Posted by Douglas Hausknecht
Rotary Club of Akron Co-hosted Rise Against Hunger Event with The University of Akron
Contact: Douglas Hausknecht, Rotary Club of Akron 330.780.7925

On the evening of Wednesday April 25 over 250 volunteers representing the Rotary Club of Akron and The University of Akron (UA) gathered in the ballroom of the Jean Hower Taber Student Union.  By the end of the evening some 42,000 meals had been packaged and boxed for Rise Against Hunger. 
If you have been to any of the last few Rotary International Conventions you have seen Rise Against Hunger (formerly, Stop Hunger Now) in the House of Friendship.  In Atlanta, conventioneers packed 150,000 meals.  Rotary International asked clubs and districts to continue the effort this Rotary year and provided 10% matching funds to add to the encouragement.Akron Rotary joined with UA in its third year of the Husein-Unternaher Service Project as part of what is now called UA Remembrance Day.  The project began when the death of  Zakareia “Zak” Husein inspired his friends, fellow students and the larger community to do a good deed in his honor.  Following the death of one of Zak’s friends who had participated in the first project, Duncan Unternaher, the project took on added significance as a way to honor the memory of everyone lost from the university’s family.
L-R: Akron Rotarians Matt Slonsky, Doug Hausknecht,
Meghan Whitehead and 
Club President Julie Brandle,
with UA Chair of Marketing Terry Daugherty
Some of the students participating in packing for Rise Against Hunger in the
2018 Husein-Unternaher Service Project.
Production lines ready for packing in the
Jean Hower Taber Student Union at The University of Akron
The special bond between the university and the Rotary Club of Akron dates to the earliest days of the club. Hezzleton Simmons who was to become president of the university helped to found what is now the Rotary Camp for Children with Special Needs, now in its 95th year.  Throughout the century-long relationship administrators, faculty, staff and alumni have been active members and officers of the club. Students have served the club and camp in many capacities from scrubbing walls and building beds to raking leaves to class projects involving engineering, business, education and many other disciplines.
When the two families are so intertwined it is natural that we sometimes share losses.  A member, a spouse, a former member, an alumnus, a student may have ties to both organizations.  The 2018 UA Remembrance Day embraced the relationship with a joint sponsorship between club and university. Names from each organization were projected as part of a continuing slide show and volunteers were encouraged to wear a sticker identifying, “I am serving in memory of _________.”
This year brought another Rotary connection that no one had anticipated.  One of the students being remembered, Kaleb Oney, had been an outbound exchange student for the Rotary Club of Bellevue Ohio (District 6600). Kaleb’s family previously had hosted five inbound students as part of the program.  We were honored that his parents and some of his friends from the university participated in the memorial and the service project.
Kaleb’s family shared this reflection on their Rotary Exchange experience. “Our first Rotary exchange student was from Brazil in 2009. Then we hosted young men from Mexico in 2010, and France in 2011. We had our first exchange daughter from Belgium in 2012 while Kaleb was an outbound Rotary exchange student to Chile. Our last exchange daughter was from Thailand in 2015. The whole experience was wonderful. We recently encouraged one of our neighbor boys to be an outbound Rotary exchange student. To us, the Rotary Exchange Program has made the world a little smaller and more easily understood. We hoped to share our family life and customs with these kids, and we were eager to learn about their values and customs in hopes for peace and understanding.”
The family of Akron Rotary was remembered in the slide show and a display of photographs and brief statements in the room throughout the memorial service and food packing events.  Marcia Holcomb’s husband, John, was an alumnus of the UA College of Law. Mary Weaver’s husband, Stuart Terrass, was both an alumnus and former administrator at UA. Akron Rotarians also served or contributed in memory of John Daily’s wife Ardell, former Akron Rotarian and Chili Open Chair Wayne Brennessel, and Ray Miller.
Volunteer groups purchase the food to be packed for Rise Against Hunger at a cost of 29 cents per meal. Our club and club foundation matched the contribution of Rotary International to augment the contributions of individual donors from UA, Rotary and the community. Akron Rotarians who attended included Julie Brandle; Steve and Andrew Buie; Doug and Carol Hausknecht; Marcia Holcomb; Karen Meek;  Roger Read (with Sally Miller); Matt Slonsky; Meghan Whitehead plus some Rotaract organizers and prospects.
What better way to place Service Above Self than to do so in memory of family and friends?
Participants served to honor the memory of someone lost from Rotary. The University or a more personal loss.