Posted by Mike Fuqua on Jun 01, 2021
The murder of George Floyd last year and the increasing awareness of the need for diversity, inclusion, and equity in society struck a nerve with several RB Rotary Club members. So, in March of 2019, incoming President Alex Robertson asked John Goodrich to head a team to see how we could make a difference.
Beginning with 3 members meeting weekly, and eventually growing to a committee of 9, the Diversity in Action team brainstormed, made a lot of phone calls, traveled several dead ends, hit COVID stimies, and eventually found some successes. All research and planning searched for: 1) better understanding cultures and issues foreign to most members and 2) taking action. We updated the club several time during the year.
Our first success created a $4500 grant for a staffed after-school study hall at Poway’s Abraxas HS, where 60% of students are minorities. COVID has delayed start-up, but the project will eventually include mentoring opportunities for Club members.
Next, our Fall speaker calendar emphasized human trafficking, as it impacted minorities and the disadvantaged; and then in winter switched to diversity topics. Together, fourteen speakers from several racial groups educated the Club.
A related action was nomination of SD Deputy AG Mary-Ellen Barrett for the District ‘Pathways to Peace’ award for ‘Peacemaker of the Year.’ She has working tirelessly for years on behalf of human trafficked children, mostly minorities, throughout the county.
The team then turned to Rotary Branding, both on-line, and in the local Pomerado News Journal. We currently place twice-monthly quarter-page ads recognizing National heritage month. They honor a community member or organization working on diversity, inclusion, or human trafficking issues.
We also advocated successfully for an additional Club Foundation grant of $6000. This time it went to Poway Unified Schools for installing hot-spots and refurbished computers to assist disadvantaged students during the pandemic.
Happily, during the team’s first year, our diverse membership grew . . . two of the six new members joining since COVID started a year ago March, have minority backgrounds. Two more are in the wings, having expressed interest in membership recently.
Last week, the Diversity in Action committee had its first face-to-face meeting all year--in a local parking lot! Chair John Goodrich surprised the team with hand hewn, custom-designed, personally milled, wooden Rotary platters as a thank you gift for all their effort.
Thanks to you too John, for both leadership and gifts. Our new incoming 2021/22 President, Athenea Luciano, herself a Latina, looks for the team to continue demonstrating that our club is open to all, and searching for even better ways to grow in its diversity, inclusion and equity efforts