I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rotary Hospitality: We are all connected.

Happy Rotarians: Bill Jahn, Karena and Tom Macek, Deb, Karen Jahn and Tonnie Marwitz
I spent four days being hosted by great Rotarians, and found so many connections, and even people I already knew.  It's a small world.  Wonderful discussions about Safe Passage, garbage and the economics of poverty.
Most of the folks who host me are Rotarians.  Gene Pfeiffer, a past president of my Rotary Club in Maine calls up Rotary Clubs along my route and asks if they will find Rotarians to host me.  Clubs in Skidaway Island, Darien and Richmond Hill are helping me on this leg.  It's fun to get to meet so many new people as I travel down the coast.

Henry Ford's house on The Ford Plantation
Deb, Tom and Bonnie in front of the original plantation "oak alley"
My long time paddling friend,  Joe Ginett, dropped me off at The Ford Plantation.  I spent two days there with my hosts Tom and Bonnie Sawyer.  Gene let me know that they were from Maine.  When Tom met me at the door,  he looked so familiar, but I couldn't place him.  During our lunchtime conversation he mentioned that he grew up in Bangor, Maine and Sawyer Environmental, it finally clicked.  First, there was a great connection to Safe Passage and the garbage dump, as that was part of Sawyer Environmental's operations in Maine.  Second, Tom was on the Board of Trustees at Unity College when I was Provost and Senior Vice President there.  But neither of us made that connection before seeing each other!
Darien Rotary Club
Had a great lunch with the Darien Rotary Club.  Not only is one of their members, Bill Watson, hosting me for three nights in a few days, but another member, Troy Hull, has managed to find hosts for me on remote sections of my route where the hosts will meet me by boat and take me to their homes.  Looks like I will only camp for one night, thanks to Troy.

Tom Macek, Deb and Bill Jahn
Tom and Karen Macek hosted me on Skidaway Island.  Tom was also the one who got the Richmond Hill Club involved in hosting me in their area.  He invited a few friends for dinner.  It only took a few minutes in talking with Toni Marwitz before I found that she knows my best friend in Guatemala, Sue Patterson.  "Oh", said Toni, "Everyone who was in the State Department Foreign Service knows Sue Patterson because she was such an exemplary consular officer."  Small world.

By the time the next quests arrived, I was getting used to the synchronicity.  When Bill and Karen Jahn walked in the door, I cut to the chase and blurted out "I know you!"  Turns out Bill and I were in the same class of Rotary District Governors (2011/2012), and had done a skit together out in San Diego.  Very small world.
Megalodon shark tooth
Now I'm staying with Bill Eberlein.  He's a diver for megalodon shark teeth.  It's amazing to see the huge fossilized teeth he finds by feel in the mud at the bottom of the rivers of the Georgia low country.  Wish I had more time here so I could go out and watch how it's done.

The conversations about Safe Passage and economics and poverty have been very thought provoking.  It is always great to talk with a variety of folks with different points of views, but all committed to doing the right thing.  When each of us looks at chronic poverty, we each see different things based on our own ideas about how economies function.  By talking together we can broaden our understanding.  By talking and working directly with the chronic poor, and hearing their voices, we learn even more.

Gratitude List:

  1. So many people going out of their way to help me out
  2. Reporters and photographers who worked on getting the Safe Passage story out there
  3. Hospitality of the three Rotary Clubs
  4. All the fascinating stories I get to hear about people's lives
  5. Time for my body to recover

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