Des Moines Rotary-- The little club with a big heart

(Editor's Note: There are so many great service clubs in the Highline area that do good deeds, it is difficult to single out just one for its achievements. But the 34 members of the Des Moines Rotary Club are so proud of what they've accomplished we agreed to let them brag a little bit in this story.)

Does size matter?
Sure, in some cases. If you are a Sumo wrestler, for example, you want to bring as much weight to the ring as possible.

But the 34-member Rotary Club of Des Moines-slightly smaller than the average Rotary Club and much smaller than nearly all other service clubs in surrounding communities-- takes on projects with worldwide significance, in spite of its small size.

"I think of us as 'The little club with a big heart'," says 2010-2011club president Al Isaac. "Every club member is challenged to live up to the club's mission, which we define as doing all we can to make our community and the world a better place to live, learn, work and play."

The Des Moines club raises about $50,000 each year through community fund raising events. The club augments this by partnering with other Rotary clubs in District 5030 and around the world, and then adds countless volunteer hours to the mix to produce a list of accomplishments that is impressive by any standard.
The club seeds its international service work with about $20,000 annually from its operating budget. The money is generated through the club's own fund rising efforts, such as its annual Wine Festival, held each March.

Here are some examples of what the club has achieved with that money:
International Projects

The club:
* ...added money to the dollars raised by the club-sponsored Rotary Interact Club at a local high school to establish a pool of funds for microcredit loans. These small, revolving loans launch small businesses in underdeveloped countries.
* ...bought three ShelterBoxes, which can supply an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless as a result of a man-made or natural disaster. The Des Moines Rotary ShelterBoxes were deployed to El Salvador after hurricane Ida, and to Haiti after that country's devastating earthquake.
* ...bought enough point-of-use Lifestraws, to provide safe, filtered drinking water for 154 people for a year.
* ...partnered with District 5030 Rotary Clubs in Bellevue, Renton and Kirkland and with Rotary Clubs in Pokhara Fishtail and Itahari, Nepal on a wheelchair manufacturing project. The wheelchairs are made by people with disability in Nepal, adding an employment benefit to the project. The Des Moines club furnished $1,500 and through Rotary International's matching grant formula more than $27,000 has been secured. That's enough to build 200 wheelchairs.
* ...supported the Seattle-South African Scholarship Foundation, which was conceived and launched by a group of students at Lakeside high school near Seattle and since expanded to two other schools in the area. This youth organization raised $8,000 to offer 12 scholarships to students in South Africa.
* ...partnered with the Rotary Club of Bagmati, Nepal to promote equal educational opportunities for children with disability in India. Through Rotary International's matching grants the Des Moines Rotary Club's $3,450 contribution has grown to more than $15,000.
* ...partnered with the Federal Way Rotary Club in District 5030 to purchase and install solar panels that are now powering pumps to move clean water from distant wells to villages in northern Ghana.
* ...partnered with the Rotary Club of La Molina Vieja, Peru to pilot low-cost, low-maintenance biosand water filters in a section of Lima.
* ...supported the club-sponsored Rotary Interact Club at a local high school to help them send boxes of toys and school supplies to children in Nairobi, along with money to make furniture for preschoolers. The Interact Club also sent $250 which they had raised on their own.
* ...partnered with several Rotary Clubs and other organizations to build a new health center in Siclong, the Philippines. Des Moines Rotarian Dr. Rolly Mupas and his wife Thelma, also a physician, created Medal Charitable Trust, U. S. A. in support of the 1200 square foot health center. They worked with the Barangay Council of Siclong, Laur, Nueva Ecija to create the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Health Center. Additional partnerships with the Rotary Club of Cabanatuan City East funded purchase of medical equipment for the health center. The partnership with the Barangay Council of Siclong funded purchase of building materials. Contributions from the Des Moines Rotary Club will also be used to purchase equipment, and additional funds will be placed in the trust for unforeseen expenses related to the clinic. Drs. Thelma and Rolly Mupas personally delivered equipment and funds and attended the opening of the Health Center on February 6.
* ...donated $1,000 for costs to deliver a 16-passenger bus to a girl's orphanage in Zagazig, Egypt. The bus will allow the girls to safely attend school and to explore other training experiences.

Local Projects
Rotary Club members show up wherever there's "good work" that needs to be done in the Des Moines community. Some examples:
* A Rotary-managed Backpack Program for the Des Moines Food Bank provides weekend food to grade school children in need.
* Rotary's Roto-Mow provides house and yard maintenance service for the elderly and disabled in Des Moines.
* "Dictionaries by the Dozens" distributes illustrated children's dictionaries to every third grader in the Des Moines area public schools.
* "Music for Life" purchases new and collects gently used musical instruments for students in the Highline School District.
* An essay writing contest encourages creative writing for middle school authors.
* The club sponsors after school programs for students at a local Middle School.
* The club funds scholarships to help with college expenses for local scholars and athletes.
* Weekly financial contributions support the Des Moines Food Bank.
* Club members support and mentor the Mount Rainier High School Rotary Interact Club for students. The Interact Club is supporting a school in Kenya with equipment and supplies.
* A Rotary Rotaract Club is being formed at Highline Community College.

"Our little club with the big heart is beating strong," president Isaac said. "We're doing a lot, but are always on the lookout for other needs to be met, wherever in the world they may be."

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