Last month President Sally Motta of The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay accepted a prestigious award on behalf of the club. Each Rotary year the District Governor nominates one Rotary Club’s community service project to receive the Rotary International Significant Achievement Award. The project must exemplify the club’s adage of ‘service above self.’ This year District Governor George Fontaine received submissions of outstanding service projects from six of the 43 clubs in Hawai‘i. After careful consideration by the District 5000 Awards Committee, “Growing Our Own Teachers Service Project” received the highest Rotary Club honor.
One of the requirements for the project to be considered for the Rotary International Significant Achievement Award is that it meet certain criteria. The community project must be able to be replicated by any club world wide; it must address a significant problem or need in the community; it must enhance the image of Rotary; and lastly, it must be something that can continue as an ongoing project. Existing projects that meet these criteria are Polio Plus, Wheel Chair Foundation and cleft palate surgery.
“The Growing Our Own Teachers” program out of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa offers statewide teacher education. The program allows teacher candidates to get full certification without leaving their own island.
In November of 2006 Professor Kani Blackwell, elementary cohort coordinator for teacher education on Kaua‘i spoke of the shortage of qualified teachers on Kaua‘i at a club meeting. Her appeal to the Hanalei Bay Rotarians for financial aid did not fall on deaf ears. Inspired by Dr. Blackwell, the Hanalei Bay Rotarians established the “Growing Our Own Teachers” scholarship initiative with the goal of raising $50,000 by December of 2007.
Radio interviews, newspaper articles, grant applications and a mailing campaign raised community awareness and donations for the scholarship fund. The Kapa‘a, Kalepa Sunrise and Po’ipu Beach Rotary Clubs supported the initiative by contributing generous financial donations.
With Cal Stanny’s large matching grant, actor Pierce Brosnan’s generous donation, a garage sale which raised $4,800 and the generosity of many members from the club and other members of the community, a total of $54,000 was raised in just over nine months.
Hanalei Bay has established “Growing Our Own Teachers” on Kaua‘i as its own 501(c)3 tax exempt foundation and the teachers program has expanded to Rotary Clubs on Maui and Big Island.