January 2021 Newsletter
Welcome to 2021 - Happy New Year Rotarians!
Though the effects of COVID will be with us for quite some time, there is something magical about a new year.  A new beginning, closing the chapter – and moving forward.  I pray that your 2021 is full of health, happiness, and joy!
I do have some joyous stories to share with you from December. I put out a call to action to you, and the responses blew me away!  
The first was for Salvation Army Mesa.  They were working on their Christmas Angel project, when many of their employees became ill with COVID. Due to the sudden shortage of team members, they didn’t have anyone to sort the toys within the warehouse.  When they reached out to us, and we shared the need, you instantly responded.  I can’t thank you enough!  Rotarians jumped into action, and many of you showed up and saved the day for families all across Arizona, sorting and packing Christmas gifts to be given to those in need!
Rotary District 5495 is pleased to announce that the District 5495 Nominating Committee has selected Kevin Pitts of the Rotary Club of Prescott to be our District Governor for 2023-24.  Kevin’s biography follows so that you have a complete view of his background.  Some of Kevin's highlights and accomplishments follow: 
Member of the Rotary Club of Prescott since 2004
Past President of RC Prescott, 2007-2008 and 2018-2019
Co-Chair of the Mexico USA Friendship Conference and Global Grants Exchange
Rotary Foundation Major Donor and Benefactor
Interact Ambassador to Kenya – Crutches for Africa Chaperone 2018
Current Assistant District Governor D5495
Past Rotary Leadership Institute Coordinator
PETS Facilitator
Emerging Rotary Leader participant - 2017
Champion for Peace Award - 2019
2nd Century of Leadership Award D5490 - 2010
District Trainer 5490 - 2008
Managing Partner of Stratos Wealth Partners and Chief Investment Officer of EverVest Financial, LLC
Three children (Marvin, Norman, and Rodney) – Four Grandchildren (Josiah, Jayla, Jayce, and Janiyah)
Two dogs – Diego and Frida (Red Tick Coon Hound and Beagle)
Avid fisherman and outdoorsman

Trekking through the snow to deliver vaccines

Vaccinators tackle winter conditions and challenging contexts during Afghanistan’s last polio campaign of the year.

Volunteers Abdul Basit and Misbahuddin trek up a hill in Aab-e-barik village, Argo district, Badakhshan province. ©Shaim Shahin/WHO Afghanistan

On a wintery November day, vaccinators across Afghanistan wrapped up warm, checked that they had facemasks and hand sanitizer, and headed out into the cold morning. Their mission? To reach 9.9 million children with polio vaccines, before snowfall blocked their way.

From valleys to muddy lanes, we look at some of the environments where vaccinators work, as well as some of the key challenges that have made 2020 one of the toughest years for polio eradicators.

Panjshir province

For some vaccinators, the first snows had already arrived. At the top of the Panjshir valley, Ziaullah and Nawid Ahmad started their day at 7am.

Arsalan Khan helps Khadija, four years old, to climb down a wall in Doshakh village, Rukha district of Panjshir province. ©Ahmadullah Amarkhil/WHO Afghanistan


Inclusion sounds like the easiest step of the three pieces of DEI, doesn’t it?
Of course, everyone you ask to join Rotary feels welcome & included, right?
If that were the case, we wouldn’t have the retention problem we’ve had for so any years.  Getting members isn’t the problem, KEEPING them is!
Inclusion is more than the invitation to the party.  Inclusion means asking members to give their ideas and help in the planning process of the party all the way to the party itself. If you’re just making sure all your members are on the guest list, you’ve missed giving them the opportunity to serve and feel part of the greater good.
Including more members all the way through your projects, fundraisers, socials makes them feel that they have value; their ideas are being heard; they are appreciated and feel a part of a caring and “inclusive” club.
Once the word gets out that your club is including Diversity, Equity & Inclusion as a template for growth and service, you’ll most likely find membership and retention will increase and improve.  Worth a try, don’t you think?
Rotary Gratefulness week was in late November, but District 5495 Rotarians have continued to ‘show the love’.  An example of appreciation and support to the front-line workers in our local communities comes from the Rotary Club of Surprise.
A team of members visited the Arizona Charter Academy t show their appreciation to the teachers and staff.  To thank each individual for their courage and support during the Covid-19 pandemic, they met with the school’s CEO and the club Interact chair to present over 100 cards. Each card was personalized with an individual teacher or staff member’s name and accompanied by a fresh carnation. The cards were originals designed and created by Kevin Moore with Moore Graphics in Youngtown.
The Rotary Club of the Verde Valley is showing their gratitude to the Verde Search and Rescue Posse at their club meeting January 7th.  The Verde Search and Rescue Posse is a volunteer 501 (c) 3 organization serving the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department to respond to search and rescue of lost, stranded, or injured persons in the Verde Valley.  The club is presenting them with a check for $1000 to support their needs for the many expenses they incur performing their services, such as:  Safety equipment (helmets), first-aid kits, navigation radios and antennas, maps and mapping software, uniform shirts and harsh weather clothing (waterproof parkas), dispatch system s liability insurance, flagging tape, vehicle identification (VSAR car door signage and decals).
And, there are still other projects in the pipeline! You can post your club’s photos and projects in the next newsletter.  Send to dgnancy5495@gmail.com
District Grant Update
Rebecca Wilks, District Grants Chair
Well, 5495 Rotarians, we’re moving right along planning the District Grant process for the 2021-22 Rotary year.
The following important documents are now available on rotary5495.org:
·        2021-22 District Grant Guidelines (all the rules and instructions)
·        2021-22 District Grant Application Addendum and report form
·        Memorandum of Understanding (required for club qualification)
·        Club Financial Management Plan Template (you’ll want to customize it for your club, but this document will make it easy)
We’ll be using the website rotarygrants.org for applications this year (more information is available in the Guidelines), and the application deadline is May 31.
Grants Management Training dates are set; March 27, April 7, and April 17.  There will be a fourth training in conjunction with PETS.  Each club is required to send at least two members to a training in order to qualify to apply for grants.  All four of these trainings will be virtual.
Thanks to the clubs which have already sent in final reports on their 2020-21 District Grant Projects.  Yes, the deadline is April 30, but why not get the paperwork done if you’ve completed your project? The report form is in the same document as the application.
Thanks to all our participating clubs for doing such great work in your communities and abroad.
Questions?  Contact Rebecca Wilks, rebecca@skylineimages.net
January is National Anti-Human Trafficking month -
  • $150 billion per year is made from forced labor of one form or other
  • of that, $99 billion is made from sex trafficking
  • 4.5 million people worldwide are victims of forced sexual exploitation
  • 40.3 million people worldwide are now victims of forced labor
  • Children as young as 1 year old can be victims
  • 20% of all human trafficking victims are children
Prostitution - Slavery - Forced Labor - Sex Trafficking - Child Slavery - Labor Slavery - Human Trafficking - Modern Slavery. Serious words. Terms that don’t feel they could possibly apply to modern Arizona. Sadly, they do. Every…single…day.  The great thing is Arizona Rotarians are continuing to step up and lead their communities in raising awareness and reducing the threat of harm to their children.
The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona was officially incorporated January 9, 1991.  This followed work by the original founders during 1990 to organize so they could incorporate as a non-profit charitable foundation.  
In April of 1992, TRVFA was recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charitable foundation.  
The founders worked with leaders in all three Arizona Rotary Districts at the time to go through a process to have TRVFA be authorized as an ongoing joint district project in the State of Arizona.  To qualify for this status, the District Governors of all three districts as well as the District Governor Nominees signed documentation certifying that at least two-thirds of all Rotary Clubs in each of the three districts  had elected to support their districts' participation in the multidistrict activity.   On October 7, 1993, Spencer Robinson, Jr., who was the General Secretary of Rotary International at that time, signed a document certifying that the Rotary International Board of Directors had authorized Districts 5490, 5500, and 5510 to continue to be organized and conduct  this multidistrict service activity.  For readers who enjoy Rotary history and would like to see a copy of this historic document, CLICK HERE.
The current Board of Directors of TRVFA has established an ambitious fundraising goal for this anniversary year of $300,000, with the hope of growing beyond each successive year going forward.
Donations to TRVFA qualify for the Arizona income tax credit for donations to a Qualifying Charitable Organization (QCO code is 20698).  For most donors, their donation may not cost them anything in the long run.  Since they receive a dollar for dollar credit on their state income tax - they will either pay an equally smaller amount when they file their tax return or receive a larger refund.

For TRVFA to qualify as a Qualifying Charitable Organization, grant recipients must meet specific low income guidelines and reside in the State of Arizona.
The vocational education grants provided by TRVFA are currently limited to $2,000 per scholar in order to be able to serve more students.  The majority of vocational education programs cost considerably more than that amount.   The board has set the ambitious fundraising goal with the hope of increasing that maximum grant amount.  
TRVFA is the only Qualifying Charitable Organization in Arizona which was formed by Rotarians to work together on a multi-district on-going Vocational Service project.  Still managed by Rotary Volunteers, it is hoped that recognition of this 30-year anniversary will be a point of pride, and Rotarians will advocate for support within their clubs and in each Rotarian's circle of influence.  
TRVFA grants literally enable the recipients to lift themselves out of poverty,   Help someone help themself.  Go to trvfa.org and click DONATE NOW.
Hello everyone! I hope you are doing well and you had a happy holiday.
            Last month, we had an incredible success; we sent our first-ever shipment of mobility devices to Mexico. It was amazing that even with restrictions due to COVID, we can still come together as a community and provide the devices for people who need them. The Interact Ambassador team applications also closed, and the applicants will be interviewed for a spot on the teams that will go to Kenya and Mexico. Once accepted, they will begin an intensive training program with their ambassador team to prepare for their trip. Lessons include language and culture and how to modify mobility devices to support the needs of the people receiving them. If you would like to donate to the Interact District Service Projects Fund, contributions can be sent to Interact District Treasurer Jeanie Morgan, Rotary District 5495, P.O. Box 1807, Chandler, AZ 85224.  If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible, your check should be made payable to the Rotary District 5495 Charitable Fund, noting on it “for Interact C4A.”  We are super excited that we can still serve and continue to have successful projects. 
Membership Minute
December 2020Ideas for strengthening membership
Looking ahead to 2021 — important year-end updates
This year has been a challenging one, and 2021 brings hopes for better times and new opportunities. In-person meeting possibilities remain limited in many places, but now is the perfect time to visit and connect with other clubs around the world through online meetings and virtual events. The newly improved Club Finder tool can help with this. Don’t forget to update your club meeting information (time, place, meeting language, and whether your club meets in person, online, or both) so fellow Rotarians and clubs can easily find you.

Every January, we see a significant increase in inquiries about joining Rotary. District and club leaders, these future members are waiting to hear back from you. Remember to follow up with these prospective members and ensure that their experience with Rotary is a positive one. Consider generational or other cultural communication preferences when contacting them. Some prospective members may prefer phone calls, while others might be more likely to reply to a text message.

Whether it’s by building new relationships or helping expand Rotary’s reach, a new year is the ideal time to set new goals and work toward achieving them.  
The Rotary Club of Scottsdale welcomed Adway Gopakumar to a recent luncheon meeting.  Adway is co-founder and CEO of Non-profit - Liberation Through Education (LTE).  Adway's past relationship with the Rotary Club has been through Interact Rotary Club of Scottsdale Preparatory, where he served as President, VP and Treasurer and was a Rotary Youth Salute Scholar.  Adway currently attends Atlanta's Emory University and is pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and a minor in Neuroethics on the pre-med track.. 

LTE was started as a small community service project in 2018 with its mission to promote primary education in underprivileged communities.  LTE
was chartered as a 501(c) (3) organization in July 2018.  Over the past 3 years, LTE has fundraised over $15,000 with designated contributions of sourced locally school supplies, uniforms, loaded backpacks, roof and building improvements, hearing aids and gifts to schools in India, Ghana and United States. 

In July 2020, LTE launched its mentorship program, which is a virtual mentorship platform that connects qualified high school and university students with underserved students.  Its success is measured through increased literacy rates and communication skills, as well as, enhanced critical thinking skills. 




Not everybody celebrates Christmas, but everyone can have a Christmas spirit which is ”simply an honest spirit of love for all humanity. It is theforce that moves us to give what we can, to help as we are able and to always be of kind comfort.”

~Richelle Goodrich. 

Here are three components to consider;

Giving: In order to embrace the true meaning of Christmas, we need to reach down within ourselves and be willing to give ourselves and others our love. The gifts we give are a symbol of our love, not an obligation. As we give, so we should reflect upon the fact that no gift can truly ever equal the love we give to another person and the time spent together with them.

Appreciating: Appreciation is so important. We may feel dissatisfied with our lives, focusing on all the things we want to have. Yet, we spend almost no time appreciating what we already have, and feeling grateful for it. Gratitude, appreciation for what we have and a loving heart, these are what the Christmas spirit is all about.

Doing service: Embracing the spirit of Christmas also means giving to those most in need. Doing some service for someone in need or even anonymously leaving a donation. Such actions demonstrate an understanding of the real nature of Christmas. We can enjoy this period more fully when we help others who are in need.

The Rotary Club of Scottsdale (RCS) welcomed Craig Moringiello, Assistant Special Agent in Charge – Phoenix Division of the Federal Bureau to Investigation to the Club’s hybrid meeting.  The meeting was held via Virtual Zoom Meeting, as well as, on site luncheon at the Scottsdale McCormick with specific temperature check, limited seating, masks required and social distancing practices.  

Since 2002, Special Agent Moringiello has participated in various FBI counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and espionage investigations throughout the U.S.  When introducing Special Agent Moringiello, RCS Club President Richard Signeski noted that Special Agent Moringiello spent ten years as a Naval Flight Officer and that he had earned a bachelor degree from United States Naval Academy and a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.  

Per a quote from U. S. Department of Defense, Special Agent Moringiello stated: “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U. S. national Security.”  The FBI’s Counterintelligence Strategy’s mission is to defeat hostile activities targeting the United States. 


Susan introduced our speaker of the day, Samuel Moore-Sobel, author, speaker and col- umnist, who recently completed his debut memoir “Can You See My Scars” in which he describes the trauma of being a burn victim. His book is available on Amazon.

Samuel was 15 in 2009, just ready to start his sophomore year in high school, when disaster struck. He was hired for the day to move boxes and furniture to make a little extra spending money for school when one of the boxes containing sulfuric acid exploded badly burning Samuel’s face and arms. Treatment included multiple surgeries. Although Samuel didn’t feel lucky, doctor’s told him how lucky he was that he didn’t lose his eyesight and the acid did not burn his esophagus.

Samuel, now a hand-some  twenty-six year old with little or no apparent visible scars, at  least  via  Zoom, talks about the impact the accident had on him both physically and emotionally, both as a young high-schooler but also over the years. He said he not only had physical scars, but also emotional scars as evidenced by insomnia, flash backs and thoughts of suicide. Through counseling that gave him a Tool Box to help the healing process - medications, counseling, journaling and talking about the accident with others, he was able to finish HS and college on time and obviously go on to become a successful young adult!

Now on the 11th anniversary of the accident he has completed his first book, “Can You See My Scars.” He indicated that scars are now a reminder of what he’s been able to overcome and to turn a negative situation into something positive that will also help others. A percentage of the proceeds from his book will go to burn survivors.

Our thanks to Samuel for his inspirational message and for sharing with us from his home in Virginia—he says this was his first time to address a west coast audience! A book will be donated in Samuel’s honor to and Osborn District School.

Rotary Club of Scottsdale welcomed Kraig R. Nelson, historian for the accredited and internationally recognized Cave Creek Museum, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Mr. Nelson is one of the co-authors of the Museum’s 2013 book, Images of America - Cave Creek and Carefree. Mr. Nelson has published in America’s oldest western publication, True West Magazine, based in Cave Creek; and, has been honored as “Volunteer of the Year” for the accredited Desert Foothill Land Trust and “Docent of the Year” for the Cave Creek Museum. 
Since 2011, Mr. Nelson has been a member of the Arizona Archaeological Society, which facilitates lectures from some of America’s top archaeologists.  Mr. Nelson has completed advanced coursework for the “Avocational Archaeologist” program. Since 2013, Mr. Nelson has given public tours and private presentations for corporate groups at Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, since 2013. Taliesin West is Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school and is the only National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Arizona. Mr. Nelson is a Booster for the Carefree/Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce and has been writing about local history since 2013, including the history of Cave Creek and Carefree for the yearly Chamber Guide, distributed locally and globally, as well as, the online magazine, A Peek at the Peak (The Peak).
Feel the Energy in TaipeiThere’s more time to save! Due to the global pandemic, the early-registration discount deadline has been extended to 15 February 2021.

 Attending this year’s convention will allow you to connect with new friends, find new opportunities for service, learn fresh skills, and explore innovative ways to make a lasting impact in your community.

You won’t want to miss the energy of the 2021 Rotary Convention in Taipei, Taiwan.