Caricature of Fred Collignon, by noted Berkeley artist, Stan Washburn

Caricature of Fred Collignon, by noted Berkeley artist, Stan Washburn

Hi all,

I hope, if you were one of the 547 at the UC Berkeley District Conference recently, you are now fully recovered from the excitement.   So much was always going on!!
Thanks to the many Rotarians, Interacters, Rotaracters, and Youth Exchangers who come to the conference as registrants, volunteers, breakout leaders, speakers and all the many supporting roles.

Spring Assemblies on the Horizon –  This month and next, District Governor Elect Gary Vilhauer brings a major innovation to our spring assemblies.  His goal?  To bring the key spring training assemblies closer to home for every Rotarian.  This year we’re offering 5 Assemblies, not just 2 or 3, to give every Rotarian the option to attend an assembly close by,  or to travel to a makeup one not far away. Watch your email for invitations to register, or check the District calendar or the April newsletter, (due out mid-month) and sign up.  Assemblies are great for new members, for next year’s club leadership teams, and even for veteran club leaders and members.   Rotary keeps evolving to adapt as the economy, society and the world changes, and that pace of change is accelerating.

I tried this year to write something on the Rotary monthly theme in these messages each month.  This month, I’m going to cover three themes.  In all three areas, I am so proud to be a part of this district –

March – Water and Sanitation.    Many of our clubs have done projects to improve the availability of safe water and the treatment of sewage in places where severe problems exist.  We’ve had wells dug, done water salvaging and storage from rain, and installed treatment to make the water safer.   We’re pioneering making WAPI’s  to easily measure water temperature – both to conserve precious firewood and also to ensure that  water is hot enough for safe cooking.   We’ve provided toilets to villages and especially for girls in schools to encourage young women to stay in school.

Some of our members help lead the International Rotary Action Group for Water and Sanitation.  We’ve learned how to create more sustainable and effective approaches, but we know water and sanitation will continue as fundamental needs in the decades to come.

April – Maternal and Child Health  We have global projects in place, providing simple treatments to prevent and address cervical cancer in areas of limited medical infrastructure.  We’ve provided education and simulation dolls to address the shaken baby syndrome in our own home areas.  We do so many projects at home and abroad on the health and education of women and children. We encourage disease vaccination, provide access to health clinics for the uninsured here in Northern California, and provide dental, eye, ear, and facial surgical procedures all around the world in areas lacking the expertise many of our Rotarians have.

Our District provided international leadership in relaunching a Rotary Action Group on Health and Wellness, reinvigorating the previous one with its focus on Health Fairs.

May – Youth Service  Yes! We DO have the 2nd largest Interact program of any U.S. district, AND the largest Rotaract program.  We have a strong presence in Youth Exchange, and run excellent summer camps in leadership (Camp Royal/RYLA) and entrepreneurship (Camp Venture).  We’re actively training the next generation of leaders for our country.

Also, we’re building and rehabilitating parks, trails and open space area, sponsoring girls’ and boys’ sport teams, and closely working with our local schools in each town to provide healthy social and recreational experiences for all our youth.  We offer educational programs with our police and schools warning young teens about the dangers of drunk driving and drug use, and clinics to help teenagers remove tattoos to increase their prospects of employment.  Our clubs offer over 150 scholarships each year, sometimes to higher achievers, but also to youth who are the first in their families to get to go to college.

And our focus all year has been to encourage all of our clubs to become involved in mentoring our youth, and to provide counseling over time until they graduate.  Youth Service, more than any another, gets so much of our Rotarians’ time and effort.

So, here’s the question.  Do you want something done?  And the answer?  You turn to the Rotary club in your town, if you’re living in the boundaries of District 5160.  We will make it happen locally, just as we make it happen in disadvantaged areas all over the globe in partnership with Rotarians there.

Proud to be from District 5160,


Fred Collignon
District Governor