New Paltz Rotary Club, USA

One of Ayr Rotary’s new members who has just returned to Ayr after a number of years in USA, helped organise this exciting Zoom meeting on Tuesday evening when we linked up with New Paltz Rotary Club, in the US town of New Paltz, which is about 80 miles north of NYC. In excess of 40 members from both clubs engaged in an exchange of locale familiarisation and local & international projects. Ayr Rotary Secretary Colin Vooght hosted the event and introduced conveners who explained in detail about our major projects including our Poppy Appeal, our Treasure Chest, where local individuals/organisations can apply for a £250 donation and Message in a Bottle which is an emergency information scheme in a plastic bottle pack, that contains important medical details and is kept in a home fridge. Also we detailed our Malawi Bore Hole project and the extensive work and expanding volunteering network on the Ayrshire Coastal Path which stretches from Glenapp to Skelmorlie, covering 100 miles.

The New Paltz Club launched into their full and excitingly named projects including “Win A Bundle” which is a raffle with a top prize of $10000. “Touch a Truck” is another ingenious fund raiser to support vulnerable families in their community. Local businesses including community services like the fire brigade supply liveried vehicles enabling families to get up close and personal. This fun filled family event features all the “Big Rig’s” that service their community. Children of all ages can see, touch and interact with the vehicles and their owners.

The New Paltz Rotary Club is a strong supporter of the Rotary Youth Exchange Programme. They have hosted students from Italy, France, Spain, and, this year, Austria. The students have provided them with a greater understanding and appreciation for their countries, and they have gone home with a greater understanding of New Paltz.

The Rail Trail Cleanup and Planting Day is open to all ability levels to spend the morning planting new shrubs and sprucing up the Rail Trail between Rotary Park and Sojourner Truth Park, the 22.5 mile former Wallkill Valley railroad stretch.

The intriguingly name “Loaves & Fishes” addresses the immediate and emerging hardships of New Paltz & Gardiner residents in need of a meal. Liaising with school social workers, meal vouchers are available for families referred by participating partners. The vouchers are redeemable at participating local, independently owned restaurants and delis.

New Paltz Rotary member Pascale Guirma, whose forefathers originated in Guirgho, in rural West Africa explained that children being educated in rural village schools in Africa today are often far behind their counterparts in the developed world. Their fertile young imaginations are very quickly stifled by the realities of their circumstances. For the most part, these children will have no exposure to technologies like computers, or any opportunities to experience multimedia learning, either at school or at home. In the past the logistical hurdles necessary to close this gap, including access to electrical power, clean drinking water, and even basic sanitation made the task virtually impossible. Friends of Guirgho is committed to assisting rural schools by providing the infrastructure and technologies needed to expand their educational options. New Paltz have been at the forefront of refurbishing the local school, including supply of water, electricity and toilets and establishing a computer centre, where young minds have the opportunity to use modern tools and technology to explore their potential, and connect with the larger world from their own communities.

Thank yous all round were expressed for an excellent exchange of ideas and projects as well as the obvious Rotary bond of Service Above Self.