Sister clubs encourage international service connections
Nancy Wright Beasley accepts a club banner from Arvydas Sabrinskas, past president of the Kaunas Rotary Club during a visit in 2009. Photo courtesy of Nancy Wright Beasley
A sister club partnership between two Rotary clubs in the United States and one in Lithuania is expanding the international reach and service of Rotarians in both countries.
Author and polio survivor Nancy Wright Beasley joined the Rotary Club of Brandermill (Midlothian), Virginia, USA, shortly after speaking to the club about her book on Lithuanian families during the Holocaust. Following visits to Lithuania in 2009 and 2010, she inspired the Virginia Rotarians to pursue service projects with the Rotary Club of Kaunas, Lithuania, which she had visited.
While in Kaunas, Beasley had also been introduced by telephone to the founding president of the Rotary Club of Chicagoland Lithuanians. The club’s members, all Lithuanians living in the Chicago area, expressed an interest in joining with the Brandermill club to carry out projects in Lithuania. So the clubs turned to Rotary Service Connections to facilitate that partnership.
“Rotary Service Connections helped us with some of the criteria, so we began discussing a feasible project,” says Don Vaught, president of the Brandermill club. “Our two boards approved the idea of the partnership, and the proposal was eventually accepted by the Kaunas club as well.” The arrangement was made official in November.
“The goal of forming a sister club relationship was to establish a long-term relationship with other clubs that would lead to ongoing projects -- both locally and internationally,” Vaught says. “It’s also a way to further international understanding and foster goodwill.”
Vaught says Beasley’s contacts with the Kaunas club were instrumental in getting the idea started, and adds that it seemed only natural to invite the Chicagoland Lithuanians club to participate.
“We see building a relationship through both leisure and business travel visits by members of each club,” Vaught says. “We will be working together on joint projects in Lithuania, but also supporting each other’s projects when possible."
The sister clubs are launching their first project in Lithuania soon, to help obtain medical equipment for an orphanage in Kaunas.
“This sister club relationship is bringing together three clubs that were never aware of each other’s existence,” Vaught says. “This reflects the far-reaching arm of Rotary, and shows how you can expand relationships around the globe. This project is proof positive that Rotary truly is international.”
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