The 45 Rotary clubs of Rotary International’s District 5710 (Including Lawrence Central Rotary) have come together to support Heart to Heart International’s disaster relief efforts in Texas and Florida.
Immediately after Hurricane Harvey devastated the gulf coast of Texas with over 51 inches of rain, followed by the damage caused in Florida by Hurricane Irma, Rotarians opened their hearts and checkbooks to help. Rotary clubs have been involved with the Lenexa-based Heart to Heart International (HHI) since its inception in 1992. Many of their founders and some of their board members are Rotarians so there is a natural connection and interest in supporting their mission.
Initially, 5710’s District Governor Adam Ehlert asked that each of the 2400 Rotarians in the District give at least $5.00 which was matched with District funds. Ehlert said, “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of Rotarians in our District.” “To date, over $38,293 has been collected and an additional significant amount is given directly through the Heart to Heart’s website”. “Rotary International is the world’s most significant service organization, but we are not a relief agency. Heart to Heart is, and it’s our privilege to support them,” added Ehlert.
Rotarians have also been involved in assembling and packing hygiene kits for distribution to those involved in both disasters. Nearly 30,000 kits have been distributed in the affected areas and the need continues. In Houston, HHI plans on providing medical care for the next two to three months until regular providers are able to reopen their own clinics. Some of the HHI medical volunteers are on their second tour following a short break at home. These services are provided at no cost to patients.
Likewise, in Florida, HHI is the only organization providing emergency medical care to residents and responders in the area of Big Pine Key.
Rotarians and other volunteers collected donations at a recent T-Bones baseball game series at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Baseball fans including comedian Bill Murry (co-owner of the visiting St. Paul Saints) contributed to the effort. Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self”, is exemplified by HHI’s, Ex. Director of Disaster Response, Sue Mangicaro, whose own condo in Naples, Fla. was flooded while she had responded to the Texas disaster. According to Jim Mitchum, HHI CEO, “She has not yet taken time to go home and deal with her own loss; instead continuing to lead our medical response on the Florida Keys.”
The District 5710 has 45 Clubs throughout Northeast Kansas, with some 2400 members. Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work impacts people at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.