I am pleased to report the successful completion of a Rotary Club project that transported a semi-trailer truckload of much needed medical equipment and supplies from Denver Colorado to a newly constructed Red Cross Hospital in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The fully loaded truck crossed the border on December 10 and arrived at its final destination on December 14, 2014.
For those who don’t know the story, the project started over a year ago. Initially, a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Chicago Financial District named John Schwandke, who resides part-time in Puerto Aventuras Mexico, heard about the needs of a small Red Cross Clinic that had recently opened near where he lives. Soon other residents of the community joined in to help. Among them were Denver Club 31 Rotarians Martin Wohnlich and John Klug. Rotarians take pride in being able to attend and be welcomed at any of the 30,000+ Rotary Clubs in the world. The two John's and Martin often attended Rotary Clubs in Playa del Carmen, a large and rapidly growing city, about 15 miles north of Puerto. In particular, they became acquainted with a newly formed, very dynamic, English speaking Rotary Club in Playa del Carmen, called the “Seaside Rotary Club”.
As a result of this connection and the work that was being done at the small Red Cross clinic in Puerto, it came to light that a new Red Cross Hospital was being constructed in the rapidly growing community of Playa del Carmen, and that upon completion there was a need for modern equipment and supplies to fill it. An idea was hatched. Could the combination of the Seaside Rotary Club, along with Denver Rotary which Martin and John Klug represented, along with John Schwandke from Chicago Rotary Financial District, partner in a Rotary Project to bring these desperately needed supplies to Playa Carmen?
Enter a wonderful organization, headquartered in Denver, named Project C.U.R.E. and its president Douglas Jackson. Doug is also a member and former president of the Denver Rotary Club, and a good friend of Klug and Wohnlich. Project C.U.R.E. is one of the largest Non-Governmental Organizations in the world, and ships donated medical supplies throughout the world. The details concerning the incredible work done by Project C.U.R.E. is too extensive to cover here, but you can visit the Project C.U.R.E. website to learn more.
With all the elements in place, it then became a matter of pulling together to make it happen. Amazingly, for a small and newly chartered Rotary Club, the Seaside Rotary Club in Playa Carmen raised $10,000 to cover nearly half the total expense. In turn, the Denver Rotary Club committed $4,000, and a grant of $3,000 was obtained from their District 5450. Another $2,000 was donated by the Denver Southeast Rotary Club, and small personal contributions from Wohnlich, Klug and Schwandke topped it off. Most unbelievable about the project, is trying to put in perspective what actually happened. For a total cost of $20,400 the Red Cross Hospital of Playa del Carmen received an estimated $500,000 worth of critically needed equipment and supplies. The truckload included everything from syringes and desks, to X-ray machines and dental chairs.
The biggest hurdle that caused such a delay in the process was obtaining approval from Mexican Customs and Tax authorities to allow passage of a shipment this size as a non-taxable donation. After months of negotiation and rigorous documentation, the shipment finally received approval and arrived at the hospital on December 14, 2014 aboard the same truck that had been loaded in Denver. We thank all who helped bring this project to fruition. Without each and every one of you it would not have happened. What a wonderful Christmas gift for the Red Cross and what a wonderful example of the Rotary motto “Service Above Self.”