District Governor

Debbie Hale
Debbie Hale

Debbie is a member of the Rotary Club of Salinas Steinbeck, and is serving as our District Governor for the Rotary year 2023-2024.

Spring into Maternal and Child Healthcare!

I’m not a mom.  But I understand and appreciate the importance of taking care of our mothers and children.  My sister graciously made me an auntie with the birth of my nephew, Jaren.  He’s pictured here, on a hike we did to celebrate his 21st birthday.  He was fortunate that his mom was a trained teacher and counselor as well as a strong advocate for good health care.  When he was little, she noticed that he had some learning issues.  He didn’t make eye contact, he had difficulty socializing and didn’t talk until later than most toddlers.  She knew something was wrong, so she had him tested. As it turned out, he had a mild form of autism.  Because she acted early, had good health coverage, and knew how to work with the school system, she was able to get him the training and education he needed by age 2 ½.  Early treatment is critical to long-term success in managing symptoms.  He is now a thriving adult who is in college and looking towards career options in computer technology.  (He’s a lot of fun, too!)

The importance of maternal and child health is why Rotary has made it one of its seven areas of focus.  The earlier we can create good health outcomes, the better.  I was honored to be invited by our District International Service Chair, Esteban Pauli (East Fresno Rotary) to participate in a global grant to purchase ultrasound equipment for a hospital serving pregnant women in San José de Cúcuta, Colombia. Many of the patients are refugees from Venezuela, since Cúcuta is on the border.  Esteban had met their primary sponsor, Gladys Maldonado, Zone 25A Rotary Foundation Regional Coordinator, at an International Projects Fair that was held online.

The San José de Cúcuta Rotary Club initially partnered with an international sponsor in the United States with a small amount of funds and some District contributions. Eventually, this initial sponsor pulled out and East Fresno Rotary assumed the international sponsor role and a made a commitment to raise funds to complete the project budget of $78,575.   With some fast action, contributions from other generous Rotary clubs from various Districts in California, Canada, Mexico, and a supportive Rotary Foundation, the grant was approved in record time.

This March, Esteban and his team of District 5230 Rotarians joined Rotary International President Gordon R. McInally, Vice President Pat Merryweather-Arges and Gladys Maldonado to install the new ultrasound equipment.  About 4,000 low-income women each year will now be able to identify pregnancy issues early enough to improve the health of their babies.  While I am disappointed that I was unable to travel to this event (I broke my collarbone bicycling through a giant puddle!), I am very proud of our team and the partnerships they developed.

As often happens when visiting Rotarians, our team learned about additional projects that we join to help out those in need, particularly in Venezuela.  Keep an eye out for these grant proposals – Esteban and his team will be developing a strategy for our clubs and our District can participate in these grants over time to strengthen health care, improve access to clean water, and support economic development in a country that Rotary recognizes needs our assistance.

Rotary gatherings are the best way to develop partnerships that Create Hope in the WorldDon’t forget to sign up for our District Conference, May 10 – 12 in Monterey, where you can get ideas and connect with fellow Rotarians who are doing good in our communities and around the world.  We have great keynote speakers and engaging hosts. The Coast vs. Valley Friday night hospitality suites are going to be spectacular fun!  And you will learn how to participate in new projects at our breakout sessions. Sign up at:  Rotary5230.org.

Enjoy the lovely spring blooms and watch out for those rain puddles!



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