North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
August 22, 2016
          School supply Monday:  Help from club members is needed next Monday, Aug. 29, after the luncheon to store school supplies at Holmes Elementary, 2600 W. Sharp.  This annual project is much closer to the school start date, as classes begin the following day, Tuesday, Aug. 30.  Sandy Fink is coordinating the school supplies effort.
            New area director: John Guarisco has been named the new assistant governor for Area 8, including our club.  Guarisco is a Spokane East Rotarian.  He is executive manager of creative and marketing services for MDI Marketing, located at 1618 W. Dean.
District governor stresses member growth and “hug-able” Rotary moments
            The 5-hour drive from Nakusp, British Columbia, to Spokane for our Rotary District 5080 Governor doesn’t seem like such a long trip when you hear about his Rotary adventures in Ethiopia and Pakistan.
            Kees (pronounced “case”) van der Pol and his wife, Mayumi, visited the club Aug. 22.  Joined by Asst. Gov. Don Roberts, a Spokane South Rotarian, the van der Pols also toured Holmes Elementary, where Principal Stephanie Lundberg, talked about how much our club’s efforts mean to the school.
            Kees and Mayumi then met with club officers before the luncheon meeting.  Asst./Area   Govs. Don Roberts and John Guarisco joined that session.
            Kees is a retired high school principal in Nakusp, a town of 1,500 on Arrow Lake.  He said other Rotary clubs in the area join in fund-raising and project efforts, calling themselves “Arrow-tarians.”
            The Nakusp club now has 17 members, up from a low of 11, van der Pol said.  Since the next closest Rotary Club is in Revelstoke, B.C., some 60 miles (100 kilometers) away and in a different Rotary district (5060), combining with another club would not have been practical, he said.
            Nevertheless, Nakusp will host the District’s 2017 conference, scheduled May 12-14.  Van der Pol said craft beers and a “margaritaville” will be added to the usual program offerings.  Kees added that bicyclists from four district clubs, including some in Washington state, are planning the long, hilly ride to Nakusp.  That club’s service projects focus on providing affordable senior housing and Kees said the plan is to break ground on a new housing complex during the district gathering.
            Kees said Rotary appealed to him because his family was service-oriented.  But he quit after five years, citing “unresolved club conflict.”  Asked to rejoin five years later, he accepted.  “I didn’t rejoin because of the 1.2 million Rotary members and the 34,000 clubs worldwide,” he said.  “I missed the banter and the service projects.”  He said he became president-elect only on the condition that he could serve a two-year club presidency, which he did.
            Kees considers Mayumi, also a Rotarian, a full partner in district leadership.  He was born in the Netherlands; she was born in Sapporo, Japan.  She emigrated to Canada and they have been married 38 years.
            Both described the transformative experiences of joining a six-member Tri-Cities ophthalmology team which, working with local medical staff, performed cataract surgeries and other procedures in Dembi Dolo, a small town in rural Ethiopia.
            Mayumi’s job was to lead nearly sightless patients to the operating areas; Kees joined a team sterilizing surgical instruments.
            They said conditions were less than optimal.  The operating room, she said, “was hot, stuffy, smelly and had flies.”  There was an air conditioning unit, but not enough power to operate it.  Injections of anesthetics still are used there instead of the eye drops used here.
            Kees described one 37-year old male patient’s successful surgical procedures on both eyes.  He returned three days later and could read the full eye chart, which was hung from a tree near the clinic.  “It was life-changing,” Kees said.  “He could now go to work and his daughter, who had to stay home to ‘be his eyes,’ could now attend school.  It was for me a ‘hug Rotary’ moment.”
            In Pakistan, the van der Pols traveled to a “mini polio vaccine clinic” near Lahore. That trip came soon after more than 140 girls had been massacred elsewhere in the country, Kees said.
            “In Pakistan, everyone knows what Rotary is,” he said.  “They don’t need us (for Polio Plus clinics).  They have polio workers.  But we are there to show international support.”
            In both the board meeting and luncheon, Kees said every club “is struggling with membership.”  He urged clubs in each area to share best practices in gaining growth, especially among the hard-to-reach millennial generation (generally18 to 35 year olds) who avoid traditional weekly meeting routines.
            He told the board one Portland club was started on Facebook and others use flexible meetings, such as having a luncheon one week, a dirty hands project another week, then one social event in a month.
            Van der Pol cited “five major things happening” this Rotary year:
  •  Ethics group workshops are being organized for any interested Rotarians.
  •  RYLA youth leader programs are being expanded, with a test “mini-RYLA” session for B.C. students in grades 10-12.
  •  Past District Gov. Bob Carroll of Deer Park Rotary, will lead an Interact gathering in January.
  •  Rotary International’s annual convention will be in Atlanta, June 10-14.
  •  And, finally, since the governor gets to pick the District Conference site, van der Pol picked Nakusp.“We have paved roads all the way to the city – both ways,” he said.He added the conference theme is “How Big Small Can Be.”
The bulletin producers:
          Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
          Photos: Eric Johnson
          Program coordinator: Brad Stark