What spans two countries, has 16 areas, contains 68 clubs and includes hundreds of individuals who are committed to various avenues of service to their communities and throughout the world? It is Rotary District 7090, known as the ‘Best of Friends District,’ and which is one of 535 Rotary Districts of Rotary International. Its territory includes Western New York, USA and Southern Ontario, Canada. There are 1.2 million Rotarians in over 35,000 Rotary clubs around the globe.
On Jan. 14 Rotary District 7090 Governor Bob Artis and Area 16 Assistant Governor Michele Starwalt visited with Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club members during a meeting held at The Parkview in Westfield. John “Doc” Hamels, Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club President, welcomed both district officials. He introduced Starwalt, who then introduced Artis.
Starwalt’s duties as Area 16 Assistant Governor include working with the Dunkirk-Fredonia, Falconer, Greater Jamestown AM, Jamestown and Westfield-Mayville Rotary Clubs. She acts as a liaison to the Rotary District 7090 Governor and other officials. Starwalt is the former Director of Chautauqua Striders in the North County, a position she held for over 15 years. She is a past president of the Rotary Club of Dunkirk, and she continues to serve on the Dunkirk-Fredonia Rotary Board. She has been a chairperson and co-chair for the well-attended, annual Dunkirk-Fredonia Rotary Fly-In Breakfast event. Starwalt is also a volunteer member of several other organizations.
Artis currently works in Buffalo, NY as a consultant with Sinai Consulting, LLC, a global hi-tech staffing and consulting group that provides advice and counsel to help globally competitive companies attract top talent in the field of robotics. He is a distinguished veteran of the Army. He is a past president and current member of the Rotary Club of Clarence. He has attended 13 Rotary International Conventions to date and several Rotary and United Nations Peace Conferences.
At the Rotary District 7090 level, Artis has served twice as Assistant Governor, and as a member of both the Gift of Life Committee and the Ambassadorial Scholars Committee. Also, he served as Rotary Group Study Exchange Team Leader to Thailand. One of his main passions with Rotary involves building relationships and connecting people globally for the greater good. Artis and his Rotarian colleagues have accomplished countless community service projects, including an impressive water and sanitation Global Grant project in 2017 for a village in Thailand.
Because of his deep belief in the good works done in the name of Rotary, Artis is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, Sustaining Member, Benefactor, and Bequest Society member of The Rotary Foundation. He is a caring, passionate and deeply spiritual person, and as such, he has dedicated his life to helping and mentoring others.
Artis stated, “It is humbling to be Rotary District 7090 Governor. I get to make many personal connections with the 2,000 Rotarians in our district. I have my Rotary family in this district and around the globe. Rotarians are people of action. We get things done in our communities and in the world.” The Rotary International 2019-2020 theme is ‘Rotary Connects the World.’ Rotarians engage in various Officials Visit with Westfield-Mayville Rotarians volunteer activities through five ‘Avenues of Service,’ namely, Community, International, Youth, Vocational and Club.
During his official visit with the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club members, Artis gave recognition to several individuals. He honored Don Dowling and Adele Harrington for having served as Area 16 Past Assistant Governors. Also, he presented John “Doc” Hamels, Club President, with another level of Paul Harris Fellow recognition. Artis congratulated Rick Syper, Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club’s newest member, with joining the ranks of Rotary.
Artis discussed the Rotary District 7090 Gift of Life humanitarian program, which provides life saving open heart surgery to children from infancy to 21 years of age who have congenital heart defects. The program is available to children, regardless of race, color or national origin, provided that they meet the financial need criteria. Many of the children come from underdeveloped countries where the medical facilities for offering life saving open-heart surgery are non-existent. The Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto are the two hospitals in Rotary District 7090 that provide this service to Gift of Life.
Other topics that Artis mentioned included the historical significance and hand carving of the 535 wooden gavels that are each loaned to the Rotary District Governors during their terms. Also, Artis showed a pair of colorful socks that he was wearing. Rotary District 7090 is currently selling the socks as a fundraiser so that it may continue its many worthwhile programs.
He offered some of the highlights from the Rotary District 7090 ‘Sailabration’ Conference and Caribbean cruise to Saint Martin and Puerto Rico. Artis and other conference attendees visited a school and various areas that had been ravaged by hurricanes. He noted how Rotarians are helping to build a new school and provide better shelter in these locations.
Artis invited the Westfield-Mayville Rotarians to join him in Honolulu, Hawaii for the Rotary International (RI) Convention, June 6 to 10, 2020. RI has 34 zones throughout the world, and each zone includes about 18 districts. Those who attend this event experience many educational and cultural opportunities, engage in service projects, meet people from many countries, and have great fun.
The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville extends its gratitude to Rotary District 7090 Governor Bob Artis and to Area 16 Assistant Governor Michele Starwalt for their commitment to the ideals of Rotary and for their dedicated service to others. They each reflect Rotary’s motto of ‘Service Above Self.’