December 2020 Newsletter
Dear Family of Rotary,
I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!  Even if it was smaller this year, we are all connected by our Rotary family, and I am thankful for each and every one of you.  I posted a Thanksgiving Greeting on our District Facebook page from our Interact District Governor, Ashton Bialek-Kling.  If you didn’t have a chance to see it, CLICK HEREto watch.  It’s for all of you.
Being District Governor is such a wonderful role in Rotary because I am blessed to hear about all the wonderful things you do.  The list is endless, and the projects are too many to count!  I wish there were a way that I could capture each club in a bottle and send it out to the world!  I will work on that! 😊
December is going to be a busy month for our District.  Our Interact Ambassadors program is in the final stages of sending a 45 ft. container of used wheelchairs, walkers, and mobility equipment to Mexico.  This is going to benefit rural areas and the Enchulame la Silla (Jazz my Chair) program and Global Grant.  We should all be so proud of our students.  I want to give a special thank you to American Furniture Warehouse, specifically Lauren Lukas and Brian Winn.  AFW has been so generous in serving humanity and have expended massive amounts of employee hours to work with Crutches 4 Africa and our Interact Ambassadors program.  It is almost impossible to quantify their support of our students and Rotary.  Thank you!  We will let you know once the container has shipped and provide updates throughout the year and as we begin work on our Kenya shipment.
We've heard a lot about the extremes and life during the polio endemic. This paints an entire different picture.  Can you imagine the family separation?   This is why we continue to move forward to eradicate Polio from the world.  Two countries left.  Donations to is never more important than it is right now.  Everything we have in place was used for Ebola, yellow fever, malaria, and recently COVID-19, more importantly, it’s ready for future issues.
"A Mother Reads to Her 6 Year Old Child through a Basement Window during a 1949 Polio Epidemic Quarantine, 
LIFE Magazine, Oct 3, 1949”





When you make a donation to The Rotary Foundation, you are helping Rotary members make a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world. Here are five reasons to make Rotary your charity of choice on Giving Tuesday, 3 December, or any time of the year.

1. Accountability
Our accountability and transparency have earned The Rotary Foundation 12 straight years of four-star ratings — the highest possible — from independent evaluator Charity Navigator. More than 90% of Foundation funds are spent directly on programs. No high administrative costs dilute your gift.
2. Impact
We partner with other organizations to increase our impact and make your donations work even harder. When you give to PolioPlus, for example, you have the satisfaction of knowing that every $1 Rotary commits to polio eradication is matched by $2 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Thanks to this partnership, all donations to end polio (up to $50 million per year) are tripled, providing critical funding toward creating a polio-free world.
(Editor's note. The following article, though long, is quite interesting and should be read by all.  Emphasis in the article has been added by the newsletter editor)
A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVID Strategy
Jay Bhattacharya
Stanford University
Jay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, where he received both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in economics. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and director of the Stanford Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging. A co-author of theGreat Barrington Declaration, his research has been published in economics, statistics, legal, medical, public health, and health policy journals.
The following is adapted from a panel presentation on October 9, 2020, in Omaha, Nebraska, at a Hillsdale College Free Market Forum.
My goal today is, first, to present the facts about how deadly COVID-19 actually is; second, to present the facts about who is at risk from COVID; third, to present some facts about  how deadly the widespread lockdowns have been; and fourth, to recommend a shift in publicpolicy.

1. The COVID-19 FatalityRate

In discussing the deadliness of COVID, we need to distinguish COVID cases from COVID infections. A lot of fear and confusion has resulted from failing to understand the difference.
We have heard much this year about the “case fatality rate” of COVID. In early March, the case fatality rate in the U.S. was roughly three percent—nearly three out of every hundred people who were identified as “cases” of COVID in early March died from it. Compare that to today, when the fatality rate of COVID is known to be less than one half of one percent.
In other words, when the World Health Organization said back in early March that three percent of people who get COVID die from it, they were wrong by at least one order of magnitude. The COVID fatality rate is much closer to 0.2 or 0.3 percent. The reason for the highly inaccurate early estimates is simple: in early March, we were not identifying most of the people who had been infected by COVID.
“Case fatality rate” is computed by dividing the number of deaths by the total number of confirmed cases. But to obtain an accurate COVID fatality rate, the number in the denominator should be the number of people who have been infected—the number of people who have actually had the disease—rather than the number of confirmed cases.
In March, only the small fraction of infected people who got sick and went to the hospital were identified as cases. But the majority of people who are infected by COVID have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. These people weren’t identified in the early days, which resulted in a highly misleading fatality rate. And that is what drove public policy.  Even worse, it continues to sow fear and panic, because the perception of too many people about COVID is frozen in the misleading data fromMarch.
So how do we get an accurate fatality rate? To use a technical term, we test for seroprevalence—in other words, we test to find out how many people have evidence in their bloodstream of having had COVID.
This is easy with some viruses. Anyone who has had chickenpox, for instance, still has that virus living in them—it stays in the body forever. COVID, on the other hand, like other coronaviruses, doesn’t stay in the body. Someone who is infected with COVID and then clears it will be immune from it, but it won’t still be living in them.
What we need to test for, then, are antibodies or other evidence that someone has had COVID. And even antibodies fade over time, so testing for them still results in an underestimate of total infections.
Seroprevalence is what I worked on in the early days of the epidemic. In April, I ran a series of studies, using antibody tests, to see how many people in California’s Santa Clara County, where I live, had been infected. At the time, there were about 1,000 COVID cases that had been identified in the county, but our antibody tests found that 50,000 people had been infected—i.e., there were 50 times more infections than identified cases. This was enormously important, because it meant that the fatality rate was not three percent, but closer to 0.2 percent; not three in 100, but two in1,000.
When it came out, this Santa Clara study was controversial. But science is like that, and the way science tests controversial studies is to see if they can be replicated. And indeed, there are now 82 similar seroprevalence studies from around the world, and the median result of these 82 studies is a fatality rate of about 0.2 percent—exactly what we found in Santa ClaraCounty.
In some places, of course, the fatality rate was higher: in New York City it was more like 0.5 percent. In other places it was lower: the rate in Idaho was 0.13 percent. What this variation shows is that the fatality rate is not simply a function of how deadly a virus is. It is also a function of who gets infected and of the quality of the health care system. In the early days of the virus, our health care systems managed COVID poorly. Part of this was due to ignorance: we pursued very aggressive treatments, for instance, such as the use of ventilators, that in retrospect might have been counterproductive. And part of it was due to negligence: in some places, we needlessly allowed a lot of people in nursing homes to get infected.
But the bottom line is that the COVID fatality rate is in the neighborhood of 0.2 percent.


Rallying to vaccinate every child in Somalia against polio

Community mobilizers build trust with communities ahead of crucial vaccination campaigns. 

© UNICEF Somalia/2020/Taxta

Fahima Ahmed Hassan is a 25-year-old community mobilizer who goes the extra mile to ensure parents of children under the age of five are informed of Somalia’s polio vaccination campaigns and are ready for their children to be vaccinated.

Fahima and the other mobilisers are from the local community and they lay the groundwork for vaccinators ahead of campaigns. They work tirelessly to reach every house, speaking to families to help them understand, trust, and accept the vaccine.

On a mid-October morning, children and their families are waiting anxiously. They have been informed, by Fahima and through loudspeaker announcements, that a team of vaccinators will be visiting their community.

© UNICEF Somalia/2020/Taxta


It's all about good relationships. Good people meeting other good people and talking about good intentions. The setting was one of the summits of the Arizona-México Commission a couple of years ago. This is when Max Rumbaugh and Rene Bermudez met and where Max invited Rene to form part of Scottsdale Sister Cities. Max, a Past President of The Rotary Club of Scottsdale introduced Rene to Dale Gray. Enter Mr. Enrique Franco into the picture, also a regular at the AZ-MX Commission Summit as he represents the government of Sonora in Arizona. Mr. Franco introduced Dale, Max and Rene to Irayda Flores. All five had a meeting of the minds and the idea of starting a Spanish speaking Rotary Club in the Phoenix metro area was born. We call Dale our “Padrino” (Godfather) as he helped prepare all of the documentation to make the club (and the foundation) official. Max also helped by coming to many of our first meetings and showing us the way of Rotary. A huge supporter of this new club has been Mr. Kevin Pitts, but we will call him "Compadre!"
As of now, the club has been around for about 8 months, we have a board and we are currently working on implementing membership and dues. Our newest addition has been our website using the Club Runner platform:
To date, we have already executed several projects both locally and internationally, here is a list and photos:
  • Turkey Drive in Maryvale (Nov2020)
  • Food basket delivery in Guaymas, Sonora (May 2020 &ongoing)
  • Food basket delivery in Quiriego, Sonora (October2020)
  • Food drives in Maryvale (July, August2020)
  • Diaper drive for adult nursing home in Hermosillo, Sonora (September2020)
  • Food Drive with United Food Bank (September2020)
  • Laptop giveaway to students in Tolleson, AZ (March2020)
Public Image Committee offers assistance to clubs during virtual discussions
The District 5495 Public Image Committee will continue its virtual “office hours” to assist clubs and their members with a variety of public image and branding issues.
Programs on Clubrunner and promoting your club will be held in December. The Zoom conference programs will be conducted 7 p.m. the following dates:
Dec. 10: Make better use of Your Club Runner site
Public Image Committee member Angel Aguirre will offer tips and suggestions on how to spruce up Club Runner to better promote your club and its activities.
Dec. 17: Promoting your club and events
Public Image Committee members Mike Flores and Dr. Honora Norton will lead a discussion on how to promote your club and its events. Topics include writing a press release, contacting local media and more.
There is no charge to attend any of the talks, but reservations are required. Visit the district calendar to register for a specific program. Once a reservation is made, attendees will be sent a Zoom invitation.
The district has recently updated its Public Image information at the district website. Downloadable documents, logos and other helpful information may be found at under the “Education” tab.
Though our society continues to address the issues of equality, being equal isn’t simple. Not everyone is the same in their needs for equal opportunities as shown by the above graphic....everyone has a box to stand on but does that box create the same opportunity? Obviously not. Treating people exactly the same can lead to unequal results. Adjustments must be made so that everyone has the same outcome which in this case is seeing over the fence. 
Although the adjustment of adding another box may seem unequal, it is considered “equitable” because it is needed for the child to have the same outcome as the others in the group,,,..thus a thought provoking piece of Rotary’s DEI Priority program.
Encouraging Conversation
Your D5495 Peacebuilder Net is dedicated to helping build Positive Peace in our communities. One of the ways we are helping do that is through encouraging respectful conversation and a resource we offer to facilitate this is the organization, Brave Angels (formerly Better Angels)( 
Brave Angels: ”Today, there is evidence to suggest that we are now as polarized as we have been since the Civil War. We are in what some are calling a “cold civil war…”  “Braver Angels was formed 4 years ago with a goal to depolarize American politics. Our work is rooted in grassroots organizing. From the grassroots however, our volunteer leaders (supported by a small staff) leverage Braver Angels programs and unique organizing structure to impact community life and American institutions.”  The Braver Angels Pledge:
  • As individuals, we try to understand the other side’s point of view, even if we don’t agree with it.
  • In our communities, we engage those we disagree with, looking for common ground and ways to work together.
  • In politics, we support principles that bring us together rather than divide us.
One of your D5495 Rotary brothers, Patrick Walsh (, is now a certified Brave Angel Facilitator and he would be happy to talk with you and your club about Braver Angels and also help you set up a Brave Angels workshop at your club or in your community.
During our recent election night, Brave Angels offered a couple of opportunities to help lower our collective anxiety level. One of these took place November 4th, the day after voting ended.  An hour and a half of conversations and stories in which Blues, Reds…and Independents shared their friendships and their united dedication to “getting along”.  Your D5495 Peacebuilder Network highly recommend that you take a look ( The hour and a half will zoom by.
In this YouTube video, I (Steve Bjornstad) was especially impacted by a young Seattle journalist, Monica Guzman Preston (min 42:00 to 51:45), a woman who is a Democrat Hispanic immigrant and who's parents are Republican Hispanic immigrants. Some of you may recognize her name as she is a former Seattle Times reporter.  I would love for you all to look into this Braver Angels video...and, especially, to listen to Monica's heart. 
Rotary year 2021-22 District Grants
It's not too early to be planning for the District Grant Cycle for next Rotary year.  Most aspects of the process will remain the same as this year, including the (May 31 2021) Deadline, requirements for  club qualification, the $2500 maximum grant amount, and the 2:1 match. The main change is that we will go back to the on-line application system we've previously used.
Grants Management Training is required for club qualification.  At least two members from each club must attend a training.  We'll have four dates this year (the sessions are identical), one of which will coincide with PETS for the convenience of the presidents-elect.  All four will be virtual, and will be in March and April.
Please contact Rebecca Wilks with questions,
The District PolioPlus Society Initiative is underway.  For a pledge to donate $100
per year to End Polio Now, you too can become a member of the PolioPlus Society.  Thus for 19 commitment forms have been received.  I suspect that there are more participants who have not bothered to send the commitment form.  Keep in mind that you will only receive the swag if you send in the commitment form.  The initial distribution of swag should begin in the next couple of weeks. If interested in becoming a PolioPlus Society member please visit the Foundation portion of the District website (CLICK HERE) and maneuver to the PolioPlus Society section of the page. Use the pop-out button in order to print the various pages. District Foundation Chair Charlie Teagarden would like to see a couple hundred District 5495 members sign up for the PolioPlus Society!
Hello everyone! I hope you are doing well. 

            2020 is definitely a challenging year for Interact clubs around the district, and the ones that are allowed to meet are rising to the challenge. We have featured three Interact clubs on our district council Instagram account: BASIS Scottsdale, Canyon View High School, and Barry Goldwater High School. BASIS Scottsdale has been full steam ahead collecting mobility devices for the Crutches 4 Africa project. We are doing as much as we can to collect and send mobility devices when we can. Applications for the Ambassador teams are open, and we are adding new Ambassadors to the current teams. 
Canyon View High School has facilitated several canned food drives and Meals for Joy, a meal packing event for seniors. Meal packing and canned food drives are great examples of service events that can be done socially distant and significantly impact the community. 

Barry Goldwater showed their gratitude and had a card making event for our healthcare workers. It can be a breath of fresh air to have your hard work acknowledged in a time of so much uncertainty and conflict. 
All drop-offs of crutches, walkers and other mobility equipment to either the Gilbert or Glendale American Furniture Warehouse stores for the Interact Crutches 4 Africa Project need to be halted until further notice.  AFW is currently in an overload situation with our used mobility equipment, until we can get the planned shipments to Mexico and Kenya out of their warehouse and on their way the help the intended disabled recipients in these countries.  A shipment to Mexico is being readied to go out in December.  Please continue to collect and temporarily store mobility equipment for this project in other locations, until AFW is able to once again receive and store our donated equipment.
Meet Some of the November 14, 2020 Rotary Leadership Institute Participants and Graduates!
   Also congratulating the RLI November 14, 2020 graduates

    Raveen Arora  -  Rotary Club of Tempe South, Jessica Cox-Atha Rotary Club of Winslow,  Don Boucher Rotary Club of Mesa West,
    Rob Foster Kyrene Rotary Club,  Mike Flores Gilbert Rotary Club,  Jim Frey Rotary Club of Goodyear Pebble Creek,
    Debbie Gonzales Rotary eClub of the Southwest USA,  Fred Gorrell Rotary Club of Paradise Valley
    Todd Harris  -  Four Peaks Rotary Club,  Aishwarya Kasturia Rotary Club of Thunderbird,  Jon Lyons Rotary Club of Sun Lakes,
    Dr. Vincent Pellegrino Gilbert Rotary Club, Jim Schermetzler Gilbert Rotary Club,  Patricia Schermetzler Gilbert Rotary Club,
    Jim Schmidt  -  Rotary Club of Mesa West,  Annette Valentine Rotary Club of Sun City.
Competition is underway for the End Polio Now Champions Award. As of October 31, 2020, the top eight district clubs in the competition are, in order:  Sedona Red Rocks; Mesa; Sun Lakes; Chandler; Mesa West; Kingman Route 66; Fountain Hills; and Tempe Downtown.
The competition will run through the end of this Rotary Fiscal Year - June 30, 2021. As an aside, only 25 of our District's clubs and/or their membership have contributed to End Polio Now as of October 31, 2020.  This number is sure to increase as the year goes on. Let's not wait until the last minute to participate!



Three ways to support our Rotary Foundation

Every November, we celebrate The Rotary Foundation. Your support and generous gifts to the Foundation make it possible for us to be people of action and engage in life-changing projects worldwide. Here are three ways you can help maximize the effectiveness of our year-end giving campaigns and increase the amount of good we can do:

    1    Encourage your members to make a gift to the Foundation on Giving Tuesday, which is 1 December. Share our video message

    2    Give the gift of Rotary this holiday season. Share our digital flyer with members and potential donors.

    3    Learn more about our new peer-to-peer fundraising tool, Raise for Rotary, where you can create fundraising pages that are easy to share with family and friends through social media and email.


Feel the Energy in Taipei

Our potential to create lasting change is limitless. And there’s no better place to explore your full potential than the 2021 Rotary International Convention, 12-16 June in Taipei, Taiwan:

    •    Discover the many aspects of Taipei, from its tranquil temples and abundance of colorful hydrangeas to its jubilant festivals and lively night markets.

    •    Find new opportunities for service by learning practical skills and exploring innovative ways to make a lasting impact in your community.

    •    Experience the invigorating city like a local when you attend exciting host-ticketed events.

    •    Take part in motivating breakout sessions to learn new skills and get ideas for projects, fundraising, and more. Help us build a breakout program that celebrates Rotary’s diversity! Submit your breakout proposal by Wednesday, 30 September.

    •    Explore the Rotary Fellowships at the House of Friendship to build relationships, collaborate, and ignite inspiration.

Want more reasons to attend? Watch our video about Taipei or download the promotional kit and use the materials to invite friends to join you in attending.

The Verrado Rotary Foundation is holding the "Holiday Giving Auction" from 12/10/20 until 12/20/20.  Donations will be accepted for "All Faiths Community Service Food Bank" and "The Buckeye Police Super Heros."  50/50 Raffle Tickets are also available and well as an opportunity to bid on some exciting items and services on the Catalog Page.


Our speaker this week was Robin Isquith, the owner of Stones Throw Travel. We learned that education and certification of travel agents is something that we should look for in selecting the person to assist us in booking our vacations. We also learned that it is no more expensive to book through an experienced travel agent than it is to boost things for yourself online but the risk to the consumer is a lot less. Robin explained the importance of buying travel insurance to cover medical needs abroad because US insurance is not accepted and that you could have to pay up front out of pocket and your passport could even be taken. Travel insurance also covers lost and delayed luggage and unforeseen trip cancellation costs. She could not stress the importance of travel insurance strongly enough.

We learned that if you book through a travel agent then it is your agent who spends the hours on hold to rearrange things and take care of any issues that arise instead of you. We also learned that through partnerships and alliances she has access to upgrades and incentives not available online.