Friday, August 25, 2017

The race against polio: clearing the hurdles, crossing the finish line

Scott Leckman, a highly skilled general surgeon, has been our District Chair for the Polio Plus campaign for many years. No stranger to daunting challenges in the operating room or to giving orders to overcome them, he was a natural choice to lead this effort and to recruit Rotarians to join him on his multiple missions to India to defeat the spread of polio in that enormous developing country of 1.3 billion people.

I was privileged to be one of his recruits. India had its last case of wild virus poliomyelitis in 2011. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it to be polio free in 2014. Scott and his Rotarian special forces absolutely deserve some of the credit for the massive and heroic immunization effort that led to the eradication of polio in this incredibly challenging environment.

The fight or the race, as I like to think of it, is not over. We could and should be in the last lap. Scott, however, has accepted a new challenge, to be our next District Governor. He has passed the Polio Plus baton on to me. I’m not a surgeon or a soldier. I was in the Public Health Service at the Centers for Disease Control during the Viet Nam War. My goal, then and now, is to eliminate infections that rob adults, children, and infants of their lives and livelihood. It’s an honor to be a part of the enormous willing, determined, and generous Rotarians who literally plan to run this awful disease into the ground. But it won’t be easy.

In India, every other country, even our own, we must maintain high levels of immunization in young and previously unimmunized children to protect them from the introduction of polio virus from a country where the virus is still endemic. There are now only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where this is the case. Fortunately, there have been only 8 cases in those countries this year, but that means there have been hundreds of asymptomatic infections in children who have acquired and may have transmitted the virus.

If eradication is to succeed there as it must, there are enormous hurdles to overcome. Much of the population is poorly educated and without access to diagnostic, preventive or clinical care. The governments have extremely limited resources and are unstable and ineffective in many parts of their countries.  Some local leaders are dubious or even antagonistic about an outside intervention. Closing this last gap will be especially hard and tremendously expensive. The effort to bring polio vaccine to infants and children in the small villages and cities of developing countries pays unexpected dividends. It often entails building clinics where volunteers and staff provide other vaccinations and clinical treatment.

On June 12th, global health leaders announced $1.2 billion in funding for polio eradication to 30,000 Rotarians at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. At this pledging event, Rotary committed a further $150 million over three years to the cause. The Gates Foundation agreed to match this 2 for 1 and contribute $300 million. This will help protect more than 450 million children from the virus each year through vaccination and disease surveillance. That must continue for several years even after no further clinical cases are identified. That will ensure that children are protected until we are absolutely sure that the virus has been eradicated from human beings and from water and sewage. The new Director General of WHO, Dr. Tedros, said at our convention:  “The end of polio is now in sight.  This is the most critical moment of covering the last mile. We must keep our eyes firmly on the final goal.”

Joining us in our effort, the leaders of the G20 committed in their first Declaration on Global Health, “to strive to fully eradicate polio”.  The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, emphasized the benefits of preventive measures for the people and economies of all countries, especially the developing ones. The eradication of polio is projected to lead to savings of US$ 20 – 30 billion by 2035, making it an example of the economic impact that can be achieved through a focus on health.

~ Jay Jacobson, M.D., Emeritus Professor, Infectious Disease, U of Utah School of Medicine, Assistant District Governor, Salt Lake City Rotary Club

How to get club news into your local paper

Especially for Rotary clubs in small towns where there are community newspapers, it is in your club’s public relations interest to write press releases about your fundraisers and service projects. If these press releases are well written, small papers – and sometimes larger papers – will print them as is. 

Here is a link to all the small papers in Utah. The City Journals (formerly known as Valley Journals) serve areas of Salt Lake County.

You may find the first few pages of this Rotary International Public Relations manual helpful in writing for the print or television media.

Follow this general guidance to write press releases that have a chance of publication:

Ten Tips to writing an effective press release

1.       The headline should be eye-catching, use a play on words or the most ‘unusual’ ‘moving’ ‘interesting’ aspect of the story.
2.       The ‘lead’ (first sentence) should expand that most ‘unusual’ ‘moving’ ‘interesting’ aspect of the story just enough to interest the reader. It is not essential to get all the who, when, where, what, how, and why in the ‘lead’, or second paragraph, but it is essential to capture the attention of the reader. Usually one of these basic elements is the most ‘unusual’ ‘moving’ ‘interesting’ aspect of the story.
3.       No later than the third paragraph get a human voice in your release (as a quote). The person quoted should speak to the element(s) of the ‘lead’ that you have focused on.
4.       Keep the first three or four paragraphs really short, as people only read the beginnings of paragraphs until they are interested.
5.       News media want to know when and where events are happening, so be complete in this information.
6.       Remember that all media are visual. Photos, video are what reporters are looking for to draw attention to their stories. Emphasize the visual of the events – indeed PLAN events to be visual if you want news coverage. Reporters do not want to have photos of meetings; they want activity, human interest, something unusual happening.
7.       Leave background information for the last paragraph(s).
8.       Never go over a page on a press release.
9.       Always have contact information at the bottom: person’s name, email, phone

10.   Call newspapers, TV stations to talk to news editors and find out which reporter might be interested in your story. Get contact information and send the release to those reporters. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Consul General for Mexico to meet with Utah Rotary Clubs to discuss Hispanic immigrant issues

José Borjón, the new Consul General of Mexico who now lives in Utah asked to meet with Utah Rotarians so we can help him get to know our different communities and leaders. He hopes to help immigrants in Utah.

District Governor Bev Christy and Past District Governor Jerry Summerhays suggested to José that he join the Salt Lake Club. 

After meeting with the new Consul General, Governor Bev Christy suggested scheduling presentations by José Borjón with clubs around the state.  Each area could host a combined club event to promote diversity. For more information, contact Jerry Summerhays 

In the last few weeks Consul General José met with leaders of the Hispanic Rotary Club of SLC South, and then separately with leaders of the Hispanic Rotary Club of SLC North, each for over 2 hours.  José expressed great gratitude for all he learned from the discussions.  We Rotarians learned a lot too.  All of us think there are significant ways we can help the Consul General and Hispanic immigrants.

José Borjón, General Consul of Mexico, meets with leaders of Hispano-Latino Rotary Club South

Does your club need an international service project? Consider contributing to one of these Rotary Global Grants!

The following Global Grant projects need additional club money.  Whether your club can give $250 or $3,000 for one of these international projects, your money will be matched by the District and The Rotary Foundation.  

To learn more about a project, email the contact person.  He or she may be willing to visit your club to give your board of directors or your club more information.  If you really want to have fun, visit the project with them.

South Africa, Red Life House Project (Saving Women/Children by Providing Water, Vegetable Gardens, Education, Entrepreneurial Development.).  Contact Brenda Cole,, South Jordan Club.

Sierra Leone, Latrines and Wash Centers for 5 refugee villages.  Contact Monty Eggett,, Centerville-Farmington Club. This grant is currently on hold due to extreme flooding.

Rwanda, Teacher Training to Build More Gender Sensitive & Inclusive School Environments in Rural Primary and Secondary Schools.  Contact Cathy King,  Park City Rotary Club.

Puerto Peñasco, Mexico Purified Water for all Pre-, Primary, Secondary, Preparatory, and University Schools. Contact Egor Shulman,, Red Rock (St George) Club.

Philippines, Solar Powered Irrigation Pumps for 166 Familes on the Island of Oriental Mendoro.
Contact Sharon Richardson, West Jordan Club.

Morocco, Pioneer Neuro-Rehabilitation Clinic in North Africa, Equipment, Supplies, Staff Training, Vocational Training Teams.  Contact Mo Sbia,, Salt Lake Club.

India, Game Changing Feminine Hygiene Program for 40 Schools.
Contact Rosemary Hullinger,, Tooele Club.

Honduras, Potable Water System for 283 Homes, and Hygiene Education.
Contact Mark Hargreazees,, Logan Club.

Guatemala, 375 Efficient Vented Stoves, Medical/Dental Clinics, Neonatal Resuscitation, School Supplies. Contact Chris Parker,, Ken Sizemore,

Guatemala, Training and Mobility Equipment for Survivors of Polio and Other Disabilities.  Contact Bruce Powell Centerville-Farmington Club.

Guatemala, Water Projects for two communities in the Polochic Region. Contact: Brinton Webb,, South Valley Club (Draper-Riverton)

Your District Foundation Committee is ready to help you.
Bruce Powell, District Foundation Committee Chair,
Andy Dahman, Global Grants Subcommittee Chair,
Jerry Summerhays, District International Service Enhancement Chair,

Clubs: Do not miss this opportunity to celebrate an outstanding female Rotarian in your club!

Please send the name and contact information, along with a photo or brief video celebrating an outstanding female Rotarian to Pearl Wright by or before Friday Sept 8!

Include in your email at least three bullet pointed items that demonstrate the contributions this outstanding woman Rotarian has made to your club, your community, and our world!

Be sure your members are there on Saturday October 7 to sit at your club table with your outstanding woman Rotarian and make sure she knows how much you appreciate her!

30 Years of Women in Rotary: Celebrating Inclusion & Making a Difference

To submit questions for the panel or for details on how to nominate someone from your club to be recognized at the lunch, please contact Pearl Wright from the Salt Lake Club at or 801-870-1505.

Join us on October 7 for an All Clubs Lunch celebrating 30 years of women in Rotary and the idea that Rotary offers something for everyone.

Saturday, October 7
11 am – 2 pm
Noah's Event Venue
1976 700 North
Lindon, UT 84042

Register now at

Some clubs have canceled the weekly meeting the week of October 7 to encourage members to attend this All Clubs Lunch. Check with your club to see if they will be covering the cost of this event.

This lunch will celebrate the growth of Rotary and the changes that have occurred as a result of women being admitted and to inspire a new generation of Rotarians.

North American women make up about 22% of membership and female members in other countries account for about 15% of membership, the vote to admit women in 1987 was a hard-fought, decades-long effort. Locally, current District Governor, Beverly Christy of St. George is only the second woman to hold this position in Rotary’s 106-year history in the Beehive State.

The keynote speaker, Jennifer Jones, is an exemplary Rotarian and will surely inspire those in attendance to find ways to Make a Difference.  Jennifer is the President and CEO of Media Street Productions Inc., an award winning television production company in Canada. She is a proud member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland and has received so many Rotary awards that are simply too numerous to mention. But her most recent Rotary position was Vice President of Rotary International. In fact, Jennifer is the only woman to hold this position.  

Jennifer will speak about her incredible experience being part of Rotary International and discuss ideas to help clubs increase their membership, including how to motivate young people to catch the vision of Rotary. 

The lunch will also include a panel of distinguished Rotarians comprised of both men and women. The panel will address ideas such as how to take advantage of your time in Rotary and meeting community leaders. To add to the celebration, each guest will receive a glass with a commemorative logo, hear from a young Rotarian that will undoubtedly leave you with a feeling that the path forward is strong, and acknowledge a distinguished award recipient nominated by each club.

Everyone can do something. Age is not a factor. Gender is not a factor. Income is not a factor. Service Above Self is the ultimate declaration of inclusivity. Rotary offers something for everyone and anyone can be part of Making a Difference. Register now!