A silver "shining star" was presented to a member of the Wallowa County Rotary club last week in recognition of his many contributions to the organization and his community over the past 20 years.
The award was presented to Don Green of Joseph by Rotary District 5100 Governor Ed Gronke, who presided over the ceremony in front of a capacity crowd Friday at the Wilderness Inn in Enterprise.
Gronke praised Green for his involvement in the Rotary Foundation, Rotary Youth Exchange, and Wallowa County Health Care Foundation, and noted that he had amassed 20 years of perfect attendance at club meetings.
Green has been a staunch supporter of the health care foundation, serving as chairman of the annual hospital auction and heading up a team of volunteers which painted and landscaped the hospital's residence for visiting physicians. Green has also been very active in the arts, as past president of the Wallowa Valley Arts Council and as a member of the Oregon Arts Commission.
Gronke, who presides over the 4,200 member Rotary district which encompasses northern Oregon and southwest Washington, commended the local club for advancing the ideals of Rotary both locally and around the world. He congratulated the club for planting trees along Prairie Creek near Enterprise, saying, "that is the kind of project that people can appreciate now and 20 years in the future."
The district governor also spoke of Rotary's campaign to eradicate polio and accepted a $500 donation from the Wallowa County club to be used in that effort. He said Rotary is contributing $80 million a year to help stamp out polio in 10 countries from Africa and the Middle East where it is known to exist.
Gronke talked about the difficulty of immunizing people in places like Afghanistan, where the vaccine has to be transported in coolers to some of the most remote corners of the world.
"Sometimes you go by helicopter and sometimes on camels," he said, "and you are doing this hoping the guys up on the hill don't get nervous and start shooting at you because you're a different color."
He noted that for every dollar that Rotary raises toward eradication of polio an additional $4 is raised through matching funds contributed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. government.
Rotary has been focused on eradicating polio since the 1980s, according to Gronke, who noted that the vaccine itself costs about 35 cents a dose whereas the cost of administering the medicine adds another $3 to the expense.
"You figure the logistics of doing something like this in a place like Afghanistan and it gets very expensive," he remarked.
Gronke said that Rotary, with 2 million members worldwide, is the largest, nonprofit, nonsectarian, non-religious organization in the world. As such, the projects it takes on are not motivated by political or religious motives.
"We do what we do because we really believe it's the right thing to do," he said.