“I can no longer sit silent while the people of Ukraine suffer such inhuman devastation from this unprovoked violence,” said John Bob Siemienowicz. He asked members of district 7870, covering Rotary clubs in southern New Hampshire and southern Vermont, of Rotary International to “band together to offer humanitarian aid to alleviate the grief and suffering that the people of Ukraine are experiencing.”
Based on the response to this call for Ukrainian aid, 65% of the district’s club have already responded, producing over $114,000 in donations and contributions to the District 7870 Foundation. According to Siemienowicz, all of this amount will be distributed to selected Ukrainian and Polish organizations. In addition, some of the clubs and members of the district have made contributions to the Rotary International Disaster Response Fund and to other organizations working on Ukrainian relief projects.
Donors to the District 7870 Foundation have included individuals (both Rotarians and non-Rotarians), community church groups, and others, as well as Rotary Clubs both in the district and outside.
Thus far, district 7870 has been involved in many specific activities for Ukrainian relief, among them being:
- Medical equipment purchased through the Lublin, Poland Rotary (RC) club
- $45,000 for field hospital x-ray and operating room equipment plus medicines
- $12,000 for Hospice for treatment of Ukrainian children with cancer
- $18,000 through the Zamosc, Poland RC for refugee housing and humanitarian aid
- Monies for the purchase of 40 laptops to help manage the Education needs of children refugees with Bialystok RC.
Other activities the district has been involved with include medical supplies for Kiyv, food for Odessa, and the care of refugees in Czestochowa, Poland. Siemienowicz indicated that “more projects are in the works, and are being vetted through our teams of Rotarians in Poland to make sure the best results for the money are being pursued.”
Nearly all Rotary districts in the U.S. are also participating in aid to the Ukraine. District 7870 took advantage of challenging the Punta Gorda Rotary Club of Florida to a $5,000 match for humanitarian aid going to Czestochowa RC, and Punta Gorda raised well over the $5,000 required.
Siemienowicz noted that District 7870 has teamed up with Rotary Clubs (RC) in Poland including Rotary Czestochowa, Lublin Centrum Rotary, RC Zamosc Ordynacki, Bialystok RC and RC Zamosc. These clubs have the best knowledge of the immediate needs in the Ukraine and the most effective way to addressing them.
Assistance is also coming to Poland from the many Rotary Clubs in 13 European nations. Examples of how local Rotarians addressed the fundraising effort are numerous and display the unique approaches involved. For example:
- The Woodstock Rotary, after deciding to donate from its funds, had one of its members, a photographer, raffle off a picture of the sunflower, the national flower of the Ukraine
- Laconia setup a “Tips for Ukraine” jar at its recent pancake breakfast event
- Ludlow and the United Church of Ludlow, sponsored a lasagna dinner, raising over $20,000; the elementary school is also selling sunflower seeds
- Windsor will be holding a Bingo event to raise funds
In summarizing the progress made thus far, Siemienowicz said, “The call to action by everyone involved in this humanitarian effort is something that highlights our Rotarian theme, ‘Serve to Change Lives’, and makes you proud to be a member of this great organization.”