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Caine: A year of accomplishment

This is the last week of my term as Aspen Rotary Club president. Michael Hoffman will take the helm to steer our club to bigger and better accomplishments. As we reflect on the past year, I would like to share the many contributions our club has made to the Roaring Fork Valley.

One of our biggest priorities was to more fully avail our Club of Rotary International and district support for local projects. Our club has long been a leader in working with the Rotary organization to match club funds for international service projects. Now, we are pursuing similar match opportunities for local service and making more Rotary programs available to valley residents.

An example includes a newly approved district grant for “Raising a Reader,” supporting the important early literacy work the organization does to help valley children be “kindergarten ready.” Club leaders worked with our Community Grants Committee to create greater impact in our local giving and to leverage club funds with at least one Rotary district match each year. The committee began its implementation of the new guidelines with this year’s distribution of $30,000 to 26 local nonprofits.

Our club sponsored a local young professional for a Rotary Peace Fellowship. Candidates are chosen from around the globe based on their ability to have a significant, positive impact on world peace and conflict resolution during their careers. Dara Bramson completed her master’s degree from Colombia University and a Fulbright Fellowship for research in conflict resolution in Poland. If chosen for the Peace Fellowship, she will spend three months at the Rotary Peace Center in Bangkok.

For years, our club’s World Service Committee has successfully leveraged club funds with Rotary matches, earning admiration and respect for our active participation in multiple world service projects every year. Committee Chairman Derek Torinus recently added another feather to our “club cap” by taking on the responsibility of “international sponsor” for a world service project in Pakistan, raising $57,000 for school supplies to help diminish poverty and terrorism through education.

While embracing new programs is important for the future of the club, preserving the club’s rich 42-year history is equally valuable. The task of compiling 42 years of history is a huge job. In order to accomplish this feat, the Aspen Rotary Club Foundation (a separate 501c3 organization) provided matching funds for a comprehensive archival project.

Serving the community includes communicating with the public about what Rotary is and what it does. Huge gains were made in this area, including this column generously provided by The Aspen Times. We hosted a community event with a nationally recognized leadership speaker. The breakfast drew more than 200 participants, introducing a new audience to Rotary. Club members spent countless hours developing a new website to make club information more readily available. We also worked with the Snowmass Rotary Club to develop a PR campaign for the Aspen/Snowmass airport.

Funding the annual service projects comes through three primary sources. The Ducky Derby raises nearly $200,000 for our community and provides much of the funding for our club’s service projects. Additional resources come from our Rotary District and Rotary International, which are both funded by Rotary dues. In addition to dues, our club members were very generous this year, contributing an additional $23,500 to the Rotary Foundation.

While the programs outlined above are primarily new projects, our club also continued longtime community-service programs, including a fall Jeep tour for dozens of local senior citizens; a spaghetti dinner/theater night to benefit the Aspen Community Theatre and High School Service Club; a dinner for the Shining Star kids; bell-ringing for the Salvation Army; college scholarships for local seniors; and a youth exchange program.

Volunteers have completed all this work. The Ducky Derby alone takes approximately 5,000 volunteers hours to organize and implement. The total hours on all projects per year at least doubles that number. This example of the Rotary motto “Service Above Self” makes me very proud to be a Rotarian.

In conclusion, what I learned this year is the power of Rotary. Rotary International touches countless areas of life. Each member has the opportunity to use the organization to make a far bigger difference in the world than we can alone. No matter where one’s individual passions lie, Rotary can help make virtually any goal obtainable. I encourage anyone wanting to make a positive impact in the world to pursue Rotary.

Rotary is an international organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations and helps build good will and peace in the world. The Rotary Club of Aspen has actively strengthened our community through service and fellowship and by example since June 1971.

For more information about the Aspen Rotary Club, contact emhaspen@ gmail.com.


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