Club Rotario Puerto Vallarta Sur of District 5450 was chartered in 1985 and has been a driving force in the community ever since with its "number one" focus being on education.
This Club is very fortunate being located in a major tourist center and having its meeting at a time and place convenient for visitors to the area. They meet at a major resort Thursday mornings at 9:00. This being a good time because it allows visitors to attend a Rotary meeting and still have most of the day to do the "tourist things".
Soon after being chartered, members of the Club identified a small village (Paso Ancho) just outside the city in desperate need of a school. Primary school classes were being conducted in a vacant area under the trees. Fortunately, during the school day, the weather is normally good even during the rainy season when most of the rains come in the evening starting around 6:00 pm.
The Club teamed up with the Rotary Club of Sebastopol, CA to raise the money needed to buy the materials for construction of a new school for the village. The two Clubs managed to provide the construction materials and expertise needed and most of the construction was completed by the village residents. A mural was painted by some of the women from Sebastopol on the outside wall of the washroom – one half depicting life in the Sebastopol area of California and the other half representing life in Paso Ancho. The school now has six classrooms, a library and large computer room. With the help of the Sebastopol Rotary Club and a Matching Grant from Rotary International, ten new computers were purchased for the school about five years ago.
Shortly thereafter, it came to the attention of The Club members that many of the brightest young students from the school were dropping out of school after completing the sixth grade. In Mexico, children can legally leave school at age twelve and, since many of the poor families in Paso Ancho did not have the resources to keep their children in school, many very bright young children could not afford to attend past the age of twelve.
The Club decided to start "Programa de Becas" – a scholarship program to assist some of the children of these poor families. Students chosen for the program (based on grades and the family situation) would be assigned a sponsor who would pay US$250 per year to assist the student with school related expenses. The money was intended to assist with the cost of school uniforms, shoes, books, school supplies and, in some cases, bus fares to and from school.
Once a student has been assigned to a sponsor, that partnership remains as long as both the sponsor and student are part of the program. After each "Becas Presentation", the sponsor is sent, via email, an updated profile of his/her student along with the student's picture and a "Thank You Letter" written by the student to the sponsor at the time the student receives his/her money.
We try to bring students into the program when they enter Secundaria (Junior High/Middle School) and will try to support them through to the end of University or College. We ask the sponsor to provide US$250 for grades 7, 8 & 9 students, US$300 for students in grades 10, 11 & 12 and US$350 for college and university students.
When I became involved in the program in 1996 while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta and doing a "makeup" at The Club, they had ten students in the program all sponsored by Club members. I suggested they should be trying to sell the program to visiting Rotarians and as a result it became "my mission" any time I was able to attend a Club meeting to speak to every visiting Rotarian, either before or after the meeting, and try to sell him/her on the program.
I have made a number of very good friends as a result of these contacts. We had brochures printed by one of the Club members who owns a small printing business and I always had a supply of those ready for visitors to take back to their home Clubs.
Over the years the program has slowly grown to the point where we now have three Becas programs.
• The "Original Program" now has 79 students all sponsored by Rotarians, Rotary Clubs and other individuals in Canada, United States and Mexico.
• Rotary District 6670 of Ohio took on "Programa de Becas" as their Centennial Project and has been supporting 43 students. District 6670 expects to be able to support 50 students for the 2008-2009 and future school years.
• In 2007 Jacquie Brown, a Calgary, AB Rotarian, organized three of the Calgary Rotary Clubs to support students in Puerto Vallarta. They supported 54 students for the 2007-2008 school year and 107 students for the 2008-2009 and future school years.
As a result, we now do three Becas presentations every year. The "Original Presentation" takes place in September, the "Calgary Presentation" takes place in November and the "District 6670 Presentation" takes place in January.
In order to get into the program, Students must have a minimum grade average of 8.5 out of 10 and they must maintain those grades in order to remain in the program. If a child drops below the 8.5, we will look into the circumstances surrounding the drop in grades and give them one chance to bring their grades back up. To date we have only had to drop two or three students from the program as a result of poor grades. We have had some students lose interest in school and drop out of the program on their own. We have had two of our Becas students graduate from the University of Guadalajara's Puerto Vallarta Campus' Public Accounting program.
The Club was also instrumental in the construction of a Drug & Alcohol Addiction Rehabilitation Center in Puerto Vallarta in the late 1990's. Up until that point, young people with drug and alcohol problems had to go to Guadalajara for treatment. Since many of them could not afford the price of a bus ticket or the cost of the stay in Guadalajara, many of these young people needing help could not afford it.
The Club funded most of the construction costs for the building and now that the building is complete the Mexican Government pays for the staffing. The building is staffed by doctors, nurses, social workers and councilors – not all are full time staff. The facility also has a computer room with computers available to the surrounding community for computer training by qualified staff.
In 2007, The Club teamed up with the Rotary Clubs of Bainbridge and Camilla in District 6900 of Georgia, USA, and applied for a Matching Grant from RI to assist two schools with the purchase of new computers and desks as well as supplying 56 needy students with very poor eyesight with eye glasses. The Grant provides 13 computers for each of the schools and 100 desks for one of the schools, along with the 56 pair of eye glasses.
When we visited Escuela Secundaria No. 81 last fall, we noticed a lot of students standing or sitting on the floor during class and asked why that was. We were told the school did not have enough desks for all the students and did not have funds to buy more.
At that time, they had started to insist that for a new student to come into the school, the student's family had to supply a desk for their child. Since there is a morning shift and an afternoon shift at most schools, two families would get together, if they had the money, and buy a desk. One family's child would use the desk in the morning and the child of the other family would use it in the afternoon. The cost of a desk at the time was about US$64. The desks are built in the area. The total cost of this project was US$26,000.
The Club is currently working on another Matching Grant Application with the Bainbridge and Camilla Rotary Clubs to supply equipment, office furniture and supplies to an organization dedicated to helping children of very poor families in the Puerto Vallarta area who have various disabilities. The organization is called "Pasitos de Luz" (little steps of light) and as well as helping the children cope with their disabilities, they teach the mothers how to properly care for their children and handle the problems associated with the disability.
Pasitos de Luz has very limited funding and one of the conditions to a child coming into the program is that his/her mother, if possible, will volunteer to spend time assisting at the facility. Pasitos de Luz is now supplying services, free of charge, to 120 children. They have a Benefit Supper every year at the Outback Steakhouse in Puerto Vallarta where the children sing, dance and entertain the audience to raise operating funds for the organization.
Rotary Club South Meetings are held on Thursday at 9:00 am at the Marriott Hotel in Marina Vallarta.
The purpose of Rotary eClub One of District 5450 is to extend Rotary to business, professional and community leaders in any Rotary District who are unable to meet traditional attendance requirements.
Then ability to attend a traditional Rotary club could be the result of demanding business or professional commitments, extensive travel, confinement due to ill health or disability, or residence beyond reasonable distance from an existing Rotary club.
To be a member of the Rotary eClub One means:
• You live or do business in ANY Rotary District in any country of the Rotary world.
• Your current circumstances are such that it is not possible to meet attendance requirements of a traditional Rotary club, which is typically a weekly meeting in a specific location.
• You are a contributor to society in your profession, occupation, industry, business, or community role.
• You are committed to the personal ethic of Service Above Self, The Four-Way Test, and support the Object of Rotary.
• You complete the application process outlined below and are approved for membership by the Rotary eClub One Board of Directors.
• The Club Constitution requires that currently active Rotarians applying for membership provide an endorsement from their current Rotary club President together with letters of reference from two currently active Rotarian colleagues. Active Rotarians must notify their current District Governor of their intention to join Rotary eClub One. Applicants who are former Rotarians must provide a letter of reference from a current or past President of their former Rotary club and letters of reference from two currently active Rotarians. Applicants new to Rotary must provide four endorsements, at least two of which are from currently active Rotarians.
• You are willing to participate regularly in the Rotary eClub One community and, as appropriate and feasible, you are willing to accept tasks and responsibilities.
• You accept that all club programs, forums, business, and communications are conducted in English.
• You are willing to make financial contributions to support club projects, the District Foundation and The Rotary Foundation.
• You are prepared to pay current dues of US$100/quarter to support the operating costs of Rotary International, Rotary District 5450, and Rotary eClub One which includes US$25/quarter Sustaining Membership in the Rotary Foundation. (New members pay a one-time initiation fee of US$100 which can be paid in four quarterly installments of $25 each.)
• After paying dues for the first quarter, a new member is granted a three-month trial period. If during this period the new member determines that Rotary eClub One does not meet expectation, the person may withdraw without any further financial obligation. Only the initiation fee and dues for the first quarter are forfeited. Membership is canceled without prejudice; no risk. Amounts donated to The Rotary Foundation will remain as credited to the person's RI account.
• You accept that, for the purpose of Rotary administration, you will be considered a member in good standing of District 5450, Colorado USA, although residing in a State or Province of your own country.
• You have regular access to the Internet and are willing to acquire the necessary skills to participate in the activities of Rotary eClub One.
Do you believe these membership requirements can be part of your future? If so, we would like to hear from you. Please use this Member Application Form to complete the appropriate fields and submit to the Membership Director. Your application will be reviewed and you will be contacted appropriately.
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