An article from the Director of Annual Giving at The Rotary Foundation (Submitted for her Rotary District 6440's Newsletter.)
"There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control."
-Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D. (1924-1998) Professor, Author of "Love," and, Paul Harris Fellow (1994)

When disasters strike, especially at the magnitude of the Haiti Earthquake, it is our first instinct as Rotarians to want to do good in the world and help those in need. However, when I ask Rotarians if they could drop everything, leave their families and businesses and go to Haiti to work on the relief effort for the next 30, 60, or 90 days, most sadly reply, "no."
The reason is that Rotary is not equipped to be a "first responder" organization. Rotary does not have thousands of employees and volunteers to deploy on a moments notice to a disaster site nor does it have the warehouses or transport vehicles needed to store critical supplies and deliver them to the disaster site.
Thus, we must defer "disaster relief" efforts to the first responders who do it best: the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Mercy Corps, World Relief, and a sundry of other organizations like Shelter Box. They have the infrastructure to help, NOW.
But Rotary has something special that most first responders don't have – Rotarians! While the first responders are busy providing disaster relief assistance in the short-term, Rotarians across the world and in Haiti's District 7020 are already assessing ways to help the Haitian people in the long-term "disaster recovery" process.
Since 1978, Rotarians have been actively working together to meet critical needs in Haiti by participating in over 250 Rotary Foundation Matching Grant projects. Rotary's disaster recovery efforts are sure to help survivors get their lives back on track by drilling clean water wells, rebuilding sanitation systems, establishing new schools and medical clinics, developing vital food sources, restoring economic development, and more -- all things that Rotarians do best and will continue to do long after the other organizations have left Haiti.
It is of great advantage to have fellow Rotarians living and working amidst the ruins of Haiti who can best identify the areas of greatest need and tell the rest of us how we can be the most effective in the assistance we provide. They will be there to receive our grant monies, our supplies, and will make sure that our contributions are used for the purpose and projects for which they were intended.
District 6440 is providing $50,000 in Rotary Foundation District Designated Funds (DDF) to match club contributions at $1,000 to purchase Shelter Boxes for Haiti in the short-term. However, let us not forget the Haitian people who will continue to need us most in the next three, five, 10 years and beyond.
Contribute now to The Rotary Foundation's Annual Programs Fund to create more DDF funds that can be used to develop future humanitarian Matching Grant projects for Haiti. It's the way we Rotarians respond to disasters, it's the way we remember, it's the way we never forget those in need. Learn more at
It's up to you to get involved, stay involved. Over that, you have complete control. Share the "Love," like Leo Buscaglia! Support your Rotary Foundation. The Future of Rotary is in Your Hands.
Roylene W. Gallas Director of Annual Giving, The Rotary Foundation Rotary Club of Arlington Heights Sunrise