President’s Letter – January 23, 2019

President’s Letter – January 23, 2019

Dear Fellow Rotarians,

Unfortunately, President Mike was out sick at our last meeting. It was my privilege to do double duty serving as president pro tempore in his absence, and as our speaker and tour guide.

This week we had the opportunity to hold our meeting at the new facility of one of Santa Barbara’s oldest and most esteemed non-profit organizations — Direct Relief. It was appropriate that we made the visit almost exactly one year to the day after holding a meeting at Direct Relief’s old warehouse and offices. We learned about the organization’s 70 year history in Santa Barbara, and the organization’s work here at home, across the United States, and in more than 100 countries. I offered a summary briefing of 2018 in review, spotlighting one significant mobilization or other effort from the multitude of activities Direct Relief was involved in each month of 2018. So many of our club members gave so generously to Direct Relief last year that it was a fitting opportunity to offer one more report on how and where the money was used.

After my formal presentations I was joined by my Direct Relief colleague and fellow Rotarian, Alisse Harris, as we led a tour of the facility and answered questions. Walking through the 155 square-foot facility, we saw the volunteer packing room where we took a moment to acknowledge our own Jim Armstrong for his role in facilitating the sale of land to Direct Relief when he was Santa Barbara City Manager. Without Jim’s efforts and vision, the project to increase Direct Relief’s capacity to serve more people in response to poverty and increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters into the future, might not have been possible. Thanks again, Jim.

We then went upstairs to the catwalk to see the full scale of the warehouse, gathering at the observation deck overlooking the fulfillment area. We learned about how the facility is organized, its use of state of the art technology to increase efficiency and scale, and the massive cold storage capability that has enabled Direct Relief to provide life-saving medicines for children and adults who are treated for diseases ranging from diabetes, cancer, hemophilia, and lysosomal storage disorder — all of which require precisely-controlled cold chain storage from the time the medicines leave the factory to the time they are dispensed to patients.

Anyone who was not able to participate is welcome to contact Direct Relief (or me directly) to arrange for a tour.

We are all looking forward to our next meeting this Friday, January 25, when we expect to see Mike back at the podium in full health, and when we will elect the club’s board of directors and officers for the 2019-2020 year.

Until then, yours in service,
President Elect


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