CLINTON — Nearly 25 years ago, Rotary International led the charge to eradicate polio throughout the world as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Today, the organization reflects on its success, and a local district of Rotary International has embarked on a community awareness campaign to help commemorate this historic milestone.
The campaign was the undertaken by Rotary District 7510, comprised of 42 clubs in Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer, Somerset and Union counties. In December 2011, the district received the “Public Image Grant” provided by Rotary International and developed a billboard and commercial campaign in those counties that showcase the initiative.
They even found a familiar face in their community to appear on the billboards – district leader Megan Jones-Holt – to help get the message across.
“We wanted to connect with the community and inform them of Rotary’s incredible success in the field of Polio Eradication,” explained Clinton resident Megan Jones Holt, governor of Rotary District 7510 and owner of local business Boxes For You.
James Robinson, the chapter’s public image director, agreed that effectively getting the issue into the forefront of the community was essential.
“Thanks to the efforts of Rotary International we finally have an end to polio in reach,” added Robinson, explaining that only three countries remain at endemic levels of outbreak of the disease – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“When our district received the grant we knew we wanted to personalize the initiative in a way that the communities that we serve could relate to and truly understand the cause,” Robinson said.
Overwhelmingly, the district agreed that Jones-Holt was the person who could accomplish that goal.
“I was truly honored to play this role in increasingly the visibility of an issue that is so much larger than our everyday work, Jones-Holt said, adding the billboards have attracted viral attention, with people throughout the region mentioning them in social media channels.
Surprisingly, “quite a few” people have recognized her from the ads.
Jones-Holt also hosts a spot on the Hunterdon County Chamber Internet Radio dedicated to Rotary and its cause, running every Monday 11 a.m.
“Giving back to your community is incredibly rewarding,” said Jones-Holt. “We hope this campaign will help gain more awareness to what Rotary is all about and attract more folks to join us.”
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