homepage logo

Rotary Club of Lahaina helps people around the world

By Staff | Nov 5, 2009


LAHAINA — Rotary Club of Lahaina President Rick Nava is inspired by what Rotarians around the world are able to accomplish.

“Being a Rotarian is an honor and a privilege. As a Rotarian, I have over 1.2 million friends around the world, and it is a great vehicle to change people’s lives for the better — not only here on Maui or the State of Hawaii, but all throughout the world,” he explained.

In 2003, Nava was thrilled to return to the Philippines to help distribute 240 wheelchairs that the Rotary Club of Lahaina helped finance. 

“To return to my birth country and be able to make a difference was very fulfilling,” he said. “I know I would not have been able to do such service had I not been a Rotarian.”

As the new president, the Media Systems Inc. employee wants to grow the club’s membership, contribute to the Rotary International Foundation that funds Rotary projects throughout the world and help Lahainaluna High School acquire new computers.

Club members are also busy funding and volunteering for several ongoing community projects. They held a supply drive before the schools opened, provided dictionaries to third-graders at Princess Nahienaena Elementary School, continually support the Lahaina Complex After School Enrichment Tutor Project and coordinate a mentorship and career shadowing program with Lahainaluna High School.

Rotarians will help the Maui Food Bank through donations and a food drive during the holidays, and in the spring, the club’s scholarship program will award more than $20,000 to deserving seniors from Lahainaluna, Molokai and Lanai High School attending college in fall 2010.

Members of the Lahaina club will also reach out to help the needy around the world.

“This year, along with Orphan Act and with Leanne Roberts, a former member of the Rotary Club of Lahaina, we hope to build a partnership with an orphanage in the Philippines,” Nava said. 

“For the past few years, due to the great work of Carmen Karady, our International Service chair, and now Dr. George Lavenson, we’ve been able to work with Rotary Clubs in Kenya and India to help provide clean water to some of the most isolated communities in that country. For the last 20 years, the Rotary International and all of the Rotary Clubs have been working to eradicate polio throughout the world. This year, the Gates Foundation awarded another $255 million from the original $100 million to Rotary to help with this cause. To be involved in a project with this magnitude, you can’t help it but do all that is possible to help with the cause.”

Past-President (2006-07) and current club Secretary Nancy Montoya of Whalers Realty Inc. said Rotary enhances her community service.

“Being a Rotarian allows me to give back to the Lahaina community. I can do more meaningful service work through the Rotary team than on my own,” she said.

“It allows me to help further students’ education through scholarships, help put food on the table of the needy through the Maui Food Bank and raise funds for the Salvation Army. I like the Rotarian motto, ‘Service Above Self.’ ”

Nava said Rotary allows him to “build lasting relationships with people you don’t normally get to know.” He enjoys receiving e-mails from visiting Rotarians who attended a meeting, or people the club has helped in the past.

Like Montoya, Nava takes the “Service Above Self” motto to heart.

“Through this motto, I know that Rotarians all throughout the world will go at great lengths to change the lives of others, who perhaps are less fortunate than most,” he commented.

The recession has even impacted service clubs, and club membership is down. Some members moved back to the Mainland or can no longer participate due to work. 

“Most of those who resigned their membership but still reside in Lahaina work with us closely with some of our projects,” Nava noted.

Established June 15, 1965, the club meets Thursdays from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Outback Steakhouse at Lahaina Gateway. The weekly guest speaker may discuss a project, business or news development in the West Maui community or around the world.

Serving through June 2010, the club’s Board of Directors includes President Nava, President-Elect Jennifer Moscovich, Secretary Montoya, Treasurer Richard Jarman, Community Service Chair Carmen Karady, Club Service Chair Linda Elms, Vocational Service Chair Dick Starkweather, Youth Service Chair Phylecia Platte, Membership Chair Harold Hyman, Public Relations Chair Jackie Favors, International Service Chair Dr. George Lavenson, Rotary Foundation Chair Joe Pluta, Sergeant At Arms Joe Craig and Past-President Don Lehman.

The Scholarships Committee is led by Nane Aluli, Mac Lowson and Dave Ferguson.

There are nine Rotary Clubs on Maui and 48 in Hawaii. In all, there are 33,000 clubs worldwide with 1.2 million members.

 Nava said that when he joined, “I was in awe with the people who were members. Most of the members are people I read about in the paper and are business and community leaders. 

“To be asked and become a member… was definitely an honor, and I made sure that from the day I was installed a member, I will do my best to make a difference to the club and the people that I meet.”

Past-President Joe Pluta (1984-85) of Pluta & Associates has been a member of Rotary since April 1979 — over 30 years.

He was hooked by the Rotary Four-Way Test: 1) Is it the truth? 2) Is it fair to all concerned? 3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

“The entire world would be much better off when this test is applied by all,” Pluta concluded.