Service Above Self
Reading is Fundamental
“To awaken hope in the hearts of the nation’s children, to have a hand in creating responsible men and women for the future—surely this is the brightest gift we can offer our country.”
—Margaret C. McNamara, RIF Founder
According to the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) organization, nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the United States own no books.
RIF is our nation’s largest nonprofit children’s literacy organization. The Rotary Club of Wichita is a long-time RIF partner. Through RIF we prepare and motivate children to read by purchasing and delivering books to those children and families who need them the most. This year our club will donate approximately 24,000 books to elementary school age children in 21 USD 259 Title I schools and 14 Child Start schools. Volunteers visit the schools two times a year (once each in the spring and fall) to read to the children and deliver the books which the children have personally selected.
The mission embraced by RIF is to motivate children to have a lifelong, life-changing love of reading. The volunteers provide inspiration and impart an appreciation for literacy when they visit the classroom aspiring to ignite a hunger for knowledge and a passion for learning.
USA Dictionary Project
The Rotary Club of Wichita participates in the USA Dictionary Project annually, which allows us to provide a hardback Scholastic Dictionary to each third grader in our local Title I schools in School District 259. This year we will distribute more than 2,600 dictionaries.
The dictionaries are ordered after school starts in September with distribution occurring in December or January. Volunteers deliver the dictionaries to the classroom and spend some time with the children explaining the purpose of, and how to use, a dictionary.
The children are thrilled to receive their very own personal dictionary. For many, this is the first and only book they have to call their own. The dictionaries serve as teaching aids for the school. With individual dictionaries, teachers now have greater opportunity for teaching word mechanics.
Volunteers enjoy the interaction with the third graders. Once they have distributed to a classroom they want to participate every year.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. According to Habitat for Humanity International, in the United States alone, 95 million people have housing problems, including overcrowding, poor quality shelter and homelessness.
The Rotary Club of Wichita partners with the local Habitat organization to fund and actively participate in the construction of a Habitat house every other year for a family or individuals in need. Volunteers donate their time over a two week period which includes all phases of the construction process. The Wichita Rotary Charitable Fund donates annually to ensure a house is built every other year.
In 2015, our club collaborated to build our seventh house in Wichita from September 29 to October 10. The home will be dedicated and turned over to the new owner in December.
The Salvation Army has counted on the Rotary Club of Wichita for support throughout the years. The traditional red kettle is a familiar part of the Christmas scene in Wichita, as are the many volunteers from our club who turn out in all kinds of weather to “ring the bell.” In addition, each year in December, a collection is taken up at a Monday meeting for the Salvation Army.
Rotarians have been more than generous collecting tens of thousands of dollars to go towards Christmas dinners, clothing and toys for families in need during the holidays.
Red Cross Blood Drive
Our club partners with the American Red Cross annually, sometimes twice a year, to sponsor a blood drive. Typically members donate around 22 pints of blood over a two-day period. Members are encouraged to host a blood drive at their business, respond to critical shortages, or donate blood or platelets on a regular basis.
Our club continues to support the Interact Club of Wichita East High School. These are highly motivated young people with a sincere desire to serve. The club is involved in numerous fund-raising projects and community service activities. A concerted effort is underway to directly involve the Interact students with many of our club’s community service projects, including the distribution of Scholastic Children’s Dictionaries to all third grade students in USD 259 Title I schools.
Junior Achievement Worldwide (JA) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades K-12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy through experimental, hands-on programs. JA empowers young people to own their economic destinies by teaching them about money management and how business works.
The Rotary Club of Wichita is a supporter of JA. During the spring school semester (2016), our club will fund and provide volunteers to teach JA’s Economic Education Programs at a local school. We have committed 20 volunteers. Each volunteer can expect to visit the classroom 5 times for 30-45 minutes each visit.
In 2011, the Rotary Club of Wichita became the proud sponsor of the Rotaract Club of Wichita. Rotaract stands for “Rotary in Action” and is a service, leadership and community service organization for young men and women ages 18-30. Rotaract focuses on the development of young adults as leaders in their communities and workplaces. Clubs take part in both local service projects and international service projects, in a global effort to bring peace and international understanding to the world.
The new Rotaract club brought energy and enthusiasm to our club while we teamed to tackle a Clean Water Project which provided clean water equipment to 28 schools in Malvan, India. In 2015-2016, Rotaract is participating in the Rotary club’s RIF program.
Each year our club solicits high school seniors interested in exploring specific professions and career paths. Each student is matched with a Rotarian who gives the student an opportunity to shadow him/her for a day. The students are invited to attend a Rotary luncheon meeting and to hear a speaker on a topic related to higher education and career development. In October our club hosted 30 students with professional interests ranging from accounting and business to engineering and medicine.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)
Rotary Youth Leadership (RYLA) is Rotary’s leadership training program for young people. RYLA emphasizes leadership, citizenship, and personal growth, and aims to:
- Demonstrate Rotary’s respect and concern for youth
- Provide an effective training experience for selected youth and potential leaders
- Encourage leadership of youth by youth
- Recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities
Our club awards scholarships to two high school students to attend the Rotary Leadership Camp held at the Winfield campus of Southwestern College for one week in May.
If you know of any young people who might be interested in this opportunity for the coming year (May, 2016), please contact the Rotary Office at 316-262-4375 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Family members of Rotarians are eligible.
Clean Water Projects
For millions of people throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America, getting clean water is a daily struggle. In fact, more than 80% of all sickness in the world is attributed to unsafe water. Nearly 1 billion people are without access to improved water sources and every 8 seconds, a child dies because of this crisis. But we can change that. The Rotary Club of Wichita supports multiple clean water projects to provide clean water and sanitation to literally save lives.
Since 2000, the Rotary Club of Wichita has supported the small community in north Haiti of Lambert with various projects and regular visits. In order to impact as many Haitians as possible, we partner with Global Faith in Action and ASAP Haiti. Recent projects include providing dry latrines, building a new Computer Technology Center (solar-powered), funding a doctor for and refurbishing Lambert’s medical clinic, and renovating and painting the school. Visit our newsroom for a report after our visit in 2014.