still prints the Cactus Chronicle each week. Well done, Ray. A good life. 
Club Notes – August 8, 2019
By Michele Lewis
Club President Andi Grantham held a club assembly with a full agenda of all things Valle Verde Rotary. A fun quiz of club history and facts kicked off the meeting. With many of the questions easily answered there were a few questions that stumped even the most knowledgeable. Can you recall the answer to “What year was Valle Verde Rotary chartered?”
From there Andi led the meeting to a discussion focusing on the plans for this year, membership goals, budget expenses and revenues, and an overview of the Foundation.
I. Membership:
In the spring of 2019 an anonymous member survey was conducted. Twenty-one members responded. Most member comments were positive and satisfied with the club. Positive comments identified the caring nature of club members, meaningful service projects, the opportunities to use one’s own talents and skills, and networking and connections made with others. Dissatisfaction expressed related to the costs of weekly meals and club dues as deemed too high. Another survey will be conducted this fall and once again in January 2020 with hopefully more member participation in the survey.
Current membership totals are: 47 members reflecting an increase of 4.44% from the previous year.
The Membership Team includes Charlotte Gates, Gary Friedman, Sandy Wahl and J.P. Pilger.
Membership goals were identified as:
• To create a club that reflects a diverse membership of age, cultural backgrounds and women
• To increase membership with five new members
• To engage current members
• To celebrate members accomplishments
• To build connections and friendships with one another and
prospective members
• To be more proactive in following up on membership leads
• To explore creative membership arrangements
• To welcome new members and guests
• To seek out members who are frequently absent from weekly meetings
Other ideas were discussed to provide more meaningful opportunities for current members involvement in club activities.
Club Image:
• To improve the contents of the web page and Facebook page
• To improve the weekly newsletter and Cactus Chronicles
• To utilize District 5500 Newsletter by sending notices of our club events and pictures of our club members in action
• To update club brochure and place packets in display areas throughout Green Valley, i.e. Chamber of Commerce
• To display club signage at events in which we participate
• To explore ways in which club members can promote Rotary, i.e. wearing Rotary clothing at public events
Andi asked the Club members to consider three questions:
1. What is Rotary Club: “We are a leadership organization of local business, professional and civic leaders. We meet regularly to get to know each other and form friendships. Through that we are able to GET THINGS DONE in our community.”
2. What is Rotary: What you see before joining and what you experience after joining.
3. Who is a Rotarian: A Rotarian is a person who…
• Digs wells from which he/she will never drink
• Vaccinates children he/she will never meet
• Restores eyesight for those he/she will never see
• Builds housing he/she/ will never live in
• Educates children he/she will never know
• Plants trees he/she will never sit under
• Makes crawlers into walkers halfway around the world
• Knows real happiness that “Can only be found by helping others”
II. Budget presentation by Charlotte Gates
Annual dues are $300
Proposed budget for 2019 – 2020 is:
Total Revenue $27,720
Total Expenses 29,191$
Net Income/Loss (1471)
III. Rotary Foundation presentation by Gary Friedman
Budget for 2019-2020 is:
Projected income $44,606
Projected Project Expenses 41,279
Net Gain/Loss 3,327
With less than two weeks in this Rotary year, there is not too much news.
  1. Almost President Andi and her consort Bill are still wandering in Europe. Since I don't do Facebook, where in the world are Andi & Bill?
  2. President Paul, who will be receiving his Past President's pin shortly gets to review his year as our President on Thursday.
  3. Very soon to be DG Ellie will be installed on June 23rd at the Tubac Country Club.
  4. President Andi gets home in time to take over on Jun3 27th. Remember, the meeting will be held at the regular time but at Quail Creek. The meeting will also feature the installation of three new members and well as Andi and her board of directors.
We are counting down to the end of this Rotary year. June 20th will be President Paul big wrap up meeting; June 23rd will sell Ellie Patterson taking over as DG of District 5500 and June 27th will see Andi Grantham taking over as President of Valle Verde Rotary.  A couple of quick notes on the upcoming events: you have until June 15th to register for Ellie's inaugaration which will be held at the Tubac Resort. All of the details and registration can be found on www.rotaryD5500.org. On the 27th Valle Verde Rotary will be meeting at Quail Creek for its weekly meeting.
Don't forget that Thursday is Thirsty Thursday at the Agave Resturant at the Diamond Casino staring around 4:30 pm. Guests and potential members are encouraged to attend this no host function.
Do not forget contributions for Fisher House are being collected at Thursday's meeting.
Last weekend the population of Hamburg Germany was increased by several thousand. Its only temporary of course but we were told that about 34,000 Rotarians descended on the city! The city has gone all out for Rotary with flags and banners all over town and even hanging from some of the boats in the harbor. There is a big emphasis on youth here and the Rotaractors have manned the information booths and are directing all those people so they get to the right place. They had their own convention over the weekend. Since Saturday we’ve met Rotarians from everywhere and have exchanged ideas about projects and clubs. The District 5500 dinner was fun and the food was fabulous. Did I say food? We found a little Biergarten near our hotel with really good food and great beer. We are already on a first name basis with the servers because we have gone so often. So far we have only been lost on the trains once but after riding around for a while and changing trains a couple times we figured it out.
We enjoyed the opening ceremony from the comfort of the Inspiration Lounge and this morning we are headed off to the second general session and another day of Rotary. Later this week we have a tour or two lined up so we can get the most of our visit to Hamburg then we are off for a visit with Malte and his family.
Last weekend the population of Hamburg Germany was increased by several thousand. Its only temporary of course but we were told that about 34,000 Rotarians descended on the city! The city has gone all out for Rotary with flags and banners all over town and even hanging from some of the boats in the harbor. There is a big emphasis on youth here and the Rotaractors have manned the information booths and are directing all those people so they get to the right place. They had their own convention over the weekend. Since Saturday we’ve met Rotarians from everywhere and have exchanged ideas about projects and clubs. The District 5500 dinner was fun and the food was fabulous. Did I say food? We found a little Biergarten near our hotel with really good food and great beer. We are already on a first name basis with the servers because we have gone so often. So far we have only been lost on the trains once but after riding around for a while and changing trains a couple times we figured it out.
We enjoyed the opening ceremony from the comfort of the Inspiration Lounge and this morning we are headed off to the second general session and another day of Rotary. Later this week we have a tour or two lined up so we can get the most of our visit to Hamburg then we are off for a visit with Malte and his family.
Our Rotary year is winding down but not the work. Today, the Board approved Rick Buckman for membership and advanced his name to the membership. The Social Event Calendar was update through May along with the Speakers. Our Club Assembly meeting which is on May 30th, will be held at 5 pm at Triple Play. There will be some competitive event--minature golf and possibly a pinball tournament if a pinball machine can be found in the game room. Before I forget this, Col. Maureen Frey Retired will represent our Club on May 27th, Memorial Day, at the Community Cementery's Veterans Day Recognition.
Looking ahead to June, we will have Paul Barker's year in review, Andi Grantham's installation and DG Elle Pattrerson's installation.
In the mean time, Aloha from Bob & Virginia
 Phil Silver and Eugene Friesen brought us up to date on the Uganda Project. The Project is part of the Rotary Health Days Project that started in 2011 and now operates in 8 African countries and in India, treating over 3 million patients.
     It is almost impossible to capture the total reach of the Uganda Project.Basically it comes down to empowering women is so many ways. " In so many ways" let's list just a few -- health care including diabedes, cancer, malaria-- training health professionals--family planning--literacy--business training--education of women and girls. If there is a mantra for the Project it might be "Empowering women to be agents of their own destiny".
     Phil and Eugene are deeply committed to the Project, primarily as guides, motivators and evaluators to be sure the Project meets Rotary criteria.
     When asked, "what was your best moment?" Eugene cited the success of the program in enhancing the creativity of women. Phil cited the work of Rotary in the worst slum in Uganda. 
     Though the Club does not financially support the Project, about a dozen members do.
The Food Fight to End Hunger is over and the funds are delivered to the Green Valley and Sahuarita Food Banks. It was a good fight and the winners are the folks who will receive the more than 60,000 pounds of food that your contributions will be converted into.  Great job everyone.
As we approaching the end of the Rotary year and if you still have some money left over after April 15th, do not forget about making a contribution to The Rotary Foundation.
Isn't control copy, control paste great! I am done typing for now.
Changing lives and communities is at the heart of all we do as Rotarians.   And today’s announcements were no different. 
          Ride to End Polio in conjunction with El Tour de Tuscon has raised $53m since 2010.    But the popular bicycling event that has attracted riders from all over the world is in danger of losing its sponsor.  J.P. Pilger appealed to our Club for contributions to this cause.
          Food – Hunger – Poverty.    Under the leadership efforts of John Yeager, the annual March Food Fight to End Hunger took place.   The competition between the Sojourners and those “planted” in Green Valley resulted in donations totaling $6258 and once again the Sojourners won.  Money donated will purchase 60,000 pounds of food.   Just wait until next year – the challenge is on.  
         On Thursday, April 18, Fisher House will experience a flurry of activity with volunteers from our Club.  Please let Max Perry know if you are interested in helping that day. 
        Guest speaker Linda Strader and author of “Summers of Fire” spoke about her experiences as a woman U.S. forest firefighter.  Linda described those seven years beginning with her first assignment in Nogales at the Florida Ranger Station.     Six words can aptly describe her as forest firefighter:  courageous, resilient, strong, determined, brave and reliable.   Fire Chief Chuck Wunder thanked Linda for her work and all the women firefighters in Green Valley who are an integral part of the Green Valley Fire District.    
        Andi Grantham appealed to everyone to complete the Member Survey.  It is important to have your feedback. 
There are some interesting movements in RI these days. Five of us plus three Interactors participated in a Day of Peace Program last Saturday. Peace is nothing new to RI but this was the first event I attended and maybe the first event that was attended and presented by a number of peace organizers in Tucson. 
The second big movement is the environment. RI President Barry Rassin started an initiative to speak about environmental impacts especially of rising sea levels. He does not mention hot button words as global warming or climate change but tell audiences about what will happen to his country, the Bahamas as a result of rising sea levels. Finally, the Rotary Foundation adopted a stance on emergency response and is offering Disaster Response Grants to districts to implement response activities. Grant will be made up to $25,000 per project but consecutive projects may be funded.
On the club front, we should have the big reveal for the Food Fight to End Hunger this week as John Yaeger is back.  We will see who wins the competition based upon a per capita amount raised by each group and the per capita amount raised by each club as of March 31st.
We also have a new scribe--Michele Lewis. She is the first woman to join the ranks of club reporters. Way to go Michele!
     Steve Sibulsky became the newest member of Valle Verdi Rotary Club.  With a voice so mesmerizing and soothing to our ears, Steve was a success as the emcee for the 10th annual Jazz in the Desert.   He was perfect and we look forward to many more years with Steve as a member of our Club.
     Ah youth – how sweet it is!  Our meeting was graced by three high school students that provided a glimpse into their lives and countries.
     We first heard from Eliza Magallanes, President of the Rotary Interact Club.  During her year abroad in Russia as a Rotary exchange student, she realized her love of languages and the ease in which she learned Russian.  In keeping with this, she applied for a scholarship through the United States Congress and out of hundreds of applicants was awarded a one year study program in Germany.   Just imagine her future, the impact she will have in our world, and all that she will accomplish.
     The two Rotary exchange students our Club is sponsoring this year, were introduced. 
     First we met, Ravine Sales, from Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world.   As an exchange student she attends high school in Nogales, Arizona.   In Brazil, she is an 11th grader at a private school and a member of a large family.  She has many interests including playing the violin, playing soccer, photographing her favorite people and sites, and traveling.  I am pretty sure she has given up on roller coaster rides!
     Slovakia, a country of five million people in the heart of Europe and carved out of several other countries in 1993, is home to our second Rotary exchange student, Domedny Mate.  A country graced by mountains, lakes, and caves attracts many outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.  Handball is a popular sport and played by all the members of Mate’s family.  In Slovakia, Mate studies mechanical engineering and has a passion for football and plays as a kicker and safety.   His dream is to play professional football in the United States. 
     Welcome, Ravine and Mate!
I just read last week's write up on post polio syndrome as I had to leave the meeting early. In the past, I have questioned the importance of the report but now understand its value. I had no idea that post polio syndrome was so prevalent even though I knew/know some polio survivors.
Onto to this week. This is our last meeting before the Food Fight to End Hunger concludes on Mar 31st. Please dig deep! We, the regulars, may have a window of opportunity to shine as I believe John Yaeger is cruising the southeast coast of the US and will not be there this Thursday. How glorious it would be if we retained our banner and the regulars once again won the club competition!  Whether we win or lose, the folks who need the help are the big winners.
There are a number of updates to future events and at least one addition, the Southern Arizona Day of Peace. If birthdays and anniversaries are wrong or missing please let me know and I will update your records. One critical lack of information is birth years for some of our female members. This is a common problem and is recognized by RI and it correction is built into the Rotary Citation by having at least 60% of club members report their birth dates through My Rotary. I would be glad to do this if necessary and you trust my discretion.
If anyone has heard of the services for Beth Phillips please let me know as a number of members were looking for that information last.
Finally, if you signed up for the I-19 luncheon on April 12th in Nogales, Sonora it is time to pay for it and select your entree. The all inclusive cost is $30 payable in cash. I will have the menus at the registration desk for the next three meetings.
Today the Club was introduced to an organization known as Polio Epic, Inc. Polio Epic, Inc., founded in 1985, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide education, support and community connections that empower polio survivors with tools necessary to make adjustments needed to continue a life of dignity, independence and interdependence. Two representatives from Polio Epic, Inc., Cece Axton and Micki Minner, spoke to our Club about the issues that polio survivors, who were afflicted in their early years, face in their later years. The issues that polio survivors face in their later years are known as Post-Polio Syndrome. It is estimated that 80% of all polio survivors will be afflicted with Post-Polio Syndrome. The syndrome manifests itself as a slow degradation of muscle structure. There is no known method to slow down the aging process associated with Post-Polio Syndrome and the more active the survivor is, the greater the rate of muscle loss. There are at least nine symptoms that may point to an individual having Post-Polio Syndrome. These include multiple compression injuries, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, body temperature regulation problems, chronic depression, need to overachieve, etc. The bottom line is there is no cure for a Post-Polio Syndrome although all symptoms may be treated as they occur. Much more information on Post-Polio Syndrome may be found on the Polio Epic, Inc. website (https://polioepic.org/). One note of concern is the decreasing vaccination rate among youth in the United States. Vaccination of 95% of the United States population is needed to prevent the re-occurrence of Polio within our population. Currently the percentage of unvaccinated individuals under age 15 is 25%. After all that has been done to eradicate polio it would be a shame to have the virus reoccur in our population!
You might say that today’s talk, given by Dr. Tina Hall, was for the birds – hummingbirds that is.  Dr. Hall spoke this morning on the past, present, and future of the Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds. The Center is located in Patagonia, AZ. The Center began as the backyard of Wally and Marion Paton’s home when it was discovered that rare and not so rare hummingbirds loved to visit their backyard. The Paton’s set up chairs and invited all to come and visit their birder’s paradise. Upon the Patton’s passing the Tucson Audubon Society has taken over the management of the property. Many improvements have been made over the years including the Backyard Pavilion in which visitors may sit, out of the sun, and view the 176+ bird and 60+ butterfly species that visit the Center – especially over the summer months. In addition, The Richard Grand Memorial Meadow delights visitors with thousands of native plants and a 1,200 gallon pond teaming with life including dragonfly larvae and endangered Sonoran Tiger Salamanders. A Streamside Restoration Project has restored four acres of riparian habitat along Sonoita Creek by planting over 3,000 new native habitat-creating plants and removing invasive plant species. Looking towards the future, the Center is involved in a $450,000 capital campaign which is nearly fully 3 funded. Once the capital campaign is concluded, Tucson Audubon will begin the process of replacing the former Paton home. The exterior of the new building will maintain the qualities of a private residence, but the interior will serve multiple needs, including an indoor space to engage the public, a small commercial kitchen for the preparation of bird food and hygienic maintenance of feeders, an administrative space for staff and volunteers, and quarters for short-term overnight stays by visiting researchers, speakers, or artists. The Paton Center for Hummingbirds sounds like a great place to visit whether you’re a birder or not!
I was surprised this morning to find an email inviting me to do a club satisfaction survey on Survey Monkey.  (Please take a few minutes to answer the ten questions in the survey.) This along with the rebirth in our garden is a sure sign that this Rotary year is coming to an end. PE Andi is doing the planning work for her presidential year as well as getting ready for her trip to the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg. Another sign that the Rotary year is ending is the large number of fundraising events taking place in the I-19 Corridor.
Please  note that the Board of Valle Verde will hold its regular monthly meeting this month following our Club meeting on Thursday which will be a good chance to meet the exchange students that we are sponsoring along with the Green Valley and Nogales Rotary Clubs.
I  also want to call attention to the Day of Peace Program coming up this Saturday. If you are interested in going or need a ride contact me or Virginia as we have room in our car for two people.
Right now, the I-19 mixer luncheon appears to be cancelled given the rhetoric about closing the border and relocating CBP agents to other site along the border.  Please see me at the meeting for a refund if you already made a payment on this event.
Finally and maybe most importantly, a big Valle Verde Rotary to Steve Sibulsky who just maticulated from Sojourner to Regular Member status on Apr 1st. No fooling.

It is March which means Jazz in the Desert is over for the year and the Food Fight has begun. The food fight is a friendly competition between the Valle Verde and Green Valley Rotary Clubs and between the Valle Verde Club members and their winter guests. The goal of the food fight is to raise funds to support the Green Valley/Amado and the Sahuarita Food Banks. Today’s speakers were Penny Pestle from the Sahuarita Food Bank and Debby Acuna from the Green Valley/Amado Food Bank. Their goal was to impress upon our membership the importance of the local food banks to our community. The goal of these food banks is to provide emergency food assistance to individuals and families in need. Several interesting facts, which point to the need for the services these food banks provide, were discussed. They are: 16% of the food bank’s clients are seniors; 18,099 individuals were served by the Green Valley/Amado Food Bank last year; 1,800,000 pounds of food were distributed last year; and 33% of food bank clients are children. These facts certainly point to a significant need in the region of Arizona. It was pointed out that the food banks receive goods from the local grocery stores, local growers with fruit trees, and dollars from many clubs and organizations like the Rotary Clubs of Green Valley. For every dollar donated to the food banks four meals may be provided to the needy. I came away from this talk feeling that the Green Valley/Amado and the Sahuarita Food Banks provide a valuable service to the community and I feel that my contribution to the food fight is truly appreciated
Last Saturday was the Sojourners' Farewell party and the attendance was not what was expected. I know the weather turned threatening later in the afternoon but the low attendance indicates that a change is needed.  If you have suggestions about the timing, venue etc. please pass them along to PE Andi. Let's prove the old adage wrong--Rotarians can change. We were successful in one endeavor during the farewell party, the remaining silent auction items from Jazz were sold.
Mike Duiven did a great report on last weeks speakers and the need to support our community food banks. We have two more meetings before the Food Fight to End Hunger is over.  Please dig deep and help Valle Verde to win the food fight once again! Would it be asking to much for the regulars members to win? I was truly surprised when PP Ray Cook said we won once. It must have been before my time in Valle Verde Rotary.
Friday, April 12th will be an I 19 luncheon at El Marcos in Nogales, Sonora. The cost is $30 for lunch, a drink, tip and transportation from the border to El Marcos and back to the boarder.  There is a limited number of guests and all five clubs are participating so see me to sign up.  I need to caution folks that you have to walk to the vans and then wait in line to get back to the States. CBP no longer has a line for seniors--there goes one of our few perks. Also, passport or border crossing card is required to get back.
Jazz in the Desert is now in the books. If you are wondering how we did financially, you will have to wait until Jim Rusk and Gary Friedman make their report during the meeting. I was very impressed with all of Valle Verde Rotarians, both regulars and Sojourners, who work during the day on Saturday. It was good to see so many new and old faces involved. You might have missed three of us during the matinee performance--Phil Silvers, Ray Cook and myself. We were on site at the Peaks, La Posada and Silver Springs as the matinee was being, in one case trying to be, lived streamed. We had some technical difficulties but we are getting better at this endeavour. Hopeful, we will get it right at all of the sites next year.
Here are some reminders of other activities and up coming events:
  1. March is the Food Fight to End Hunger month. We will be collecting money for the local food banks--Green Valley-Amado and the Sahuarita food banks. Check can be made to the food bank of your choice for the AZ Tax Credit program. Cash and checks are welcome.
  2. Thirsty Thursday is next Thursday at Las Agaves. This is a venue change if you have an old events calendar.
  3. The Sojourners Farewell Party is a week from Saturday at the Sunset Ramada. Max Perry has taken this over from Ron Darrah who is missing at sea.

At our regular meeting held February 28. 2019, we were privileged to welcome District 5500 Rotarian Diane Ventura-Goodyear, a current nominee for Governor of District 5500, who, as a member of the Board of Directors of The Rotary Vocational Fund Of Arizona, Inc. (TRVFA), presented a program about that fund.


Th goal of TRVFA is to help fund vocational training for persons who need schooling or training in a vocation to enable them to obtain a vocational certification which will enable them to obtain vocational employment in support of their families.


TRVFA was formed 20 years ago and has been assisting those in need of vocational training ever since.  The program is open to any person in need of such training, regardless of their age.  To qualify for a program grant, the applicant:  must make application to TRVFA showing financial need; must file the most current Free Application for Student Financial Aid; provide a copy of their Student Aid Report; seek training in a qualifying vocational area; be a legal resident of the State of Arizona; attend a school/training institution; be sponsored by a Rotary Club in Arizona and be interviewed by that club.  If the applicant is accepted, TRVFA may make a one-time grant of up to $3,000 to pursue the vocational training desired.  The grant money is paid directly to the school or training institution, not to the applicant.


Preferred programs for priority funding are:  trades, maintenance and contraction; health and wellness; and emerging technologies.  Currently, the predominate area of training is the nursing program.


Funding for TRVFA is provided through donations and gifts.  Individuals who donate may be eligible for a deduction against their Arizona income tax, based on the amount of their donations.   

It was Vocation Day and Sue Horton introduced Steve Sibulsky, a sojourner and a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club in Coeur d Alene, Idaho.to take us on a journey through his career. All you had to do was hear that voice to know it was a voice for radio and TV.
     Except for a brief sojourn with Coldwater Creek, Steve's professional life was as the voice and management in radio and TV, mostly in the northwest - Spokane, Tacoma, Great Falls, Montana- but it seemed, always back to Coeur d Alene. If there is a person who has a real sense of the changes in the organization, structure and technology in radio and TV it is Steve.
     Fortunately for us, Steve is the voice of Jazz in the Desert on our local station, KGVY. 
Dr. Manual Valenzuela, Superintendant of the Sahurita Unified School District is no stranger to Valle Verde Rotary. Today he came to talk about the impact of 471 on his schools. Since most had already voted by mail and only members who resided in his district could vote, his presentation was more of an update on his schools now and where he hopes they are going.
     Put succinctly, the Sahurita schools are trying to meet the diverse needs of students - - needs that go beyond the basic academics.This means additional funding and 471 is designed to provide that funding. Some of the needs the funding will address are:
   -- expanded physical plant
   -- more help for physically and emotionally handicapped children.
   --expanded counselling programs- so important in helping children deal with the increasingly complex world in which they live.
   --expanded phyisical ed ans sports programs.(i/3 of all children are border-line obese)
   --expand vocational ed options
   --expand military program
   --reduce class size so there is greater opportunity for individualized instruction
     Sahurita is a rapidly growing community. Its schools can use all the help they can get. 

By John Matthews, Rotary International Vice President 2018-19 and member of the Rotary Club of Mercer Island, Washington, USA. Photos by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

Spending the night under the stars sounds romantic. But for hundreds of thousands of Americans, it’s the exact opposite. It’s not a choice; it’s an unpleasant reality that can quickly become detrimental to one’s life. And it happens more often than most people with a roof over their heads might think – 553,742 people were homeless on a single night in 2017. Alarmed by the growing homeless population in our city, my club and I felt compelled to take action.

While Seattle is the 18th largest city in the U.S., it has the third largest homeless population. Reasons include gentrification, sky-high real estate prices, and the availability of great resources. But despite these resources, living on the city streets in miserable, unsanitary, and unsafe.

Tiny house project

Rotary members in Seattle work on the door of a tiny house.

Tiny houses

We first partnered with Operation Nightwatch, which feeds the homeless in Seattle, and began volunteering on a monthly basis. That encouraged several of our members to conduct further research, which resulted in writing a grant to construct tiny houses, defined by city building codes as one-story detached structures that are under 120 square feet.

Our club eventually settled on the ‘Housing First’ model as the best approach. And we found a project and partner we could believe in and fully support. The Tiny Houses Project, owned and operated by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), provides a suitable, safe and humane route to transitional housing for the homeless in the state of Washington. It offers displaced men, women, and children tiny houses which provide immediate access to a better quality of life.

Through this project, people can start rebuilding their lives and eventually contribute to their community. For this reason, we formed a special partnership with LIHI, and committed to building 10 wooden transitional tiny houses that offer a safe community in which to live. Included with the cluster of homes are outreach facilities offering health and medical care, job training, employment, and friendship.

Work day

Funding for these transitional homes went to LIHI in November 2017. On two days in May, Rotarians from our club and District 5030, along with other local groups, constructed 30 tiny houses. Ten of these houses were paid for by a district grant originating with our club.

What began as a serious concern for a major challenge facing our community turned into a collaborative project with other humanitarians who shared our convictions. It proves that small steps can lead to big changes, if we take the time to learn and collaborate with others.

These tiny houses and their communities act as an important intermediate step for providing shelter for the homeless. We plan to continue to help rebuild the lives of those who are down on their luck, one tiny house at a time until we have reduced the homeless rate in Seattle. That’s what People of Action do.

Learn more about how Rotarians are People of Action.

Your Board of Directors met last Thursday and had a quite and productive meeting. The Board approved the passing of the hat for two organizations. The first is for Shelter Box's Indonesian Relief efforts. Former Rotarian Sonja Van Burren left a check for $500 with us last week. Sonja was born in Indonesia 88 years ago. She and Jan, one of our past presidents, were inturned  by the Japanese in 1941, survived and went onto living interesting lives in Asia, Africa and Green Valley. Our goal for passing the hat is $500 to match Sonja's contribution. This will provide housing for 10 people for the year.
The second passing will be to help Fisher House probably in Nov. The goal is to raise $750 which will pay for 10 weeks of housing and meals at Fisher House. Max Perry will have more information on this. Also, do not forget the Fisher House donation box this week.
 Kelly Adams, the new CEO at the Santa Cruz Valley hospital came to us this morning to give us an update on the hospital. He prefaced his remarks by making two observations. First the reason for the name chanfe. Actually two reasons - - coming out of chapter 11 it was appropriate to change the name. Second, they wanted the name to reflect the wider area of service in Southern Arizona.
     His second comment was to remind us of the enormous surge in health care spending in the last 40 - 50 years. Today 20% of GDP is spent on health care. 1 in 5 workers are employed in the health care industry.
     That said, Kelly looked to the future of the hospital. They want  to expand services, with a particular emphasis on primary care. 60%-70% of the people in the area go to Tucson for primary care. The hospital hopes to address this problem by hring GPs and Nurse Practioners.
     Kelly spoke of other matters in the planning mill but always with an eye on being finacially sound and efficient in the delivery of services.
     All were invited to the open house at the hospital on Oct. 23 from 4 - 6 PM.