Meeting Notes for October 24, 2018


Purple Pinkies were the order of the day for our meeting on World Polio Day, October 24, 2018. We were greeted by the hard working Purple Pinkie Committee which painted our pinkies purple in exchange for a donation to Polio Plus. The fun had a serious side – children vaccinated have pinkies painted purple to show that they were safe for the year. Our Club raised $1674.10 which, when matched 2:1 by the Gates Foundation, resulted in a donation to $5022.30. Thanks to all! [Click here for additional details and photos.]

The regular meeting began with an Inspiration by Shelley MacMillan, who also lead us in singing her poem Let Earth Be Polio Free sung to the tune of Let There Be Peace on Earth. President Greg then opened the meeting with thanks for The Usual Suspects and congratulations to Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week. He introduced guests, many of whom were here to observe World Polio Day, including
William Hampton, Kiwanis President
Donna Marvicsin, Clinical Associate Professor at UM School of Nursing
Jane Nickert, Director of Nursing at the Washtenaw County Health Department
John Fournier, Assistant City Administrator represeneting Mayor Christopher Taylor
Michelle Deatrick, Washtenaw County Commissioner.

President Greg requested nominations for two of the Club’s most prestigious awards. The Robert S. Northrup Humanitarian Award was established in 2018 to honor our member Rob Northrup. This award is only for people  – Rotarians or not – who work on the ground, hands on, not administrators. Click here to read about qualifications for award.

Nominations are also in order for our Club’s Distinguished Service Awards. These recognize individuals or organizations that contribute exceptional service to our community or the Club. Nominations for both should be addressed to John Ackenhusen:

Susan Froelich urged us to sign up for the District’s Foundation Celebration on November 3. Join fellow Rotarians, family and friends for a festive evening celebrating giving and the good works we do in District 6380 and across the globe. Enjoy networking with your fellow Rotarians as we celebrate giving. This promises to be an event you will not want to miss. Festivities begin at 6:00pm at the Eagle Crest Marriot, 1275 South Huron, Ypsilanti. Sign up on the District website: Tickets, at $65 per person USD, include heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

Karen Kerry and Art Holst shared the exciting progress of Fisher House Ann Arbor and the upcoming Stories of Service, our annual Veterans’ Day event.  Karen told us that $3.4 million of the $3.5 million needed has been raised or pledged, and that the VA has posted the position of the House Manager.  Ground breaking will be in Spring, 2019. Art Holst then previewed two of the Stories of Service that will be presented at the event on Monday, November 5.  They are stories of courage and dedication, certain to inspire and uplift.  The event is co-sponsored by Fisher House Michigan and Michigan Medicine.  Doors open for specially invited guests at 5:30pm and to the general public at 7:00pm. It is at Hill Auditorium and is free.  Be there to honor courageous service members who keep our nation safe.

Polio then became the topic of the day.

Washtenaw County Commissioner Michelle Deatrick presented a beautifully framed plaque proclaiming October 24, 2018 as World Polio Day in Washtenaw County.  She expressed admiration and thanks to Rotary for this long term, difficult project, and congratulations on how close (“This Close”) the world is to being polio free.  She recognized the county and city health departments for they work they do in encouraging public health in our community.  She told of her personal experience observing the devastating effects of polio during her Peace Corps assignment in Kenya.  She read a poem by Zilka Joseph, a polio victim, observing that her paralysis is an everyday challenge.

Assistant City Administrator John Fouriner presented the Club a certificate from Ann Arbor City Council proclaiming October 24, 2018, World Polio Day.

Notes from the Program

Norma Sarkar introduced our speaker, Elizabeth Smith Yeats (Liz). Liz is a third generation Rotarian, a member of the Detroit Club.  She served as District Governor in 2015 and is currently Public Information Coordinator for Zones 28 and 29.  She has participated in all the polio projects from on-the-ground vaccinations to fund raising.  Her very lively talk took us through the history of Rotary’s involvement with polio until today.

Polio is a story of patience from its first recognized outbreak in India in the 1940s.

There are some characteristics of polio that make it harder to eradicate then small pox, which the World Health Organization had conquered by 1979.  Small pox manifests with an outbreak of sores but polio first appears as paralysis.  By then, the virus has been incubating for months.  Unsanitary living conditions provide hosts for the virus.  For every one person paralyzed, 200 are incubating the virus in their digestive tracts.

Rotary Clubs began  involvement in the 1970s by sending vaccines to different countries but didn’t make much headway except in those locations. By 1985 when the Saban oral vaccine was developed  officials realized that all children had to be vaccinated at one time to have hope of stamping out the disease.  A lesson was taken from Fidel Castro, who had conquered polio in Cuba with a relentless long term drive to vaccinate all kids.  Rotary International took over the campaign with the participation of the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization, and then the very generous help of the Gates Foundation and others.  The effort has taken 30+ years and more than 2.5 billion people have been vaccinated.  Rotary has provided “a roadmap for scaling the impossible”, in Liz’s words, and established an invaluable reputation for integrity. Only 20 cases were reported last year.  No reports of cases for three years is the requirement to determine this scourge is stamped out. That we are “This Close” is a testament to the dedication of thousands of Rotarians and partners around the world.

President Greg closed the meeting with a quote from Ghandi:  “Strength does not come from physical capability.  It comes from an indomitable will.”