US Rotarians use district grants to meet local, global needs
Clubs from District 5340 used district grant funding to support a water project in South Sudan. Photo courtesy of Pamela Russell
From boosting the capacity to carry out search-and-rescue efforts in their own community to providing clean water for rural communities in South Sudan, Rotarians in District 5340 (California, USA) are using Rotary Foundation district grants to meet a variety of humanitarian needs.
The Rotary clubs of Brawley and Holtville found that the De Anza Rescue Unit’s operations in Imperial County’s mountains and desert were hampered by a run-down command center: a converted 1970s school bus without modern equipment, a heating or cooling system, or toilet facilities.
Using funds from its 2010-11 district grant and outside donations, the club replaced the bus with a remodeled truck-driven trailer equipped with a satellite antenna, radio control room, and computer, as well as the other amenities the center had lacked.
Another project supported by the same district grant installed 20 water wells serving about 60,000 people in remote villages in South Sudan. The absence of paved roads and other infrastructure in the destitute region made it challenging to transport food, water, vehicle fuel, and other supplies, and pumping equipment to the drilling sites by truck. The project also had to take place during the dry season so the dirt roads would be passable, with temperatures often hitting 120 F (48 C).
The Rotary clubs of Rancho Bernardo Sunrise and Rancho Santa Fe teamed up with Water for South Sudan Inc. to implement the effort, which is helping to prevent cholera and other waterborne diseases.
So far this Rotary year, District 5340 has carried out 29 district grant projects sponsored by 31 clubs, with funding ranging from $600 to $65,000. District Foundation committee chair Pamela Russell says the grants offer several advantages, including a more streamlined application process and the flexibility to tailor projects to local and global needs.
“We had never used district grant money for local [projects] before, and that is so exciting for the clubs,” says Russell, who is also a past district governor. “We’re also seeing an increase in giving to the Foundation, because of the opportunities for Rotarians to use district grant money in their own communities.”
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