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Rocky Point Rotary

The recently planted peace pole on Shore Drive in Sound Beach. Photo by Ernestine Franco
By Ernestine Franco

“May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

This sentiment appears on a peace pole recently installed by the Sound Beach Property Owners Association at the East Beach entrance on Shore Drive, between Amagansett and Brookhaven drives, overlooking the Long Island Sound.

In addition to English, seven other languages — two on each side of the pole — proclaim the plan to promote peace.

The Rocky Point Rotary Club is sponsoring a plan to link 10 communities along the corridor of routes 25 and 25A to promote peace.

Starting in May, Patrice Perreca, the Sound Beach Civic Association membership chair and a board member of the SBPOA, became interested in the International Cities of Peace movement, the goal of which is to encourage the establishment of cities of peace around the world.

The mission is to promote, document and provide resources and information for organizations working to establish peace throughout communities.

The peace pole embodies the motto, “’Let there be peace on Earth,’ one of my favorite hymns,” Perreca said. “And the best line is, ‘Let it begin with me.’”

Peace poles are symbols of May Peace Prevail on Earth International, founded in Japan in 1955. An estimated 250,000 peace poles throughout over 190 countries have been “planted” over many decades.

On Sunday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m., Kevin Mann, president of Rocky Point Rotary, will perform the dedication. All are invited to partake in the culture of peace.

Attendees of the gala made contact with the children at the Jerusha Mwiraria Hope Children’s Home in Meru, Kenya, via Skype. Photo by Stacey Young

The Rocky Point Rotary Club hosted the 5th annual Douglas J. McDonough Hope Children’s Fund Gala on Saturday, March 11, at the Inn and Spa at East Wind in Wading River.

This annual event benefits the Jerusha Mwiraria Hope Children’s Home in Meru, Kenya. Douglas McDonough was a former secretary of HCF who accomplished much for the orphanage despite being paralyzed.

Rocky Point Rotary Club president Kevin Mann detailed McDonough’s perseverance and drive in the face of his physical condition.

“Nothing ever stopped him,” Mann said. “No one ever even asked about his injury because he did everything,” adding, “He taught at BOCES in the middle school level for kids who got thrown out of their schools — in a wheelchair. He was just an amazing guy.”

Mann also outlined the central motivations for the gala, affirming that the annual event has been perennially instrumental in enabling educational opportunities for the children at Hope Children’s Home.

Rocky Point Rotary Club president Kevin Mann delivered a speech during the event. Photo by Stacey Young

“The premise of the gala is to raise funds and provide educational opportunities for orphans in Kenya,” he said. “This event will supply enough funds to send 45 children with secondary and postsecondary education for a trimester,” adding, “We raise a tremendous amount of money for that cause.”

Mann chronicled the orphanage’s history, stating the earliest organizers first laid plans for the home in 2000. In 2003, the organization became a 501(c)(3) charity, and in 2005 the organizers opened the orphanage.

Children entering the home come from varied and often difficult backgrounds, according to Mann. “There’s a wide range of how they arrive at the door,” he said.

Moreover, membership has grown considerably during its nearly two decades in operation. “The goal was 18 children,” Mann said. “We have [over] 90 today.”

One of the unique characteristics of HCF is its organizational structure. The U.S.-based operation is entirely volunteer driven, with salaries paid out exclusively to employees in Kenya supervising the care of the children.

“In this particular case, everybody can say that 100% [of the proceeds go] to the cause,” Mann said.

One such HCF employee is Veronica Ntinyari, who runs the orphanage. In a series of text exchanges via WhatsApp, Ntinyari explained how the funds from the gala would assist the children under her care.

“The funds raised help to support the orphanage in paying their school fees, food, clothing, medical care and other necessities in the home,” she said.

Veronica Ntinyari, above, runs the Jerusha Mwiraria Hope Children’s Home in Meru, Kenya. Photo courtesy Ntinyari

Sonia Saleh is district governor for Rotary District 7255, which covers 62 Rotary Clubs throughout Long Island, including Brooklyn and Queens. She praised the Rocky Point Rotary for its initiative concerning HCF.

“The Rotary Club of Rocky Point has taken this cause on,” she said, adding, “This Rotary Club is all about peace and internationalism, which is so wonderful.”

Mann maintained that the HCF gala closely corresponds to the stated purpose and vision of Rotary International. “It fits very much under the concerns of Rotary, and literacy is one of the major components of Rotary as well,” he said.

Saleh added to this sentiment. “Rotary is about two things — it’s about service and community,” the district governor said. “The point is we come together for service first, and then there are the community and friendships, which is beautiful.”

Through HCF and Rocky Point Rotary, Ntinyari said she feels associated to the people of Rocky Point and the greater Long Island community. 

“Me and the children feel connected to Long Island community members, especially during their visits in Meru,” she said.

To learn more about Hope Children’s Fund or to make a donation, visit hopechildrensfund.org.

Photo from Hope Children’s Fund

The board of directors of Hope Children’s Fund, in conjunction with the Rocky Point Rotary Club, recently announced the ordering of an Isuzu 25 passenger bus for the Jerusha Mwiraria Hope Children’s Fund Orphanage in Meru, Kenya. 

The bus will provide safe transport for the 86 children of the home and is to be used for transportation to schools, medical appointments and food shopping. 

Photo from Hope Children’s Fund

The Isuzu bus is the culmination of the efforts of hundreds of donors. A GoFundMe initiated by Hope Children’s Fund board member Kyle Spillane raised thousands of dollars for the cause. 

In addition to the Rocky Point Rotary Club, several other clubs including Port Jefferson, Westhampton, Stony Brook, Riverhead, Patchogue and Ronkonkoma contributed to fund for the bus. All clubs are members of Rotary District 7255 led by District Governor Mary Ellen Ellwood.

On Sept. 21, at the People’s United Bank Wading River branch, a wiring ceremony took place where members of the board sent the money to the orphanage in Kenya. People’s United Bank is the official bank of Hope Children’s Fund, and has waived all wire fees on all transactions to the orphanage. 

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Rotarian Glenn Frost loading donations into George Dubato’s truck. Photo by Kevin Mann

The Rocky Point Rotary Club recently held a “foodraiser” food drive at the Miller Place Stop and Shop to benefit of the food pantry at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rocky Point. The group managed to fill up the back of a pickup truck, an estimated 1,600 pounds of groceries.

“The community was very generous with its donations of non-perishable food,” wrote Kevin Mann, of the Rocky Point Rotary. “Food insecurity is a major issue for local families particularly due to COVID issues.”

Rocky Point Rotary, “the lil’ club that does,” meets every Tuesday via zoom. For further information about Rocky Point Rotary contact Kevin Mann at 631-470-6351 or [email protected].