Murray Rotarians serve children in Ecuador
Sanitary education presented to the children of Quito. (Jerry Summerhays/Resident)
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Children in south Quito, Ecuador’s capital, gather in a small room. With the help of Jerry Summerhays, a Murray Rotarian, they learn sanitary education that will benefit their health as they struggle in poverty.
“We toured Ecuador for four days before joining Quito Rotarians. In the country and in the cities we saw poverty, but what impressed us the most was the industry of the Ecuadorian people. Our school projects were in poorer communities. The kids and parents with which we constantly interacted were remarkably friendly and happy. Again, we learned material possessions do not necessarily equate with happiness,” Summerhays said.
Before retiring, Summerhays was a dentist who specialized in periodontics. He became involved in the Murray Rotary club in 1981 when his daughter received the Top Ten Scholar Award presented by the Murray Rotary Club.
“I loved what I saw in Rotary International, diverse people in 35,000 clubs in over 200 countries with a motto ‘Service Above Self’ joining together to give back to their communities and the world,” Summerhays said.
Summerhays lives that motto. He also volunteers at Donated Dental for the poor and homeless and spends the majority of his retirement in humanitarian service. That service took him and 11 other Murray Rotarians to the capital city of Ecuador—a city that captivated Summerhays.
“In colonial cities like Quito and Cuenca, the churches and universities and homes and plazas from the 1500 to 1700s are amazing,” Summerhays said.
Despite Quito’s grandeur, it was service to the children of Ecuador that brought Summerhays and his fellow Rotarians.
“Our purpose in traveling to Ecuador was to join with our Quito Rotarian friends to personally witness examples of the 32 poor schools where bathrooms, clean water, and sanitary education had been provided by us over the last six years,” Summerhays said.
Funding for the sanitary education, functioning bathrooms and clean water for the schools came from eight Rotary Clubs, including Murray. They donated over $155,000. In addition, the Sorenson Legacy Foundation added $50,000 and the LDS Humanitarian Services gave $33,000.
“We are very appreciative of all involved. We thank the Ecuador Rotary Clubs for contributing significant money and for doing most of the work. We thank The Rotary Foundation, LDS Humanitarian Services and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation for major contributions,” Summerhays said. “The recipient communities were very engaged in the construction and the education. Rotarians experience what we all know—that those serving benefit as much as the recipients.”
Summerhays believes the money donated translates into real change.
“The impact is the health and happiness of Ecuadorian children,” Summerhays said.
Cherie Summerhays has been a member of the Murray Rotary Club for five years. She traveled to Quito with her husband and her bond to the children there was strong.
“Every time we visited a school the children gathered around me and liked to hug, abrazos in Spanish. I think they liked my red hair. They liked to try their little bit of English with me and I liked to try my Spanish with them. Bonding with them was immediate,” Cherie said.
Both Cherie and her husband agree that in service Rotarians benefit as much as the recipients they serve. So they continue to make a difference in the world.
“We are not just Murray Rotarians, nor Midvale Rotarians, but International Rotarians. Rotarians know their community’s needs and are dedicated to the Rotary motto of ‘Service Above Self’ and in making a difference in the world,” Summerhays said.