The world’s campaign to eradicate polio is almost over in terms of two countries and just a handful of cases occuring there. But the fight is not over; the toughest battles in the hardest to reach locations remain.
In honor of World Polio Day on October 24, Vashon Island Rotary had a one-day fundraising project on Friday, October 23 at Thriftway as part of Rotary’s 27-year mission to eradicate the crippling childhood disease polio. World Polio Day follows a succession of significant developments that have made 2015 one of the most important years in the history of the polio eradication initiative.
The next step was to help students at Chautauqua Elementary School understand polio and contribute in their own way to awareness and funding for vaccines. On Thursday, November 19, the fourth and fifth graders learned about polio. For each $1 contribution, a student gets their pinkie finger painted purple…exactly what happens for vaccinated children in developing countries when immunization teams are in their community with free vaccines for all.
Since 1985, Rotary has contributed nearly $1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries. The disease remains endemic in just two countries — Afghanistan and Pakistan — although other countries remain at risk for imported cases. Last year, India was declared polio free with no new reported cases for three years, and in August of this year, there were no reported cases of polio in the entire African continent for one year.
The message from Rotary to world leaders is clear: support the final push to achieve eradication now while the goal has never been closer, or face the potential consequences of a new polio pandemic that could disable millions of children within a decade.
One dollar pays for vaccine to immunize three children. As the PolioPlus campaign says, “We are this close!”
. . . making the world a better place
FIGHTING POLIO Rotary Club members and local high-schoolers who are part of Rotary’s teen program called Interact have conducted several campaigns for funds to eradicate polio. The Vashon group of teens and Rotarians often tows an old Iron Lung up the highway to launch the campaign. To date, Rotary International has raised over $200 million and helped reduce polio to only 2 countries. Africa was recently declared polio-free.
SERVING VASHON ISLAND
Rotary has done countless projects for Vashon non-profits, the school district, park district and often obtained grants to help fund those efforts. The highlight for 2015 has been hosting and sponsoring an AmeriCorps crew that worked full time for two months at 5 different island organizations….see below. The club members also donate generously to Vashon Community Care. A new project, Music Mends Minds, launched in September to bring music to people with dementia, and a support group to their caregivers; this group now gathers weekly at 1:30 on Tuesdays at the Lutheran Church to sing, play instruments and have fun.
HELPING TO FEED THE HUNGRY
* We support the Vashon Food Bank in earnest, with regular cash and food donations from our club members.
* Two grants in the past few years: $5,000 for a fence around the first ever garden at the Food Bank, and $2,500 for a security fence for their truck.
* Three of our members drive regularly for the Food Bank’s delivery truck; one serves on the Board.
* Annual participation at a warehouse work party with Rotary First Harvest and Northwest Harvest
* Quarterly we prepare and serve Wednesday Night Dinner, a free community meal for anyone in need of that support. All community members are welcome to this meal at the Episcopal Church that graciously hosts this event; the dinner is not a faith event however.
BUILDING CLEAN WATER SYSTEMS IN GUATEMALA
Vashon Rotary has contributed numerous grants and the expertise of our members to help communities build and improve drinking water systems. Click on the Global Service tab above for details.
Rotary provides dictionaries to every third grade student every year, six college scholarships for graduating seniors, and supports the drama program and student Interact (service) Club. Vashon Rotary also helps send several local high school juniors to foreign countries for a year of study or a short summer exchange, and we host one or two foreign students on Vashon for a year of high school.
AND MUCH MORE….
Join us to be part of a powerful and effective force for Vashon Island and communities around the world.
* ANY TUESDAY – You are invited to sing and play music with the Vashon Rockers, a band and singing group for people with dementia. Gatherings are every Tuesday, 1:30 – 2:30 at Vashon Community Care
* WEDNESDAY NIGHT DINNER – a free community meal. Rotary’s turn to prep & serve on May 25
* BLOOD DRIVE – June 9 at Vashon Lutheran Church (1-7 p.m.)
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