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. Sounds lofty, right? If you look past the enormity of the world’s challenges and focus instead on the two words ‘take action’ such objectives seem doable. So how does Rotary work?
Rotary constitutes three parts: Rotary International, the Rotary Foundation, and local clubs scattered globally. Started in 1905, Rotary International supports Rotary clubs worldwide by coordinating programs and initiatives to address challenges in seven areas:
- Peacebuilding and conflict prevention
- Disease prevention and treatment
- Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
- Maternal and child health
- Basic education and literacy
- Community economic development
- Supporting the environment
The Rotary Foundation helps fund these humanitarian activities. The foundation has distributed over $4 billion since it started, including $86 million in 2018. For the 13th consecutive year, Rotary Foundation received the highest rating – four stars – from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities in the U.S. a rating earned by only 1% of the organizations evaluated.
But it is the 35,000 clubs worldwide where the real work gets done. Rotary clubs are grounded in the same values across the organization, but no two clubs are the same. Rotary clubs are created to respond to their community and each community has its own needs. This applies to the Leawood Rotary where our Partner Jonn Wullschleger has been contributing his time, talent, and treasure for the last two years.
Leawood Rotary is heavily involved in the local community through a variety of events designed to raise funds, increase awareness, and serve others. Examples include a Black Friday meal packing for Rise Against Hunger, a global organization dedicated to ending hunger and empowering communities. They support and help organize the Leawood Labor Day 5K to raise funds for further distribution, provide volunteers for the Johnson County Christmas Bureau and Turner House Children’s Clinic, and conduct semi-annual volunteer days to keep the Tomahawk Creek healthy and clean just to name a few.
Leawood Rotary developed the REACH program, Rotary Encouraging Academic Collegiate Help. REACH was established in partnership with Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, KS to mentor high school students, many of which can be the first in their family to attend college. Mentors are assigned to a junior and will stay with that student through graduation from high school. Since the program began, four students have graduated from college and nine students are currently attending college with scholarship help from Leawood Rotary.
The club stays connected to the larger world as well. They recently received grant approval for a project related to reducing ocean pollution in Capetown, South Africa. Another project to supply clean water for a community in Ecuador was delayed by COVID but is still moving forward.
If you are interested in making new friends and serving the community both inside and outside Leawood, consider the Rotary. They currently meet by Zoom every Thursday morning at 7:30 am because of COVID, but will resume in-person meetings when possible. You can find more information below.