There is a special smile that lights up the faces of many Coronado Rotarians when asked what Jerry Winters has done to help others during his 25 years as a Rotarian.
“He’s one of my heroes; a very generous humanitarian in a quiet way.”
“Jerry spearheads responses to help after a disaster.”
“We probably know only 10% of what he does. He is always there to help others.”
The Rotary Club of Coronado is proud to present Rotarian Jerry Winter with its 2017-18 Peacemaker Award. The Peacemaker Award is designed to recognize individuals who are making a difference in promoting understanding, tolerance, and conflict resolution, and helping build good will and peace.
Jerry often references other Rotarians (as his “heroes”) and the life-changing event that inspired him to do whatever he could to help others. The interview below tells us more about a special humanitarian who is making the world a better place.
Interview with Rotarian Jerry Winter
Jerry, you became a Coronado Rotary Club member in 1992. Larry Wade, editor of the local Coronado Journal (now the Coronado Eagle & Journal), was club president. What project were you involved in when you first began in Rotary?
I became Environment Committee Chair. Our first project was to work with the “People for Trees” project to plant trees around Coronado in the curbside right-of-ways. Urban trees are very important to the environment as they “eat” a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide, and provide much shade and cooling for the surrounding area. Renewing the city’s “urban forest” went very well and we continued with plantings of 100 trees a year for some time.
We also urged the City of Coronado to put “Recyclable Materials only” bins in our parks. At that time park users had no choice in disposing of recyclables except by taking them to their homes, or throwing everything together in the trash at the park. We now have many recycling bins throughout Coronado.
Tell us about the Rotary trip that became a life-changing event.
Dr. Jim Vernetti hogtied me into joining him on a trip to Ensenada to help with the Thousand Smiles Program. That was a life-changing event for me. Seeing first hand the miracles they were performing on those young children with cleft palates was amazing. All of the surgeons, dentists, and helpers were volunteers. As a matter of fact, there is a wait list for these professionals to get the chance to perform their “magic.” Lives are truly changed by this Rotary International Thousand Smiles Foundation endeavor.
What was Becoming a Rotary Foundation Mentor like?
After a while, I became a District 5340 Rotary Foundation Mentor. My job was to visit my Clubs (about 14 throughout District 5340 and make presentations about the benefits of supporting the Rotary International Foundation. Then I would follow up as needed with the individual members of the Club or the Club Officers to continue to promote the value of the Foundation. This was as much of a benefit to me as the “presenter” as to the members of the Club that heard the talk. It is amazing what questions can be thrown at you when you are supposed the be the “expert.”. I learned a lot and loved it!
Why is Rotary special to you?
I have always wanted to help people that were less fortunate than myself. I had belonged to a different service club in the early ’70s, but it was not very active, so I gradually stopped participating. I had been invited to attend Rotary meetings in the past and liked the approach. When Galen Coffman invited me to attend Coronado Rotary in 1992, I jumped on it.
Rotary is like family to me. I found so many people with so much enthusiasm, ready and willing to help at a moment’s notice. The Rotary Foundation is a perfect place to put money to get the “biggest bang for your buck,” and I was more than happy to help out.
In the listing on the members’ web page it says you were a Rotarian of the Year. What year was that? And what were you involved in for Rotary during that year?
It was 2010. Our Rotary project was to build a well system to provide clean and inexpensive water to the new Children’s Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. This project cost about $45,000. The savings were immediately gained. They were paying $6,000 per month for water from their city. Now with just maintenance costs for the well and pumps, the well will pay for itself in about 2.5 more years. And that’s with good clean and dependable water to boot!
I believe we proudly call it “Service Above Self”?
And, we have many Rotarians in this Club to prove it…
Are there other projects to mention…or teams and people you worked with?
There are so many. I will probably not mention some who are really deserving, but let me try first with Jim Vernetti, My Rotarian HERO. He got me off to an eye-opening beginning. Then the people in Coronado Rotary who were involved in the Limbs for Freedom project in Ensenada. Dan Gensler was a big factor in that project, as was John Ovrom, whose crew actually built the shop inside the DIF facility in Ensenada with the Ensenada Rotary Club that provided local assistance. Bob Watson and Bob Spear and many more were also hands-on involved.
I want to give big accolades to Rotary District Governor Bill McDade for his many contributions to the health of people all over Malawi through his work as an orthopedic surgeon as well as by training the few doctors and clinicians in that country. Also accolades to District Governor Larry Scott, who joined us while dispensing the medical supplies we purchased, boxed up and sent to Malawi, and then delivered the supplies to many of the clinics and hospitals throughout Malawi.
It was on this trip that Larry saw the need for wheelchairs, which then became another big project for our Rotary District. Our club went way over the top on the wheelchair project, which then spawned another wheelchair project to provide wheelchairs for Israel and Palestine. A Coronado Rotarian worked with a Palestinian to coordinate providing wheelchairs for the program. Another smaller program is when we provided the funds to provide new schools being built with desks. Instead of buying desks, we nurtured the concept of setting up local workshops to build them. In this manner we got the desks that we needed, but also provided employment for the locals at a cost cheaper than buying them outright.
Being a Rotarian becomes special for a lot of people – if a person is considering joining what would you tell them in this regard?
Come and have lunch with me at Rotary. See for yourself the vitality and comradeship and caring people that you would be associated (and have fun) with. Read the literature, talk to the Rotarians, and see if we both (the club and you) feel this is a good thing. You will get out of Rotary whatever you want to put into it
What are you thinking might be your next project?
Anything else to mention?
Yes, I am very grateful for having the opportunity to be associated with such a great organization as Rotary International and especially Coronado Rotary and the fine people that make up this Club.