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Style: Folsom | El Dorado Hills

Service Above Self: Rotary Roundup

Jun 01, 2018 12:24PM

Once dreaded, polio outbreaks are now a fading memory. In the world, only 17 cases occurred last year—and those in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much of the credit for conquering this cruel disease goes to an unusual source: Rotary International’s PolioPlus campaign. The worldwide service club has been working to eradicate polio since 1979, and its success, notes Rita Gordon, public image chair of Rotarys District 5180—which covers 41 Northern California clubs—will be the first time a non-government organization has wiped a disease off the planet. Members of Rotary—1.2 million worldwide—literally put boots on the ground delivering the oral vaccine to more than three billion children. 

“Boots on the ground” has been a Rotary hallmark since Paul P. Harris of Chicago founded the organization in 1905 to provide humanitarian services and advance peace around the world. But Rotary’s sights are set not only on diseases—such as  polio, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes—but also on improving education and economic conditions for disadvantaged people both internationally and locally. With polio nearly extinct, “clean water is now bubbling to the top of the list,” Gordon says. Most of the world takes clean water for granted, but contaminated water in developing nations causes around 842,000 diarrheal deaths a year, according to World Health Organization data.   

With “Service Above Self” as Rotary’s motto, local clubs are responsible, often quietly, for a variety of local programs, including dental care for disadvantaged kids, literacy support, refurbishing bikes for needy youngsters, student scholarships, enhancing parks, and sponsoring foreign exchange students. This year, through a grant from Rotary Foundation, the district as a whole is tackling one of the region’s most troubling issues: human trafficking—“a dire problem,” Gordon says, “because we are a transportation crossroads.” 

Sacramento has one of the highest trafficking rates in the country, with girls ages 12-14 the primary target. Rotary’s strategy focuses on two areas: education (for grades 5, 7, 9, and 11) and outreach to raise public awareness. Similar campaigns in other cities have achieved marked success, says Roseville Rotarian Brian Gladden, who—along side past district governor from East Sacramento Rotary, Bob Deering—is spearheading the effort.

In the U.S., anyone interested in humanitarian service, locally and abroad, can join Rotary. Women have been active since 1987 and once-stringent attendance rules have been relaxed. “Meetings are fun,” says Rotary Club of Placerville President Cher Williams. “Through the fellowship, we build lifelong relationships.” 

Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills

Meets Wednesdays at 7:15 a.m. at El Dorado Hills Community Services District Pavilion;  43 members. Achievements include donating $100,000 to the EDH Teen Center and Deputy Jeff Mitchell Memorial Baseball Field, helping build Veterans Memorial Park sponsoring Boy Scout troops. Globally they’ve provided dental gear to Ulan Ude in Russia, a medical boat and library to the Philippines, and wheelchairs to Peru.

Rotary Club of Folsom

Meets Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at Robert H. Miller III Rotary Clubhouse in Folsom; 92 members. Provides grants to local teachers and free dictionaries to third graders, supports Playmakers (an after-school academic and leadership program) and water wells at schools in Nigeria, in addition to other programs.

Rotary Club of Folsom Lake

Meets Wednesdays at noon at Empire Ranch Golf Club’s restaurant; 26 members. Programs include NoPolio! Motorcycle Rally to raise money for PolioPlus, grants for Folsom teachers, elementary school book swaps, “Bet on Rotary” fund-raiser, food drives, literacy programs, and signs for Folsom trails.


Rotary Club of Historic Folsom

Meets Thursdays at 7 a.m. at Folsom Veterans Hall; 25 members. Past projects have included a capital campaign for Mercy Hospital of Folsom Heliport and helping to build an inclusive play area at Folsom City Lions Park. They also sponsor Playmakers and support veteran education (especially helping vets returning to school), the third grade dictionary project, Twin Lakes Food Bank, Powerhouse Ministries, and various senior issues.

Rotary Club of Placerville

Meets Thursdays at 6:15 p.m. at Smith Flat House; 35 members. Funded Joe’s Skate Park and the outdoor music/drama venue at El Dorado High School, purchased coats for children in need, sent Christmas trees to troops, and are planning improvements to Rotary Park.

Rotary Club of Cameron Park

Meets Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. at Cameron Park Country Club; 47 members.  Helps with refurbishing more than 300 bikes a year (alongside Folsom Prison) for kids in need and assisted with funding Folsom Lake College’s El Dorado Center and building the Community Observatory’s G. Arthur Cort Sky Theater. Assists with the third grade dictionary project and both high school scholarships and vocational scholarships for students and adults pursuing a trade. Internationally, they support projects in Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Ecuador.   


According to the FBI, human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world and is believed to be more than a $150 billion industry. To address the cause in Sacramento, Rotary District 5180—which encompasses the Rotary Clubs of El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Folsom Lake, Historic Folsom, Granite Bay, Roseville, South Placer, Sunrise, and others across the region—is partnering with 3Strands Global and the Voices and Faces Project. The program—a result of the Rotary District being approved for the biggest global grant in the U.S. and largest Rotary grant to fight human trafficking worldwide—is the largest collaborative project to prevent human trafficking in the history of the Sacramento region and includes education and training to teachers and students, as well as a public awareness campaign. For more info and to volunteer or donate to this effort, email Brian at or Desiree at


Enjoy a festive evening of great food, beverages, and live music from 6-9 p.m. on June 2 at the El Dorado Hills Town Center’s waterfront. Guests can bid on silent auction items and purchase raffle tickets to win a wine refrigerator filled with local wines. Funds raised help the Rotary Clubs of Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills complete local and international projects, provide scholarships to local students, and enhance the communities in and around Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills in many ways.

By Linda Holderness

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