Friday evening, while attending the District's Rotary Foundation Gala, I was sitting next to Mike Darnold who mentioned the young woman who sang the National Anthem had been one of his "RYLA kids" many years before. Like a lot of students who participated in RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), she has gone on to continue serving others.
The legacy of Rotarians is contained in the stories about serving others. Two drops of Polio vaccine is administered far away, but it was funded by our donations to Polio Plus.
Fuel-efficient stoves made possible by donations to StoveTeam International have helped more than a half a million people in Central America while contributing to cleaner air and less deforestation. It's allowed young people to attend school rather than collect firewood for heating and cooking.
Rotarians have contributed both money and labor to Dr. Tozzer's efforts at Dental Care For Children to help more than 31,000 kids get free dental and vision care.
We get together to work with Corazón to build a home for a deserving family. They don't know our names, but they will tell stories of our generosity and help to their children and friends.
We build wells that deliver clean water to entire communities in faraway lands. They benefit from reduced disease and help grow crops to help them survive.
We often don't know the effect we have made. In 2006 we were working on the very first "Snowball Express" and we needed help keeping track of the 900+ attendees. Organizing their flights, hotel accommodations, children, health needs, etc. Plus the coordination of District Rotarians to staff help desks in the various hotels and transportation to the numerous activities. My twin brother, Bob, a world-class database architect volunteered to design the computer system that kept track of everyone and everything. He recently told me that in 2006 his wife had just died and he was in a deep depression. My call to action that helped solved our needs also brought him back. I never knew until last week.
Our legacy is broad. Rotarians have provided:
Prosthesis limbs to those who have lost their legs.
Cataract surgeries to those who have lost their sight
Hearing aids to those who have lost their hearing.
Shelters to those who have lost their homes
Clean water to those who are thirsty
Sympathy to the families who have lost family members for our country
The lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, homes, health, and peace of mind. World peace is possible and children smile because of our generosity of time, giving and talent.
Our legacy is those stories people we've never met will tell about us. They'll live long into the future.