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President's Message for November 2021

I’m happy to announce the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club (CMIRC) is participating in its first Global Grant application. The CMIRC Board of Directors (BOD) has voted to partner with the Rotary Club of Fig Garden (Fresno, California) to launch the “Thailand Water and Sanitation Project GG-2233068”.

The key participants from our club for the next three years will be Project Champion Clarence Shettlesworth, Treasurer Nancy Lindley, Past President John Schorr Ph.D., Rotarian Niwatchai Suknaphasawat (Former Program Director w/Heifer International), and myself.

As your current President, I see this critically-important water project as both an opportunity and an ongoing challenge for our club to continue exploring the bigger picture when it comes to improving Child Safety, Health, and Education. After all, the power of clean, accessible water doesn’t just help families build better, safer lives through economic development, it also helps reduce the risk of disease and death and keeps children healthy so they can attend school when and where it's available in these underserved, isolated villages.

October has been another productive month for CMIRC. Rtns. Bill and Nicha Trempus continued to work tirelessly on our club’s “Free Food for the Poor” Initiative. They helped connect with the Urban Light Foundation and identify ways to provide food donations. They are also working with Chiang Mai Trust and the Human Rights and Development Foundation to supply bags of food to migrant labor camps with out-of-work residents. The CMIRC BOD has earmarked 320,000 Baht (40,000 per month) to fund these initiatives through the end of this Rotary Year (June 30, 2022).

On October 15, the club launched the 2021 Children’s Winter Clothing Appeal. This is the 6th year our club has organized this initiative, and the third year my wife (President-Elect Viki Thomason) and I have participated as the Project Champions. During the past two weeks, our club has already delivered three truckloads of donations to remote, hard-to-access villages in Chiang Mai, Nan, and Chiang Rai provinces. If you’re returning to Chiang Mai from colder climates, please consider bringing your no-longer-needed winter clothing back with you. While the city of Chiang Mai stays relatively warm throughout the year, the surrounding mountains get very cold (sometimes hitting zero). Your jackets, sweaters, and blankets do save lives!

Unfortunately, I have some bad news to share as well. Due to the rising number of COVID-19 infections throughout Chiang Mai, all municipal schools remain closed pending further notice from the local government. This doesn’t just mean that our Children’s Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Program (CWSDPP) and our School Vision Screening Program (SVSP) remain suspended, but this also means that thousands of local children are continuing to fall behind academically and socially.

In addition, the Burma Children Medical Fund B.K. Kee House continues to be strictly limited to supply drops, which thankfully are still being faithfully handled by Sergeant-at-arms Bill Pierce and Secretary Nick Dale every other week.

Despite these COVID-19 restrictions, fortunately our Teddy Trekkers continue to travel between Chiang Mai and Mae Sot thanks to the continuance of teddy bear donations. The purpose of this initiative is to provide “someone” to cuddle with and lift the spirits of patients who are alone, separated from their parents, family, and loved ones. Some teddies remain at the BCMF B.K. Kee Patient House to greet new patients; others are sent to Mae Sot where they bring joy to patients in both Thailand and Burma.

On October 26, PP John Schorr held a presentation via ZOOM for the Rotary Club of Royal Hua Hin on the CMIRC Children's Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Project. We are hopeful that his experience will help our club to assist another club in launching a survival swimming program in Hua Hin, just like we’ve done in Chiang Mai, Phrao, and Phuket. Drowning continues to be the leading cause of death for Thai children under the age of 15.

At present, Thailand is reporting 42.2% of its population is now fully vaccinated. While this is certainly good news, unfortunately, the Royal Peninsula Hotel, where we meet, has been converted into a temporary hospitel (e.g. a hotel-turned-hospital) for asymptomatic coronavirus patients. Naturally, this means that we will continue to meet virtually until further notice. If you would like to attend our Zoom meetings on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month, please contact


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