Making Communities Stronger

Making Communities Stronger

Rotary has evolved since its creation 110 years ago

By Elizabeth Lowney

Rotarians believe the feeling of neighborly love is missing these days, as is the personal development and satisfaction that comes with it.

Helping with the goal of improving lives are women, young adults and men working together, changing lives and making communities stronger. 

“(We’re just) ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” is how David Simmer, the newest leader of central and northern Arizona, describes the more than 110-year-old organization.

“This is certainly not your grandfather’s Rotary,” Simmer says.

Rotarians offer a hand to those in need by distributing school supplies to students; cooking and packing meals for those in need; stocking teachers with supplies; honoring and supporting veterans; providing a sense of dignity for those aging out of the foster care system, tutoring students, providing college and vocational scholarships and training youth leaders.

“We work to help those who have fallen or who are at risk of falling between the cracks in the system,” says Simmer, whose home club is the Rotary Club of Sedona. “Rotarians are the very fabric of kindness.”

Simmer took the position in July, but he has already visited all 73 clubs in northern and central Arizona.

“Visiting Rotary clubs and working alongside Rotarians to improve other’s lives absolutely renews your faith in humanity,” Simmer says. “We live in complex times when there can be a tendency to focus on our differences rather than our similarities.”

Rotarians focus on helping others while working with folks from different backgrounds—and they thrive on this. This is part of the attraction and charm of being a Rotary member.

“Rotarians specifically bar discussion of the potentially charged topics of politics and religion so that they can concentrate on what is really important to them—helping others,” Simmer says.

For example, Rotarians are helping resolve Arizona water poverty issues as 70,000 people on the Navajo Reservation rely on water retrieved from centralized wells and brought to their homes in buckets or. If they’re fortunate, a Good Samaritan delivers water to barrels that are positioned outside their homes. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 victims of water poverty live on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

Between 35 and 40 Rotary Clubs in Arizona come together to support this cause.

“We want to make sure that everyone has the chance to reach their full potential,” he says.

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