Welcome to District 5495 News

District 5495 celebrates its 2024 District Conference May 2-5 in Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point).
"Two Nations, Two Districts -- One Rotary" was a combined district conference featuring District 5495 from Arizona and District 4100 from Mexico.
Rotarians enjoyed several days of general sessions speakers, social activities, games on the beach and a Saturday evening Governor's Ball. 
Check out photos from the conference in a newly created Photo Album. Click here to view photos from the weekend!

After an extensive two-year process, the Rotary Clubs of Arizona are thrilled to announce the selection of the official license plate design. The board of directors, consisting of Rotarians from 5495 and 5500, dedicated countless hours to meticulously review submissions, collaborate on designs, and navigate the approval process.

Rotarians from across Arizona contributed their ideas, resulting in a diverse range of submissions that showcased the creativity and passion within the Rotary community. After careful consideration, the designs were narrowed down and presented to Rotary International for further evaluation.

Following approval from Rotary International, the selected designs were submitted to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) for final review. While there are a few finalizing steps remaining with ADOT, the Rotary Clubs of Arizona anticipate that the plates will be available for purchase within the next few months.

"We are excited to unveil the official license plate for the Rotary Clubs of Arizona," said Stephen Phair, President and Founder of the Rotary Clubs of Arizona. "This has been a collaborative effort involving Rotarians from every corner of our state, and we are grateful for their contributions. These license plates will not only showcase our commitment to service but also provide an opportunity for individuals to support Rotary's humanitarian efforts."

The official license plate will serve as a symbol of Rotary's dedication to making a positive impact in communities locally and globally. Proceeds from the sale of the plates will be divided annually 50/50 between the two districts to support various Rotary projects and initiatives aimed at addressing critical issues such as education, health, and clean water.

Annual registration will cost $25, of which $17 will be returned to Arizona Rotary. The plate is not yet available for purchase; follow the Arizona Rotary Clubs Facebook page for updates. 

For more information about the official license plate for the Rotary Clubs of Arizona, please contact Stephen Phair at Stephen.Phair@edwardjones.com.

Tom Burns, a former Past District Governor, passed away on April 26, 2024.
Thomas (Tom) Britt Burns Jr. was born in 1940 and served as District 5510 Governor in 2007-08. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Chandler while governor. District 5510 merged with District 5490 in 2017-18 to become District 5495. The district theme during Tom’s year was “Together, We Will Change the World.”
In addition to serving as district governor, Tom also served as a Rotary club president and assistant governor. He had nearly 50 years of perfect Rotary attendance, before retiring from Rotary in 2021 due to health reasons.
While as a teenager, Tom served as a U.S. Senate Page. He served in the U.S. Army and earned a law degree from the University of Oklahoma, ASU and U of A. He started his own law firm and served as an Arizona Administrative Law Judge.
A Memorial Service will be held for Tom on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at 11 a.m. at Ironwood Church, 8635 E. Pecos Rd., Mesa, AZ 85212.
Condolences may be expressed at www.buelermortuary.com. Additional information can be viewed in the obituary.
Our sincere condolences go out to Tom’s family and friends.

I am sad to share the news with you that Norma Taylor-Roderique -- the first female to ever serve as a District Governor in Arizona -- passed away April 23, 2024, at her home in Phoenix.

She was married to Past District 5495 Governor Ron Roderique, who passed away in June 2023.

Norma served as governor in 1997--98 of District 5510, at the time, one of three districts in Arizona. District 5510 merged with District 5490 in 2017-18 to become District 5495.

She was a member of the Phoenix Arcadia club when she served as district governor. The Rotary International theme for her year was “Show Rotary Cares,” and Norma adopted that for her district’s theme: “Show Rotary Cares … Personally.”

During her year as governor, she and Past District Governor Ron Roderique were both assigned to work at the 1998 Zone Institute in Tucson. Their assignment resulted in their marriage the following April in New Orleans at the first annual reunion of Zone 25-26 Rotary District Governors.

During her year as governor, she accomplished what she considered her enduring legacy: the funding of more than 100 low-cost houses in Puebla, Mexico

A Celebration of Life will take place at All Saints Lutheran Church, 15649 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ at 11:00 a.m. on May 11, 2024, with a reception following. Wear your fancy hats if you have them.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Rotary Interact District 5495, P.O. Box 12622, Prescott, AZ 86304. The service will be live-streamed at https://www.facebook.com/ASLCPHXAZ .

An archived recording will be available on the church YouTube channel. Online condolences may be left at www.hansenmortuary.com.

View her full obituary at: https://www.azcentral.com/obituaries/pazs0808411

Our condolences go out to Norma's family and friends.
Kevin Pitts
District 5495 Governor, 2023-24
District 5495 will hold its next Rotary Leadership Institute 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 18 at Benedictine University, 225 E. Main St., Mesa.
Cost is $65, and includes continental breakfast, lunch and study materials. Click the link below to register.
RLI is a worldwide organization that some refer to as Rotary’s “College of Knowledge." RLI touches on “everything Rotary” and is not just a “leadership” course to become an officer of your club.  RLI is made up of three one-day sessions to give you an overview of what Rotary is and what it does worldwide. 
Its goal is to create ENTHUSIASM for Rotary and show the enormous potential of Rotary service and how with knowledge and excellent leadership in Clubs, the world will benefit.
The district is holding a one-hour Club Executive Training session for those clubs who use the Clubrunner platform at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 15.
Registration is not required, and executives only need to click the following link(s), or scan the QR image to join our training on May 15th:
Topic: District 5495 | ClubRunner Club Executive District & Club Version Training
Time: May 15, 2024 06:00 PM Arizona
Meeting ID: 993 4533 6199
The class will be especially helpful for incoming club secretaries and presidents who may have questions regarding the process to update club and member information. The virtual meeting will be recorded and available to Rotarians after the meeting as well.
The meeting will be conducted by PDG Bret McKeand, D5495 Public Image Chair, and Omar Solomah, product specialist with Clubrunner.
Our Exchange Sons
Some of you may know Erik from the time he lived here in Phoenix 10 years ago. His last name is long, hyphenated and I can’t even pronounce it correctly, but I love this kid.
We just finished up an excellent celebration dinner with him and his wonderful family. Tomorrow, he graduates with a second master's in international business from the Stockholm Institute of Economics, which is one of the top five business schools in the world. My wife says he will soon be head of the IMF.
As family, we have been invited for the ceremony and the festivities here in Sweden. There is really nothing like the bond of Rotary Youth Exchange to unite families from disparate cultures and continents.
I first met Erik 10 years ago when he traveled with Elizabeth to our Mexico USA Friendship Conference in Cuernavaca. At the time, he seemed like a slightly spoiled kid from Scandinavia that was precocious, but not very cautious. What do you want from a 16-year-old? Since then, I have come to know him as a thoughtful, very intelligent and caring person, who really wants to make a difference in the world. He will make a great Rotarian.
And this year, as you know, we have Jose living with us. He is from Ecuador and attends Barry Goldwater High School. Jose has also quickly become an integral part of our family. He is a joyful and easy-going young man, who is quick to smile and always willing to help out around the house.
We have turned Jose into a massive Phoenix Suns fan and he has shared his passion for F1 racing with us, and has instilled in us a love for Ferrari, and a loathing for Red Bull.
Jose has been accepted to study marketing at ASU next year and is so grateful for his experience here in Arizona. Having come from Ambato, a very small town in central Ecuador, his experience has been overwhelming at times, but very instructive.
These life-enriching experiences with young people and families only happen because of the trust between Rotarians across the world that gives parents the confidence to send a child out on Youth Exchange. It is no small commitment to participate in youth exchange, but the rewards are incredible.
 Do you know a young person that would benefit from being immersed in a foreign culture? Would you be willing to open your family up for a new and different experience. Rotary Youth Exchange may be the thing for you. Let us know, if you have any interest.
Kevin Pitts
Rotary International District 5495 Governor
Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs has officially proclaimed the week of April 15-21, 2024 as "Arizona Rotary Week of Service."
The proclamation reads:
Proclamation in Recognition of “Rotary Week of Service”
WHEREAS the over 3,000+ Rotary Club members in Arizona, through their affiliation with 46,000+ Rotary Clubs worldwide, are dedicated to the well-being of, and to improving the quality of life for, all people in communities across Arizona, and
WHEREAS Rotary Club members believe every act of service helps to build goodwill and peace in homes, schools, businesses, neighborhoods, and throughout the beautiful state of Arizona, and
WHEREAS Rotary Club members believe in Service Above Self as they build communities and bridge divides around Arizona, and
WHEREAS Rotary Club members are People of Action who lend a hand to friends, neighbors, and strangers whenever and wherever there is a need to be addressed, and
WHEREAS Rotary Club members understand the importance and value in building relationships and friendships that cross international, religious and cultural boundaries, and
WHEREAS Rotary Club members recognize that, now more than ever, our fellow residents need our collective assistance to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, safety, and connectedness, and
WHEREAS Rotary Club members are calling out for more helpers to join them in serving and caring for the vulnerable and impoverished in every Arizona community.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Katie Hobbs, Governor of the State of Arizona, do hereby proclaim April 15-21, 2024, as

And urge all citizens to recognize, applaud, and join the service efforts of this organization as it builds goodwill and peace throughout Arizona.
Rotary clubs and their members throughout Arizona invite friends, neighbors and fellow citizens to join them as they conduct service projects to benefit the local community during the third annual Rotary Week of Service April 15-21, 2024.
Rotary Week of Service aims to bring communities together to address pressing needs and assist families, schools and organizations. Rotary clubs throughout the state are planning a wide range of community projects that include hosting food drives, cleaning local parks, donating items to homeless shelters, planting trees and more.
“We invite our friends, neighbors and fellow civic organizations to join our Rotarians as we perform service projects throughout our state,” said Kevin Pitts, district governor for Rotary District 5495.
“Rotarians do great things all year long, but we felt the time was right to combine our efforts and bring our communities together to focus on one solid week of service. Rotary is committed to making our world a better place – and there is no better place to start than in our own community.”
There are over 100 Rotary clubs – and more than 3,000 Rotarians -- in Arizona serving towns and cities of all sizes. Arizona is served by two Rotary districts – District 5495 and District 5500. The state’s first Rotary club was started over a century ago and several clubs in Arizona have recently celebrated their 100th anniversary.
Many clubs have a community service project planned during Rotary Week of Service. A complete list of community service projects can be found at azrotary.org. Visitors to the site can find information on projects in their community and sign up to volunteer or participate in the project.
District 5495 will kick off Rotary Week of Service with The Prom Closet, conducted by the Rotary Club of Peoria North. The annual event will this year be held 9 a.m.-2 p.m., April 6-7 and 13-14 at the GESD System of Care Center, 7677 W. Bethany Home Road, Glendale. Rotarians from throughout the state volunteer at The Prom Closet, which provides formal prom attire free of charge to all high school students.
Volunteers are invited to join Rotarians throughout the week to assist with a local service project.
Visit azrotary.org to post your club's project.
Contact Shawn Wehan for assistance in posting your club project.
“We know there are a lot of people who want to help others and give back – but just can’t seem to find the perfect opportunity. Rotarians are not only committed to service, but they’re closely connected to their communities, and in the best position to identify and coordinate local projects that address urgent needs,” added Mr. Pitts.
“We want this to be a true community-wide effort, and encourage non-Rotarians to join us,” he added.
Rotary is a worldwide organization with over 1.4 million members and more than 35,000 clubs. Rotary members throughout the world take action to make communities better. They contribute their time, energy, and passion to carry out meaningful and sustainable projects that promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, help mothers and children, support education, and grow local economies.
Water Connections
When I was in the 4th grade I won an essay contest for a piece I wrote about the water cycle. The Central Arizona Project had just begun construction and there was a lot of education about it at the time. But today, that project provides 80% of Arizona residents’ freshwater needs. I have been a water nerd ever since.
When you study the water cycle, you realize it is all connected; clouds, rain, springs, streams, rivers small and big, and the seas and oceans that cover the majority of our planet. And I have always been drawn to bodies of water. The weird kid from Arizona that moved to Santa Monica and learned to surf actually spent his childhood water skiing on the Colorado River and fishing the mountain lakes and streams of Northern Arizona.
And as I reflect on this, I realize that in Rotary International District 5495, water projects have run through our district creating unexpected connections that cross clubs, districts, communities, and our years of service. Our Navajo Water project has put D5495 on the map with districts and clubs from all over the United States learning about the scarcity of water in communities here at home and we have had many, many international clubs and districts participate as well.
Josh the Otter, the pool safety project that has been shared over the years by clubs as a recommendable district grant project has created connections between clubs, communities, schools, and the parents of children who benefit from learning about safety around the swimming pool.
The extensive work we are doing in Kenya started with an ask from our Maasai friends to support communities in Maasailand with clean water. The difference clean water makes in a community, particularly for women and children, is undeniable. But as a result of carrying out several water projects over the last two decades, we have built multiple partnerships and now also focus on mobility, youth empowerment and economic development and our connections run deep.
And today we are celebrating the sinking of a war ship to support the ultimate water resource, our oceans, to create an artificial reef system that will enhance the sustainability of our overall environment. The connection to our many partners in Mexico where this project is being carried out has been strengthened as well.
As I have argued since the 4th grade, water is essential. Maybe more essential than meets the eye.
Kevin Pitts
Rotary International District 5495 Governor