During my year as President, I was very proud how all the local clubs in Washtenaw county came together to respond to the Gates Foundation matching grant for Polio Plus in which every club had to pony up $2500, in addition to their regular obligations to TRF and RI. Not a stretch for us, but much more so for the smaller clubs.
A new engagement that year was a bonding of the various club presidents with the help of two ADG’s, one of whom was Ingrid Sheldon (Ingrid was our President for 2006-2007; and Mayor of Ann Arbor from 1993-2000). We would have lunch once a month at Paesano’s private dining room and discuss our activities and challenges. When the matching grant requirements were known, the eight presidents decided to join forces; and our Board approved.
It was decided to have a concert fundraiser at the new Skyline High School auditorium which was available for community events. The local group, Three Men and a Tenor, was hired and the fundraising began. Needless to say, The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor led the way in getting corporate donations and selling tickets. All of the hospitals pitched in, and I was surprised to learn that the heads of two local hospitals had contracted polio as kids before the Salk vaccine was introduced. As always, Joe Fitzsimmons (our President in 2003-2004) was a critical fundraising resource. Whether selling tickets or working on concert details, Joann Pierson and Andrea Darden were important assets and achieved great results. Because of our club’s leadership, I had the honor to be the Master of Ceremonies at the concert.
When all was said and done, we raised over $35,000, and after expenses, paid all the local clubs’ assessments, plus $8,000, to TRF for Polio Plus. This was in addition to our regular Golf and Tennis Outing which didn’t loose a beat. It was a great warmup for our work on the Universal Access Playground.
Past President Jim Cook was our President in 2008-2009 (the Rotary International President was Dong Kurn Lee, from Seoul, South Korea, and the theme was: Make Dreams Real).