Dear Rotarians and Guests,
 
As the Holiday Season gains steam we are all busier than usual, yet is that special Season when  our collective consciousness is boosted to share, give, and gather.  There has been a “Giving Tuesday” when many charities benefitted from generosity of givers, and our own Rotary Foundation was part of the well-intending and well-supported charities on that day.  Donating to Rotary means clean water and sanitation, health and hope in areas that were once ravaged by diseases like polio, literacy projects, maternal and child health and peace initiatives.  We have received our district raffle tickets which are designed to encourage your giving to The Rotary Foundation Annual Fund (in addition to the Polio Eradication Fund) and for those who may attend our Holiday Gathering on December 8th at my home, these tickets will be distributed; otherwise we will mail them to you.  This year there are four tickets which you may personally buy or sell to others and the drawing at our district conference on May 4th will announce the winner of a DISNEY VACATION (a $4,250 Value).  The winner does not need to be present to win.  You may donate online (My Rotary – set up your personal account if you have not yet done so), or if you receive checks make them payable to:  The Rotary Foundation Annual Fund-SHARE and mail to 8323 Southwest Freeway Ste. 276, Houston, TX  77074 (also on the ticket).  When you give to our Rotary Foundation you fuel our service projects in communities locally and around the world.  You may also set up  Rotary Direct which allows you to help year-round by automatically giving each month, quarter, or year.  Several of our members have scheduled this to simplify their giving.  We are a ****Four Star Charity – Charity Navigator’s Highest level.
 
We are also gathering gently used or new winter coats and blankets in addition to Teddy Bears to share with needy folks in our community and abroad.  Bring these to our Holiday Party or contact Brittany Johnson, Community Service Director, or me for more information.  On our website we have a section for Service Opportunities.  I recently signed on for Be My Eyes to assist the blind with daily challenges such as “Do my clothes seem suitable – colors o.k.?” or to read the prescription labels.  There are 106,152 Blind participants and 1,813,636 volunteers.  Notification when someone needs your help is randomly assigned so it may take awhile before you are tapped to help.  Yet, this also insures that someone is immediately available to provided needed assistance.  Please take a few moments to view other opportunities which are driven by our own members such as Women Empowering Women – menstrual hygiene products for women in Honduras (Christine Mercer), Helping Venezuelan Refugees (Dr. Isis Meijas and Cristal Montanez), and Helping Immigrants at the Texas Border (Ruby Powers).
 
We have much on the horizon for the new year, too!  We will host a fundraiser with Singer/Songwriter Rebecca Folsom on January 26th and will need to market this event so we can make money for our charities.  In February DG Carmen Cuneo has planned a Conference for Peace and Conflict Resolution (Feb 8 – 10).  In March we are hosting a vocational delegation from the Ukraine with a designated theme of “Energy Efficiency”.  We will need host families and volunteers to assist with a Texas BBQ and a Backyard Chili Cookoff.  We also want to take them to the Houston Livestock and Rodeo in addition to their daily tours of NASA, City of Houston, research studies at our universities, and local energy companies.  If you are interested in helping, please let me know.  Plan to attend our District Conference in Corpus Christi at the Omni from May 2 – 5 with a special dinner aboard the USS Lexington on Friday night and a Princess and Pirates Ball on Saturday night.  And to celebrate another great year in Rotary, there is the Rotary International Convention to be held June 1 – 5 in Hamburg, Germany. 
 
So much to do and so little time, yet it is so much better to know that your time, talents, and money are spent making our world a better place for future generations.  It is more fun to work together with friends in Rotary to create changes in the lives of the needy who really appreciate a helping hand and a chance to improve their education, health, living conditions with clean water and learning how to support their own family with vocational training.  If you discover your passion and have a direction you want to pursue to help others, then Rotary is the place for you to make it happen.
 
May you enjoy the holidays with family and friends, and feel energized to serve others in the New Year!
 
Yours in Rotary,
Robin Charlesworth, President