Gaithersburg Creative Writers

American Flags and More

Kenneth D. Weiss, July 2016

 American flags! Have you seen the display of hundreds on the lawn at Bohrer Park for Memorial Day Weekend? The Rotary clubs of Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village place them there every year. The flags are sponsored by individuals and organizations to honor their heroes, and the money raised funds Rotary service activities.

A few months ago, Reyna Avila was a senior in Gaithersburg High School. She applied for a Rotary scholarship, was interviewed, and was awarded $2,000 toward tuition at a university of her choice. Most Rotary clubs have scholarship programs, and so do the Rotary districts and Rotary International. There are also Rotary Peace Fellowships at universities in the USA and in five other countries.

Many people in our area need help including food and transportation to medical appointments. Gaithersburg Help and Nourish Now are two of the local organizations that receive assistance from Rotary clubs, and Rotarians hold key positions in both of them.

In December, a Rotary “Santa” will visit the Wilson Health Care Center of Asbury Methodist Village and offer gifts of large Navel oranges. Every year for too many years to count, Rotarians have visited that building and have led in singing holiday songs in the Kindley Assisted Living Building.

A few months ago, flood waters covered a significant part of West Virginia. A Rotary program named Disaster Aid USA provided emergency shelters and other equipment for families that were left homeless. Clubs in our area contributed money to Disaster Aid to help ease the suffering from losing homes and possessions.

Also, Rotary clubs and their foundations participate in service projects overseas.  The Gaithersburg Rotary Foundation recently gave funds to the Mpambara-Cox Foundation to help finance school gardens in Uganda. These are vital for teaching children about agriculture and providing vegetables for their school lunches. Where no lunches are provided, some children have to go without and others go home to eat. Those who go home often do not return because the distance is too large and they lack transportation. The Mpambara-Cox Foundation is headquartered in northern Uganda and in Derwood, Maryland.

The Rotary Club of Gaithersburg was founded in Olde Towne in 1966 and meets for lunch in the Holiday Inn on Montgomery Village Avenue.  It participated in forming a similar club in Montgomery Village, which meets for breakfast on Wednesdays.

Linda Hanson, Immediate Past President of the Rotary Club of Gaithersburg, said “Rotary is a wonderful organization. It provides networking, enjoyment, self development, and opportunities to be of service both AT HOME and overseas.” Archie Avedesian, who has been a Rotarian for the past 50 years, said “There is simply no other organization that does so much good in so many parts of the world.”

Rotary clubs worldwide belong to districts, districts to zones and zones to Rotary International, whose headquarters is in Evanston, Illinois. It oversees more than 3.2 million Rotarians in some 23,000 clubs in 133 countries. There are few parts of the world that have not been touched by this organization.

Rotary, now more than 100 years old, has a seat in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Its main focus for the past 30 years has been on eliminating polio from the earth. With cooperation by Rotary, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States Government and the United Nations, this goal is near and could be met this year. In addition, the Rotary Foundation funds projects in six areas of activity: (1) Peace and conflict prevention/resolution, (2) Disease prevention and treatment, (3) Water and sanitation, (4) Maternal and child health, (5) Basic education and literacy and (6) Economic and community development.

There is A GREAT DEAL OF information about Rotary on the Internet at GaithersburgRotary.org (a local club), Rotary7620.org (the district to which that club belongs) and Rotary.org, the international headquarters in Illinois. Rotary clubs welcome visitors to their meetings and other events.

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