When Sam Eckerling, President of the Rotary Club of Skokie Valley, sets a goal he does not quit until he completes his mission. As a result of his efforts, Eckerling has pioneered a new, more effective method for Rotary clubs to help others locally and around the world.
Eckerling became president of his Rotary club in July 2012 and that is when he decided to undertake The Presidents’ Project and help build a learning center in Monterrey, Mexico. Eckerling’s goal was to get an unprecedented 72 Rotary clubs, all in Chicagoland, to help finance and support the project.
Eckerling’s undertaking to bring together all 72 Chicagoland Rotary clubs took considerable energy. Numerous phone calls, emails and arm-twisting including a personal appeal regarding the revolutionary nature of his groundbreaking fund-raising. He finally reached 100 percent participation.
“It was such a great success, I decided to use our example for what The President’s Project should be," Eckerling said. "We now have enough money to finance two learning centers."
Both learning centers will use the teaching platform provided by the local university, Monterrey Center for Technological and Advanced Studies. Joaquin Mejia, Rotary International Service Chairman, says the Rotary fundraising will provide computer equipment, desks, reading materials, pens, pencils and paper for men, women and children who attend the learning center. The learning centers offer Monterrey’s poorest people classes in basic reading and mathematics to vocational training for job placement.
Some 800 school age children will benefit from the lessons on skill development and the improvement of their intellectual and emotional abilities. About 400 heads of households will benefit by the direct impact these courses are expected to have on their families. These activities are hoped to diminish the negative effects of poverty and isolation and to improve the quality of life. These learning centers are about 150 miles from the U.S. border.
Last summer, Eckerling personally met with Rotarians from Monterrey, Mexico who will oversee the project.
“It’s a perfect example how Rotarians can raise money locally being confident that the funds are allocated properly in the communities that receive them,” Eckerling said.
Eckerling, joined Rotary in 1988 and grew-up in Skokie. He owns and operates PRINT-Xpress in downtown Skokie. The Rotary Club of Skokie Valley serves the communities of Skokie, Lincolnwood, Niles and Morton Grove.