By Susan Schwartz
Want to make an impact on your community?
Community service can come in all shapes and sizes. Volunteers have many choices to invest their time and talent. Today, service organizations are struggling, partially because our world is so fast paced and there are so many strings pulling at our time, but also because the culture of service has perhaps not been engrained in us as it once was. Times change, but the need remains constant. One organization that still stands out for its service is Rotary International. I have been a member now for 25 years – the last 7 right here in Buffalo.
I am a 4th generation Rotarian. My great grandfather started a club for business leaders in Ogdensburg, New York to improve and aide the community. My grandfather and my father joined in turn. I remember about 25 years ago I was moving to Cleveland and my Dad (generation 3) contacted the President of the Rotary Club of Cleveland and told him it was time for his daughter to begin to give back to her community. And that was that. I was greeted with open arms and eventually became president of the Club. I have reaped the rewards of this wonderful organization since attending Christmas parties with my Dad when I was 5 and being an exchange student to France at 17, to the steering committee of the inaugural Cleveland Tall Ships Festival in 2010, presented by the Rotary Club bringing over 100,000 to downtown Cleveland. Now as a member of the Buffalo Rotary Club, I know we are making a difference for Buffalo and Western NY.
What is Rotary you ask?
Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves. There are 35,000 Rotary Clubs around the world. As active business leaders, Rotarians are aware of community needs and have the connections to make things happen. Founded in 1905, Rotary is one of the first organizations to embrace the now popular, “Think Global. Act Local.”
Solving real problems takes real commitment and vision. For more than 110 years, Rotarians have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, we are always working to better our world.
Ending polio forever.
Rotary has been working to eradicate polio for over 30 years, and our goal of ridding the earth of this disease is in sight. We started in 1979 with vaccinations for 6 million children in the Philippines. Today, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan are the only countries where polio remains endemic.
This is one of my pet projects. My husband’s father and uncle, my great uncle and so many others were afflicted by this scourge of the body. We have an opportunity for only the 2nd time in history to rid the world of a terrible disease. Though it seems like a small problem with so few cases today, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” Polio Plus is one amazing example of the tenacity of Rotary International and its 1.2 million world-wide members. With the help of too many to count and investments by the likes of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Health Organization and UNICEFF, I’m proud to say it will happen in my lifetime!
Locally, The Buffalo Rotary Club has donated more than $1.9 million to Buffalo Niagara nonprofit organizations. Projects like: The Rotary Rink, Read To Succeed Buffalo, Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse, Lorraine Academy Mentoring, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Cradle Beach, Friends of the Night People and so many more have benefited from our grants and hands-on participation. We can’t begin to count the volunteer hours and hands-on labors of love.
Why don’t you consider Rotary?
The Rotary Club of Buffalo meets every Thursday at noon at the Saturn Club for lunch and to hear prominent and timely speakers. Be our guest at your first meeting and check us out. Call 716-854-3397 or email Heather at Heather@buffalororotary.org and lunch is on us!