Right now I am in Virginia with my daughter’s family – especially my 8-month-old grandson. We are watching the snow come down in big and really big fluffy flakes. We are thankful to be warm and cozy and looking forward to a big turkey day with family and friends.
Please keep our service men and women in your thoughts and prayers as they are the ones for whom we should be ever thankful. They keep us safe and allow us to enjoy the freedoms we have every day while they keep watch.
This past week I crossed off one of my bucket list items as I returned to my original Rotary Club – the Rotary Club of Blackstone, Virginia. They are the ones who created this monster. They are still a vibrant club.
While there I had the wonderful experience of thanking a gentleman for what he did for my family 36 years ago. He is 93 years old and suffers from Parkinson’s. He was a radio announcer back then and simply asked his audience to help us find our dog. Within a few hours we had a call and our dog was back with us although he had traveled several miles away. I was happy to thank this gentleman in person for what he did for my family. He was unable to speak, but the twinkle in his eye told me he understood. For that I have a deeper feeling of thankfulness.
I hope each of you have similar reasons to be thankful now and in the future.
Please note the operative word is growth, but don’t forget about retention. I am so pleased to report to you that, as of today, we have 97 new members in our district. This is indicative of the hard work by Club Presidents, Membership Chairs and Assistant Governors. We are a growing district. This fact is recognized by our Zone and by RI.
Keep your members engaged and get your new members involved – heck put them together and watch them take off.
December is critical to reporting of membership activity. Rotary International will base the next dues invoice on the number of members in each club as of the end of December. Be sure to get your new members listed and update any changes to your club’s member status as soon as possible. If you are unsure about a member, ask them. If a member is listed at the end of December, you will be invoiced for them in January. And remember, your District 5510 dues will be based on this same number of members.
The Rotary Foundation
Lots of folks are busy doing year-end tax preparations. Don’t forget The Rotary Foundation during this time of the year. The chart below shows the percentage of Rotarians who have already donated to TRF this year. Let’s get to work on growing our percentage and goal for giving this Rotary year.
Remember, one of the criteria for the District Achievement Award is for clubs to be above 30% of their Annual Fund goal by the end of December 2014. As of today we are at 26% of our goal for the district. In reviewing the EREY reports for all clubs, it was noted that 178 Rotarians have yet to have their contributions recorded. It should be noted that many of these are our new members and I am confident clubs will be submitting these donations soon to reach the 30% mark.
Rotary Youth Exchange
Switching gears now, I want to keep the burner turned up on support to our Youth Exchange program. In a few weeks we will be interviewing 14 students who have applied for the Rotary Exchange program for the next school year.
Key to sending students out on this highly desirable program is the ability of our district to host an equal number of students during the same school year. Currently, we have the ability to host 8 students here. This is based on having the initial and second families already lined up. Should any of these drop out, it may jeopardize a potential in-bound and also an out-bound from here. Host families DO NOT have to be Rotarians. So if, you or someone you know, would like to be a host family, please contact Bill Beamish and ask about being a host. It is a WIN-WIN program for both parties.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards – Scholarships
Here is an interesting discovery that I heard at the Interact Fall Leadership Conference.
First of all, the Credit for Contributions made or fees paid to Public Schools is claimed on AZ Form 322. The Credit for Contributions to Charities that Provide Assistance to the Working Poor is claimed on AZ Form 321. (The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona is just such an entity) They are two separate and mutually exclusive tax credits. A taxpayer can claim both credits.
The Public Schools contribution credit (Form 322) can be a little complicated, as was noted in our discussion with the Interact Advisers.
It has not been ascertained that all of the school districts in Arizona have jumped through all of the required hoops to be able to qualify their Interact Clubs to receive contributions made to the school for those clubs, and for those Interact Clubs to be able to award RYLA scholarships to students. However, most of the schools are receiving funds designated for Interact Clubs and are putting them in a school account for Interact’s use. Some Interact Clubs have been funding their RYLA scholarships in this way, using the tax credit contributions to the school for Interact.
One of our Rotarian Advisers at the FLC and to an Interact Club, is also a longtime school board member. She was correct in stating that a school district is supposed to be charging a fee to participate in the extracurricular activities that would be covered under this tax credit. Some School Districts charge an annual $10 activity fee that covers participation in athletics, band, drama, and any of the recognized clubs on campus. To become a member of Interact, a student should have paid the $10 activity fee to the school.
There has been some confusion in the schools over what the tax credit funds can be used for. However, some of the top Arizona Dept. of Revenue officials agree with the interpretation that the funds contributed to a school for Interact can be used for any activities that are consistent with the purpose for which the club or activity exists. The Standard Interact Constitution is pretty clear that sending students to RYLA for leadership and character training is consistent with the purposes for which Interact exists. Here is a synopsis of the Guidelines:
GUIDELINES FOR THE PUBLIC SCHOOL EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY (ECA) TAX CREDIT
An individual may claim a nonrefundable tax credit for making cash contributions or for certain fees paid to a public school located in Arizona for the support of extracurricular activities or character education programs. The credit is equal to the amount of fees paid or cash contributions, not to exceed $400 for married filing joint filers and $200 for all other filing statuses. The following information is intended to assist public schools in understanding their statutory requirements pertaining to ECA tax credit monies.
The official Guidelines for the Public Schools Extracurricular Activity (ECA) Tax Credit issued by the Arizona Department of Revenue has been posted on our district website under resources. If you need more information, please contact John Wintersteen or Howard Adams.