At our annual ‘Changing of the Guard’ meeting, outgoing President Doug Powelson presented this year’s ‘Rotarian of the Year’ award to Jim Eleczko.  Jim has served Skidaway Rotary as Treasurer for the past year and has overseen the distribution of more than $20,000 to local community organizations in need of funds, including DeRenne Middle school, Pulaski Elementary school, Junior Achievement, Horizons, Bethesda Academy,and Second Harvest.  In addition to participation in multiple club “hands on” service projects,  Jim also manages the budget for our international efforts in Haiti and for Rotary’s international effort to eradicate Polio from the earth.  Doug proudly passed the gavel to our incoming President, Jon Peterson, and presented awards for perfect attendance to the many committee members who make our community service possible.
This month Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation renewed a fundraising partnership they hope will inject millions of dollars into the final push to eradicate polio, a goal possible by the end of 2014.  Under the agreement the Gates foundation will match two-to-one every dollar raised by Rotary up to $35 million/yr for the next 5 years.  All of this is part of a six year drive to raise $5.5 billion to meet Rotary’s goal, an effort joined by Unicef, WHO, many governments and philanthropists.
This year only 69 cases of polio were reported worldwide, down from 1352 cases reported in 2010.  However, the war on polio is rocky as vaccinators have been killed in Nigeria and Pakistan.  And, the virus appears to be resurging in the Horn of Africa as cases have been reported in Somalia and Kenya – two countries that were previously largely polio-free.