District 5500 News: December 2019
Governor Ellie's Message...

After seeing the movie ‘Frozen 2’ my 7 year-old granddaughter, Ashlynne, asked me, “ What would you like for Christmas?”

I immediately replied, “Peace.”

Ashlynne then asked, “Do you mean World Peace?” I wondered, "Was peace a recent discussion in her first grade class?"

Yes,” I replied. 

Then I told her how Peace is so important in Rotary and that we must all continue to pursue Peace. Ashlynne is familiar with Rotary and has accompanied me to Rotary activities, not by her choice but sometimes when Grandma is on child care duty there’s no other option.

This conversation reminded me of one of the meetings I attended regarding the Rotary Peace Centers Major Gifts Initiative with 14 other Rotarians from all over the world.  General Secretary John Hewko spoke at the beginning of the meeting and said: "No subject is more appropriate than Peace. Whether it's Peace in our neighborhood or Peace within countries or Peace between countries...creating Peace and Goodwill are part of our DNA and we should be a leader in Peace just as we are in Polio Eradication." 

The late RI President-Elect, Sam Owori, had shared his thoughts at the time in relation to polio: "In talking about Polio, if we had gone to Rotarians thirty years ago and told them that they needed to raise 1.5 billion dollars, immunize 2.5 billion children and that it would take us thirty years to do it, would we have done it? The answer would have been most likely no, thinking we're just not up to the challenge." 

Jennifer Jones, PRID and current Board Trustee of TRF, shared her belief with us, “Even though creating World Peace may seem out of our realm of possibilities, we need to think big and be big dreamers and lay claim that we're making a dent in this area. We have a critical mass right now of over one thousand Peace Fellow graduates who are getting into all areas of our globe, working on peace building and conflict resolution in the trenches, in the boardroom and in the classroom. Let's own creating World Peace.”

There are hundreds of Peacebuilder Clubs in Rotary and my wish is for District 5500 to have Peacebuilder clubs. All it takes is a commitment to become one and following simple steps. Another wish would be the installation and dedication of Peace Poles throughout our 12 Regions, establishing our commitment to Peace. Yes, let’s own creating Peace.  

This holiday season, I wish for you and your families, Goodwill and Peace.

By the way, Ashlynne said she would like Star Wars Legos and WORLD PEACE for Christmas!

Ride To End Polio Update
Natasha Wrae, RTEP Chair
Epic weather for an epic year!  It simply could not be more perfect for the over 115 Rotarian Riders who took to El Tour de Tucson for The Rotary Ride to End Polio.  We were so well represented that Peter Huisking from Sierra Vista Sunrise told me that he passed a rider who hollered to him, “Wow, you Rotarians are everywhere.....great representation!.” 
Considering we started out the year wondering if El Tour de Tucson was even going to be a reality, the tremendous effort and tenacity of the Perimeter Bicycling Board and dedicated staff lead by Interim CEO Charlene Grabowski exceeded expectations. You Rotarians made a difference too! Through District 5500’s Keep the Ride Alive Campaign, we raised $20,000 to be a Presenting Sponsor of El Tour de Tucson 2019.  That money helped keep El Tour going.  El Tour went from being on the chopping block of the County Supervisors to a formal Pima County Proclamation declaring the week before Thanksgiving "El Tour de Tucson Week."  Amazing! 
Did you know that District 5500’s Ride To End Polio is the largest PolioPlus fundraiser in the world?  The fundraising goal for this year’s RTEP is $10M including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2-for-1 match.  Just because The Ride is over doesn’t mean you need to stop fundraising.  Ideally, El Tour would like our totals by December 2nd.  However, with Thanksgiving week and some Indoor Rides still being done, realistically we will not have a grand total for several weeks.  So keep getting those pledges.  
This was a momentous year on so many levels.  However, the greatest highlight was honoring Bill and Melinda Gates as the El Tour Dedication Recipients.  The ceremonial presentation of the Dedication Recipient Award at the Friday night Rotary Pre-Ride Dinner was accepted by Gates Foundation Representative, Corey Peak.  We also had the honor of showing a short video of Bill Gates personally thanking Rotary for all we have done in the effort to eradicate Polio.  Corey and his lovely wife, Isabella, rode in El Tour wearing Rotary swag and have fallen in love with Tucson and all of you so much that they hope to join us for next year’s El Tour.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the Keep the Ride Alive Campaign, everyone who supported and helped on the RTEP Committee. The amazing Pre-Ride dinner committee was lead by Wendy Hobbs, Charlotte Harris and her Indoor RTEP, Fundraising Chair Jim Nook. Thanks to the Cycling2Serve Fellowship for their $1,000 donation to the Rotary Finish Line Booth. Thanks to RI President’s Rep Craig Maxey for the gorgeous RTEP t-shirts we ordered from his company, Target Business Services. Thanks to Susan Fitzgerald for the RTEP water bottles from her company Wild Horse Productions. Thanks for the generous money and water donations from the Tucson Club. Thanks to DGE Diane Ventura Goodyear and her husband Gordon for their countless hours of support and guidance. Thanks to the RI staff for flying out and being a part of the festivities and Ride. Thanks to Courtney Drew for emceeing the Pre-Ride Dinner. Finally, a Big Thank Youto all of you who made this an amazing and successful District-wide, record-breaking event.
Don't Forget: The Indoor Ride
Charlotte Harris
A not well known aspect of The Ride to End Polio are the Indoor Rides that take place each year.  This year 17 Clubs and 3 Districts registered from Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, California and Calgary, Canada. Twelve of the 17 club teams have reported a total of 162 riders and raised to date $24,174 with more anticipated.  One District has reported 12 riders, raising $1,050.  Others will report by the end of the week when pledges have been fulfilled
The Preposition Matters: "Through" not "To"
Kirk Reed, PDG
When we make our contributions to The Rotary Foundation, we don't give TO the Foundation. We give THROUGH our amazing Foundation, which uses almost all of what we give, so that lives can be changed. Very little goes for administrative expense -- in contrast to most other charitable organizations.
We just now received a letter from RI's Annual Giving Officer, congratulating us for our hard work and generosity in the 2018-2019 Rotary year. (See the article below for details) Our district, the smallest by far in our Zone (the Western United States), gave $487,949 last year through the Foundation, almost half a million dollars. This was one of our best years ever, thanks to each of you!
Rotary Foundation Giving Report 2018-2019
The Clubs in our District are all very generous and we thank you and congratulate you for your contributions this past year that totaled almost ½ million dollars per PDG Kirk Reed’s report.  You make the world a better place through your generosity and passion for positive change in communities here and around the world. You make dreams come true.
Each year The Rotary Foundation recognizes those Clubs in each District that qualify in one or more of the four categories listed below. Each club will receive recognition banners, congratulatory letters or certificates of appreciation.
The Chief Philanthropy Officer of The Rotary Foundation, Eric Schmelling, sends his congratulations to the Clubs in District 5500 that qualified in Rotary Year 2018-2019 for the following:
  • Top Three (3) Per Capita Annual Giving: For the three clubs that give the most, per capita, to the Annual Fund. (requires a minimum of $50 per capita).   
#1 Valle Verde Rotary Club, $644.84 Per Capita
#2 Catalina (Tucson) Rotary Club, $533.56 Per Capita
#3 Marana Rotary Club, $469.65 Per Capita
  • Every Rotarian, Every Year Club: For clubs that achieved a minimum Annual Fund contribution of $100 per capita during the Rotary year, with every dues paying member contributing at least $25 to the Annual Fund. One of only 3400 clubs worldwide attain status as an EREY Club. District 5500 EREY Clubs include: Valley Verde Rotary, Coolidge Rotary, Gila Bend Rotary, Marana Dove Mountain Rotary, Rincon Rotary, Sierra Vista Sunrise Rotary, Sierra Vista West Rotary, Casas Adobes Rotary, Willcox Rotary, Yuma Rotary and Yuma Sunrise Rotary.
  • 100% Foundation Giving Club: For clubs that achieve an average of $100 in per capita giving and 100% participation, with every dues-paying member contributing at least $25 to any or all of the following during the Rotary year: Annual Fund, PolioPlus Fund, approved global grants, or Endowment Fund. One of only 4,000 clubs worldwide become a 100% Foundation Giving Club.  100% TRF Giving Clubs include: Valley Verde Rotary, Casa Grande Rotary, Coolidge Rotary, Gila Bend Rotary, Marana Dove Mountain Rotary, Rincon Rotary, Sierra Vista Rotary, Sierra Vista Sunrise Rotary, Sierra Vista West Rotary, Casas Adobes Rotary, Willcox Rotary, Yuma Rotary, Yuma Sunrise Rotary. 
  • End Polio Now: Countdown to History Campaign Certificate of Appreciation: For clubs that contributed at least $1500 to Rotary’s polio eradication efforts. End Polio Now Clubs include: Casa Grande Rotary, Catalina (Tucson) Rotary, Oro Valley Rotary, Rincon Rotary, SaddleBrooke Rotary, Sierra Vista Rotary, Sierra Vista Sunrise Rotary, Tubac Rotary, Tucson Rotary, Casa Adobes Rotary, Tucson Sunrise Rotary, Valle Verde Rotary, Yuma Rotary, Yuma North End Rotary, Yuma Sunrise Rotary.
Rotary Peace Pole Project - May Peace Prevail on Earth
Joe Daniszweski
Rotary Clubs all over District 5500 are making plans to plant their Rotary Peace Poles.
Rotarians will be promoting the universal message of Peace throughout Southern Arizona.
Here are some tips on how to start this project:
  1. Your Peace Poles may be purchased or hand-crafted locally, displaying the languages that are meaningful to your Rotary Club.
  2. Each Peace Pole should be dedicated in a ceremony that can commemorate a special occasion.
  3. Clubs may brainstorm locations to plant their Peace Pole: public parks, town/ciy centers, synagogues, churches, schools and libraries.
  4. You may purchase your Peace Pole by clicking Prices start at $100. DG Ellie has committed to help your club purchase a Peace Pole with a $50 donation from the district.
Please don't hesitate to contact our District Peace Project Chair, Joe Daniszewski for assistance at 520-245-4350 or email him at
Membership Update
Save the date!
On December 12 at 1:00 p.m., District Membership Chair Joyce Finkelstein will be hosting a “Zoom Meeting” for Club Membership Chairs, Club Presidents, AGs and anyone else interested in retention strategies. Anyone who would like to be part of the meeting is welcome to join in.
Here is a taste…
From DGE Diane Ventura-Goodyear (Old Pueblo)
  • Ask members to give a “Vocational Presentation” about themselves and their business.   Just because they may have been in the club for many years, it doesn't mean that everyone knows who they are or what they do.
 If you’d like to participate, please contact Joyce at to receive instructions to connect via Zoom.  
RYLA is Coming Soon!
  • Jr Counselors and Adult Advisors have been chosen and notified. If your Club’s candidates were not selected, you will get a refund after RYLA. Training for both is Sunday, January 12 from 8:00-3:00 in Tucson. 
  • Look for an email sent to your Delegates the 1st week of Dec welcoming them to RYLA and giving information on what to bring, bus schedules, etc. Clubs are being copied on the email; be sure your Delegates receive the information and that their parents have also seen the information.
  • Find out if your Delegates need help with supplies (e.g. sleeping bags) or warm clothing to attend RYLA. If so, ask club members if they can loan these items.
  • We will be inviting delegates, their parents, JCs, Adult Advisors, Club Presidents and RYLA POCs to join a private Facebook page where we will post updated information on RYLA. Parents will be able to check in during RYLA to see photos of what is going on!
Barbara Harrison
District 5500 RYLA Chair / 520.250.3437
Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona in The Arizona Daily Star
Click here to read the article.
News from The Clubs....
Tucson Kino Rotary Character Awards
On November 15, seven area high school students 
were honored with Character Awards presented to them, their families and representatives from the faculties of their schools. Students are nominated by school administrators, counselors, teachers or other students.
The Tucson Kino Rotary Club established the Spring and Fall Character Awards in 2011 to honor high school students who serve as role models in their schools and in society via service to their community.
This fall, the Awardees were: 
  • Sammy Bedoy, Star Academic High School
  • Brooke Atchison, Desert View High School
  • Sebastian Urrea, Sunnyside High School
  • Joshua Tawyesva-Ortiz, Baboquivari High School
  • Nestor Ibarra, Pueblo Magnet High School
  • Mireya Trujillo, PPEP TEC High School
  • Meralys Del Valle Martinez, Alta Vista High School
Each student received a Certificate of Recognition and a $50 gift card. In addition, Tucson Kino Rotary will donate $25 to a charity chosen by each student. 
Learn more about Tucson Kino Rotary at
Rio Rico Rotary Club Receives Local Press Coverage
Click here to read the article.
Russell Hampton
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