Elkins Rotary celebrates accomplishments

The Elkins Rotary Club celebrated its many accomplishments Monday during a committee wrap-up session. Assistant Director General Lois Nelson of Rotary District 7530 kicked off the gathering.

“Thanks for allowing me to serve you,” Nelson said. “Thanks for all of your service to this community through the year.”

Elkins Rotary Secretary/Treasurer Merllene Yorkey summed up the club’s activities during the past year.

“We did chicken barbecues, (and) we did the tin cup, where monies collected are donated to local organizations,” Yorkey said.

“You as Rotarians gave more than $17,000 to your community here in Randolph County,” she said. “In addition to that, you put in 3,690 volunteer hours here. You also helped to donate more than 2,500 pounds of food to Catholic Charities during the food drive. You deserve to give yourselves a huge round of applause.”

Each year, Elkins Rotary Club has a community service project, Yorkey said.

“This year, the board of directors voted to fully fund our five-year commitment for the Davis House,” Yorkey said, then presented Dan Bucher with a check to the Davis House for $3,000.

“I just want to thank the club for all of the commitment that went into raising the money,” said Bucher. “I can tell you the house has been in constant use. Friday when I left, we had four guests staying there. So you can see, it is really meeting a need.”

Pat Schoonover, membership committee chairperson, said the Elkins Rotary Club currently has 53 members.

“44 members are active and three are on leave of absence,” Schoonover said. “We have had a reduction somewhat this year of membership.

“That is something that we probably will need to look at in the next year to start improving our membership and looking throughout our community for those individuals that have not had an opportunity to come to our meetings and find out what Rotary is about,” she said. “We need to continue with education about what Rotary is about to the general public.”

Bob Dunkerley spoke about the Polio Plus Committee accomplishments.

“The event is Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day, and will be at Elkins High School,” Dunkerley said. “We have already had some commitment by local folks who are professional musicians. We are looking forward to having a successful event and maybe tying in some of those veteran opportunities to make it even more comprehensive.”

Ron LaNeve, chairman of District 7530 Polio Plus Committee, updated members on where the group is now.

“Polio usually strikes kids under five years of age and there is no cure for it,” LaNeve said. “If the neurons have been infected with the virus, then the muscles that are stimulated by those neurons can’t work, and the muscles will never work. There is no treatment for polio. It is preventive only.

“When we started in 1985, there were 365,000 cases of polio each year,” LaNeve said. “We had 125 endemic countries. In 2002, we had 2,000 cases of polio – 363,000 cases less in a project that people said would never work. But our leaders in Rotary said they were going to stick with it.

“In 2003, there were 750 cases,” LaNeve said. “In 2011, it dropped down to 650 cases and in 2012, it dropped down to 223 cases. That is the lowest it has ever been. This year, we have only had 55 cases worldwide in three endemic countries. The World Health Organization and UNICEF have added 1,357 people to help with immunizations.

“We hope to reach our goal of eradicating polio by 2018 and it will cost $5.5 billion,” LaNeve said. “We are switching to the injection vaccine. Each Rotary Club is responsible for $1,000 per year per club.

“When you are in the right place at the right time to do the right thing, you don’t have any moral obligation less than doing it,” LaNeve said. “So we are going to stay with it, and we will wipe out polio.”

Earlier in the meeting, Yorkey listed all the local organizations the Elkins Rotary Club supported during the past year.

“We donated to Catholic Charities, Literacy Volunteers, Randolph County Community Arts Center, Randolph County Homeless Shelter, Women’s Aid In Crisis, West Virginia Childrens Home, the Davis House, Boy Scouts, Camp Horseshoe, Elkins High School Project Graduation, Rhododendron Girl’s State, the United Way of Randolph County, Youth Health Services, Davis & Elkins College, Elkins Public Library, Valley Head Library, Tygarts Valley High School, Elkins High School, Elkins Middle School, the YMCA, Third Ward Elementary, Harman School, North Elementary, Elkins ON-TRAC, Elkins Volunteer Fire Department, Randolph County Development Authority, First United Methodist Church after-prom party and the Backpack Program,” she said.