A day at Chulalongkorn studying peace

Rotary Peace Fellows attend the first week of classes at Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Thailand.

Rotary Peace Fellows attend the first week of classes at Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Thailand.

By Marty Peak Helman, Rotary Club of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, USA

My husband, Frank, and I were recently invited to sit in on a day of classes during the first week of the current Rotary Peace Center’s certificate program, held at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Every year, Rotary selects 50 mid-life professionals in a worldwide search to come to Bangkok for three months to study peace and conflict resolution.

As I looked around the room, I realized that
I was surrounded by professionals who Continue reading

New England Rotarians bring Christmas to Lac Megantic

Rotarians deliver Christmas gifts in Lac Megantic. Photo courtesy of Marty Helman

Rotarians deliver Christmas gifts in Lac Megantic. Photo courtesy of Marty Helman

By Marty Helman, past governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA) 

Lac Megantic in southern Quebec made headlines for all the wrong reasons last July when a train filled with crude oil derailed in the town’s central business district. The resulting fire destroyed the town’s economic base, killed 47, and 24 local children lost one or both parents. In the wake of the disaster, Rotarians in District 7780 across the border in southern Maine and coastal New  Hampshire geared up to help.   Continue reading

Howie’s field of dreams

The Buddy Ball baseball field in Rochester, New Hampshire.

The Buddy Ball baseball field in Rochester, New Hampshire.

By Marty Peak Helman, past governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA)

A child, with his buddy, uses the new field.

A child, with his buddy, uses the new field.

The Rotary Club of Rochester, New Hampshire, inaugurated its Buddy Ball baseball field with an exhibition game in front of a crowd of 300 this past June. A Buddy Ball field is a regulation Little League field specially designed for use by mentally and physically handicapped youth. As a result, the club was recognized with the RI Significant Achievement Award, which is presented to an individual club that has accomplished a major local community service project, one that all club members are involved in bringing to fruition. Continue reading

Interactors take part in Rotary-UN Day

Marty Helman, governor of District 7780, and RI President Sakuji Tanaka, middle, pose with Interactors from New England who attended Rotary-UN Day in New York City 3 November. The youth were accompanied by ten adult chaperones. Photo courtesy Marty Helman

By Marty Peak Helman, governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, USA)

What could be more exciting than bringing a bus-load of Interactors from District 7780 in Northern New England to the Big Apple for Rotary-UN Day?  The annual event includes a special program for Interactors and Youth Exchange students, and a chance not only to learn more about Rotary opportunities, but also to meet like-minded youth from all over the world. Continue reading

A soggy lobster bake shines with Rotary spirit

Marty Peak Helman with RI President Sakuji Tanaka during the Changeover ceremony in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, 1 July. Photo by Ann Lee Hussey

By Marty Peak Helman, governor of District 7780 (parts of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, USA)

On his first day as RI President, Sakuji Tanaka joined Rotarians in my hometown of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, taking part in a Changeover ceremony for six district governors and 46 club presidents.

Rotarians came from Quebec, New York, New Jersey, and all over New England – some making a 10-hour drive — in order to shake hands with Tanaka-san, hear him speak, and be formally inducted by him into their new Rotary offices. It was a remarkable honor for all. Continue reading

Speaking of polio

Marty Helman

Marty Helman during a National Immunization Day in Africa last year.

By Marty Peak Helman, governor-elect of District 7780 and a member of the Rotary Club of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, USA.

I spoke about Polio Plus to a sell-out audience at my parents’ retirement home recently. There was not one member of the audience who didn’t have a personal story to share about polio – they all knew a time in America when every summer brought a new outbreak of the disease. And inevitably, they all remember a sibling or cousin or close friend who survived – or succumbed – to the disease.

I told the residents that they had done their job too well. I told them that because of their enthusiastic support for the public health campaigns here in North America that followed rollout of first the Salk and then the Sabin vaccine, that young people today frequently think polio is a disease about as antiquated and as far from their consciousness as, for example, yellow fever or leprosy (both of which are also very much still threats in the developing world).   Continue reading