President Chris Krueger opened the meeting asking Dr. Ron Thompson to offer the invocation and Jim McGown to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  With the World Series imminent, Ray Smith led those present in a rousing rendition of Take Me Out To The Ball Game.
 
Guests
Michelle Holcomb was visiting from the Rotary Club of Fountain Hills.  Bob Zarling introduced Sierra Johnson, an applicant for a grant from The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona.  Sierra is a graduate of Westwood High School in Mesa.  Erwin and Joan Reiman were visiting from Rapid City, South Dakota.  Mark Sander and Shelly Incardone were introduced as guests who are working to start a new Rotary Club in Gilbert.  Our Youth Exchange student from Ecuador, Caiu, was present wearing his Youth Exchange jacket which is already heavy with pins he has collected since his arrival last summer.  Audra introduced her daughters, Brinn and Ellia.  Brinn was celebrating her 9th birthday, so the members and guests spontaneously sang Happy Birthday to her.
 
Drawings
President Chris Krueger was the lucky winner of the attendance drawing.  Polly Cady was the holder of the raffle ticket drawn, winning the small $34 pot, but was not lucky enough to draw the ace of clubs from the deck of cards, so the larger accumulating pot will continue to grow.
 
Buck Board
Chuck Flint explained the Buck Board for the benefit of guests who were present.  It serves a dual purpose in our club by keeping The Rotary Foundation on the minds of our members and boosting our average per-member giving to the Foundation.
 
Fountain Hills Rotary Club Fundraiser
Michelle Holcomb pointed out that she had brought a sample of the wreaths which her club is selling to raise funds for their service projects.  The wreaths ordered can be shipped anywhere in the US. 
 
Happy Bucks
Caiu thanked the Rotary Club for his Youth Exchange experience so far.  Allan Cady contributed for the wonderful vacation in Europe he and Polly recently enjoyed.  He was especially touched by their visit to Omaha Beach.  He said they missed a Cardinals game, but noted they hadn't missed much.  He was also happy that his recent request to boost Guaymas donations had been somewhat successful, but hoped some who had not yet donated would be reminded to do so.  For the benefit of guests, he told about the project which has been an annual Gift of Hearing mission sponsored first by Mesa Baseline Rotary, and then continued by Mesa West Rotary after the two clubs merged.  Last year, they saw 350-375 patients of all ages and distributed 175 hearing devices.  In the 25-year history of the project 4,000 devices have been distributed.  Don Boucher was happy to announce that he and Sharon had celebrated their 10th anniversary with a Scandinavian Viking Cruise vacation.  He was also happy that one of his favorite trainees when he was a law enforcement training officer in California was doing well after being diagnosed and treated for colon cancer.  Dr. Ron pledged $100 to the Guaymas mission.  Chris also pledged $100 to the mission.  Greg Okonowski donated while he still could.  They are in the process of buying a new home.
 
Trivia
President Chris asked if anyone could tell her which three Mesa West Rotarians had been honored by District Governor, Jim Erickson, during his official visit on October 11.  Even though she had been travelling, Polly Cady correctly answered that they were Pam Cohen, Lucinda General and Donna Goetzenberger because she had read about the recognition in the October 17 Messenger.
 
Announcement
Our October 25 meeting will feature Rotarians from Russia who are being hosted by the Mesa Rotary Club while hear on a Peace Mission.  That evening, Chis will be hosting a reception for the group at her home.  Details previously e-mailed to club members were:  We will just have some snacks and cocktails and conversation.  Please let me know if you are available to attend.  The address is 4213 N Tabor St. Mesa, AZ.  We will begin at 6:00 pm.  If you plan to go, e-mail Chris Krueger.
 
Program
Kevin Pitts from Prescott Rotary Club thanked Mesa West for their support of the Crutches for Africa Interact project.  Kevin and Elizabeth Mahoney had gone with the Interact Ambassadors who went to Kenra to deliver the devices the Interact students throughout the district had collected.  The Ambassadors did the actual device deliveries with the help of Rotaract members in Kenya so Kevin and Elizabeth had the opportunity to visit Rotary projects in the area.  Kevin introduced Charles Wachira of the Rotary Club of Naivasha, to tell our club about the organization he is associated with:  Ubuntu Life.
 
Charles has been with Ubuntu Life for fifteen years.  It is a program for special needs children in Kenya.  Ubuntu is a Kenyan philosophy and translated means I am: we are.  "I can't exist without you and you can't exist without me - we are connected."  He is their partnership director.  
 
As the program to provide rehabilitation and basic education for the special needs children grew, it became apparent that their mothers who had been home immersed in the work of caring for their children were now free and desirous of doing something productive, so their program grew into a program to teach and employ the women empowering them to have a better life, and by empowering the women, the men in the families were empowered as well.  The mothers create bracelets, shoes and other handmade items which are marketed globally through trading partnerships.
 
Some of the kids they have helped have evolved to the point that they were able to transfer to regular school.  An additional program at the facility is for kids with neurological issues.  In July, 2018, six medical professionals from Kansas City came to the facility to hold a medical camp.  They saw 690 patients.  
 
The program receives some support from the sale of the handmade items, but the real purpose of that program is to provide employment and empower the families to have a better life.  The center itself is supported primarily by donations.  Some people choose to sponsor a child by donating $100 per month per child.  Some donate to support the special needs center or to support camps that they hold.  They have some goals that need contributed support to fund.  They hope to build a proper school and add a clinic.  They are fundraising now for the school.  A wellness center is being developed.
 
Their priorities are:
  • Welfare of the kids
  • medication
  • food
  • school
They need a school bus.  He indicated the students, ages 5-18 would get free massages on the bus (the roads are really bad).
 
For those who want to learn more or share information about Ubuntu Life, CLICK HERE to visit their website.  The video Charles shared during our meeting is available there.