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Rotary Day At White House Honors 'Champions Of Change'

Exemplary U.S. Rotary club volunteers to be recognized at D.C. event April 5

EVANSTON, Ill., April 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The White House on April 5 will honor 12 Rotary club members from across the United States as Champions of Change for their volunteer work to improve the lives of others during the second annual Rotary Day at the White House.

The day-long event combines two weekly White House public engagement programs – Champions of Change and the Community Leaders Briefing series -- to recognize the contributions of the humanitarian service organization Rotary International.

"Today we welcome twelve amazing Rotarians to the White House. Each of these men and women have spent countless hours helping communities both here in the U.S. and abroad. Collectively, these Rotary Club members have touched the lives of thousands of people—whether by improving  health and providing health services,  preventing hunger,  supporting  our poor communities,  empowering unemployed, addicted, or homeless adults, or caring for students. The Rotarians we honor today truly exemplify the Rotary Club motto: "Service above Self" and in doing so show that the American spirit is a generous one," said Paulette Aniskoff, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.  

"It is a great honor to see these dedicated Rotary members recognized by the U.S. White House as Champions of Change for their work to improve the lives of people around the world," said Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka, of Japan, who will participate in the day's events with Rotary Foundation Trustee Mike McGovern and Rotary International General Secretary and CEO John Hewko. "Their commitment to humanitarian service reflects that of our worldwide membership of 1.2 million men and women, all of whom deserve to share in this recognition."

The 2013 Rotary Champions of Change are:

  • Tom Barnes, Marion, Iowa. A member of the Rotary Club of Marion-East Cedar Rapids, Barnes leads a project that has provided new shoes to more than 3,500 children from low income families across Iowa.
  • Bob Dietrick, Brentwood, Tenn.  A member of the Franklin Breakfast Rotary Club, Dietrick is the driving force behind Operation Starfish, a club project that provides clean water and sanitation to low income residents in the region who would otherwise have to rely on contaminated shallow wells.
  • John Germ, Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.  A member of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, Germ is a leader in fund development for Rotary's polio eradication program, recently coordinating an effort that raised more than $228 million in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He also leads projects to assist mentally and physically challenged children and adults in Tennessee.
  • Peggy Halderman, Lakewood, Colo. A member of the Rotary Club of Golden, Halderman five years ago launched Golden Backpack, a program that provides nourishing food every weekend to more than 520 underprivileged schoolchildren in the Golden community.
  • Nancy Sanford Hughes, Eugene, Ore. A member of the Eugene Southtowne Rotary Club. Hughes helped establish Stove Team International, a program that manufactures and distributes small, portable, and safe stoves to needy families in Central America. The program is now supported by Rotary clubs throughout the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
  • Walter Hughes Jr., Union Hall, Va. A member of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, Hughes leads a multi-national Rotary partnership that is helping to eradicate Guinea worm disease in Ghana and South Sudan through the implementation of clean water projects.
  • Ann Lee Hussey, South Berwick, Maine.  A member of the Portland Sunrise Rotary Club, Hussey has made the eradication of polio and the alleviation of suffering by polio victims her life's work. A polio survivor herself, she has led numerous Rotary volunteer teams to Nigeria, India, and other polio-affected countries to immunize children and provide assistance to people disabled by polio.
  • Jeremiah Lowney Jr., Norwich, Conn. A member of the Rotary Club of Norwich, Lowney led the effort to establish the Haitian Health Foundation, now the primary health care provider in southwestern Haiti, delivering live-saving services to a quarter million people in 104 rural villages.
  • Douglas McNeil, Monte Sereno, Calif. A member of the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club, McNeil leads area Rotary members in programs that mentor and inspire young people, such as the Rotary Earth Day Project. He also helped establish Lighting for Literacy, a program which provides low-cost solar lighting systems for communities without electricity, promoting more at-home reading, a key tool in increasing literacy rates.
  • Harriett Schloer, Bend, Ore. A member of the Bend High Desert Rotary Club, Schloer in 1999 enlisted Rotary support to launch the Shots for Tots program  which provides free routine immunizations to any area schoolchildren, insured or not, through age 18. Deschutes County now has one of the highest immunization rates in the state.
  • Bonni Sirower, Glenn Rock, N.J. A member of the Rotary Club of Patterson, Sirower organized and coordinated Rotary relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the region in October 2012. As a result, truckloads of critically needed relief supplies were sent from Rotary clubs to communities throughout the East Coast.
  • Neli Vazquez-Rowland, Chicago, Ill. A member of the Rotary Club of Chicago, Vazquez-Rowland and her husband in 1994 established Safe Haven, a comprehensive program that assists thousands of people dealing with homelessness, hunger, addiction, chronic unemployment and other issues.

Prior to the afternoon Champions of Change program, more than 160 Rotary club members will attend a morning round of Community Leaders Briefing sessions in which Administration experts will speak on a variety of relevant topics including health, violence prevention and the environment.

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