Last Friday, we heard from Marion Bunch, a member of the Rotary Club of Dunwoody since 1991. Much of her Rotary history has been tied to the amazing work she has done in the fight against AIDS.
As Marion shared Friday, in 1994, she lost her son to AIDS. “I never thought I’d do anything about it until one day, three years after his death, I felt a tap on the shoulder, and a voice in my ear said, ‘Mom, get up and get going; you haven’t done anything, and it’s been three years,’” she recalls. Marion started her work in 1997 by developing an AIDS awareness program implemented in Georgia schools that reached over 500,000 students in 15 years. Our club was instrumental in supporting this project. And that was just the beginning so keep reading ...
This program gained attention within the world of Rotary, and Marion was asked to speak at multiple Rotary conferences. She attended Rotary International conventions (partially supported by our Club) and worked an AIDS Awareness booth at them. I still have one of the blinking light pins (it no longer blinks) that we gave away in Marion's first booth at the 2000 RI Convention in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In 2002 RI President Bhichai Rattakul heard Marion speak at a conference and asked her to help him create a program for the orphans and vulnerable children in Africa. She responded with the creation of a multi-sector partnership (called ANCHOR) that provided care, support and education of 122,000 orphan children in six African countries through a USAID grant of $8 Million.
In 2004, the Rotary Board of Directors approved Marion’s application to become an independent Rotarian Action Group that focuses on mobilizing Rotarians, partners and communities into implementing disease prevention programs – now known as Rotarians For Family Health & AIDS Prevention (RFHA). In 2011, Rotary leader Stephen Mwanje in Uganda and Marion had the vision of all of the Rotary clubs in his country ‘working together on a common cause.’ This was the founding of Rotary Family Health Days, a massive disease prevention health campaign that provides lifesaving immunizations and health screens across seven nations of Africa and parts of India - which has now involved more than 5,000 Rotarians and served over 2.4 million people.
Outside Rotary, Marion has a 30-year background in founding, developing and managing her own organizations. In 1994, Marion and two other partners formed an agency in Atlanta that represented Wilson Learning, a global training and human development company. Their agency was ranked No. 1 in Wilson Learning for several years.
Here's what Marion didn't say last Friday. She has won multiple Rotary International awards, as well as community awards, for her work in disease prevention in the developing world:
- Marion received Rotary International’s SERVICE ABOVE SELF award, awarded to only 150 Rotarians each year out of 1.2 million Rotarians. It is the highest honor you can achieve in Rotary.
- The Rotary Board of Directors, in coordination with the White House, Washington, D.C. honored Marion in 2014 at the WHITE HOUSE as one of ‘TEN WOMEN OF ACTION’ in the U.S.
- Marion was a keynote speaker at the United Nations Rotary Day (2010) and a keynote speaker at the World Bank on International Women’s Day (2016), wherein she spoke on “Leading a Full Life”
- Marion was Chair of all Rotary International Action Groups 2014 – 2016.
- She received these awards from District 6900 - Rotarian of the Year (1997-98); You Are the Key DeKalb Rotary Council (2000).