Rotary Projects Around the Globe
by Brad Webber
The Louverture Cleary School, a 360-student secondary school near Port-au-Prince, has used solar power since 2005, but it lacked batteries capable of providing dependable energy. Kent Gilges, a member of the Rotary Club of Canandaigua, New York, saw this need while volunteering with his family at the school, which is run by education nonprofit the Haitian Project. “I was passing the dormitory,” Gilges recalls. “I looked in the window and there were 40 kids in one room, and they were all trying to study by one lightbulb.” In late 2020, Gilges’ son and his son’s friend took up the effort to provide reliable power as a school capstone project, supported by the Canandaigua club as well as other clubs in District 7120 (New York) and the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg, Florida. The batteries, wiring, inverters, and other equipment were procured from a company operated by a Louverture Cleary graduate. “A big storm can blow through and they can still run their power needs for three days,” Gilges says.
When Canada suspended the export of potatoes to the United States from Prince Edward Island because of a fungus found in two fields, Rotarians in Ontario rallied to help farmers offset their losses. Dozens of clubs coordinated the purchase, transport, and distribution of the still-edible crops to food banks. The Rotary Club of Bracebridge began the effort, tapping local government connections to arrange for a provincial grant of about US$9,000 to cover the acquisition and transport of 4,000 10-pound bags of potatoes from one of the growers. On 19 February, members of five area Rotary clubs and one Rotaract club gathered in a warehouse to offload the spuds, sort the bags, and deliver them to 14 food pantries. Some 800 miles away, at his family farm near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Rick Sanderson marvels at the thoughtfulness of those who worked with him to salvage a portion of his harvest. “I just really appreciate Rotary helping us out here in the time of need,” Sanderson says.