Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club: Jumpstarting school-based healthcare delivery in Zambia

Sat, 11/28/2015 - 8:45am

The featured speaker for the Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club on November 19 was Lonnie Hackett, founder and president of Healthy Kids/Brighter Future. Lonnie is a native of Bangor and a 2014 graduate of Bowdoin College, who founded Healthy Kids/Brighter Future while he was still an undergraduate at Bowdoin. Lonnie started by telling his story: a committed athlete with a passion for football, and a successful student, “but something was missing.” His life took a surprising turn when he spent the summer after his first year at Bowdoin volunteering with the Communities Without Borders program in Zambia. He was shocked by the levels of illness and poverty he witnessed there, particularly in the squatter settlements around Lusaka, the largest city in Zambia. Through observation, inquiry and networking Lonnie learned that thousands of Zambian children suffer serious, often preventable, illnesses and have an alarming lack of knowledge of preventive care and actions. One in 9 do not survive beyond their fifth birthday, and 700,000 children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. Lonnie had found “what was missing” in his life and came home ready to take action.

The solution Lonnie and his team have developed is a school-based health delivery system. The model starts with creating a new population of health personnel by training teachers as front-line health workers. The teachers are then the link between schools, health clinics, government agencies and local NGO’s. Believing access to health care is a human right, Lonnie is also keenly aware that people don’t learn well or prosper unless they are healthy.

In just 3 years time, Healthy Kids/Brighter Future has enabled treatment of over 11,000 children in more than 35 community schools. Financial support has come from private donations and some grants, including a $35,770 Global Grant from Rotary International, initiated by the Brunswick Rotary Club. The government of Zambia is committed to maintaining these school-based health programs once Healthy Kids/Brighter Future finishes its teacher training, thus making the programs locally sustainable.

When asked about plans for the future, Lonnie replied that they want to refine their teacher training methods, collect more data about need and outcomes, and identify more communities where they can replicate the model. Kudos from the Rotary Club of Boothbay Harbor to Lonnie Hackett for making the world a better place. His passion and commitment were truly inspirational. More information can be found at his website: During a week filled with much sad and stressful world news, it was uplifting to be updated and inspired by the work Lonnie is doing to create healthier lives and more prosperous futures for the most vulnerable youth of Zambia.

Next: Conquering Polio

The speaker for our December 3 meeting will be PDG Lawrence Furbush, District PolioPlus Chair. He’ll provide an update for all members on the status of the Rotary International’s drive to End Polio. He’ll tell us: How close are we? What recent accomplishments can we celebrate? What's next?

Club News

Local Rotarians were fed body and soul at November 19th’s weekly Rotary meeting. Always thankful for the culinary skills of chef Kim Mills, we were treated to an early Thanksgiving turkey dinner complete with all the trimmings. Thank you Kim!

The evening commenced with Jim Botti’s warm greetings to his fellow Rotarians. Viv Daniels added her lovely background music, and dinners were served by Rick Elder, Doug Harley and Debbie Graves. Guests were Assistant District Governor Claudia Frost from the Brunswick club and member-to-be Jeff Townsend

President Ham Meserve awarded a special “thank you” from the Board to Kim Mills for managing a spectacular meal for the 110 people gathered at the Veterans’ Dinner. Another special “thank you” was given to the Interact club members, via Debbie Graves, for their generous help, both at the Veterans’ Dinner and during the Outreach food packaging program. Darren Graves, who ran the 50/50 raffle, also contributed a bottle of wine to the raffle. He was rewarded for his kind efforts by winning the grand prize.

Seth Hedgecock gave generously to Happy/Thankful dollars in appreciation for being in a better place now than he was a year ago this time. In August of 2014 he was injured in the fire which destroyed his barn. He recovered, a new barn now exists and we are all thankful to have him back with us. Many donations were given in his honor. On a lighter note, it was unclear whether Jim Stormont was happy or sad that wife Annette’s cell phone got dropped down the you-know-what while traveling in Spain with Rotarian Judy DeGraw.

Rick Elder reminded us that as our club’s Foundation Chair, he will be sharing stories in the future to inspire our spring giving to the Rotary Foundation. Fruity Foster reminded us that the fruit boxes are in and ready for distribution. Tony Curulla made a plea for a couple of carpenters (minimal skills needed) to help with a deck construction Saturday morning.

To learn more about Rotary and about our Club and all the good things we do, visit our website:, or “friend” us on Facebook. Prospective members, visiting Rotarians and guests are always welcome to join us at our weekly meetings, held Thursday nights at the new Rotary Clubhouse, 66 Montgomery Road in Boothbay Harbor. Conviviality commences around 6 p.m., dinner is served at 6:30, then a short business meeting is followed by a special speaker. The evening ends at 8 p.m.