The Paul Harris Fellowship is named for Paul Harris, who founded Rotary with three business associates in Chicago in 1905. The Fellowship was established in his honor in 1957 to express appreciation for a contribution US $1,000 to the humanitarian and educational programs of The Rotary Foundation. Those programs include an array of projects that save and invigorate the lives of people around the world and enhance international friendship and understanding. Foundation programs provide educational opportunities, food, potable water, health care, immunizations, and shelter for millions of persons. These activities are funded, implemented and managed by Rotarians and Rotary clubs around the globe. Rotarians also designate a Paul Harris Fellow to recognize another person whose life demonstrates a shared purpose with the objectives and mission of The Rotary Foundation to build world understanding and peace.
Rockport Club Rotarian and Foundation Chairman, John P. Jackson, lead the program initiative, which resulted in ten Club members being honored with the Paul Harris Fellow Award. Former District Governors, Maxine Houser and JD Simpson assisted in the presentation of the awards. The award recipients were Linda Collins, Kathy David, JD Debler, Adelaide Marlatt, Diane Probst, Nancy Paulson, Jeanie Wittliff and Rose Ann Holzman, Cathy Hinchman and Ron Young. Houser gave special recognition to Nancy Paulson for her “over and beyond” service to the Club and to Houser during her year as District Governor in 2013.
In addition to the fifteen current Paul Harris members, there are six Rockport Club members who are nearing their monetary goal of $1000, which will enable them to receive the Paul Harris award. As a result, all members of the Rotary Club of Rockport will have achieved the Paul Harris Fellow award.
Rockport Rotary Club President, Diane Probst, stated, “I am proud of our club members for their hard work, generosity and dedication to become a 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club. Through the leadership of John Jackson, we are very close to achieving this special Club status.”
The program to eradicate polio, called Polio Plus, has been Rotary International’s primary effort for over 20 years and has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children. The number of polio cases worldwide has decreased from 350,000 in 1988 to less than 425 cases in 2014.
In support of World Polio Day, Rotary Club of Rockport featured guest speaker, Johnny Taylor, a polio survivor and resident of Fulton, Texas. Born in 1955, Johnny was stricken with polio when he was ten months old. He is the eldest of five siblings. He told stories of this childhood including early travels to England, France and Spain, which lead to his passion for Flamenco music. Johnny shared his love for his father, who dedicated his life to helping his son overcome the challenges of the crippling disease. “Never experiencing a life without crutches, braces, and surgeries, I really don’t know at exactly what age it dawned on me that I was “Not Normal”, stated Taylor. Johnny endured seven grueling surgeries to his right leg and foot. He is now retired and lives in Fulton with his wife and their pets. He expressed his passion for the area’s small town charm, laid back atmosphere and friendly residents.