Longtime Rotarian Deborah Simon Speaks To Local Rotary Club

Deborah Simon/Courtesy photo

Rotary Club of Los Alamos

“We should not live for ourselves alone, but for the joy of doing good for others,” began Santa Fe Rotarian Deborah Simon, quoting Arch Klumph, who established The Rotary Foundation in 1917.  Simon, who has been actively involved in Rotary since 1992, spoke on Tuesday, Nov. 10 to the Rotary Club of Los Alamos via Zoom.

She further explained that although Rotary was founded in 1905 by Chicago attorney Paul Harris, it was not until the Rotary Convention in Atlanta 12 years later that Klumph proposed an endowment branch.  Since then, over $1 billion dollars have been given to The Rotary Foundation for its charitable service projects around the world.

The Rotary Foundation is supported solely by individual donations which may be designated for three separate funds:  the Annual Fund, comprising District Designated Funds and the World Fund; the Endowment Fund, for those who wish to will $10,000 at the time of their death; and PolioPlus, the fund which, since 1985, has supported the eradication of the wild polio virus.  Currently, only Afghanistan and Pakistan report cases of wild polio virus infections, although troubling reports of “circulating vaccine-derived polio virus” have been reported elsewhere.  These are cases in which the live polio virus has been shed by those vaccinated and has infected those who have not been, making eradication efforts even more pressing.  Rotary along with the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, and others continue to partner to defeat this progressive muscle-weakening disease that can lead to paralysis.

Reflecting on projects undertaken by the Rotary Club of Los Alamos that have been funded through giving to The Rotary Foundation, Simon mentioned the Club’s recent Meals of Hope food-packing activity in September, which provided 40,000 servings of beans and rice to Northern New Mexico families, and the education project which supplied books, chairs, desks, school supplies, and kitchen and daycare equipment to a school in the Dominican Republic for children of Haitian refugees. 

In conclusion, Simon repeated how critical it is to continue supporting The Rotary Foundation.  Needs worldwide have only increased; generous donations are imperative.

While a member of a medical team in Uspantan, Guatemala in 1996, Simon, who was raised in Guatemala, was approached to help eliminate cholera in the region.  She obtained a grant from The Rotary Foundation for a clean water project, and with its success, Simon has been coordinating Rotary global grants for 24 years.  In 2004, Simon founded a non-profit, United by Friendship,to respond to international needs that Rotary does not fund, such as the construction of schools and clinics.  The result has been that, between Rotary and United by Friendship, 22 Guatemalan communities now have clean water systems, and many others now have adequate schools and medical care.  In 2015, Simon was presented the Distinguished Service Award by Rotary District 5520, which encompasses 67 clubs in all of New Mexico and west Texas.  She was also named one of “10 Who Made a Difference” by the Santa Fe New Mexican.  In 2015 and 2016, she was honored by Rotary Zone 27 as one of 15 persons worldwide to receive the Rotary Alumni Global Service Award.  Simon retired a year ago from her nursing position at Presbyterian Hospital in Española.

Anyone interested in Rotary and its service projects is encouraged to contact President Laura Gonzales, (505) 699-5880 or Membership Chair, Skip King, (505) 662-8832.  To learn more about Rotary International, please go to www.rotary.org.