The is rolling out the red carpet for an important visitor next week when General Secretary John Hewko, of Rotary International, will be making a tour of Pacific Northwest clubs, and stopping at the Renton Rotary meeting at for their weekly luncheon at noon followed by a reception in his honor.
Hewko is the highest ranking employee of Rotary International—headquartered in Evanston, Ill. He runs the day-to-day operations of a 1.2 million member, 33,000 club system. His responsibilities include overseeing the 600 employees of Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation.
The Rotary Foundation distributes a mind-boggling amount of money — $180 Million — to fun humanitarian and educational project each year. Those funds have helped to nearly eradicate polio world-wide, gives clean water and helps to educate the poorest citizens in third-world countries.
Hewko, who took office on July 1, will be making his first visit outside of the Rotary International headquarters to the Pacific Northwest.
Ann Liberato, Rotary District Governor for District 5030, which includes the Renton Club, said that she is thrilled that Hewko is visiting the area.
“We are excited to be able to showcase all of the great things that our clubs are doing in the south end,” Liberato said, and she plans to give him a tour of several venues, including the Renton club.
Hewko was named the General Secretary of Rotary International from a pool of 440 candidates chosen by an international search firm. He was previously an attorney with the largest law firm in the world, Baker & McKenzie, with 3,000 attorneys.
He speaks six languages, and his international experience has included work in Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union.
Hewko, whose family emigrated to the United States from the Ukraine after World War II, has long roots with Rotary. His father is a 30+ year member of Rotary, in a club in Clarkston, Mich.
At the International Rotary Club meeting in New Orleans in May, Hewko told the audience in his speech that his father sent him the job announcement when he read about it in The Rotarian magazine.
Hewko’s visit includes a breakfast meeting at the Rotary Club of Sammamish in the morning.
Following the Sammamish breakfast, Hewko will tour the warehouse, the home of monthly Rotary First Harvest work parties where Renton Rotarians regularly work on the second Saturday of the month. Hewko will join a special group of 60 volunteers as they roll up their sleeves.
"We are excited to welcome Mr. Hewko to Seattle," said David Bobanick, Director of Rotary First Harvest, "and to have the opportunity to show him first-hand how hundreds of Seattle-area Rotarians work together to provide millions of pounds of produce for hungry men, women and especially children in our community."
Following the work party, he will make his stop at the Rotary Club of Renton for lunch. Renton Rotary is one of 55 clubs in the 5030 district service area.
“It is a rare and unique opportunity for the Rotary Club of Renton to play host to someone from Rotary International, and to be able to demonstrate to him what we are doing locally that ties into the international mission of the club this year — which is embracing humanity,” said Don Bressler, Renton Rotary president.
"Within the 5030 district, the Renton Club has worked on a number international projects that we are excited to share with the General Secretary," he said. "Some of those things include a local book drive that contributed to literacy in Africa, humanitarian and educational efforts, that insured clean water in third world countries, and local efforts to assist in building schools."
The club plans a special program recognizing the 10th anniversary of 9/11 during its normal meeting time during Hewko's visit.
City of Renton employee and a locally recognized singer, Sonja Mejlaender, will lead the Rotarians and guests in inspirational and patriot songs honoring the occasion.
Mr. Hewko plans to briefly speak at the meeting outlining the five initiatives that he has implemented since taking office.
Following the regular luncheon meeting the Renton Rotary Club and District 5030 will host a dessert and coffee reception, which will give club presidents and district leaders from the area an opportunity to meet General Secretary Hewko, ask questions, and hear some remarks from him regarding where Rotary International is headed.
To register to attend the meeting, contact the club prior to Monday, September 5. For more information, contact club president, Don Bressler at email@example.com.