District Governor Brent Rosenthal spoke to Columbus Rotary on Aug 8, 2011.  He talked about his vision for District 6690 and how our club is a part of that vision.  He closed with a letter that says more than any speech can about the effect Rotary has on others.  The Malta-McConnels-ville Rotary Club received the following letter while tracking former scholarship recipients. 

Dear Mrs. Schubert,
 
I was the fourth child born to Kenny and Peggy Shook, both age 23 and living outside of Chesterhill, Ohio.  I lived half of my childhood in a rented farmhouse which had an outhouse for a toilet and running water in the kitchen only.  We cleaned up via spit baths at the kitchen sink. 

When I was in third grade, the ever-growing rat problem in our house came to a head:  I woke up one night to a rat chewing on my lip.  My screams and panic resulted in a 2:00 a.m. emergency room visit an hour's drive to Marietta and painful rabies shots.  This episode finally prompted my family to move to a mobile home on the other side of Chesterhill, with a pipe dream of eventually building a house to live in.
 
First the water pump gave out and we hauled water from the on-site spring.  Then the spring dried up and we hauled water from the spring near our old house.  The water just comes out of a pipe in the hillside along the road.  

By the time my brothers and sister left home, we had no running water in the trailer and electricity in only part of the place.  It quit working in 4 of the 6 rooms and my parents couldn't afford to have it fixed.  We had propane gas which we were behind in our payments by months, so no gas service for the stove or furnace. Our phone had been shut off and then removed, much to our embarrassment. 

When I was a junior in high school, in October, I was trying to finish an essay before the sun went down because we had been living without electricity since early summer.  I couldn't get it done in time and it finally overwhelmed me: my parents' inability to provide a basic home for me was hindering my chances for ever escaping poverty and making a future for myself.  I ran away from home that night. 

I hitched a ride to McConnelsville and called Children's Services the next morning from a classmate's house.  They placed me in a foster home that same day, the home of Bill and Lucy Harmon.  Lucy listened to my dreams of being an exchange student. I was always a stellar student, thanks to my parents who loved to read and fostered learning.  I always felt sorry for them that they could not provide a better life for me and my siblings. Lucy arranged for me to live in Mexico for a year as a Rotary Exchange Student.  That year changed my life. 

I lived in a large metropolitan city, relied on myself, learned a new language, and made scores of friends who I still am close with to this day.  I came back a confident young woman.  I spent another year in high school at Morgan so I could earn enough scholarships to go to college.  Along with the Rotary Scholarship in 1984, I earned a full ride to Ohio State University. I started out in Computer Graphics and Engineering, but switched and graduated in Art Education. 

For the last several years I have been teaching Digital Design in one of the best high schools in the greater Cincinnati area.   I love what I do, and I love my friends and family in Mexico. 
The Rotarians who sponsored me 27 years ago are no longer active, I am sure, but I would just like the current Rotarians to know that their organization has changed the life of at least one "hard luck kid''.   Kudos to you, Mrs. Schubert and to all the Rotarians for fostering hope where hope is scarce!
With sincere appreciation and warmest regards,   
Teri Shook McElroy