Peace Building in District 5495

Members of the Peoria North Rotary Club on Saturday, Nov. 6, installed a peace pole at a community garden operated by Heart for the City. The garden is located at 6850 W. Bethany Home Road in Glendale.
Club members initially volunteered to clean up the garden in April 2021 during the Arizona Rotary Week of Service: weeding, composting, and building garden structures.
Club members in the photo at left: Donnis Deever, Jason Braunstein, Steve Matthews, Lou Rotundo and Club President Sharee Sheets.
The City of Peoria was recognized as the 334th city in the world to be designated as an International City of Peace, thanks in large part to the efforts of Past District Governor Chuck Fitzgerald and members of the Rotary Club of Peoria.
PDG Chuck and Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat asked three community leaders to endorse the City of Peace application. The Peoria Diamond Club was honored to do so, along with the Peoria Chamber of Commerce and the Peoria Unified School District.
Mayor Carlat read a proclamation announcing the city’s designation as an International City of Peace during a recent Peoria City Council meeting. The proclamation read, in part:
“We welcome the citizens of Peoria, Arizona who have established their community by Proclamation and continuous peacebuilding as an International City of Peace. Liaison Chuck Fitzgerald is active in many nonprofit organizations as well as serving as Sergeant at Arms for the Arizona House of Representatives. He is a long time Rotarian and countless volunteers, such as Chuck, are involved in community projects.”
The Rotary Club of Peoria installed a Peace Pole several years ago at Centennial High School and is in the process of installing a second one at a Peoria park.
The City of Peoria is a community where conditions allow for each of our citizens to reach their fullest potential; we are a community known for its acts of service and compassion, and its depth of gratitude.
To create a society that is caring, compassionate, respectful, inclusive and equipped to serve its citizens, the surrounding communities, and the world.
  • • To develop stronger systems of care and compassion
  • • To consistently launch children and youth into their fullest potential
  • • To build a thriving business, entertainment, and employment infrastructure
  • • To achieve better performance on environment stewardship
  • • To achieve high levels of resilience and adaptability
  • • To create space to explore peace through educational programs and community events
  • • To continually strengthen the importance and reputation of the Peoria Peace Initiative
In a photograph taken during the city council meeting: From left, are Peoria Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Jason Reynolds, City of Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat, ICoP Liaison Chuck Fitzgerald, Peoria Diamond Club’s General Manager Roz Shanley, Peoria Chamber of Commerce President Scot Andrews, and Retired Peoria Police Officer Bill Weight (front). The artistic Peace Pole was a gift to the City Council and will remain in the Council Chambers as a visible reminder to all that peace is possible!
Submitted by PDG Nancy Van Pelt, chair of the District Peacebuilders Network
Listening was a recurring theme at the 4th Annual Pursuing Peace Conference on Sept. 17, and rightfully so.
Peace is possible when people are willing to listen to each other’s perspectives. Listening conveys respect and a desire to understand a perspective that may seem wrong, outrageous, even ridiculous.  Conference presenter Dr. Clyde Rivers stated that “Every conversation has a spirit behind it.” He reminded us that we come from varying life histories and there can be valid reasons for other viewpoints.
If people whom I love, respect, and value (including fellow Rotarians) do not share my philosophy, my approach, or my values, are they ‘wrong?’  Are they sadly misguided?  Must I argue with or shun them? Should I try to convince them that my own approach is the only right approach?  NO!  And, would I like respectful listening afforded to me?  Of course!
We can all achieve greater inner peace and peace in our relationships by purposefully setting aside our own emotional reactions and demonstrating interest in another perspective.  We can treat each other with a learner’s desire for understanding.  Ultimately, our viewpoint may not change, but that really is not the objective.  We are somehow more ‘enlightened,’ and we are building Goodwill and Better Friendships.
Here’s a Peace Challenge for October… initiate a conversation with someone whose viewpoint is counter to your own.  After you truly listen to understand, ask for permission to share your own perspective.  
*The Peacebuilders Network meets on the 1st Tuesday of most months from 5 to 5:45 p.m. All Rotarians/Rotaractors are invited to join us by requesting the meeting link here.
September brings many opportunities for Rotarians and Clubs to focus attention on the two kinds of Peace our Rotary work provides. 
The impact of our community service most often contributes to INTRA-personal Peace. That means our work brings ‘Peace of Mind” in the form of hope, relief and comfort to the recipients of our efforts.    
Another aspect of our service is our contributions to INTER-personal peace through  projects that specifically address conflict and prevention/resolution. 
~ Your D5495 Peacebuilders Network will hold our Monthly 1st Tuesday Zoom meeting on Tuesday September 7.  Check us out! All Rotarians/Rotaractors are invited to join us by requesting the meeting link here.
~ On Friday September 17 the Rotary Club of Peoria will host the 4rd Annual Pursuing Peace Conference, a virtual event led by PDG Chuck Fitzgerald. This year’s theme is “We Can Be (much) Better Peacemakers at Home.”  Learn more and register at
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire. Today this day inspires events all over the world.
During the coming days Rotarians and clubs in our District will be acknowledging/celebrating Peace and Rotary’s important role as leaders in Peacebuilding.
How does your club plan to focus on Peace this month?  Share your stories and photos! for publication in upcoming D5495 Newsletters.
(contributed by PDG Nancy Van Pelt on Behalf of the D5495 Peacebuilders Network)
Join us for the first Rotary-Peace Corps Week, September 20-26!
It’s hosted by Partnering for Peace, a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers who are also Rotary members and passionate about the impact we can make together through the official Rotary-Peace Corps partnership. 
The week’s events and activities will highlight the evolving collaboration between Rotary and the Peace Corps, and will include a conversation on Monday, September 20, between RI General Secretary John Hewko and acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. Rotary-Peace Corps Week is a chance for members of both organizations to collaborate, leverage our efforts and resources, and create projects together that will have an even greater impact. We encourage you to contact a Peace Corps community member to speak, attend a meeting, or join a service project with your club. 
Find more information and ideas about 
how to get involved or write to
Our D5495 Peace Fellowship Committee has endorsed 3 candidates for fully-funded studies in 2022-2023 through The Rotary Foundation Peace Center
Kateryna Mashchenko, Ukraine, Protection Project Manager for the Danish Refugee Council. With 6+ years of peace-related work experience, Kateryna ensures full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with human rights law as well as international humanitarian law. Since the Russian invasion of the Ukraine in 2014, more than 2 million Ukrainians have been displaced.
Tetiana Shymanchuk, Ukraine, co-developed the first Victim Assistance program in the Ukraine for child survivors of explosive ordnance, which was later adopted by the Ukraine government. Her 5+ years of peace-related work experience includes leading a Danish Refugee Council Protection Program focused on early recovery, development assistance, and social protection of vulnerable populations in the Ukraine. 
Mustafa Rezaie, Afghanistan, has10+ years of peace- related work experience in war-torn Afghanistan.  Currently he oversees the Afghan Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development.  As AME Manager, he provides emergency response mechanisms to internally displaced persons, raises awareness of human rights, and empowers women and youth to have a stronger voice in Afghanistan. 
* All D5495 Rotary clubs and members are encouraged to seek potential Master’s Degree and Certificate applicants for 2023-24.  Take action by sharing this opportunity with your own networks, both in Arizona and outside of your own area! There’s a good chance that your own contacts know of potential qualified applicants out there.   There is $0 cost to the club or D5495.  
Contact Tony Cerato  (719-351-6616) for more details or a short club program.
Each year a fellow D5495 Rotarian who has demonstrated an “an enduring commitment to PEACE” is selected by a volunteer committee comprised of Peacebuilders Network members.  Peace is the very 1st on the list of Rotary’s 7 Areas of Focus.  The other 6 Areas of Focus can be likened to a first step toward Peace, because they address conditions that can make Peace possible. 
Tony Cerato is well-respected for his tireless commitment to Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution.  As our Peace Fellowships Chair in 2020-21, he led the marketing and selection process in which D5495 successfully endorsed 3 candidates for fellowships.  He is an active member of the Peacebuilders Network.  His participation in Rotary service projects provides Inner Peace—like Peace of Mind, comfort and hope.  
Fellow Rotarians say that Tony:   
  • has a keen ability to mobilize others around programs and initiatives 
  • delivers presentations at conferences, club meetings and Zoom calls
  • is always there to lend a hand, and is a key volunteer at the Peacebuilders Network booth at conferences and events
  • has a long track record of support for the Rotary Foundation & Rotary Peace Centers
  • has led efforts to educate us about Peace Fellowships since 2018
  • is there if a Peace thing is going on --- and he is financially supporting it! 
  • ‘You’d only have to spend 5 minutes with him to recognize his enthusiasm and commitment to Peace.’
Congratulations, Tony!
The Rotary Club of Peoria has chosen two past Rotary district governors as recipients of the club’s annual Peacemaker of the Year Award.
Ernie and Sally Montagne of Sierra Vista were presented with the 2021 award during a virtual program held July 31. The two are past district governors for Rotary District 5500, a district that includes all Rotary clubs south of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The award was presented by Chuck Fitzgerald, a member of the Rotary Club of Peoria and a former president of the club. The program was attended by friends and family members, as well as past and present district governors, Rotary Foundation Trustees and Rotary International directors.
According to Mr. Fitzgerald, the two were chosen due to their international service efforts over the years, and especially because of their Rotary Foundation and Polio Plus work.
“I can’t think of another couple worthy of being honored by our club,” said Mr. Fitzgerald.
“They have taken countless trips around the world to serve others and bring peace into the lives of others.”
The award is normally presented at the Rotary Club of Peoria’s annual Pursuing Peace Conference, planned this year for Sept. 17. The Montagnes are the fifth recipients of the award, and the first Rotarians to be honored.
In describing criteria for the award, Mr. Fitzgerald said the recipient must be regarded in the community as a person of good character, must “possess a servant’s heart,” must be peaceful in their online presence and be able to pass the Rotary Four-Way Test.
“The Rotary definition of peace is ‘service above self.’ Every act of service is an act of peace,” said Mr. Fitzgerald.
Both were appreciative to receive the award.
“It blows me away to be honored in this regard,” said Mr. Montagne.
“We believe Rotary gives each of us these opportunities to make the world a better place. Whatever your passion, you can find a niche in Rotary to do good in the world.”
Sally called the award a “lovely” honor.
“We’re so grateful to have found Rotary and to have made it a part of our lives.”
Ernie Montagne served as district governor in District 5500 in 2010-11, while Sally served as district governor in 2014-15.
According to Mr. Fitzgerald, The Rotary Club of Peoria has been on a “peace journey” for several years. In addition to conducting the annual Peace Conference in Peoria, the club has created a peaceful space and installed a Peace Pole at Centennial High School in Peoria; created a Quiet Room at the Phoenix 9-1-1 Dispatch Center and is in the process of installing a “Be Kind” bench at a new accessible playground under construction in Peoria.
Past recipients of the award include David Fernandez of the Peoria Police Department; Michael Wakeford, a teacher and coach at Raymond S. Kellis High School in Peoria; Tracey Beal, executive director of the Connect School; Pamela Morrison, community outreach director at Phoenix Rescue Mission.
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