Bob Spishak is a new member of the Rotary Club of Roundhay, Leeds. He and his wife Gael have taken an extended vacation of two months to visit Sun City in Arizona, USA. Here is the report of his visits to the local Rotary Club:
Thank you to everyone in the Rotary Club of Sun City Arizona for their warm welcome and invitation to Thanksgiving Dinner next week. I would like to report back to the Rotary Club of Roundhay, Leeds my home town, things I have learned during my visits to Rotary here in Sun City.
With 19 year round and 6 seasonal members The Rotary Club of Sun City refers to itself affectionately as ‘Small, but Mighty’.
In addition to active members physically present there are a number of e-mail members. The winter visitors (snowbirds) take the projects back to their home clubs for the summer, thus increasing the ability to raise funding. The Club awards approximately $30,000 annually to local charitable organizations from the income of its endowment. The Club’s Foundation also funds many of the Interact and Youth Services Programs throughout the year.
Interact: Their youth Project involves students down to the age 12 in two Interact Clubs. The Washington High School Interact Club composed of up to 350 students completed nearly 100 local and international projects so far this year, (120 in 2015). Packing meals for the homeless and battered, work at the food banks read to younger children put together water purification kits and collect Clothing. One of the largest and most active Interact clubs in the world, the Washington High School is located at Glendale and 21st Avenue in Phoenix. It is the model program for the Rotary Interact program throughout the Arizona district and worldwide. The program has 100% participation from everyone in the high school’s district. The superintendent is a Rotarian, the school principal is an honorary member of the Sun City Club and a Paul Harris Fellow, and the faculty advisor is a regular member of the Sun City Club and a Paul Harris Fellow (2). The six faculty advisors also are honorary members of the Sun City Club.
RCSC provided the High School with sewing machines, quilting ladies have taught both boys and girls to make quilts, 75 have been made so far for’ Open Arms For Children’ in Malawi (a home for orphans founded by a member of the Sun City Club and supported in part by Rotary clubs throughout the USA and South Africa). The students maintain the sewing machines themselves. The breadth of projects created by these young leaders during the year is awe inspiring.
The high school is sending 4 members to RYLA and the middle school has 1 alumna being sent to RYLA. The Club also participates in the Youth Exchange Program with 1 inbound and 1 outbound student every year.
The Challenger Middle School has 50 Interact members – 95% of whom are eligible for the Federal ‘Free Hot Meal Programme’; many are political refugees and the Head sends out his memos in 8 languages. As a result of this Interact program, Christian and Muslim children are working and playing together and their parents are talking to each other.
Sun City Interact Clubs received the Rotary International Presidents citation in their first year and each year since – 15 years for the high school and 2 years for the middle school.
The Interact Clubs are funded in part by Club members, parents and school officials through the Arizona Income Tax Credit system. Arizona is the only state in the USA to have such a program. If a married couple pays $800 (single person, $400) or more in Arizona State Income taxes the couple may direct their income taxes to a specific charitable organization – Interact, for example. The couple writes a check to the Interact Club for up to $800 by December 31, and the school sends back certification of the tax credit. When tax refunds are made the following spring, the Arizonans receive a check for $800 (or the amount they “gave” to Interact) after they complete their state income tax form. If the couple (or individual) itemizes their Federal income tax return, they may declare the $800 a charitable gift and remove it from their income. Thus, the couple actually is “making money” on the Interact tax gift!
The Club participates in the Global and District Grants program every year with other Rotary Clubs in the district and around the world.
There are 6,000 applicants worldwide for the 100 Rotary International Peace Fellowships, and Sun City is proud to sponsor one Candidate from Cameroon for Summer (June) 2017. The current Peace Fellow will study at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.