I’ve thought a lot about Hope since RI introduced this year’s theme at the RI Assembly in January. At first it seemed somewhat elusive – a little hazy and out of reach until I met Marek Wsiclo, my counterpart from Krakow-Wawel Poland. He found hope in Rotary, in Poland, in the Ukraine and in New Hampshire.
My first glimmer of understanding that kind of hope began in a breakout session at the Assembly when Marek saw I was from New Hampshire. His eyes lit up and he said, “I know people in New Hampshire.”  That’s just the beginning of this story.
When the war broke out in Ukraine four Rotarians from the Plymouth, NH Rotary Club decided that doing “nothing” was not an option. They made a  trip to Poland and connected with District Governor, Piotr.  Starting in March 2022, they learned that the best way to help would be to raise funds and send them to a trusted partner in Poland. With the support from Rotary Clubs, the media and NH’s Common Man Restaurants, they were able to raise $2.3 million. Thanks to their tireless efforts, they were able to  purchase over 700 tons of food, sleeping bags, a bloodmobile and the list goes on.
This group of four remarkable individuals focus on the most innocent of the population, the kids, to help them first and foremost with basic needs.  Children throughout Ukraine are being sent to live in “Safe Houses’ in Western Ukraine and Poland.  This measure was taken to prevent them from being stolen from their families and sold to sex traffickers and endure horrific conditions. How’s that for Hope!
Little did I know that meeting a Rotarian from Warsaw, Poland in Orlando Florida to learn about a group from Plymouth, NH, would ignite a desire to have a group of 4-5 Rotarians in our district travel to Poland in the Spring of 2024. These Rotarians will have the opportunity to view projects, visit with Rotarians and learn about the possibility of collaborating on potential programs. This is just one example of how Rotary’s creating real, hands-on hope.
I am looking forward to serving our district in 2023-24.  I encourage our clubs to collaborate with other clubs and communities when you are planning service projects and fundraisers.
Thank You for this wonderful opportunity and I look forward to creating even more hope in our world!