The Generous Generation: Meet Rotaract’s Paul Harris Fellows

By Gianina Maria Ciriaco | Posted on November 30, 2021

The young and early adult life can bring many exciting, memorable milestones. It could be landing their first job, getting a promotion, buying a new house or starting a business. This is the best time to invest in oneself, share their talent out there and explore the pleasures that life can offer. For most people in this generation, there’s been a significant involvement and rise in community efforts and response. Investing and aiding to the needs of society in innovative, impactful methods attract more people to give and see how far their donations go.

For over 104 years, The Rotary Foundation (TRF) helps Rotary members to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace by improving health, providing quality education, improving the environment, and alleviating poverty. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organization supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotary members and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world. This support is essential to make possible projects, funded with Foundation grants, that bring sustainable improvement to communities in need. To encourage and show appreciation for substantial contributions, the Rotary Foundation established the Paul Harris Fellow recognition in 1957. The Paul Harris Fellow (PHF) recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation. Aside from that, some Rotarians have a tradition of supporting the Foundation by honoring others or giving this honor as a gift. Notable Paul Harris Fellows include Former US President Jimmy Carter and Polio Vaccine Developer Jonas Salk.

For Rotaractors, being People of Action isn’t limited to the projects their respective clubs can do or how they incorporate their talents and specialties in their initiatives. These recent Rotary Years, there has been a significant growth of Rotaract Clubs who support The Rotary Foundation and Rotaractors who are Paul Harris Fellows. It goes to show how the younger generation is making a huge impact by giving more, by coming up with ideas and doing what they can to support Rotary and its campaign to make the world a better place. 

Giving is an expression of gratitude, being thankful for the blessings we are receiving every single moment of our lives.

What is GIVING?

Each Rotaractor Paul Harris Fellow defines GIVING in different ways and see it in various perspectives but all ultimately mean helping, caring, sharing selflessly with all their heart ,with what they have for the greater good.

Rica Macalintal Ardales, Rotaract Club of Barangay Palatiw Scholars, District 3800 (RICA):  Giving is something you do from the bottom of your heart. When you realize that doing or giving little things to other people makes them happy, it’s a genuine feeling.

Ernest Nid S. Abueme, Rotaract Club of Iligan Bay, District 3870 (ERNEST): Giving is an act of getting a part of yourself for the welfare of everybody. It is a selfless action that binds the purpose of our existence. We give out of our love and care to humanity. 

John Rupert D. Martin, Rotaract Club of Lucena North, District 3820 (JOHN RUPERT): My definition of giving is just simple giving is caring. We give to the people around us voluntarily because we know the feeling of empty and show to them that we care for them and to the community. Giving is also an appreciation of the countless blessings that we received in our existence.  

Kenneth Dela Peña Banluta, Rotaract Club of Central Butuan, District 3860 (KENNETH): I have always lived with the byword “It is in giving that we become more beautiful”. Giving fulfills the happiness we cannot find in other things.

Kingsley Chua, Rotaract Club of Malabon Highlands, District 3800 (KINGSLEY): Giving is about helping each other. Whenever someone is in need, I try to help with the best of my abilities for them to continue what they’re pursuing in life. Also being able to serve other people had given me life lessons that help me to improve myself as a person.

Fielson M. Murillo, Rotaract Club of Mariveles Freeport / Rotary Club of Mariveles Ecozone, District 3790 (FIELSON): Giving is an expression of gratitude, being thankful for the blessings we are receiving every single moment of our lives.

Joseph P. Ilagan, Rotaract Club of Downtown Batangas City, District 3820 (JOSEPH): It is providing help in any way we can, handing over to others a gift that would be of great help.

Sherry Ann Murillo, Rotary Club of Mariveles Freeport, District 3790 (SHEANN): I truly believe that we are blessed to be a blessing to other people. God is the source of blessings and blessings are meant to be shared.

Kristine Karen Reyes- Cuales, Rotaract Club of Manila, District 3810 (KK): Giving is one of those few things that can give joy to 2 persons — the giver and the receiver. It is innate in me. It might sound cheesy but I really give until it hurts. Whether I have more or I have less, I will always choose to give. Regardless of how big or small, plenty or few, I know that it can change someone’s life or view of life.

The moment I became a Paul Harris Fellow, that was the time I felt most generous.

There’s nothing more fulfilling than knowing your contributions make beneficiaries happy. One of the best things about being in Rotary and Rotaract is the overall experience of seeing how these donations fuel projects change lives. What are some of our Paul Harris Fellows’ memorable experiences that made them feel the most generous?

Joseph: When I was the Club President during Rotary Year 2019-2020, I felt the need to help my club financially. Our club just got reinstated last Rotary Year 2018-2019 and I saw that the club has so much potential but lacks financial support. That’s when I decided to provide funding for projects that focuses on doing good to the community.

Joshua Amado Bicoy, Rotary Club of Dipolog/Rotary Club of Skokie, District 3850 and 6440 (JOSHUA): In 2014, I had the honor to share gifts of recognition to my humble parents Julie Sr., and +Demetria.

Kingsley: The most memorable experience I’ve had is when we went to do our club’s first international service project. To see all our hard work and dedication to help the beneficiaries had humbled me down and appreciate the little that I have. It also changed my understanding of the joy of giving.

Kenneth: The moment I became a Paul Harris Fellow, that was the time I felt most generous, knowing that my donation through The Rotary Foundation, will provide clean water and sanitation in Papua New Guinea, will keep students in school in Tazania, and will alleviate poverty in many parts of the world. Thanks to Rotary for letting me expand my reach.

Ernest: The most memorable experience I’ve had where I felt most generous is when people see the value of being selfless. I wanted people to be aware of their surroundings especially the needs of society. Through the act of giving, we share happiness and smiles that makes the world more meaningful.

John Rupert: The most memorable experience that I would never forget and I’ve felt the most generous was that time we were challenged by year 2020 and it was during my presidency in Rotaract when all these challenges happened. It started when Taal Volcano erupted and I tried to find resources to fund a quick relief operation to those who were affected and our area (Quezon & Marinduque) of RID 3820 united. I had to release our area fund for the said project and also, with the help of other Rotaract clubs from Quezon who made efforts to look for help that we can bring to those who were affected by the tragic volcanic eruption. Another memorable experience for me was facing the challenges brought by this global pandemic. When we were about to end our term during the Champion year, I was already planning for a birthday celebration and a simple project and program with friends from Rotaract and those who helped me during my presidency. All of a sudden, things turned out differently when President Rodrigo Duterte has placed some parts of our country under full lockdown. With this, the fund that was supposed to be used for my birthday celebration became an instant “ayuda” to help our countrymen wherein we gave food packs to all the checkpoints here in Lucena CIty and members of our club followed when they knew what I did. On the day of my birthday, I have decided to give some PPEs, facemasks, face shields to Quezon Medical Center and on the same day, I also tried to give some grocery packs composing of different kinds of vegetables, whole chicken, a dozen eggs, 5 kilos of rice, and others needed by a household to a community that wasn’t able to reach by the LGU and this made me realize and pushed me to donate to The Rotary Foundation.  

KK: This was during the All-Star year that I was a President. I wanted to have a good experience as a President, and I also wanted to share that to our club, my fellow officers and Rotaractors, more importantly our community. Together with RAC Manila’s ALL Star Team, we started different projects that until now our club is continuously doing every year.

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”- Winston Churchill

The conscious act of sharing and giving goes a long way in changing lives, and this is what The Rotary Foundation presents to us.

This Life Changing Year has been proof that, despite the challenges and limitations due to pandemic, every Rotaractor can continue serving and supporting communities especially through The Rotary Foundation. Seeing the value and impact of every donation can encourage more to develop the habit of sharing among districts, clubs and members.

Karla Patricia Ravida, Rotaract Club of Manila/Rotary Club of Manila Magic, District 3810 (KARLY): Being honored with the PHF, I am inspired to continue serving both as a Rotarian and Rotaractor. It is my hope that more young people will see that no matter how small their good deed is, when done collectively and consistently will effect change in the community.

KK: (Donating to The Rotary Foundation) is really easier said than done. It might not be the same for everyone but in my case, I was only able to get a better grasp of value of giving to TRF when I took the TRF seminar conducted by Rotary annually.  For first time givers or for those whose planning on giving, there are a lot of questions that are really difficult to answer without taking that seminar. Questions such as “Where will my donation go?”, “How can I make sure that it will go to those who need it?”, and the likes will always cloud their thinking and might make them hesitant to give and I can’t blame them considering the news on corruption that has been going around for decades. I suggest they check the TRF website and look for the beneficiaries to have a glimpse of its impact. End Polio is one of the Rotary Advocacies that benefits from TRF and we are very, very close in eradicating Polio from the face of the Earth — thanks to TRF. A lot of lives have been changed by TRF and they can be a part of that change just by donating at least $10 or they can gather a group of friends to pitch in and raise $10 to donate. 

Sheann: Since 2018 when I became a dual member, I started to give to the Rotary Foundation. And now, as the Life-Changing President of our club, I decided to become a Paul Harris Fellow to encourage and inspire my members to also donate to the Foundation knowing that the donations given to the foundation transform into impactful service projects that change lives both close to home and around the world. Just always remember that when we give or contribute something, let God do the “return” and no matter where we are, He can use us to be a channel of blessing and love to others.

Joseph: Rotaractors may see the value of giving to The Rotary Foundation by having regular information dissemination about TRF and for all districts to recognize the efforts Rotaractors do in giving to TRF. Rotaractors and other young people can develop the habit of giving by promoting all the good causes that support giving something to other. It would also be best to instill to them that we give what we can and not because we give it for fame or pleasure. It is worth noting that my PHF was given with an agreement that I’ll donate equal amount in the years to come and to promote donating to TRF to other Rotaractors. With the amount I’ll be donating, I am asked to give the points to other Rotaractors and encourage them to be PHF in the future.

Joshua: Growing up with my local club as an Interactor, Rotaractor until finally admitted to Rotary, had made me realize the importance of giving – how your little contribution can impact your community and the world. “Give in until it hurts” has been our mantra for years in the Rotary Club of Dipolog. Encouraging more and more donors for Rotary and having them as a Paul Harris Fellow.

Fielson: Seeing the smiles from those little kids or families that you shared your treasures with will leave a great impact on our hearts. Even when we are young professionals or just starting our careers, let’s make a habit of helping the Rotary Foundation. 

Kingsley: For me, when a Rotaractor understands The Rotary Foundation’s purpose and initiatives, He can see its value in giving to the TRF. Before I joined Rotaract, my father would talk about the Rotary Foundation, after some time, I get a glimpse of what is TRF’s purpose. But when I became a member of the Rotaract Club of Malabon Highlands, my knowledge of the Rotary Foundation has broadened, and also see the value in it. When I first joined Rotaract in 2019. Whenever I have a spare amount of money, I can give a monetary donation to my Rotaract club’s project or other club’s projects that I am interested in.   But when I don’t have any money to spare, usually I help out in other ways such as helping them organize a certain project or giving suggestions and opinions about the project.

Rica: Acts 20:35 states, “It is better to give than to receive.” Giving is a selfless act. We all know that we all face different challenges in life, and this simple act can have a significant impact on the lives of others. Giving is important, in my experience, as someone who truly values compassion. Giving has its power because it is a selfless act involving giving from the heart. This gesture of generosity isn’t associated with any particular occasion. It’s just a time when you give from the heart to share what you have, express your gratitude, and show that you care.

Kenneth: To my fellow young Rotaractors, to develop the habit of giving, we need to have this thing we call compassion – it is to feel for others.

John Rupert: As a Rotaractor, I see the value in giving to TRF this Rotary Year by educating them on what TRF is all about. Educate them on why we donate, where does our money goes, what is TRF’s impact to our community, what happens if we give, show them how broad TRF is and etc. I also think that we can develop the habit of giving to young people by starting to teach them at home. Once we succeed doing or practicing this at home, young people can easily spread this good deed in the community. Giving does not always involve monetary contribution but a simple way of giving thanks to the cashier when you order your favorite food on a fast-food chain can brighten up their day. Giving has a broad meaning and just like in Rotary, if we give our time, talent and treasure consistently and setting example in our organization and community, I guess we already developed the habit of giving. 

Ernest: In this time of pandemic, we have been striving for life, we conquer a year of doubts, and fear. Being a Rotaractor, we illuminate those who are in darkness. In this life changing year, we extend our hope to the society. Let us be reminded on our purpose and continue the act of selflessness. We can also develop the habit of giving in many different ways. Giving of our time to those who need us. Sharing a part of ourselves to people. The first thing that we should develop is the behavior of being aware of the needs of others. Having a PHF distinction is a call to others to take part in making this world a better place to live in. Using this prestige distinction, we will promote the act of giving and how it can change lives. I would be an example of a selfless act that others need to emulate and be a reminder to others about the purpose of our existence – create a world full of love and selfless action.

Let’s continue to do good to the world and let us not stop what Rotary International started.

Knowing that Rotaractors always strive to make a difference in the world regardless of circumstances, it’s interesting to know what’s yet to come and how they would want their contributions to support their dream and future projects.

Rica: If I were to support a project, “ECO-HOUSE” is something I’d want to implement. This house will be created out of plastic bottles with the plastic waste inside or Eco-friendly plastic waste construction blocks. We can contribute to protecting the environment and providing free shelter to the homeless and other individuals in need by doing so.

KK: It would be establishing an Orphanage and Home for the Aged. It has been my heartache seeing disabled persons and kids asking for alms, elderlies staying and sleeping in the streets, babies carried by their parents or siblings, and men and women who had no choice but to hope that good samaritans would pass by and lend them a hand. It might be too ambitious but I really want to let them know that there is always hope and that we have a God who sees them, care for them, and love them and that life is beautiful. I believe in ripple effect. I believe that any amount of kindness will be replicated and that a life changed can change a million more.

Joseph: It would be to fund a project on disaster preparedness. It’s high time for every club to be prepared in line with disaster response now that our world is changing fast. With a simple establishment of a Rotaract Disaster Response Group that is equipped with even with the simplest of kits essential in responding to any types of disasters and providing them trainings, I’m sure we will be of great help to the community, providing a service with dedicated individuals in times of disasters.

Joshua: Raised by a parent who is a volunteer Day Care Worker, I have always believed in the kinder education as a foundation of a child’s growth, hence, I am hopeful to continue to propose Global Projects that support children education.  

Kingsley: If I were to fund a dream project, it will be about hydroponics.  Because climate change has been a massive problem for crops and vegetation. Being able to have an alternative way to provide a food source can serve to change lives.

John Rupert: Ever since I was young, I already have these dream projects in mind before joining Rotaract. First, a mobile community clinic that can help my kababayans in the province of Marinduque because I know that they lack medical resources and from my observation, they would just settle in the province if they don’t have enough money to travel to Lucena City to seek medical assistance. Imagine, people in a 4th class province in our country needs to travel to Lucena City to seek medical assistance and with this simple project that I am dreaming I know this would mean a lot and change lives of the people of the said province. Second and another dream project I would like to have and I know that can make a big impact to the community is a Day Care Center and a Learning Hub in just one building. I know at this moment we were challenged by this global pandemic and yet, students still find their way to attend their classes and with this, I know we can provide good and quality education once this will be possible. The day care center will provide education for the kids and the learning hub will provide computers for those children who can’t afford to buy a mobile phone or computer, a tutor to help children assist in studying, learning materials such as books and other materials for education and with this, they will all be proud that they are a beneficiary or more like a product of Rotary International and who knows, we might get potential Interactors, Rotaractors or even Rotarians in the future when all this dream projects turned to reality.

Ernest: I dream of a project about education. I will call it LOW (Learn on Wheels). Education is one of the most important aspects of our life. Through education, we not just provide learning, we start creating the future of the children. I wanted to have this in the remote areas of my city where education is limited. It not just changes the lives of the children but also creating their dreams in life.

Indeed, with the kindness and generosity of our young Rotaractors and Rotarians today, the Rotary Foundation will truly continue with its promise to serve the community and improve the lives of not just who benefit from it but also to those who support it.

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