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Rotary Happenings: Rotary District 6960 governor finds inspiration in projects

By Staff | Oct 31, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Rotary District 6960 Gov. Sandra Hemstead was the guest speaker at the recent meeting of the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club.

It was a busy Friday on Oct. 12 for the Rotary – lots of good and positive things happening.

The first part of our meeting was dedicated to reminding Rotarians of upcoming club activities for the months of October and November, starting right after the meeting with the distribution of Rotary International’s “A Student’s Dictionary,” plus almanacs, to third-graders at The Sanibel School and Fort Myers Beach Elementary School.

The kids are delighted and eager to get their own dictionaries to take home. They flip through the pages with excitement. Third-graders are learning a lot about words, their meanings and how they are used. You would think that they wouldn’t be that excited with all the technology they are exposed to, but au contraire, they are extraordinarily fascinated with the dictionary-almanacs.

The books also contain information about U.S. history, government, states, presidents, world geography and different countries. There are pages showing sign language and braille lettering. It even includes the periodic table of elements. Five hundred and forty pages of exciting stuff – no need for electricity or batteries, passwords or security access, just get comfortable and enjoy learning. Isn’t that what an education is supposed to be about? One of Rotary’s five areas of focus is literacy – the dictionary-almanacs are meant to aid in that pursuit.

Friday was also a great day because of our special guest speaker, Rotary District 6960 Gov. Sandra Hemstead. She doesn’t just talk the Rotary talk, she exemplifies the extraordinary leadership qualities of a dedicated and true Rotarian who, as she explained it, dreams of a better world for everyone and knows how Rotary is helping to achieve this.

PHOTO PROVIDED The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club held its annual Dictionary Day on Oct. 12 at the Fort Myers Beach Elementary School, pictured, and The Sanibel School.

Hemstead joined Rotary in 2006 after attending a Rotary District Foundation seminar and realized the scope of what the Rotary does. The Rotary Foundation is a non-profit that supports the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational and cultural exchanges by sharing a vision of a better world and using Rotary’s areas of focus to try and contribute to this goal: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

Hemstead jumped right in after joining The Rotary Club of Bonita Springs. She had a passion for global service. She took on leadership roles on some of her club’s global grant initiatives. Becoming the club’s president broadened her opportunity to make a difference on supporting service projects that could make a better world. Hemstead went on to serve at the district level as global grants chair, helping and inspiring Rotary clubs to take their dreams of making the world a better place and doing something about it – one project at a time – finding financial support and receiving Rotary district and Rotary International matching grant funds to get the projects done with sustainable outcomes.

Her inspiration and passion for her job came from observing first-hand humanitarian needs of people on her travels, especially in Central and South America. Observation of the poor conditions that people are living in – no clean water, poor medical care, few schools, poverty, crime brought on by poverty, corrupt governments, and on and on. Hemstead is inspired by the district Rotary clubs that are working on global water projects, school construction projects in Haiti and the Caribbean, literacy programs in the states and abroad, and Rotary’s premier world-wide health initiative: polio eradication. The program started in 1988, with a reported 350,000 cases to today’s reports of only 13 cases around the world. Amazing – thank you, Rotary. Oct. 24 is World Polio Day.

How great is the inspiration that comes from our Rotarian brothers and sisters to help children around the globe with heart defects? The Gift of Life started with one man, Robbie Donno from Long Island, New York, and his dream of helping save the lives of children – 32,268 to date in 79 countries. Rotary had much help along the way from U.S. doctors, medical staff and state-side medical facilities; now the medical procedures are done mostly in locations closer to young patients and their families, outside the states. Rotary provides training of the medical staff at the hospitals, financial support and volunteer medical professionals from the states to aid the doctors.

Inspiration for Hemstead comes from seeing the outcomes of dreams like those of the Rotary Wheelchair Foundation, founder Ken Behring providing wheelchairs to those in need no matter where they live. The Wheelchair Foundation has been able to deliver more than 895,000-plus wheelchairs worldwide. Rotarians have changed hundreds of thousands of lives with the gift of mobility. She is inspired by the Rotarians who helped Bonita clean up, restore and renovate homes after Hurricane Irma. Our Rotary district is already making plans to help in the Panhandle from Hurricane Michael.

“Be the Inspiration” is Rotary’s motto for the year – Hemstead is an inspiration.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.