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

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!