By Beth Christian Broschart

The Elkins Rotary Club celebrated its 95-year anniversary Monday. The guest speaker for the meeting, Jody Light of the Buckhannon Rotary Club, shared her thoughts on her experiences in the organization, and the impact being a Rotarian has made in her life.

“Rotary has blessed me more than I can ever tell you,” Light said. “I went on the first National Immunization Day in February 2010 and met some outstanding folks there, including the current Rotary director in India, and we started doing some grants.

“Our district had never done a matching grant,” she said. “That money kept sitting there, rolling around, and we had just not done it. And that’s what your money is in there for, is to use.”

Light said she made another trip to India with Rotary this year.

“I attended the 2013 Rotary South Asia Summit,” Light said, noting that “5,320 Rotarians gathered from, if you can imagine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Napal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and the United States. I feel very blessed and it was a wonderful experience.”

Light explained Rotary International is changing the way it distributes funds to districts. The distribution is based on giving from three years back.

“It used to be if we gave $100,000 from the district, 50 percent of that came back to the district,” Light said. “Of that 50 percent, the district governor could designate 20 percent of that, or $10,000, to use for what you had joined in district designation grants and funds. The rest of it you had to use for other things.

“So the big, big difference, I think, is rather than 20 percent, now we get 50 percent to use,” Light said. “So if we got $10,000 before, now we will receive $25,000 back. And that’s for us to use here.”

Light updated the Elkins Rotary Club on their own personal club statistics.

“As of this morning, your club has 63 members,” Light said. “Your members have donated $1,285 so far this year to the Rotary Foundation, which puts you at 29 percent of your annual goal. Polio contributions do not count in this. You also have had one major donor, four benefactors and 88 Paul Harris Fellows in the Elkins Rotary Club.”

Elkins Rotarian Ron LaNeve fielded a question regarding an update on polio eradication.

“Between now and 2018, which is the new goal, we need $5.5 billion in the fight against polio,” LaNeve said. “But because of that summit they had, with about 400 scientists representing all the countries of the world, they came up with $4 billion. $1.2 billion was given by the Bill Gates Foundation.

“So, I worked this all out and its absolutely in concert with Rotary International goals that if each of our clubs gives $1,080 a year, for the next five years, then we will meet that goal. It’s going to happen.”

Light is a volunteer with the West Virginia Strawberry Festival. She joined the Rotary Club in Buckhannon in 1998, and quickly became involved in coordinating the highly successful, semi-annual blood screening project, annually serving more than 4,000 people in the community.

When the Buckhannon Rotary Club president had to leave the area suddenly, Light stepped into that role and served in the president’s capacity for two years. She also served as district governor for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Upon her return, she became more heavily involved with the Rotary Foundation, coordinating several matching grants with India, Columbia, Brazil, St. John and spearheading the district’s first matching grant for the Mountaineer Food Bank last year. She is finalizing a similar $50,000 grant for the food bank which will provide more than 2,000 turkeys for families, as well as fuel to pick up and deliver goods across the state.

Light currently serves as district Rotary Foundation Chair, with an emphasis on the district’s transition to the Future Visions Program.

Light is a Rotary benefactor, a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and a member of the bequest society.