Denver Rotary Receives Award for the Most Outstanding World Community Service Project in District 5450

Denver Rotary Cub 31 was honored by Denver Mile Hi Rotary for having the most outstanding world community service project in District 5450 in 2019-2020.  Denver Mile Hi donated $100 to Polio Plus in Club 31’s name.  The award was for a six-year $93 thousand project promoting basic education and literacy for girls in Bosnia and to prevent them from becoming victims of human traffickers.  The entire project involved a small direct cash grant and two global grants matched by Rotary International and District 5450.  The project was prompted by the aftermath of the 1990’s Balkan wars (of ethnic cleansing) with the failure to address the problems of girl’s education and human trafficking because of continued ethnic divisions and government corruption.  Bosnia (formally Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH) is now the poorest country in Europe.  Poor rural families favor education of boys, with girls often dropping out of school after the 4th grade.  Roma (gypsy) girls are illiterate, as are their mothers and most of their fathers.  Bosnia is now the largest center for transit and source of human trafficking in Europe as those under-educated or struggling financially seek opportunities outside of the country.

The project brought parent teacher education meetings to 40 villages reaching 2,000 parents, promoting the importance of girls’ education and warning of trafficking, established a mentoring program for 160 families with fourth grade girls at risk for dropping out of school by using university student volunteers, conducted media campaigns to promote girls staying in school and warning of human trafficking, and conducted literacy classes for Roma girls. The mentoring and public education initiatives are continuing after the grant funding ended with the partner NGO staff.  The Roma literacy program has been funded post grant by another non-profit.

Denver Rotary World Community Service committee members formulated, wrote the grant application, raised the cash match, shepherded the application through the Rotary International process, and monitored the implementation of the grants. F elicia Muftic chaired the project, initially with Denver Rotarian Dr. Mike Muftic, who passed away in August 2015.  The Mostar Rotary Club was the local in-country supervisor which partnered with a local non-profit family and children counseling agency, Novi Put, to execute the grant.  Over $8 thousand of the cash came from the Denver Rotary Foundation.  In addition to Denver Rotary and Mostar Rotary, eight other 5450 Rotary clubs, Ojai California Rotary and their district, and the Rotary club of Grand Cayman all contributed the cash funds, matched by $20,500 from District 5450 and $37,725 from the Rotary International Foundation.  The last of the two global grants was featured in the April 2019 Rotarian.  For a video made during the first global grant, and to meet the participants, click the image link below.  For more about the entire project, visit Bosniaglobalgrant.com.

Congratulations to our hard working World Community Service committee and to Chair Felicia Muftic who has spent countless hours on this project over the years!

Honorary Rotarian for Life: Darlene Mast

After supporting her husband Rotarian Steve Mast during his Club 31 Presidency in 2003-2004, Darlene put “Service Above Self” by filling the vacancy of her predecessor on a temporary basis as the Rotary Club of Denver and Denver Rotary Club Foundation Executive Director in 2004.  Little did she know at the time, this would become a 16-year long commitment!  Darlene fell in love with the mission of Rotary and the Rotarians she served.  Darlene always remained cool under pressure with a smile on her face and served a new Club and Foundation President every year (for a total of 33 Presidents in 16 years).  She became a wealth of historical knowledge to those she served, always informing her President’s what the Club has done in the past and stepping aside to let them make a decision for how to move forward.  There wasn’t a single President who didn’t call Darlene before accepting this honored position, to ensure she would still be with the Club to support them and help guide them from behind the scenes.  Darlene would say to every President, both Club and Foundation, that her main job was “to help make you look good”, and she sure did!

After many nights working late and many after-work happy hours, Darlene is retiring from the Rotary Club of Denver.  However, even in retirement Darlene can’t seem to step away from her passion for Rotary.  She will continue on a very limited basis as the Club and Foundation’s part-time accountant.  In honor of Darlene’s service to Rotary, Club 31 is awarding her an
“Honorary Rotarian for Life” membership status.  Darlene, you have made a bigger impact than anyone could have imagined during these past 16 years and for that, Club 31 will forever be in your debt.  THANK YOU, Darlene and Congratulations!

Here are just a few examples of Darlene’s Achievements and Service Above Self…

Perfect attendance for 16 years:

  • 688 all-Club lunch meetings
  • 160 club board meetings
  • 96 DRCF board meetings
  • The same number of executive committee meetings for each
  • 16 years of Membership committee and Programs committee meetings

Highlighted Contributions:

  • 1st big project: The Player sculpture installation and dedication at Coors Field
  • Served on the Branch Rickey award committee through 2014
  • Visited RI Headquarters in Chicago with Grant Wilkins, the DG and Club President
  • Relocation of the Polio Plus statue to CU Anschutz
  • Peach Sale originated during her first year as ED, and Darlene was always a top Rotarian seller of peach boxes
  • Moved the Rotary office twice
  • Instrumental in the Club Centennial project, book and celebration

Prior Recognition:

  • 2010 DKI Rotarian of the Year
  • 2013 Edwin A. Bemis Award for Best Club Communications
  • 2013-14 District Governor Discretionary Award
  • 2015 DRCF Legacy Society Charter Member
  • DRCF Silver Fellow
  • Paul Harris Fellow +1

Service Above Self:

  • Darlene attended every Rotarian’s funeral, plus retirement parties and other celebrations
  • The holiday bread baker for her Club boards and leadership
  • Darlene stepped up and became an accountant while remaining ED to help the Club save money
  • Last year for the first time in 16 years, used her full vacation time
  • And her final achievement, after hiring and managing three prior assistants, she found a true replacement and trained her before stepping down as our Executive Director

2019-2020 Rotarians of the Year!

At our Thursday Rotary Club meeting via Zoom on June 25, 2020, Club Rotarians came together for our annual Continuation of Leadership celebration with President Jim Johnston and to ring in the new year with incoming President Debbie Beasley!  As has been our tradition, we honored our Rotarians of the Year.  Congratulations and Thank YOU Denver Rotarians for your many accomplishments and hard work this past Rotary year!

 

Virgil Scott ~ ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2019-2020

Virgil Scott is this year’s very deserving recipient of the Club 31’s Rotarian of the Year Award!  Here is just a sampling of his strong and impressive contributions to  Denver Rotary.  His participation covers all aspects of Rotary’s five avenues of service…

  • Joined Denver Rotary March 15, 2011, with 14 years prior Rotary experience
  • Served on the Denver Rotary Club Foundation (DRCF) Board of Trustees 2013-2019
  • DRCF President 2016-17
  • DRCF Silver Fellow
  • DRCF Legacy Society Charter Member 2015
  • Chair of the DRCF Legacy Society
  • Co-Chair of DRCF 50th Anniversary Campaign
  • Paul Harris Fellow of The Rotary Foundation (TRF)
  • Served on TRF Support Committee & Peach Sale Committee

AND, Virgil has accomplished all of this since joining our Club only nine years ago!

 According to several of his nominators,

“I have had the distinct pleasure of serving with Virgil since he joined our Club nine years ago. During this time, I have gotten to know him well, have very much enjoyed working together and consider him to be a trusted friend and valued mentor.”

“As a DRCF President, Virgil’s message to our Club and its Foundation was Unity…both working together to have a positive impact on our community and our world.”

“About a year and half after joining our Club, he was asked to serve a six-year term on the DRCF Board of Trustees, bringing 30 years of CEO-level nonprofit foundation leadership experience, as well as an extensive history of volunteer board experience.”

“Was immediately asked to lead the Foundation’s Legacy Gift Committee, attempting what many have tried to do for years but didn’t get it done. This Rotarian did. Forming the DRCF Legacy Society in 2013, he almost single-handedly brought in 29 charter members.”

“Our Foundation has a good story to tell and Virgil did it so well, along with sharing their own inspiring personal life journey and that of our members. He leads by example with his continued generous financial support.”

“While most good Rotarians naturally put service above self, Virgil outdid himself this past year. The sheer amount of pro-bono time he spent connecting with, and clarifying the wishes of our Denver Rotary Club Foundation Legacy Society members would have cost the club tens of thousands of dollars had we not had him doing it for us. And with his usual low-key, quiet and behind-the-scenes demeanor he has bolstered the financial future of DRCF, not solely with the stroke of a check but with endless patience and dedication of time.”

“In various leadership roles, Virgil built an awareness of the Legacy Society. He was responsible for increasing the number of Legacy Society members over 60% during the past four years. He was also an essential part of the DRCF 50th Year Celebration campaign by tirelessly consulting with each Legacy Society member whereby they devoted $330,000 in Legacy Gifts to the Wilkins Family Fund Endowment and increased overall Legacy Gifts to $883,000.  His efforts have help to ensure DRCF is sustainable for the next 50 years.  Under Virgil’s leadership and his unwavering support of our Foundation continues, his impact far-reaching.”

“Trust and relationships have always been a part of his life. Personal and professional mix and mesh. With unsurpassed dedication and commitment, he brought his years of fundraising expertise, thoughtful leadership skills and vast experience to this important volunteer role.”

“Virgil is a kind, generous, good man, always making the time to send personal hand-written notes to our many members for a variety of reasons…and even Starbucks gift cards to us lucky ones!”

Rotary’s mission is to do good in the world…a group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our Club is filled with some pretty special people…we are all honored and privileged to know such a Rotarian.  Congratulations Virgil!  You make us proud and we are blessed to have you as a member of Denver Rotary!

 

TROY SZYMANSKI ~ NEW ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2019-20

This year Club 31 is pleased to honor Troy Szymanski as our New Rotarian of the Year for 2019-20!

 According to several of his nominators,

 “Troy is a great guy and quickly became engaged as evidenced by his great attendance.”

“He became very active in the evening happy hour meetings.”

“Very energetic with a can-do attitude!’

“Brought some needed young blood into the Club.”

“His first Club visit was exactly a year ago today at our Continuation of Leadership on the DAC rooftop…blended right in with an enthusiastic interest in learning more about our Club.”

“Rotary runs in his family!”

In just the past year, Troy…

  • Became a Paul Harris Fellow of The Rotary Foundation
  • Served as an Inspirational moment presenter
  • Participated in the Cherry Creek Clean Up before becoming a member
  • Joined the Membership Committee
  • Co-leading the Evening Group Happy Hour events
  • And get this….will be our new Club Secretary in 2020-21!

After joining Rotary in October of 2019, Troy has already shown a major commitment to our Club and to Rotary’s mission.  We are so fortunate to have such a committed and dedicated new Rotarian as a member of Club 31!  Congratulations Troy!  Thank you for making Club 31 your new Rotary home!  We look forward to serving alongside you for many years to come!

Pride-A-Tarian: PolioPlus Chair Peg Johnston

 

At the Saturday, February 8th PolioPlus fundraiser, one of our esteemed colleagues, Peg Johnston, 27-year Club 31 Rotarian, was awarded a Paul Harris bust for her tireless work on Rotary’s 35-year campaign to eradicate polio from the planet. This is but one of Peg’s many awards for her varied forms of exemplary service to Rotary. This bust was originally awarded to Rotarians Grant and Marlene Wilkins in 1997 at an Arizona district conference for their legendary polio eradication work.  This award will be a traveling award that Marlene, the Rotary Club of Denver and our District 5450 have determined will periodically be granted to a Rotarian in the district who exemplifies the dedication to polio eradication that Grant and Marlene demonstrated for us to follow.  Congratulations Peg and thank you for your continued work to eradicate Polio! 

 

COMMENTS FOR PAUL HARRIS POLIO AWARD | Saturday, February 8, 2020
Read by Greg Podd, Past RI Vice President
Written by Seth Patterson, Past President, Rotary Club of Denver

I have the distinct honor this afternoon of presenting an award to a Rotarian in our District who, other than Grant and Marlene Wilkins, has probably done as much or more than any other to eradicate polio.  But first, a little preface about Grant and Marlene.

As you may recall, on May 19, 2018, the day that my District Conference opened, our dear friend and inspiring Rotary leader, Grant Wilkins passed.  Grant was a champion of eradicating polio from the very beginning, having contracted polio on a business trip as a young businessman with a wife and three young children at home.  Although Grant’s throat muscles became paralyzed, he was blessed and after months of therapy, he recovered his ability to eat solid food and speak and he lived a blessed life for the next 67 years.  Unfortunately, although his wife Diane only visited Grant after he was released from the polio isolation ward, she contracted polio and within 24 hours became paralyzed from the neck down.  Diane spent two and a half years in an iron lung in the hospital and another eleven years at home with a portable chest respirator, where she was an amazingly cheerful and very involved parent.

Several months later while calling on a Denver customer, Grant was truly blessed when Marlene Siems became a part of his life.  Grant noticed Marlene’s ever-present smile, asked her out and after several months, on Grant’s 39th birthday, they married and enjoyed over 50 wonderful years of marriage that included many personal and Rotary adventures around the world.

Grant and Marlene’s Rotary work, particularly their legendary work to eradicate polio is well-known, so I will not repeat it here, but rather get on with my purpose of addressing you this afternoon.

During one of PDG Abbas Rajabi’s last visits with Grant, he gave him a Paul Harris bust that he and Marlene had received in 1997 from an Arizona Rotary District for his District Conference keynote address about Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio.  A Sedona Rotary Club produced the bronze casting for the Paul Harris bust often given to their Rotary keynote speakers.  Grant asked Abbas to use the bust to raise money for Polio Plus or honor a Rotarian for their extraordinary Polio Plus efforts.  After consulting with Marlene and the then leadership of Club 31, it was decided to award the bust, as a periodic traveling award, to a District 5450 Rotarian whose outstanding Polio Plus work is deserving of high recognition

The Rotarian who we will recognize today was a strong advocate along with Grant and Marlene in their constant efforts to eradicate polio from the planet and continues to be.  This 27-year Rotarian is highly accomplished in Rotary in many ways, including:

  • Supporting Rotary International (“RI”) and The Rotary Foundation (“TRF”) as a
    • Benefactor
    • Major Donor
    • Paul Harris Fellow and Society Member
    • White Hat Society Member
    • Recipient of the RI Service Award for a Polio-Free World
    • Recipient of TRF District Service Award for “outstanding service in promoting TRF and its goal of world understanding and peace”
  • In our District and this member’s Club and Club Foundation, offering further support as a:
    • Member of the Bequest Society
    • Club Foundation Gold Fellow
    • Club Rotarian of the Year
    • District Polio Chair from 2011 to 2015
    • Past Club Board Director (twice), past Chair of TRF Committee and others
    • Service on various Club committees, particularly Programs, Peach Sale, Membership and as the continuing Chair of the Club’s Polio Committee to name just a few
  • Lastly, and this fact will surely give away this member’s identity, this Rotarian Co-Chaired, with her son and the current President of the Rotary Club of Denver, a 91st birthday party for Grant with well over 100 people from our Rotary family on World Polio Day in 2017, which also raised over $175,000 for Polio Plus.

Yes, Peg Johnston, a 27-year member of the Rotary Club of Denver, is recognized today for her tireless work to eradicate polio.  Peg, please come up to accept this award.  As you walk up, it is my sincere hope that the importance of this award begins to fade soon, as we approach the final days of polio on our planet.

Congratulations World Community Service Team & Denver Rotarians!

Pictured: Cher Cruz, Christine Sparks, Rochelle Darling, Sue Davis-Hornby,
Club 31 Rotarians Bill Korstad & Ved Nanda, and Lakewood Foothills Rotary Club President Alan Harvey

Rotarians Bill Korstad and Ved Nanda are involved with improving water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in India.  Their recent water, sanitation and hygiene project (WASH) in India to bring toilets to a rural village where none existed, won our Denver Rotary Club the 2019 George K. Davis Water and Sanitation Award courtesy of the Lakewood Foothills Rotary Club and past Club 31 Rotarian Sue Davis-Hornby!

India, like much of the developing world, suffers a scarcity of facilities for disposal of human waste, a population unaware of safe hygiene practices or the need for them and a lack of clean water.  Insufficient water is a global issue which will eventually manifest itself in inter-state conflict.  An important aspect of these efforts is to create conditions that encourage local communities to properly maintain these facilities and develop similar solutions on their own.

The Davis award is presented to the Club who successfully completes what they judge as the best Rotary WASH project in the District 5450 that year.

Congratulations and THANK YOU to Bill, Ved and our World Community Service committee! 

 

World Community Service Honors Several Distinguished Members!

This year‘s most outstanding new member is John Finegan. 
John jumped in in his first year to become treasurer, as well as attend global grant training in the District.  Thanks for your early efforts John.


The hard luck project award went to Bill Img.
His Moringa leaf project in Zimbabwe ran into several hurtles.  Bill stuck with it to get the final equipment needed to make the project a success.


Greatest impact project this year went to Mac West. 
Mac comes through with projects every year and was awarded this year for his continuing efforts.


And the award for continuing service went to Mitch Benedict. 
Mitch has been on the committee for many years and is always a contributor both with projects and assisting in evaluating new projects from our Club as well as other Clubs.  Thanks for all your efforts Mitch.



CONGRATULATIONS!  CLUB 31 IS SO FORTUNATE TO CALL YOU “DENVER ROTARIANS”.   

2018-19 Rotarian and New Rotarian’s of the Year!

On Thursday evening, June 20th, Club 31 Rotarian’s and their spouses gathered over appetizers and cocktails in celebration of our 2018-2019 year with President Pam Adams and to ring in the new year with President Jim Johnston (2019-2020)!  We honored our Rotarians of the Year and enjoyed musical entertainment provided by the highly talented and accomplished Ian Campbell, our Communications Team VP. Congratulations and Thank YOU Denver Rotarian’s for your many accomplishments and hard work this past Rotary year!


MELLY KINNARD ~ ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2018-2019


(L to R: Last Year’s ROY Don Lewis, Melly Kinnard & President Pam Adams)

Melly Kinnard is this year’s recipient of the Club 31’s Rotarian of the Year Award for 2018-19.  Here is just a sampling of Melly’s strong and impressive engagement in Denver Rotary.  Her participation covers all aspects of Rotary’s five avenues of service…

  • Has been a High School Mentor for seven years;
  • Major supporter of every Club fundraiser;
  • Works in the kitchen at our annual Peach Sale breakfast;
  • Is a Major Donor of both Foundations;
  • Visits Rotary Club’s whenever traveling, both in the US and abroad;
  • Brings in popular speakers as a member of the Programs Committee;
  • Key participant with the Club and District Rotarians for Mental Health committee, and was instrumental in bringing in a high caliber speaker for the annual State of the State Luncheon;
  • Has sponsored six new members Active with the Evening Membership group;
  • Heavily involved in membership engagement and is the Chair of member retention, prospect outreach, and hosting new member dinners;
  • Received the 2018 District Governor’s Discretionary Award for support of the Disaster Relief effort for Hurricane Harvey;
  • Co-Sponsored our two New Rotarians of the Year!!

 AND, Melly has accomplished all of this since joining our Club only seven years ago!  There is nothing she can’t or hasn’t done!

 According to several of her nominators,

“As a Rotarian for more than 22 years and in three previous Clubs, seldom have I come across a Rotarian who is more passionate about our organization than this person. A self-directed ambassador for Denver Club 31, she was diligent in getting to know me and my profession so she could connect me with other Club members of similar professions/backgrounds.” 

“Passionate about growing our membership, she makes it a point to collect business cards from nearly every visitor to our Club and follow up with them to ensure they stay engaged enough to join the Club.”

“She is most certainly Rotarians for Mental Health’s favorite Rotarian!”

“She is incredibly generous with her time and dollars. She embodies Rotary in everything she does. She jumped right up and was one of the first to give to the Hurricane Relief Fund.”

“She is also extremely active in the community as Chair of Denver Health Newborns in Need 2013-present; Second Chance Center Board; Nathan Yip Foundation Gala Chair 2018-19…just to name a few. She was also just awarded Junior League of Denver’s Sustainer Star Award for her years of dedicated service and financial support since 1972.”

“This Rotarian is passionate about people.  It reflects in everyone and everything she touches. I have heard so many members say, “we need more of her in our Club”!  Think of all we could accomplish and what a joy it would be!”

“Rotary’s mission is to do good in the world…a group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  She exemplifies what it truly means to be a Rotarian…but she is no ordinary woman!”

Need we say more?  Melly enjoys being a Rotarian…engaging and selflessly giving with both her time and money, in both Rotary and numerous other non-profit organizations!  In fact, she will introduce herself as a “full time volunteer”, and the community couldn’t be luckier to have her.   Nor could our Club.

Congratulations Melly!
You make us proud and we too are blessed to have you as a member of Denver Rotary!



BRIAN SWEET & JEFF KLEINSCHMIDT ~ NEW ROTARIANS OF THE YEAR 2018-2019


(L to R: President Pam Adams, Sarah Kleinschmidt, Jeff Kleinschmidt,
Brian Sweet & Last Year’s NROY Colleen Cozad)

This year was a little different than most…we had so many strong and worthy candidates, that we have a tie!  Additionally, many of our nominators expressed the desire to award both of these “new outstanding members” with a joint award.  Our New Rotarians of the Year for 2018-19 are Brian Sweet and Jeff Kleinschmidt!  As business co-founders and friends, Brian and Jeff joined the Club together eight months ago and have already jumped in feet first, with no hesitation.

 According to several of their nominators,

 “I am Jeff Kleinschmidt’s sponsor, so I have watched him jump in and join the programs committee.  He is working hard to expand ideas and bring in good speakers.  Jeff also works on Project Cure.  He wants his sons to be community minded, so he brings them to every work opportunity like the Cherry Creek clean ups.”

“Brian has jumped in with Membership and worked very hard to be involved.  He has jumped at all opportunities to help in any way and has been great.   He is very kind, and I always see him sitting with different people and getting to know his fellow Rotarians.”

 “Brian and Jeff didn’t waste any time getting involved!  They were introduced to Rotary by a friend who is a mentor and adviser, and a member of the Rotary Club of Kansas City.  They represent the future of Denver Rotary….and are really nice guys!”

In just the past year, Jeff…

  • Became a sustaining contributor of both our Foundations;
  • Became actively involved in our Programs Committee;
  • Has directly contributed his time to volunteer with his sons, at our Cherry Creek Trail Clean Ups and Project CURE Sort Nights;
  • Between our lunches, volunteer projects and committee meetings, have 100% attendance;
  • And will be our Service Team Co-Vice President in 2019-2020!

In just the past year, Brian…

  • Became a Denver Rotary Club Foundation New Member Fellow;
  • Became actively involved in our Membership Team and prospective member outreach;
  • Between our lunches and many committee meetings, have 100% attendance;
  • And have made your commitment to be our incoming Board Secretary in 2019-2020!

After joining Rotary in October of 2018, both have already shown a major commitment to their Club and to Rotary’s mission.  We are so fortunate to have two of the warmest, hardworking and dedicated new Rotarians as members of Club 31!

Congratulations Brian and Jeff!
Thank you for making Club 31 your new Rotary home!  We look forward to serving alongside
you for many years to come!