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Fox Chapel Rotary efforts help bring vehicle to volunteers in South Africa

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted
Gabriel Gardiner, a student at Penn State New Kensington, attended the presentation ceremony in Kynsna, South Africa for a vehicle for hospice workers purchased by five area Rotary clubs.

A vehicle donation by area Rotary clubs was the key for hospice workers caring for the sick in remote villages of South Africa, local members said.

The new Toyota makes possible the rugged trek to rural areas near the coastal town of Knysna, where volunteers can now serve an increased number of patients.

“It's really gratifying to hear how much the vehicle was needed and how well it is working out,” said Ralph Hutchison, past-president of the Fox Chapel branch of the Rotary.

Rotary Club of Fox Chapel is one of five locally that banded together for the grant. Others are Oakmont-Verona, Burrell, Turtle Creek and Elizabeth.

The Rotary of Knysna also was part of the project.

Knysna is a prosperous town of about 75,000, which sits at the southern tip of the country.

The timber industry is touted for generating most of the income.

Hutchison said the outlying areas are the opposite, impoverished and lacking basic health care.

Members credited local college student Gabriel Gardiner, the founder of a Rotaract Club for young adults, for bringing their attention to the need for health care there. Hutchison then spearheaded the project, saying it underscores the international reach of the Rotary.

“All Rotary clubs do a lot of good work at the local level — but we also understand our international obligations,” he said.

Coincidentally, as the fundraising concluded, Gardiner was abroad studying a Mozambique university and was able to attend the vehicle presentation ceremony at the Knysna Hospice.

The hospice vehicle won't be hard to spot. Hutchison designed a bumper sticker listing the names of the Pittsburgh area Rotary clubs that helped make it possible.

Founded in 1970, the Fox Chapel branch of Rotary International is one of 34,000 clubs worldwide.

Volunteers support education and job training, work to combat hunger and seek to improve the condition of local communities.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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