Jerusalem – March 30th, 2016 – Jacob Strulovich, Rotary Israel’s Director of Professional Development Programs, Rotary Israel’s Director of Professional Development Programs, has been dreaming of building closer connections with United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer EMS rescue squad due to the commonalities shared by both organizations.
“Rotary was founded on the basis of business meetings and the first agenda that built the organization was four professionals that wanted to help each other. A lawyer helps an accountant who helps a businessman. Later on the international rotary organization decided that it wanted to expand its work and create projects that give back to the community.”
According to Strulovich these projects often focused on large issues that affected the international community as well as local projects. “One of the biggest international projects of ours is the eradication of polio. We are systematically going into third world countries and vaccinating the people in every country we come to in an effort to eradicate polio. Another project of ours is to ensure that everyone has clean water, no matter where they live.”
On the local level, Strulovich said that the Rotary clubs are also choosing local projects that are making a difference in their communities. “All around the world are trying to give back to the community. So to in Israel. We want to give back to the community and that is the main reason we chose to work together with United Hatzalah. United Hatzalah is deeply involved in the community. Not only do they save lives in the community every day, but all of their volunteers come from the local community itself. In a lot of ways Rotary works the same way as United Hatzalah does, with our members coming from the community to help each other and the rest of the community around us. We share the same ideals,” said Strulovich.
Strulovich added yet another reason that Rotary is interested in helping United Hatzalah: to build up their own membership. “We also want to expose ourselves to younger participants who are a mutual target population. We want to bring in younger professionals who are already involved in community work, people like United Hatzalah volunteers.”
Rotary maintains a large membership base of volunteers. As Strulovich explained, the organization boasts over 1.25 million members worldwide, and only a few hundred take a salary to oversee the running of the organization. It is mainly a volunteer-based group, something else that they have in common with United Hatzalah. With over 33,000 chapters of Rotary in the world and United Hatzalah branching out to international markets and currently being involved in projects in over 6 countries, the potential for growth and joint partnerships between the two organizations is almost endless. In Israel alone there are 59 rotary clubs spread out across the country.
The Haifa club, which held an awareness meet-and-greet event on Wednesday, March 23rd, has set a goal to raise money for a minimum of ten defibrillators, which will be donated to help EMS personnel in United Hatzalah save lives every day. While the donation is sizeable, they are not stopping there. “This is the first step in a long term relationship, one that we hope continues for many years,” said Strulovich. “Even with the upcoming early turnover of positions in the rotary clubs across Israel, we are already introducing the soon-to-be new inductees to the important work that United Hatzalah is doing for the communities across the country.”
The partnership is already expanding beyond the club in Haifa to other Rotary clubs in Israel. “In Kfar Yonah we’ve had a request to set up a club donation as well for United Hatzalah, and an additional request from the Yaffo chapter to establish a youth division with the organization there as well. We hope to see great things in the coming years, as this is a partnership that we will not give up on,” Strulovich concluded.