2017-06-16 / Opinion

How Proud am I to be a Rotarian?

Let Me Count the Ways
BY DAVE TAFT
Brunswick Rotary Club President

Part of a continuum of articles trying to ensure that the public is aware of Rotary International and what your local clubs do for this community and the world.

I have been a member of the Brunswick Rotary Club for over 35 years. My grandfather was a Rotarian, my uncle was a Rotarian, and my father was a Rotarian. So was my father-in-law and brother-in-law. I was introduced to Rotary while I was in high school. The local club invited three or four seniors each week to be guests. We saw many of the fathers of our classmates or local businessmen, and they inquired about our future plans. It was a most pleasant experience, and it made me proud.

Just after I joined Brunswick Rotary we worked on the PAR course set up around the former Midcoast Hospital. The exercise course had many stations and we cleared the trail, placed pilings for step-ups, etc. It was rewarding to perform a local service project alongside fellow Rotarians and a good chance to get to know each other better.

Several years ago Rotary International decided that it needed an international identity behind a major work of charity – the goal of eliminating polio, a terrible disease crippling children and adults all over the world. Rotary International partnered with Global Polio Eradication, WHO, the U.S. Center for Disease Control, UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in this major effort.Two countries are still at risk, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but polio cases have declined by 99.9 percent internationally. Since 2000, some 15 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered. Many Rotarians have volunteered to administer them and Rotarians have contributed more than $1.5 billion.

This year is the celebration of the Rotary Foundation’s 100th anniversary. It has contributed more than $3 billion to life -changing and sustainable projects, awarding grants at both the local (district) and international level. Last fall, as a result of a Rotary District Grant, a grant from the Senter Fund, and the generosity of Lowe’s, the Brunswick Rotary Club assembled a playground for the Tedford Shelter. It took two days of hard work, including participation from several Tedford residents, and now many kids are climbing all over the equipment.

Each year, the Brunswick Rotary Club, with assistance from the Town of Brunswick, puts on 4th of July Games on the Mall. It features old-fashioned games including sack races, three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, balloon-carrying contests, orange-under-the-chin relays, watermelon eating contests, and pie-eating contests. Groups are set up by age, with plenty of prizes, free food, and drink. The Games start at 10 a.m. on the 4th of July and are usually over by noon.

Several times a year Brunswick Rotary gives a Service Above Self Award to outstanding students from Brunswick High School, Mt. Ararat High School, and Region 10 Technical High School. It’s so rewarding to look at these students who represent our future. Brunswick Rotary also just granted a scholarship to a Region 10 Technical High School graduate to help with her college expenses. We have sponsored three Brunswick High School students to attend RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award). a multiple-day trading seminar to develop greater leadership skills in high school sophomores. The club has also funded two staff scholarships.

Brunswick Rotary, which was chartered in 1925, has more than 50 members, some of whom have been with us for over 30 years. It’s a vibrant club looking for new members who feel a calling to give of themselves to help others. Membership makes you a member of Rotary International, one of the largest charitable organizations in the world. Weekly meetings take place at noon on Mondays at The Daniel in Brunswick and are open to the public. For more information please visit the website, brunswickmainerotary.org, or contact David Taft, the club president, at dtaft70@outlook.com

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