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Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise Honors VNHC Nurses

Non-Rotarians Holly Gendron and Susan Saperstein are awarded Paul Harris Fellow certificates and pins

On Wednesday, the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise was pleased to honor two local women by awarding them a Paul Harris Fellow certificate and pin for exemplifying Rotary’s mission of “service above self.”

Holly Gendron, RN/director of Serenity House, and Susan Saperstein, RN, both work for Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara.

In 2004, through the Foundation for Hospices, their organization partnered with a hospice in SubSaharan Africa and were assigned to the Viagenco Comprehensive Care Clinic in Mbita/Luanda, Kenya. Mbita was noted to have one of the highest HIV rates in the world.

On behalf of the VNHC, Gendron and Saperstein have made four assessment trips to Kenya, have raised funds for Viagenco and have expanded the program. Viagenco now has a fully operating health clinic and home-based palliative care program that serves the entire community. Because so many children had been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, they started a program to sponsor these children to attend school that has produced good results.

These ladies also helped start a microfinance program and permaculture program that the community eventually took over. Because of these programs, village people have learned how to utilize sustainable agriculture. VNHC aided in establishing relationships between Viagenco and several local agencies such as Direct Relief International, Crane Country Day School, Unite to Light, Rotary, UTU and Engineers Without Borders. Thank you, Gendron and Saperstein, for your dedication, time and effort.

The Paul Harris Fellow is named after the founder of Rotary and is a special acknowledgement award given in Rotary. It is a very special honor to give to a non-Rotarian and is not done often by the RCSBS.

Click here for more information about Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise. The club meets at 7 a.m. Wednesdays at the Santa Barbara Club, 1105 Chapala St.

— Betsy Munroe is public relations chairwoman for the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise.

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