Etcetera - 01/05/10

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Rotary International, which has at least a couple of local chapters, is a good example of a community service group in action. Larry Widner, president of the Milton-Freewater Rotary Club, talked about the organization's impact on people around the world through its programs and projects during the Dec. 30 meeting.

Rotary Foundation grants in the areas of focus from 2004-2009, include 527 maternal and child health grants awarded $7,172,184; 2,436 water and sanitation grants awarded $30,484,779; 2,718 disease prevention and treatment grants awarded $34,189,400; 2,664 basic education and literacy grants awarded $28,008,087; 1,625 economic and community development grants awarded $24,498,464; and 434 peace and conflict prevention/resolution fellowships awarded $20,460,000.

Larry told the group that polio eradication remains a primary focus. They have $355 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a commitment from Rotary for $100 million by June 30, 2012, which will continue to support activity to complete the work. Rotary has made polio eradication a top priority since 1984. To date, there are just four places that have not been certified polio-free by the World Health Organization.

In addition, 884 million people lack access to safe water and 2.5-plus billion people have zero access to improved sanitation.

Rotary's focus on literacy encourages its clubs to continue to provide books, dictionaries and mentoring programs in their communities. The focus on literacy also encourages clubs to promote and support Dolly Parton's Dollywood Foundation's Imagination Library.

That program provides a book each month to children from birth to age 5.

Approximately 750 students participate in the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship Program annually.

It provides full tuition, books, and accommodation to allow graduate and undergraduate students to continue their education in other countries.

Through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, 8,500 students from 15-19 years old, studied in 80 countries during 2008-09 year.

"Our Rotary District has about 90 students from 20 countries involved in this program," said Milton-Freewater member Robby Robbins, including current inbound student, Elena Pinna of Sardinia.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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