Polio Eradication Champion Award goes to William Gates Sr.
Salt Lake City — June 2007 - Trustee Chair Luis V. Giay joined RI President William B. Boyd to present the Polio Eradication Champion Award to William Gates Sr., the keynote speaker at the third plenary. Gates co-chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been a major ally in fighting polio alongside Rotary and its partners, contributing US$150 million to the polio eradication effort.
Rotary Foundation alumni who now work as diplomats played a prominent role at the event. Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Philip Lader was awarded the Foundation's highest alumni honor, the Global Service to Humanity Award. And Francis Moloi, a South African ambassador to India, who also spoke during a convention plenary session, credited his Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship with opening his eyes to a new world of possibilities.
Salt Lake City — Rotary in action can truly change lives. On Monday, Francis Moloi and other keynote speakers at the convention described the impact of Rotary's youth and educational programs.
"My ambassadorial scholarship gave me the opportunity to acquire a new soul and to look at the world with a fresh set of eyes — the eyes of friendship, of goodwill, of love, of compassion, of caring, of dedication to the poor and those less privileged," said Moloi, now a South African diplomat in India.
Moloi and other keynote speakers drove home the meaning of Rotary in Action — the theme of the RI Convention's second plenary session — when they described how their lives were changed by Rotary's youth and education programs.
Moloi said that Rotary's Ambassadorial Scholarship forces you look beyond the typical student responsibilities of getting good grades. "This scholarship challenges a scholar to dig deep in the reservoirs of his or her talents, energies, abilities, capabilities, gifts, and experiences to reach out to something far larger, far more noble, and far more enterprising and exciting," he told the audience.
Moloi was an Ambassadorial Scholar in 2000-01, which allowed him to earn a law degree from Harvard University.
In his role as high commissioner for South Africa to India, he must promote goodwill and friendship between the two nations. "This is no different from the fundamental responsibility of a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar," says Moloi.
Jenny Horton also had her eyes opened to possibilities that exceeded her dreams. The connections she made through Rotary as a Youth Exchange student coming from Australia to Oklahoma, USA, eventually led to her work in polio as a consultant in Pakistan for the World Health Organization.
"I am a very ordinary person who was a given a tremendous gift," says Horton. "[That gift] was my year as a Youth Exchange student."
During the plenary, RI President William B. Boyd presented Horton with the Service Above Self award, Rotary International's highest honor. The award is granted to no more than 150 people each year who strive to better humanity through Rotary.
Recent Ambassadorial Scholar, former Youth Exchange student, and former RYLA participant, Thomas T. Ristimaki, so strongly felt Rotary's influence on his life that it caused him to question what kind of life he wanted to live.
Ristimaki, from Canada, spent a year in Japan as a Youth Exchange student. The experience of immersing in another language and culture "fundamentally affects your identity, choices, and long-term goals," he says.
"Exposure to Rotary raises challenging questions for young people, because you're setting an example we don't see anywhere else," says Ristimaki.
After dropping out of college and volunteering full time for two years, Ristimaki returned to college with a new sense of purpose, which led to him to get an Ambassadorial Scholarship for his master's degree. He's now pursuing his Ph.D. in linguistic pragmatics at the University of Wales in Bangor.
"These programs you support through the Rotary Foundation create turning points in young people's lives – they raise new questions that inspire new choices. Our positive influence ripples outward from each of us through our choices, conversations, and contributions to society," says Ristimaki.
Kowloon East becomes the first 100% Major Donor Club
The Rotary Foundation has scored a major milestone that even founder Arch Klumph might not have envisioned.
"I'm happy to announce tonight that we have our first 100% Major Donor Club – the Rotary Club of Kowloon East in Hong Kong," said Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Luis Giay at the 2007 RI Convention's Major Donor Dinner on 18 June. "Every one of the club's members – about 40 in all – contributed [US]$10,000 or more to our Foundation. What an example this club has set in leading the way to help build the future of our Foundation."
Each member's decision to become a Major Donor to the Foundation reflects the generosity and involvement essential to the Foundation's purpose, as Arch Klumph put it, "of doing good in the world."
Held in the Grand Ballroom of the Salt Lake City Marriott Downtown Hotel, the Major Donor Dinner was attended by more than 900 Rotarians and guests. During the recognition ceremony, Giay recognized three Kowloon East Rotarians present – club president Stephen Yow, District 3450 Governor-elect Peter Wong, and past club president Albert Poon, along with Past District 3450 Governor Alexander Mak.
"I'd like to present this special banner and certificate recognizing your impressive achievement," Giay told the group, the news sending a buzz through the audience members, who remarked to their tablemates how impressive the achievement was. "Thank you for your outstanding example, and please share our gratitude with the other members of your club," said Giay, who then went on to issue yet another challenge to the club: to become the first Rotary club with 100 percent membership in the Arch C. Klumph Society.
Indeed it was Giay, with assistance from Mak, who had challenged the Kowloon East Club to become the first 100% Major Donor Club. Giay had proposed the goal while in Hong Kong in February to honor club past president Solomon Lee for reaching the Arch C. Klumph Society level of Foundation support.
It didn't take long to receive a commitment from the Kowloon East club, and by the end of May all members had agreed to become Major Donors.
This isn't the first time the Kowloon East club has been a leader in generous giving, as it was also one of the first 100% Paul Harris Fellows clubs.
"Thirty years later we have this award," said Yow, ticking off the club's additional accomplishments in health and education, including a project that supports 120 schools in remote regions of China.
"It's good to lead by example. We hope other clubs will follow suit," said Mak just before the ceremony. He added he was especially proud of the club's efforts that led to one million immunizations against Hepatitis B in China.
"We think this is the best foundation in the world," said Wong. He added that the club's members, the majority of whom have been Rotarians for at least 15 years, trust the Foundation to continue to do exceptional work throughout the world.
By raising the bar on their level of
Foundation support, Kowloon East Rotarians have increased the Foundation's
ability to save and change lives through its humanitarian and educational
is an organization of business and professional leaders who provide
humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world.