October Students of the Month

Brookings High School seniors Serena An and Cherish Stern were honored as the Brookings Rotary Club’s October Students of the Month. The students joined the Club’s Zoom meeting to address the members and receive their recognition.
Miss An is the daughter of Wenfeng An and Ping Ye. A National Merit Semifinalist, she also qualified for the Math Olympiad Program in 2019 and 2020, was a statewide piano award winner in 2018 and 2019 and an All-State Band qualifier earlier this year. At BHS, she has been active in Quiz Bowl, band, Math Club, Science Olympiad, Speech and Debate, and National Honor Society. She also has been involved in teaching at the Brookings Math Circle, Research Math and is studying Korean and Mandarin. She plans to major in math and is considering a gap year to study languages.  
Miss Stern is the daughter of Michael and Laura Stern. The Head Drum Major at BHS, she also was honored as Homecoming Queen and Most Improved Female Track Athlete. She received the FFA Greenhand Award and AP Scholar Award. Other activities at BHS include band, wrestling, figure skating, orchestra, Environmental Club, Debate, theater/Thespians and Board Game Club. In the community Miss Stern is involved in her church youth group and Northview Lads & Lassies 4-H Club. She has been employed at Hy-Vee her junior and senior years and was formerly a volunteer at youth wrestling practices. She plans to pursue a pre-medical track.
Each month during the school year, the Brookings Rotary Club recognizes two students who excel in exhibiting its motto “Service Above Self” and fulfill the ideals of the organization’s Four-Way Test: Is it the truth?  Is it fair to all concerned?  Will it build goodwill and better friendships?  Will it be beneficial to all concerned? 
For more information about the Brookings Rotary Club, contact President Don Norton at donnorton75@gmail. The club, currently meeting virtually each Tuesday at 12 p.m., is part of Rotary International, a service organization with more than 1.2 million members in 35,000 clubs in about 200 countries and territories around the world. This year’s international theme is “Rotary Opens Opportunities.”
October Students of the Month 2020-11-03 06:00:00Z 0

President's Message for November 2020

The Spirit of Giving
We frequently think of December as the month to demonstrate the “Spirit of Giving.” But the Brookings Rotary Club will celebrate that spirit at our meetings beginning in November.
November is Rotary Foundation Month. Naturally, we will feature our District Rotary Foundation Chair, Tracy Dahl-Webb, at our meeting on November 17, talking about the good works of the Foundation to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.
In Brookings, we translate the spirit of giving through the many outreach programs that help families daily to cope with poverty and hunger. Our program speakers will represent the Brookings County Food Pantry, the Backpack Project, and Feeding Brookings. We also can put the spirit into action at the Brookings County Youth Mentoring Project by addressing envelopes. The CDC identifies mentoring programs as one approach communities can take to help kids through difficult times. The BCYMP needs volunteers to address envelopes for their year-end campaign, and Rotarians will be there to help.
Another demonstration of the spirit of giving will be on December 1st when Rotarians ring the Salvation Army bell at Lewis Drugs from 1 to 8pm. I have fond memories of Kay and our two sons ringing the bell together to welcome in the Christmas season.
In a year when we could be tempted to lose our spirit, let’s work together to bring the spirit of giving to the Brookings Community. That’s what Rotary is all about – Service Above Self!
President's Message for November 2020 2020-11-02 06:00:00Z 0

Mark Sternhagen Speaks About Polio Experience


Polio victim shares his story with Brookings Rotary Club

 Courtesy photo: Mark Sternhagen, of Brookings, spoke to the Brookings Rotary Club Tuesday via Zoom about his experiences as a polio survivor. Rotary International is a major partner in helping to eradicate polio worldwide.

By: Brookings Rotary Club - Updated: 48 minutes ago

Posted Oct 22, 2020

Local author, teacher Mark Sternhagen relates personal experiences as survivor of virus

BROOKINGS – Mark Sternhagen, of Brookings, was uniquely qualified to discuss his personal experiences with members of the Brookings Rotary Club as the speaker for the club’s virtual meeting this week, which focused on World Polio Day Oct. 24. Sternhagen contracted the disease in 1957 when he was just a baby.

The Salk vaccine that prevents polio was approved in 1955. “In December 1956, when the vaccine was being administered in my hometown of Scotland, South Dakota, I had a fever, so I wasn’t vaccinated,” Sternhagen told Rotarians via Zoom. “I got polio the following August, when I was 18 months old.”

After many years of wearing a leg brace and using crutches, Sternhagen now navigates with the use of a wheelchair. An active spokesperson for those with disabilities, he serves as an advocate for fellow members of the Brookings Committee for People Who Have Disabilities, and is a board member for LifeScape in Sioux Falls – an organization from which he used to receive services as a youngster. He is the author of two books, and holds several college degrees, including a master’s from SDSU in industrial management.

Brookings Rotarians have a passionate interest in learning more about a polio survivor’s story. Rotary International through The Rotary Foundation plays a critical role in an international effort to eradicate polio worldwide. Donations from the more than 1.2 million Rotarians around the globe contribute to PolioPlus, aided by corporate gifts from such sources as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And the efforts are working.

“When Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries every year. We’ve made great progress against the disease since then,” said Brookings Club President Don Norton. Today, polio cases have been reduced by 99.9 percent, and just two countries continue to report cases of wild poliovirus: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

With polio nearly eradicated, Rotary and its partners must sustain this progress and continue to reach every child with the polio vaccine. Without full funding and political commitment, this paralyzing disease could return to polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk. Rotary has committed to raising $50 million each year to support global polio eradication efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to match that 2-to-1, for a total yearly contribution of $150 million.

“For more than 30 years, Rotary and its partners have driven the effort to eradicate polio worldwide. Rotary’s PolioPlus program was the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication by vaccinating children on a massive scale,” said Norton. “Rotary members have contributed more than $2.1 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries from this paralyzing disease.

“And we remain committed to continue until this totally preventable disease is completely eliminated from the earth,” Norton emphasized.

Sternhagen, an author and retired professor, said he and other polio survivors don’t want sympathy, but rather empathy. “I ask people to consider, ‘what if it were me?’ ” He is encouraged by current efforts to create a vaccine for the current COVID-19 virus, speculating there might have been an additional two million cases of polio if the Salk vaccine had not been developed when it was. “It gives me hope. After all, we found a vaccine for polio.”

To learn more about Sternhagen’s story and his publications, visit his website at www.normal4me.com. For more information about the Brookings Rotary Club, visit www.brookingsrotary.org or contact President Don at donnorton75@gmail.com.

Mark Sternhagen Speaks About Polio Experience 2020-10-22 05:00:00Z 0

Brookings Rotary Club Announces Honorary Members

In appreciation for their exceptional efforts helping the Brookings Rotary Club share its message of "Service Above Self" throughout the community, Brookings Register Managing Editor Jill Fier and KBRK on-air radio personality Bob Wayne have been recognized as Club Honorary Members. Club President Don Norton presented both media representatives with plaques on October 13.
Brookings Rotary Club Announces Honorary Members 2020-10-19 05:00:00Z 0

Rotary Coat Drive Collects more than 200 donations!

The Brookings Rotary Community Coat Drive, organized to help the Share The Warmth event sponsored by the Salvation Army to provide cold weather garments for area residents in need, was a huge success. In three hours, we gathered more than 200 coats, jackets, snow pants, and hats/mittens/scarves/socks. Thanks to Dakota Bank for extending the use of their parking lot for the drive-through collection, and for bringing coffee out to the volunteers!
Rotary Coat Drive Collects more than 200 donations! 2020-10-19 05:00:00Z 0

President's Message for October 2020

Using Our Energy Wisely
It’s so easy to let our current circumstances drain our positive attitudes! That’s why I love our weekly Rotary meetings. It builds up positive energy. I’ve been doing some research into staying positive, and here’s what I found:
1.         Hold on to an Anchor. For some, your personal anchor may be your faith. For businesses, it may  be the vision or mission of the organization. For Rotarians, the anchor includes “Service Above Self.”  When you’re “grounded” in something bigger than you are, it’s a little easier to keep the big picture in mind as you move toward a positive future.
2.         Navigate the Negativity. Attitude expert Matt Booth says the number one rule for keeping a positive attitude is to tune out as much negativity as possible. This may mean turning off the evening news and social media, and picking up the Rotary magazine to read about the good works Rotarians engage in globally.  
3.         Manage Your Energy. This is another tip from Matt. Physical and mental energy management should be thought of like time management. Rest, get some exercise, drink plenty of water, and get involved in a positive activity – like a Rotary service project.
October started out with a great service project as Rotarians helped gather garments for the Salvation Army “Share the Warmth” coat drive. We’ll have others coming up, like decorating at McCrory Gardens and ringing the Salvation Army bell. And the week leading up to October 24th, we’ll be celebrating World Polio Day with author Mark Sternhagen speaking at our meeting October 20th. Rotary’s work to eradicate polio is a real “positive” – and one of the noblest projects in history.
Let’s channel our positive energy and continue to live out our mission of “Service Above Self” right into the holidays! I look forward to seeing you each Tuesday via Zoom, with our pre-meeting social time at 11:45 a.m.
President's Message for October 2020 2020-10-01 05:00:00Z 0

Plan To Donate to the COAT DRIVE!

            The Brookings Rotary Club invites members of the community to join in its upcoming Coat Drive to benefit the Brookings Salvation Army.
            Community members may drop off their donations of new or gently used coats, jackets, snow pants, hats, gloves and winter scarves to the truck in the parking lot at Dacotah Bank, 1441 6th St., this Thursday, October 1 between 9 a.m. – 12 noon.
            Donations are needed for all children’s and adults’ sizes and will be taken to the Salvation Army to help in its annual Coat Drive that is currently underway. Rotarians will be on site Thursday morning to welcome donors and assist with loading their contributions into the waiting truck.
            Questions may be directed to Michael Gonda, Service Project Chair, at Michael.Gonda@sdstate.edu.
Plan To Donate to the COAT DRIVE! 2020-09-28 05:00:00Z 0
Brookings Rotarian is District 5610 Governor 2020-09-15 05:00:00Z 0

President's Message for September 2020

Tune In and Stay Tuned
When I was growing up, we had a black and white television set that would get four stations in the VHF (Very High Frequency) band. If I’ve lost you already, those were the channels that are lower in number – like 2, 5, 7, and 9.  There were some channels in the UHF (Ultra High Frequency) band, but getting those channels to play was a real project.
You would turn the VHF tuning dial to “U” and then grab the finicky UHF knob and turn it to somewhere around the number you wanted – like channel 32. If you were able to land on it, the picture was grainy and it would fade in and out. Long before cable – long before satellite – long before Zoom.
Sometimes I feel like I’m back in the 1960s as we “tune in” to Rotary every Tuesday via Zoom. We see each other on the screen; our individual pictures are small, a little grainy at times (sometimes our entire head is not in the picture!), and the audio connection may be muffled or not in synch with the picture.
But just like our favorite programs from those early days of TV, if you enjoy the show, you’ll tune in and stay tuned. It gives me great joy to see and hear you all “on the Zoom” Tuesdays at noon. Other than face-to-face, this is the next-best option.  I wouldn’t miss this chance to be together each week.
At our meetings in August, we learned how classes and school activities would resume in Brookings, we shared stories about famous people we’ve met, and we learned about law enforcement from the South Dakota Secretary of Public Safety. At the August 25th meeting, we celebrated the news from the WHO that the African region was declared wild poliovirus free. We shared our joys with “Scholar Dollars” and we met the recipients of our scholarships to SDSU for this fall semester.
In September, we’ll focus on SDSU, beginning with President Barry Dunn on September 1. Then we’ll hear from athletic coaches – I can’t wait to hear what they’re planning.
These programs really are worth watching – especially if they “star” our Rotary family. Remember, we won’t be meeting like this forever. Look at the camera, keep smiling, and stay tuned – the best is yet to come!
President's Message for September 2020 2020-09-02 05:00:00Z 0

President's Message for August 2020

No Need to be a RINO!
It was a few years ago when I first heard the expression "RINO." That’s a “Rotarian in Name Only.” The phrase is used to refer to a Rotary club member who rarely participates in club activities, and sometimes doesn’t see the big picture of the organization.  
As I mentioned at our July 7 meeting, I was a RINO for many years, but that changed in November of 2011. While traveling in India in preparation for bringing a leadership class to that country, two Rotarians from a club in New Delhi drove an associate and me to a remote village several hours away where we saw desks that had been donated by a good friend and fellow Rotarian from our home club. Suddenly, Rotary was more than just lunch and a speaker on Tuesday.
Here in Brookings, even though we continue to meet via Zoom each week, that’s no reason to be a RINO!
At our meetings each week, we learn more about the deeper meaning of Rotary. We’re hearing reviews of articles in The Rotarian magazine, exploring The Brookings Rotary Club Legacy Book for the Rotary Foundation, and discovering the personal stories of our members and what Rotary means to them.
While meeting online is not an ideal arrangement, we’re able to “see” each other and share in fellowship that is a hallmark of our club. Remember, the meeting starts at noon each Tuesday but the Zoom starts at 11:45 a.m. to enable members to chat. Join in!
In the meantime, it’s Service Above Self with community projects, scholarships, and new members. This is no time to be a RINO - we have work to do. Onward!
-President Don
President's Message for August 2020 2020-08-03 05:00:00Z 0

Born Learning Trails

 Installation has begun on two “Born Learning Trails” in Hillcrest and McClemans Parks, thanks to support from the Brookings Rotary Club and the Brookings Area United Way.
Born Learning Trails are a series of 10 reinforced signs that offer fun, evidence-based learning activities for young children and their families and are a source of free outdoor play in the community.
Funding for the project was made possible by a donation from the Brookings Rotary Club, this year celebrating its 100th year, as well as a grant from Rotary District 5610, the Brookings Area United Way, and labor from the Brookings Park District and local Rotarians.
Installation is underway in both parks.
The Brookings Rotary Club is part of Rotary International, a 115-year-old service organization with 35,000 clubs and more than 1.2 million members around the globe. The local club, celebrating its centennial anniversary this year, meets at 12 p.m. each Tuesday, currently via Zoom, and guests and prospective members are welcome. For more information contact President Don Norton, donnnorton75@gmail.com.
Brookings Rotarian Michael Gonda, left, and Dhwani Kharel, United Way intern, work on painting part of the Born Learning Trails at McClemons Park.
Members of the Brookings Rotary Club and representatives of the Brookings Area United Way joined forces to help with the installation of the Born Learning Trails at Hillcrest Park. Pictured from left are Rotary President Elect Darla Biel and volunteer Ali Teesdale. Brookings Rotarian and District 5610 Governor Dan Little is in the back.
Born Learning Trails 2020-07-22 05:00:00Z 0
FOOD DRIVE! 2020-07-16 05:00:00Z 0

President's Message for July 2020

Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive
It was great to hear Past President Jennifer Soma at our June 30th meeting recount her year as Brookings Rotary Club President. What a year it was!
  • We celebrated its 100th birthday proclamations from the Mayor and Governor;
  • We gifted to the city a clock that will stand tall on Main Avenue – celebrating 100 years of Service Above Self;
  • We concluded giving “Brain Game” books to more than 400 families of newborns;
  • We began installation of the Born Learning Trails in Hillcrest Park;
  • We continued the tradition of giving six, $1,000 scholarships to area high school seniors attending SDSU in the fall;
  • We acknowledged our 4-Way Test contest winners;
  • We rekindled a Rotaract Club at SDSU;
  • We now have a club consisting of 100% Paul Harris Fellows; and
  • At our meetings, we heard from inspirational speakers, and club members who shared the joys and milestones of their lives by giving “scholar dollars” to continue with our philanthropic work.
Notice that up until this point, there’s been no mention of a global pandemic.
We’ve learned much over the past few months. COVID-19 is serious, but it has not deterred our purpose.  If anything, Rotarians here and around the world have found new ways to make lives better. We recently thanked front-line healthcare workers for their dedication in our skilled nursing centers by giving $20 gift certificates from local restaurants to 250 professionals who are keeping our older citizens protected. And we’re ready to move forward with District Governor Dan Little from Brookings at the helm.
This is an interesting time to be stepping in as President of the 100 year old Brookings Rotary Club. While we aren’t meeting in person, it’s important for each one of us to remember what Rotary is about. In the Johnny Mercer song, he points out some really tough situations in the Bible that were solved when people “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch on to the affirmative.” We will move forward by finding new ways to serve the Brookings community, and my goal, now more than ever, is to honor our friendships and tradition of Service Above Self.  
President Don
President's Message for July 2020 2020-07-16 05:00:00Z 0


The Brookings Rotary Club invites members of the community to join in its upcoming food drive to benefit the Brookings Food Pantry.
There are two ways to participate. Community members may drop off their donations of non-perishable, unexpired food items Monday through Friday, July 20-24, in the lobby at Dacotah Bank, 1441 6th St., between 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Donors also may request that a Rotarian pick up the food items. To request a donation pickup, sign up with name and address in the “Sign Up Genius” link established here (your contact information will not be used for any other purposes):
A Rotarian will stop by your home and pick up bagged contributions from your porch between 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. 
Although all unexpired non-perishable food items are appreciated, the Food Pantry indicates the most needed items are: canned fruit, cereal, cream of chicken soup, cream of celery soup, pork and beans, creamed corn, peas, Chicken Helper, Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper, Knorr or HyVee pasta and rice sides, canned beef stew, saltine crackers, baked beans, and especially strawberry and grape jelly.
Questions may be directed to Michael Gonda, Service Project Chair, at Michael.Gonda@sdstate.edu.
FOOD DRIVE! Kay 2020-07-16 05:00:00Z 0

Sioux Falls Rotarian Couple Wins Brookings Raffle Basket

The Rotary District 5610 annual fundraising raffle was held virtually this year, raising about $50,000 for the organization’s philanthropic efforts. The gift basket donated to the raffle by the Brookings Rotary Club, one of many prizes donated by Rotary clubs throughout the district, was won by Cindy and Bert Olson, members of the Sioux Falls South Rotary Club. Pictured here, Brookings Club President Don Norton, left, presents the basket to the Olsons. The prize, valued at $250, contained items purchased from nine different Brookings retailers.
Sioux Falls Rotarian Couple Wins Brookings Raffle Basket 2020-07-14 05:00:00Z 0
Rotarians Honor Health Care Workers During National Skilled Nursing Care Week 2020-06-15 05:00:00Z 0


Brookings, SD — Brookings High School seniors Katie Osbeck and Cynthia Campbell were honored as the Brookings Rotary Club’s January Students of the Month. 

Katie is the daughter of Joel and Missy Osbeck of Brookings.  Some of her in-school activities have included: Volleyball, Track, Choir, Cross Country, and FCCLA.  Outside of school, she is involved with her church student leadership team and worship team.  Her honors and offices have included National Honors Society and Honor Roll.  Katie plans to attend Indiana Wesleyan University to pursue a degree in mathematics education.

Cynthia Campbell is the daughter of Dan and Kathleen Campbell of Aurora.  Some of her in-school activities have included: National Honors Society, Student Government, Multi-Cultural Club, Health Occupation Students of America, Spanish Club, Basketball, Track, Cross Country, Choir and Band.  Outside of school, she has been involved with American Legion Auxiliary Juniors, We Are Healers, Center for Native American Youth at Aspen Institute, Girls State, and National Native American Youth initiative.  Her honors and offices have included various offices in American Legion Auxiliary Jrs., Student Government, Most Inspirational JV Athlete, Athletic Scholar Academic Excellence, Music Scholar Award.  Cynthia plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy.

Each month during the school year, the Brookings Rotary Club recognizes two students who excel in exhibiting their motto “Service Above Self” and fulfill the ideals of the Four-Way Test: Is it the truth?  Is it fair to all concerned?  Will it build goodwill and better friendships?  Will it be beneficial to all concerned? 

Photo: Cynthia Campbell, Katie Osbeck, and Rotary President Jennifer Soma

Brookings Rotary Club 100th Year Centennial Celebration 2020-01-14 06:00:00Z 0


About a dozen potential Rotaract members at South Dakota State University showed up for our first official meeting on November 18th, 2019. Fittingly, the meeting was held in the “Wahlstrom Room” in the Animal Science Complex at SDSU, named in honor of longtime Rotarian Rick Wahlstrom! Jennifer Soma, Kay Norton, Don Norton, Toby Uecker, Michael Gonda, and Nicole Rawden shared with these students the mission of Rotary and how Rotary has impacted their lives. The students then elected a club President, Brittany Kludt. We hope to coordinate more activities and projects in the upcoming semester. If you have questions, Kay Norton and Michael Gonda are serving as co-advisers for Rotaract.  Like our page on Facebook at Brookings Rotaract.

Rotarians deliver Brain Game Booklets: Fun Ways to Help Your Baby's Mind Grow

A new shipment of "The Brain Game: Fun Ways to Help Your Baby's Mind Grow" booklets were delivered to Brookings Health System to distribute to the parent(s) of every baby born in 2019. The Brookings Rotary Club is sponsoring this community health education project in partnership with Brookings Health System. The Brain Game was developed by pediatricians, neonatologists and child development specialists as a "how to" guide for parents raising children from birth to three years of age. This booklet was developed as a health education project of the La Crosse Rotary Club of Wisconsin for distribution to parents of newborn infants at their hospital. Today, the booklet, recently updated, has been made available and adopted by many other Rotary Clubs in the U.S. for health education projects in their community.
The idea for implementing this project came from Marcia and Larry Janssen visiting the Lacrosse Rotary Friendship Booth at the 2017 Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The Brain Game project was featured and carefully explained how other Rotary Clubs could adopt and implement this project with their local hospital. A District 5610 Grant was received to help fund this Brookings Rotary Club project.
Pictured (L-R): Marcia Janssen, Brookings Rotary Club, Sara Schneider, Brookings Health System Foundation Director, Mary Schwaegerl, BHS Obstetrics Director, and Larry Janssen, Brookings Rotary Club.
Rotarians deliver Brain Game Booklets: Fun Ways to Help Your Baby's Mind Grow 2018-12-31 06:00:00Z 0

President's Message for June

How do 365 days go by so fast? This last year has been one for the memory books. Did we ever think we would be where we are as a world, country, state, or city? It started off with a bang by having eight of us travel to Hamburg, Germany, for the Rotary International Conference. Larry and Marcia Janssen, Michael and Tiffani Gonda, Brad and Michelle Blaha, and my daughter Grace and I joined over 25,000 Rotarians from 175 countries who came together during the first week of June. We were able to meet new friends and learn how we can help one another; therefore following the 2019-2020 Rotary Motto: Making a Difference.

We Rotarians are a group that keeps on giving and always finds a way to help our community. To help celebrate our 100th Anniversary, we fund raised to purchase a Rotary Clock to be placed downtown. Our last meeting in January we celebrated with cake, proclamations from our Mayor Corbett, Governor Noem, District Governor Ina Winters, and also heard memories from some of the previous Rotarian Presidents. Another highlight to the year was being able to sponsor a Rotaract Club at SDSU. One of our grants that we applied for through our District 5610 was approved which allowed us to help fund the “The Born Learning Trails”.

Considering what has happened during the last couple of months, many things have changed. We went from meeting on Tuesdays with lunch at the Brookings Activity Center to meeting via Zoom. Many of us hadn’t even heard of Zoom. Covid 19 (Corona Virus) changed everything. Nearly everything came to a standstill and it is likely that our world as we knew it, won’t be the same in the future.

Yes, we are moving ahead as best as we can! The dream of making all our members Paul Harris Fellows, was completed in April by the gifting of points from a number of our local Rotarians. I was told this has been a dream of many of our past presidents, so I am so happy it became a reality! We came together quickly and raised money for a “Covid Relief Meal and Thank You” for our Skilled Nursing Home staff which was funded by local Rotarians and a District Grant. There are things for us to look forward to! Our clock is slated to be delivered near the end of June and installed during July. Our 100th Celebration is scheduled for November 5th in conjunction with our District Conference which will be led by our very own District Governor Dan Little.

Thank you to all of you! I am thankful for the opportunity to serve you as your President. You are all awesome and I appreciate each of you! Time goes fast, so enjoy it while you can. In a blink of an eye, life can change.

Blessings my friends,


President's Message for June 2018-11-06 06:00:00Z 0
President's Message for December 2018-11-06 06:00:00Z 0

Rotarian of Distinction for 2018


Congratulations to REVA JOHNSON for being selected in the 2018 inaugural group of Rotarians of Distinction at the District 5610 Conference / Celebration held last week in Vermillion. The Rotarians of Distinction Award is presented to individuals who through service to their Rotary Club and community have distinguished themselves, even among all Rotarians who strive to place service above self. The 2018 inaugural group of recipients have traveled different paths in their Rotary service, but those paths have all resulted in a record of service that identifies them as ROTARIANS OF DISTINCTION. Nominated by then Assistant Governor Dan Little, Reva was one of only ten Rotarians from District 5610 to be so honored this year.

Rotarian of Distinction for 2018 2018-10-09 05:00:00Z 0

Brookings Couple Learn About School in Tanzania

By: John Kubal, The Brookings Register

BROOKINGS – When Brookings Rotarian Gregg Jongeling and his wife Vi had an opportunity this past May to join a safari to view and photograph the wildlife of the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania, Africa, they took it.

Additionally, they knew they would attend a graduation ceremony at one of the most successful educational projects that Rotary supports: The School of St. Jude, in the city of Arusha, in the Northern Region of Tanzania.

“In my case, I went for the safari; but I came back with the enthusiasm for the school,” Gregg said.

“We love to travel, so it was just an opportunity to go with a group,” Vi added.

The Jongelings paid their own way and joined Rotary Club members who had been sponsoring a student and were going over for the school’s third high school graduation ceremony.

The school was founded in 2002 by Australian Gemma Sisia and named in honor of St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. From its opening with three students and one teacher, the school has grown to almost 2,000 students spread over three campuses. More than 1,000 of the students are boarded on two of the campuses. St. Jude’s is totally funded through charitable donations and receives no government funding.

While the school is named after a Catholic patron saint, it is per se ecumenical, and religious instruction is not part of the curriculum.


Passing the ‘poverty test’

One of the most unique aspects of St. Jude’s is its process for selecting students.

“The students that they select here are the brightest they can find. There are a lot of students trying to get in and they test them,” Gregg explained.

He noted that gender and religion are not issues in the selection process. Affluence, however, is. The students selected must also pass a “poverty test.”

“They must be very poor,” Gregg said. “And they only take one student from a family, with the idea that one student will be able to bring the entire family up out of poverty.”

Comparing and contrasting St. Jude’s with Tanzania’s government-sponsored schools, Gregg noted that in the latter schools, Swahili is the primary language through the primary grades. Then a test determines which quarter of the students will move on to middle school and beyond.

“Only the top quarter (of all students) will go beyond primary school,” he added.

Meanwhile, at St. Jude’s, all instruction is in English.

“They (St. Jude’s) have a different attitude,” Gregg explained. “At a school like this, it’s more of the Australian/American teaching, with the idea that the students participate, the students can question, the students can be involved in the teaching.

“Whereas in the government schools, it’s pretty much they might write the lesson on the board and the teacher might leave for that hour; or they can never question authority.”

Citing the value of fluency in English, he noted such skills would enable one having them “to work in the tourism industry, which is the big industry in Tanzania, and make four to 10 times what a regular laborer who doesn’t have an education could make.”


Aid from Rotary

St. Jude’s prepares its students for going on in such fields as science, engineering and medicine.

“A lot of them are looking toward medicine and being doctors. A number are going to be in the engineering field,” Gregg said.

Virtually 100 percent of St. Jude’s graduates will go on to college following high school graduation. And most of the students do an internship before starting college. Many of them will assist at St. Jude’s. “A number of them also go out and assist or teach in government schools because they’re so much better prepared,” he said.

However, there are very few opportunities for higher education in Tanzania; so St. Jude’s high school graduates are helped with scholarships to attend colleges and universities in Kenya and the Union of South Africa.

Gregg noted that Rotary International is a key financial supporter of St. Jude’s, with major contributions coming from its clubs in the Syndney, Australia, area.

Additionally, Pat and Willis Sutliff of the Rushmore chapter of Rotary in Rapid City have helped create “The American Friends of the School of St. Jude,” a 501(c)(3) corporation as a vehicle for Americans to make tax-exempt contributions to the school.

In U.S. dollars, it costs $4 million annually to operate St. Jude’s. The Brookings Rotary Club has approved the use of its scholarship fund to support half the annual $2,640 cost for a student; and the Jongelings are providing the remaining half.


St. Jude’s in action

The Jongelings had the opportunity to visit the school and also to visit one of the students at home.

Vi especially enjoyed meeting and interacting with St. Jude’s students.

“They were so open and so loving and just beautiful children. We participated in a lot of their classes. And you didn’t just sit and watch them do things,” she said.

First- and second-graders were eager to demonstrate their reading skills for the Jongelings.

“We were delighted to meet Glory, a third-grade student sponsored by Rotary District 5610,” Gregg added. (The district encompasses all of South Dakota and parts of Iowa, Minnsota and Nebraska.) “We traveled to her home to meet her mother and learn of the obstacles Glory must overcome to continue her education.”

Glory’s mother does not speak English. Her young daughter is teaching her.

“That’s the idea, that she can teach her mother English and maybe basic math and things that might help her to get a job working in the tourism industry, which will probably quadruple her income and put her into a whole different situation for life,” Gregg added.

“And that’s what they hope that they’re doing with every one of the students. By raising up 2,000 students, you hope you’re raising up 2,000 families.”

St. Jude’s goal is that after completing their education, its students “will come back and work through the country,” he said.

The Jongelings were able to visit St. Jude’s three campuses: Sisia has the primary students, who are bused in at 6 a.m. and returned home at 5 p.m.; Moivaro has the middle school students, who come in on Monday and return to their homes on Friday; and Smith has the high schools students who stay the entire semester on campus.

All students are fed three meals a day. And all receive an annual physical examination.

Geography plays a big role; being on the equator, St. Jude’s days are all equally 12 hours of daylight, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and 12 hours of darkness, 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

Having seen St. Jude’s in action, Gregg, 32 years a Rotarian and retired Brookings city engineer, had a takeaway lesson of his own: “I like to say the school accepts the brightest students they can find and the poorest students they can find, with the idea of giving them an education so that they can become leaders in their country to try to bring the entire country of Tanzania forward and to help everybody in the country. That’s the goal of the school.”

And St. Jude’s founder has her own vision for the future of the school.

“Gemma’s stated goal is to have the prime minister of Tanzania come from her school some day,” Gregg said.

Perhaps prayers to St. Jude will again be answered.

Brookings Couple Learn About School in Tanzania 2017-08-28 05:00:00Z 0

Rotary Trivia Team Wins, Gives Back

Brookings, SDWith their knowledge of trivia and donation of school supplies, The Brookings Rotary Club recently helped support the Brookings Back2School Project.  The Rotary trivia team, “The Cogs,” won first place at Wooden Legs Brewery’s Giving Back Trivia Night on August 1st.  In addition to providing school supplies such as paper, markers, crayons, notebooks, and folders, the Rotary team gave their first-place winnings of $50 to the Back2School Project. 

Members of “The Cogs” included Ginger Thomson, Dave Gilkerson, Brad Blaha, Jay Vanduch, Rich Widman, Jason Croat, and Isaiah Crevier.  Rotarian Toby Uecker coordinated the effort and emceed the event.  The Brookings Rotary Club’s goal in 2017-18 is to offer monthly community service opportunities for members, thereby bettering the Brookings community.

The main objective of Rotary International is service, in the community and throughout the world. With more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs worldwide, Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio.

Photo: L-R Back Row: Ginger Thomson, Toby Uecker, Dave Gilkerson, Brad Blaha, Jay Vanduch, Rich Widman, Jason Croat, and Isaiah Crevier.

Rotary Trivia Team Wins, Gives Back 2017-08-02 05:00:00Z 0

Johnson Elected President of Brookings Rotary Club

The main objective of Rotary International is service, in the community and throughout the world. With more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs worldwide, Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio.

Photo: Reva Johnson, Brookings Rotary Club’s new president, accepts the gavel from past president Dan Little.  



Johnson Elected President of Brookings Rotary Club 2017-07-01 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary President Dan Little Appointed Area 4 District 5610 Assistant Governor Effective July 1, 2017 2017-06-01 05:00:00Z 0

Brookings Rotary Club Buys Equipment for Boys & Girls Club

Brookings, SD — Children who play in the gym at the Brookings Boys and Girls Club are better protected from harm, thanks to the Rotary Club of Brookings.  The Boys and Girls Club saw a need for safety mats to be mounted along the wall of the full-size gym.  The safety mats provide a layer of safety for all youth and allow for more robust activities to be possible because of this protection.  The local Rotary Club was able to purchase the mats with a matching grant from the Rotary District 5610 Community Assistance Program.
“The objective is to provide a safe environment for the over 350 children who attend the Boys and Girls Club daily, while they participate in a variety of activities in the gym,” said Brookings Rotarian Reva Johnson.  To celebrate the installation of the mats, Rotary members volunteered to work Saturday, April 1st, at the Willie Mac basketball tournament in the Boys and Girls Club gym.
The main objective of Rotary International is service, in the community and throughout the world. With more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs worldwide, Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio.
Photo: L-R: Brookings Rotarians Del Johnson and Jason Flaskey work the Willie Mac basketball tournament.  The safety mats provided by the Brookings Rotary Club are along the wall in the background.
Brookings Rotary Club Buys Equipment for Boys & Girls Club 2017-04-25 05:00:00Z 0

Rotary Student of the Month

Brookings, SD — Brookings High School senior Shae Kizima was honored as the Brookings Rotary Club’s May Student of the Month. 

Shae is the daughter of Heather and Kevin Witte of Brookings.  Some of the activities in which she has been   involved are: National Honor Society, Student Council, Spanish Club, SADD, and Volleyball. 

She has also been a volunteer for the Brookings Regional Humane Society, Brookings Marathon, and Middle School Engineering Camp.  After graduation from BHS, she plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and major in Gender and Women’s Studies.

Each month during the school year, the Brookings Rotary Club recognizes two students who excel in exhibiting their motto “Service Above Self” and fulfill the ideals of the Four-Way Test: Is it the truth?  Is it fair to all concerned?  Will it build goodwill and better friendships?  Will it be beneficial to all concerned? 

The main objective of Rotary International is service, in the community and throughout the world. With more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs worldwide, Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio.

 Photo: Shae Kizima

Rotary Student of the Month 2017-02-28 06:00:00Z 0
Rotary Exchange Student attending BHS 2017-02-14 06:00:00Z 0

Helping people with disabilities make their own music

Music has been an important part of leading an ordinary life for students at the Music School for Children With Disabilities in Honor of Paul Harris in Lublin, Poland. Founded by Rotary members, the school serves 20 students with various disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism, and visual impairments. The Rotary Club of Lublin-Centrum-Maria Curie-Sklodowska has provided funding with help from Rotary Foundation Matching Grants and the Henryk Wieniawski Musical Society, which houses the school.
After their son Mateusz was born with underdeveloped eyes, Mariusz and Joanna Kania looked for ways to help him be active. When he showed an aptitude for music, they looked for a teacher and were thrilled to find the Paul Harris music school.
Helping people with disabilities make their own music 2015-05-01 00:00:00Z 0

Finding Safe Haven

For years, Angalia Bianca had slept in abandoned buildings throughout Chicago. She stole. She did drugs. She spent time in and out of jail for forgery, theft, trespassing, and possession of narcotics. But after she landed in prison for the seventh time, something changed -- Bianca knew she wanted a better life. She just didn’t know how to make it happen.
After serving her time, Bianca sought help from a local homeless organization, A Safe Haven, and moved to its shelter in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Bianca followed the program closely -- she attended all the required meetings, passed drug tests, and volunteered at every opportunity.
Finding Safe Haven 2015-05-01 00:00:00Z 0

Saving lives in Ghana

What is it like taking a large team to Africa?  It has probably been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. In mid February, I began leading Rotary members from all over the East Coast of the United States through Ghana. I’ve tried to give the team a warm Ghanaian welcome like I’ve received on my earlier trips. A large trip is a real blessing because each person sees Ghana and our work in a different way.

A highlight for the team was greeting the chief of Sagadugu. The team got excited about buying goats and food for children in the villages where I support eight churches. It was good to see the pastors of most of the eight churches, and I had to explain that we were just passing through on our way to Bolgatanga.
Saving lives in Ghana 2015-05-01 00:00:00Z 0

India celebrates three years without polio

Throughout India and around the world, Rotary clubs are celebrating a major milestone: India has gone three years without a new case of polio. The last reported case was a two-year-old girl in West Bengal on 13 January 2011. To mark this historic triumph, Rotary clubs illuminated landmarks and iconic structures throughout the country with four simple but powerful words, "India is polio free."
The three-year achievement sets the stage for polio-free certification of the entire Southeast Asia region by the World Health Organization. The Indian government also plans to convene a polio summit in February to commemorate this victory in the global effort to eradicate polio.
India celebrates three years without polio 2014-02-26 00:00:00Z 0