I begin my first presidential message by thanking you, our Donors, Community Partners, Club Members, Board Members, and Club Leadership for what has proved to be, even in the age of COVID, your unabated commitment to improving Child Safety, Health, and Education here in Northern Thailand.
Every year, Rotary International announces a new theme – this year’s theme being “Serve to Change Lives”. While each of us, as Rotarians, explore what that motto means to us individually and to our ongoing work in the community, I can think of no better objective to help frame our next twelve months together. After all, caring for and serving others has always been what Rotary has stood for and what our collective effort as the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club will continue to be about.
Last year, Past President Roger Lindley guided us through what might have been one of the most challenging times Rotary has ever seen. Despite the ongoing pandemic, and its horrific toll on the lives and livelihoods of so many, our club and its supporters managed to make some pretty significant contributions throughout RY 2020-2021. This included:
Donating 500,000+ Baht into several COVID-related emergency food initiatives throughout Northern Thailand, including the Work Kitchen Project here in Chiang Mai and the Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp on the Myanmar border where we continue providing hot lunches for 125 nursery school students.
Supporting the BEAM Education Foundation’s GED Program through English language tutoring and thanks in no small part to beloved former member, Bob Carroll, who recently passed away, the establishment of an ongoing combined scholarship and internship program in collaboration with the Burma Children Medical Fund B.K. Kee Patient House.
Managing our club’s Children’s Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Program by employing local Thai instructors to teach life-saving water skills to 4th-grade students at the Wat Suan Dok School, eleven municipal schools in Chiang Mai, and eleven local schools in Phrao.
Supporting the Burma Children Medical Fund’s B.K. Kee Patient House with programs that provide patients with safe interaction, English language, gardening, and sewing skills training.
Managing the return of our club’s School Vision Screening Program that screened all 3rd and 5th grade students at the Wat Suan Dok School and eleven municipal schools here in Chiang Mai. Over 100 students received glasses.
Conducting our club’s annual Children’s Winter Clothing Appeal. Thanks in no small part to our fellow community members: Philanthropy Connections; Chiang Mai International School; Unity Concord International School; Chiang Mai University-Satit School; and, Lanna International School, along with the Rimping and Makro supermarket chains, we collected and distributed over 10+ tons of winter clothes, shoes, school supplies, and toys to eleven remote and impoverished villages in three Northern Thai provinces.
In closing, I would be remiss not to say that these types of investments are only possible and sustainable because of your personal commitment to the club’s mission and our community. Without you, Chiang Mai International Rotary isn’t possible, and I am deeply grateful to be working alongside you to accomplish our goals, help institute our vision, and be a part of, in essence, our collective force.
During the 2021-2022 Rotary Year, I would like to focus on
Diversity; expanding our membership to include more Thai people, regional, and indigenous members;
Emphasizing female empowerment and seeing more women taking up leadership roles;
Promoting mental health awareness; developing a “CMIRC Buddy” program (more on this later);
And, networking with Thai Rotary clubs, because together we can do so much more.
I’m looking forward to a productive and fun-filled Rotary year with you.