August 2021 News
Past District Governor Dan Messersmith has resigned from The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona board after 12 years of service to the organization that helps students complete their vocational training and re-enter the workforce.
Replacing Dan on the board will be Marco Cecala, a member of the e-club of the Southwest.
“On behalf of all the members TRVFA, we wish to sincerely thank PDG Dan Messersmith for his significant contribution and time to TRVFA the past 12 years,” said PDG Jeanie Morgan, chair of the district’s TRVFA Committee.
“Every application submitted to TRVFA was evaluated personally by Dan.

Dan’s knowledge and expertise benefitted the men and women who submitted their applications in hopes of receiving a scholarship from TRVFA. His selfless work made a difference in the recipients’ life, the continuation of TRVFA and as a result greatly assisted our communities.”
Dan will still be very supportive and committed to TRVFA as well as readily available to answer questions. Consider sending Dan a personal thank you for all his efforts in supporting TRVFA; direct them to
Marco is retired from a civil engineering practice and lives in Yarnell with his wife Rebecca Wilks. They are supportive of the Guatemala Literacy Project and active in other efforts as well. Marco came from a vocational education background, first in the jewelry business then home building and civil construction.
“The opportunity to work with others and help them to find meaningful careers is a great opportunity,” said Marco.
The members of TRVFA are currently seeking a Rotarian to assist TRVFA by reviewing and selecting applications from students. The position will be shared by both districts, which will decrease the workload.

Send your information and inquiries to

Exploring the possibilities of expanding our reach through diversity, equity and inclusion

By PDG Barb Feder, District 5495 DEI Chair

One thing we have learned over the past year is that DEI has become a hot topic with all sorts of controversy attached.
Those of you who know me soon become aware that I wear my rose-colored glasses when it comes to all things Rotary.
It seems to me that Rotary is the perfect stage for DEI. We are an international organization so by our nature we are diversified; we proclaim truth and fairness for all and have been known as the great equalizer for both our members and those we serve.
These things are self-evident when we look at the overview of the international organization. But when we view many of our clubs, we see that diversity and inclusion are not as defined as they could be.
Here is our opportunity to look at all the types of diversity available to us to enable our clubs to grow in qualified members, effective service projects and impact those communities we have not been able to reach.
This is not a mandate from on high. Each club should determine how DEI can best be implemented. If you and your club are happy with your current membership, no one is going to force DEI on you -- BUT if you want to grow in numbers and service, I urge you to consider mirroring the makeup of your community so you have among your members those who are familiar with community leaders you have not been able to reach.

In the next months I will be submitting articles of the various types of diverse groups you may wish to consider for your club.
We’ll start out with Vocational Diversity. Rotary has always recommended clubs have members representing all businesses and professionals within their locations. When was the last time your club looked at its membership make-up compared to those professions (especially the new ones) in your community?
When was the last time your club had a membership drive or club open house? When was the last time YOU brought a guest to a meeting (Zoom works) or a service project? Now that meetings have opened up a bit, this is a great time to make that invitation!

We have a District 5495 Task Force that has been assigned groups of clubs. Your Task Force Coordinator will be in touch to discuss your thoughts and needs.
I’m excited to see District 5495 grow in numbers and service by affording diverse groups the opportunity to join Rotary. We all have the responsibility of creating a more equitable society.
Past District Governor Barb Feder can be reached at and can assist your club with learning more about the value of DEI.
Additional information and Rotary-related DEI resources:
After a long hiatus because of the pandemic, in person RYLA Ponderosa is back! 

Originally scheduled for October 8-11, 2021, it has been moved to the Spring 2022, April 7-10.  This will give staff more time to promote the program, and more time for the current COVID picture to improve.
Our website is  Please contact Sherry Mischel at or John Wintersteen at with any questions or concerns.
Thank you!
RYLA Ponderosa Staff
Dear District 5495 Rotarians:
ShelterBox is sending a response team to the Caribbean region, after a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks that struck Haiti on Saturday.
We are seeking support from Rotary clubs and districts to help in our efforts at
Buildings have been flattened. Hospitals already under strain from COVID-19 are overwhelmed. Now with Haiti in the path of Tropical Storm Grace, survivors of the earthquake could be hit by strong winds, driving rain, flooding, and mudslides. Many will be facing these conditions with their homes already destroyed. Rescue efforts could be severely affected.
The ShelterBox team will work with fellow humanitarians to assess damage reports, understand from communities what they need, and work on the challenging logistics of delivering aid to areas where buildings have been reduced to rubble.
Early reports are that almost 3,000 homes have been destroyed and at least 5,400 more damaged – but search and rescue is the priority right now, so damage reports will soar in the coming days and weeks.
We’ve responded several times to Haiti, including the Las Cayes region near the earthquake epicenter.
We will be using everything we’ve learned, and our close partnership with Rotary International, to forge local connections and make sure the right emergency shelter reaches communities when they need it. Our Partnerships will be critical to us navigating logistical challenges, but they also inform the way we work with hard-to-reach communities to provide the support they need and share skills for the future.
From our response to the Les Cayes region after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, we know that the geography near the quake’s epicenter could make access to vulnerable communities – and the materials they need to recover – especially challenging. Homes are often made from concrete, wood and corrugated iron, leaving them vulnerable to strong earthquakes. Heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Grace could cut off roads. Communities will want to recover/rebuild. It is important that we listen and respond in a way that supports these efforts while doing no harm.
In 2016, people were trying to repair their homes or build temporary shelters, so they could move out of collective centers – but this was challenging because of restricted access to resources. This lack of access to materials was due to the geography of the area and the underlying poverty. The move to leave collective centers will be even more urgent in the age of COVID-19, and the low vaccination rates in Haiti.
Please share this within District 5495 and your help with any available funds is greatly appreciated, thank you.

ShelterBox USA
Bill Tobin
Rotary Relations Manager

m: 916.616.6973
The Rotary Club of Peoria has chosen two past Rotary district governors as recipients of the club’s annual Peacemaker of the Year Award.
Ernie and Sally Montagne of Sierra Vista were presented with the 2021 award during a virtual program held July 31. The two are past district governors for Rotary District 5500, a district that includes all Rotary clubs south of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The award was presented by Chuck Fitzgerald, a member of the Rotary Club of Peoria and a former president of the club. The program was attended by friends and family members, as well as past and present district governors, Rotary Foundation Trustees and Rotary International directors.
According to Mr. Fitzgerald, the two were chosen due to their international service efforts over the years, and especially because of their Rotary Foundation and Polio Plus work.
“I can’t think of another couple worthy of being honored by our club,” said Mr. Fitzgerald.
“They have taken countless trips around the world to serve others and bring peace into the lives of others.”
The award is normally presented at the Rotary Club of Peoria’s annual Pursuing Peace Conference, planned this year for Sept. 17. The Montagnes are the fifth recipients of the award, and the first Rotarians to be honored.
In describing criteria for the award, Mr. Fitzgerald said the recipient must be regarded in the community as a person of good character, must “possess a servant’s heart,” must be peaceful in their online presence and be able to pass the Rotary Four-Way Test.
“The Rotary definition of peace is ‘service above self.’ Every act of service is an act of peace,” said Mr. Fitzgerald.
Both were appreciative to receive the award.
“It blows me away to be honored in this regard,” said Mr. Montagne.
“We believe Rotary gives each of us these opportunities to make the world a better place. Whatever your passion, you can find a niche in Rotary to do good in the world.”
Sally called the award a “lovely” honor.
“We’re so grateful to have found Rotary and to have made it a part of our lives.”
Ernie Montagne served as district governor in District 5500 in 2010-11, while Sally served as district governor in 2014-15.
According to Mr. Fitzgerald, The Rotary Club of Peoria has been on a “peace journey” for several years. In addition to conducting the annual Peace Conference in Peoria, the club has created a peaceful space and installed a Peace Pole at Centennial High School in Peoria; created a Quiet Room at the Phoenix 9-1-1 Dispatch Center and is in the process of installing a “Be Kind” bench at a new accessible playground under construction in Peoria.
Past recipients of the award include David Fernandez of the Peoria Police Department; Michael Wakeford, a teacher and coach at Raymond S. Kellis High School in Peoria; Tracey Beal, executive director of the Connect School; Pamela Morrison, community outreach director at Phoenix Rescue Mission.
For information, visit
We Rotarians are, if anything, eternal optimists. Otherwise, why would we work so hard in the face of insurmountable obstacles and challenges to make the world a better place for all?
Despite suffering through a pandemic that has severely impacted our world, our communities, our families and even our own clubs – Rotarians remain steadfast in their mission to “Serve to Change Lives.”
This optimism – this conviction that our work as Rotarians really DOES make a difference – is readily apparent as I begin traveling throughout the district and visit our clubs. 
Our July 10 year-end celebration and installation was not only enjoyable, but invigorating! Not only did we salute the great efforts of those who persevered and kept Rotary involved in helping others through this pandemic, but the overwhelming focus was on the future -- and the opportunities this year to serve others.
Time and time again, I was approached during the weekend by Rotarians excited to tell me of upcoming projects and activities their clubs are planning as we emerge from a year of meeting virtually and self-imposed quarantine.
I’ve sensed that same enthusiasm as I’ve begun to visit our clubs. Since July 1, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few club installations and have now begun my official DG visits. The atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever sensed before – our clubs are clearly eager to get back to work and find ways to serve! 
2022 Rotary International Convention:
Registration Now Open!

Registration is now open for the 2022 Rotary International Convention in Houston, Texas. Join us next year to explore what’s possible in Rotary, in Houston, and in yourself.  

Whether you’re new to Rotary or a longtime member, it will be an unforgettable experience. Learn more at

 Don’t miss your chance to Discover New Horizons at the 2022 Rotary International Convention!

District 5495 Rotarians said farewell to outgoing District Governor Elizabeth Mahoney and installed Bret McKeand as the new DG during a special Installation Ceremony held July 10.
In addition to installing the new district governor, the program celebrated the achievements of the past year and recognized the efforts of dozens of Rotarians throughout the district. 
The event, held at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, was the first in-person district-sponsored event since March 2020. Nearly 200 Rotarians attended the luncheon program.
Outgoing District Governor Elizabeth was praised for her leadership and focus during a year that saw tremendous challenge caused by the worldwide pandemic.
“Elizabeth kept us all focused on those things we could do, rather than dwell on all those things we couldn’t do,” said Incoming District Governor Bret McKeand. “Despite all the hardships and having to meet virtually, many of our clubs continued to do great work and serve their communities.”
After a video tribute featuring remarks by several club presidents, AGs, Interact students and other Rotarians, Elizabeth was given the traditional “boot” and presented with a number of gifts – including a framed Larry Fitzgerald autographed jersey given to her by the District Governor line. (Yes, Elizabeth is a HUGE Larry Fitzgerald fan!)
Larry Cervarich of the Rotary Club of Verrado (Buckeye) is the recipient of the Rotary Service Above Self Award, the most prestigious award presented to a Rotarian by Rotary International.
Immediate Past District Governor Elizabeth Mahoney announced the award at the District year-end celebration held July 10 at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park.
Caught completely off-guard by the announcement, Larry was clearly touched by the selection and thanked his fellow club members, the district and Rotary in general for giving him the opportunity to serve others.
Rotary’s highest honor recognizes Rotarians who demonstrate Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self,” by volunteering their time and talents to help others. The award is internationally competitive and is granted to no more than 150 Rotarians worldwide. Today, no more than one individual from each district, each year can earn the prestigious honor.
Only district governors, immediate past district governors, RI directors, and past RI directors may honor exemplary Rotarians by nominating them to be considered for the award. Nominations are usually due in October/November of each year. 
The efforts and contributions of three past district governors were recognized during the July 10 District Celebration and Installation Ceremony followed by the induction of all three into the newly created District 5495 Ring of Honor.
Outgoing District Governor Elizabeth Mahoney unveiled the new Ring of Honor during the district celebration lunch held at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park.
The inaugural class of inductees consists of Past District Governors George Wheeler, Art Harrington and Jeanie Morgan.
The Ring of Honor is meant to pay tribute to the contributions, accomplishments and lasting legacy of former Arizona district governors. Recipients will be chosen each year by the current district governor line.
Outgoing District Governor Elizabeth celebrated the accomplishments of the past year during the District 5495 Installation Celebration held July 10 at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park.
Prior to the installation of incoming District Governor Bret McKeand, the focus was on honoring and recognizing those who guided our district and clubs during the past year, a year severely impacted by a worldwide pandemic.
The last in-person district training event was Elizabeth’s PETS program held in March 2020. Her theme for that PETS conference was “Get Your Game On.” Despite a district-wide shutdown caused by the pandemic, Elizabeth praised club leaders for their tenacity and willingness to lead their clubs through adversity.
Elizabeth presented all 2020-21 club presidents with their own “championship ring,” while assistant governors were presented with MVP awards. Special ribbons were also presented to those who participated last year in the “Step Up for Rotary” fundraiser.
“You are all champions,” she said.
Each year a fellow D5495 Rotarian who has demonstrated an “an enduring commitment to PEACE” is selected by a volunteer committee comprised of Peacebuilders Network members.  Peace is the very 1st on the list of Rotary’s 7 Areas of Focus.  The other 6 Areas of Focus can be likened to a first step toward Peace, because they address conditions that can make Peace possible. 
Tony Cerato is well-respected for his tireless commitment to Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution.  As our Peace Fellowships Chair in 2020-21, he led the marketing and selection process in which D5495 successfully endorsed 3 candidates for fellowships.  He is an active member of the Peacebuilders Network.  His participation in Rotary service projects provides Inner Peace—like Peace of Mind, comfort and hope.  
Fellow Rotarians say that Tony:   
  • has a keen ability to mobilize others around programs and initiatives 
  • delivers presentations at conferences, club meetings and Zoom calls
  • is always there to lend a hand, and is a key volunteer at the Peacebuilders Network booth at conferences and events
  • has a long track record of support for the Rotary Foundation & Rotary Peace Centers
  • has led efforts to educate us about Peace Fellowships since 2018
  • is there if a Peace thing is going on --- and he is financially supporting it! 
  • ‘You’d only have to spend 5 minutes with him to recognize his enthusiasm and commitment to Peace.’
Congratulations, Tony!
Watch an EXCELLENT video on Iron Will and The Iron Lung HERE
Most people today probably don’t know what this is:

And that’s a good thing because it shows how much progress the world has made against polio, a terrible and now largely forgotten disease. 

This metal tank is an iron lung, a mechanical respirator that saved the lives of thousands of polio victims. 

Polio attacks the body’s nervous system, crippling patients. In the worst cases, the disease paralyzes their respiratory muscles and makes it difficult for them to breathe, sometimes resulting in death.  

Using changes in air pressure, the iron lung pulls air in and out of a patient’s lungs, allowing them to breathe and stay alive. 

During the height of the polio epidemic in the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s, rows of iron lungs filled hospital wards to treat thousands of polio patients, most of them children.

Rotary Zones 26 & 27

PolioPlus Weekly Update 21July, 2022

Greetings Polio Warriors:

  • Wild Poliovirus - I can say ONCE AGAIN…NO NEW CASES this last week .
           TWO HUNDRED AND TWO - The number of days since the last case of the wild poliovirus Type 1 occurred in Afghanistan.
ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE The number of days since the last case of the wild poliovirus Type 1 occurred in Pakistan.
TWO - The total number of cases of the wild poliovirus Type 1 that have occurred in the world since New Years Day.
EIGHTY-SEVEN - The number of cases of the wild poliovirus Type 1 that occurred in 2020 on this date.
Last week marks the TWENTY-FIFTH WEEK IN A ROW with no newreported cases. There was also no positive environmental samples this pastweek as well, for the second week in a row.
  • Vaccine-Derived Polio - Unfortunately we had a major increase in the number of cases of Vaccine-Derived Polio (cVDPV) reported last week. 24 cases were reported, however 10 of those cases occurred in Ethiopia last year (2020), but are only now being reported. The 14 cases that did occur in 2021 were 9 in Nigeria, 2 in Madagascar and one each in Liberia, Senegal and South Sudan. 6 Positive environmental samples also occurred this last week, the same as the week before. There were 5 in Nigeria,and one in Ethiopia.
  • I must admit that the relatively high number of cases and positive environmental samples that occurred in Nigeria is concerning. Last week we reported 11 countries now using the new novel oral polio vaccine Type 2 (nOPV2) with 21 others in the pipeline for approval, and I believe Nigeria was one of the first countries to start using the new vaccine near the end of March. I do know that in order to qualify to use the new novel oral polio vaccine, a country has to have 12 weeks between the last use of the original Sabin oral vaccine and the new novel oral vaccine. I was told that because this vaccine is still under study, and operating under an Emergency Use Listing, they want to make sure that initial test results are not skewed because of any after-effects of the old Sabin Vaccine. That’s why the 12 weeks of no vaccination activity. Now this is purely speculationon my part, but It could be that these relatively high number of cases and positive environmental samples are a result of not being able to vaccinate children for a period of 12 weeks prior to the end of March when they were able to finally start vaccinating with the new novel oral vaccine. Again, just pure speculation from a lay person, so please take that into consideration when pondering this comment.
District Governor Bret has indicated his desire to continue The PolioPlus Society Initiative.  For a pledge to donate $100 per year to End Polio Now, you too can become a member of the PolioPlus Society. If interested, please visit the Foundation portion of the District website (CLICK HERE) and maneuver to the PolioPlus Society section of the page. Use the pop-out button in order to print the various pages. District Foundation Chair Charlie Teagarden would like to see a couple hundred District 5495 members sign up for the PolioPlus Society! Unfortunately, during the Rotary year just ended, the participation in the PolioPlus Society was not what was hoped for and our District is lagging our sister Arizona District in both participation and amount pledged.
During the past Rotary year over 40 District Rotarians graduated from RLI. (Rotary Leadership Institute). The graduates are listed below. Apologies to anyone who may have been missed.
Raveen Arora – Rotary Club of Tempe South, Susan Bethel – Kingman Route 66 Rotary Club, Nicola Bird – Four Peaks Rotary Club
Don Boucher – Rotary Club of Mesa West, Jon Caveletto – Rotary Club of Surprise Sunset, Walter (Harvey) Clark – Superstition Mountain Rotary Club
Nancy Collins – The Rotary Club of Surprise, Carol Costa – Kingman Route 66 Rotary Club, Jessica Cox-Atha – Rotary Club of Winslow
Lyn Dickinson – Four Peaks Rotary Club, David Faragher – Rotary Club of Verrado, Rob Foster – Kyrene Rotary Club, Mike Flores – Gilbert Rotary Club
Jim Frey – Rotary Club of Goodyear PebbleCreek, Debbie Gonzales – Rotary eClub of the Southwest USA, Fred Gorrell – Rotary Club of Paradise Valley
Brittany Gunn – Phoenix 100 Downtown Social Club, Dayna Gustke – Rotary Club of Tempe Downtown, Todd Harris – Four Peaks Rotary Club
Marty Herder – Chandler Horizon Rotary Club, Roberta Holmes – Superstition Mountain Rotary Club, 
Michael Jacoby – The Rotary Club of Scottsdale North, Aishwarya Kasturia – Rotary Club of Thunderbird, Carol Lain – Mesa Rotary Club
Jon Lyons – Rotary Club of Sun Lakes, Deborah Mahoney – Gilbert Rotary Club, Stephanie Martin – Lake Havasu Rotary Club
Olugbodi Olaoluwa – Rotary eClub of the Southwest, Mariel Olson – Rotary Club of Camelback Crossroads, Dr. Vincent Pellegrino – Gilbert Rotary Club
Stephen Phair – Rotary Club of Sun Lakes, Lynette Prouty – Rotary Club of the Verde Valley, JR Reese – Rotary Club of Surprise Sunset
Jim Schermetzler – Gilbert Rotary Club, Patricia Schermetzler – Gilbert Rotary Club, Jim Schmidt – Rotary Club of Mesa West
Brenda Smith – Rotary Club of Prescott, Susan Stevens-Clarke – Chandler Horizon Rotary Club, Mark Tufte – Rotary Club of the Verde Valley
Annette Valentine – Rotary Club of Sun City, Daniel Walker – Rotary Club of Tempe Downtown, Sally Walker – Lake Havasu Rotary Club
Benjamin Yanofsky – Mesa Rotary Club, Bob Zarling – Rotary Club of Mesa West, Mary Zongolowicz – Rotary Club of Sun City
Mike Zongolowicz – Rotary Club of Sun City
Our D5495 Peace Fellowship Committee has endorsed 3 candidates for fully-funded studies in 2022-2023 through The Rotary Foundation Peace Center
Kateryna Mashchenko, Ukraine, Protection Project Manager for the Danish Refugee Council. With 6+ years of peace-related work experience, Kateryna ensures full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with human rights law as well as international humanitarian law. Since the Russian invasion of the Ukraine in 2014, more than 2 million Ukrainians have been displaced.
Tetiana Shymanchuk, Ukraine, co-developed the first Victim Assistance program in the Ukraine for child survivors of explosive ordnance, which was later adopted by the Ukraine government. Her 5+ years of peace-related work experience includes leading a Danish Refugee Council Protection Program focused on early recovery, development assistance, and social protection of vulnerable populations in the Ukraine. 
Mustafa Rezaie, Afghanistan, has10+ years of peace- related work experience in war-torn Afghanistan.  Currently he oversees the Afghan Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development.  As AME Manager, he provides emergency response mechanisms to internally displaced persons, raises awareness of human rights, and empowers women and youth to have a stronger voice in Afghanistan. 
* All D5495 Rotary clubs and members are encouraged to seek potential Master’s Degree and Certificate applicants for 2023-24.  Take action by sharing this opportunity with your own networks, both in Arizona and outside of your own area! There’s a good chance that your own contacts know of potential qualified applicants out there.   There is $0 cost to the club or D5495.  
Contact Tony Cerato  (719-351-6616) for more details or a short club program.
Hi Everyone! I’m happy to announce that the Interact District Council has had a successful retreat! During July 16-18th, our Assistant Governors spent their time training with numerous presentations and scenarios to aid in the preparation of this year. Our presentations contained information on how to grow a club, set measurable goals, and various leadership principles. Saturday was dedicated to team bonding. Our governors were split into three color teams (yellow, blue, and green), to face off in volleyball, tug-a-war, and capture the flag. As our teams went head to head, rivalries started, but at the end of the day everyone came together to unite as one big team. Throughout the weekend, I was able to watch complete strangers build lasting connections and friendships with each other. Our Assistant Governors have been equipped with all of the skills needed to ensure a successful year of service. 
Recently, our Mexico and Kenya Ambassador Teams arrived home. After a long trip of hardwork and dedication, our two teams were welcomed home by their families and Assistant Governors at the airport. To learn more about their journey, visit our Interact District Website, ( 
Exploring the Possibilities of Expanding Our Reach in Membership, Service & Conflict Resolution Through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

One thing we have learned over the past year is that DEI has become a hot topic with all sorts of controversy attached. Those of you who know me soon become aware that I wear my rose colored glasses when it comes to all things Rotary. It seems to me that Rotary is the perfect stage for DEI. We are an international organization so by our nature we are diversified; we proclaim truth and fairness for all and have been known as the great equalizer for both our members and those we serve. These things are self-evident when we look at the overview of the international organization. But when we view many of our clubs we see that diversity and inclusion are not as defined as they could be. Here is our opportunity to look at all the types of diversity available to us to enable our clubs to grow in qualified members, effective service projects and impact those communities we have not been able to reach. This is not a mandate from on high. Each club should determine how DEI can best be implemented. If you and your club are happy with your current membership, no one is going to force DEI on you BUT if you want to grow in numbers and service, I urge you to consider mirroring the makeup of your community so you have among your members those who are familiar with community leaders you have not been able to reach.