$1,000 helps provide 4,800 NID caps
You could say each Paul Harris Fellow is one in a million. During the past 50 years, over a million people have contributed US$1,000 or more to The Rotary Foundation, earning a designation named after Rotary’s founder. These donors span an egalitarian range, from big-city corporate executives to small-town schoolteachers. For many, $1,000 is no small sum.
Anyone who gives $1,000 or more to the Annual Programs Fund, PolioPlus, PolioPlus Partners, or a specified Matching Grant can be recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow. This amount can come from a lump sum or cumulative gifts over time. People also can be honored if someone else makes a contribution in their name.
When it became clear last year that the million mark had been reached, the Foundation set out to identify exactly who the millionth Paul Harris Fellow was. The task proved to be challenging. With donations coming in from every part of the world, there were simply too many time zones and international banks, each with their own methods for recording deposits, to say who should receive the honor.
So instead, the Foundation recognized 34 individuals – one donor from every Rotary zone. Among those who received the special plaques and certificates were Rotarians Christina Asch and Ted Rowe.
Generosity in hard times
Christina Asch says Rotary will always be important in her life because her club was there for her during her darkest hour. In 2002, Asch’s daughter, Kimberly, died in a car crash at the age of 22. After the Rotary Club of Titusville-Sunrise, Fla., USA, raised $1,500 in Kimberly’s memory, she asked that the money be used to help distressed children. It was donated to the Titusville Police Department in 2005 to help fund the construction of the Safari Room, a comfortable, kid-friendly interviewing space for sexually abused children, as well as the Safari Family Waiting Room. The Foundation chipped in with an $885 District Simplified Grant to help furnish the spaces.
“The Foundation has a special place in my heart,” says Asch, a nurse practitioner. “Rotary has been so good to me and helped me turn a very difficult situation into a positive one.”
While the police department rooms were under construction, Asch began giving back to the Foundation. She started with a $200 contribution to the Annual Programs Fund and continued to give whenever she could. By June 2006, she had passed the $1,000 threshold and earned Paul Harris Fellow Recognition.
Asch has made a difference in other ways as well. She helped with a Rotary club project that collected more than 2,500 backpacks filled with school supplies for underprivileged children, and she has participated in service efforts benefiting AIDS victims and the blind in Nassau, Bahamas. These contributions and her passion for Rotary are among the reasons why District 6930 named Asch the 2007 Rotarian of the Year.
She was ceremoniously recognized as the millionth Paul Harris Fellow from Zone 34 during a multidistrict conference cruise to Nassau last November. Asch says the cheers from Rotarians during the presentation nearly moved her to tears.
Aid in the battle against polio
Rotarian Ted Rowe, a retired Southwest Minnesota State University math and science professor, remembers growing up in Dayton, Ohio, USA, in the days when kids were still turned away from public swimming pools because of the risk of contracting polio. Although the disease is no longer a major threat in the United States, Rowe thinks it requires close attention because it’s still endemic in other parts of the world. That’s one reason why he has donated $450 to the Foundation each year since 2004.
“What the Foundation is doing for the eradication of polio is simply fantastic,” says the member of the Rotary Club of Marshall Sunrise, Minn. “It helps keep polio in the minds of Americans.”
When Rowe received an e-mail congratulating him for being a millionth Paul Harris Fellow, he was humbled by the honor. “I represent all the past and present Paul Harris Fellows,” he says. “This wasn’t my achievement. It’s Zone 25’s and the Foundation’s.”
Rowe has spent much of his life helping his community, serving on local planning and zoning committees and the on boards of an electric and water utility, a library, and the YMCA. He’s also been an assistant scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America and volunteered for a blood bank, various church activities, and driver safety programs. In 2003, Rowe joined the Marshall Sunrise club because he was impressed by Rotary’s global impact. Next year, he’ll take the helm as club president.
Though Rowe has retired after 33 years of teaching, slowing down is the last thing on his mind. He writes a biweekly slice-of-life column called “Oh, Fiddlesticks!” for the Independent, a daily newspaper in southwestern Minnesota, and has traveled to all seven continents with his wife, Aileen.