When Eli Gauna began his tale about a young Mexican-American boy who went to school in the Los Angeles barrio, your editor still hadn’t caught on that the fellow in the touching story was actually him.
Eli readily admitted that after being humiliated by a junior high school teacher (whose name he still remembers), he became a bully so others couldn’t hurt him first. At that point, he was told, “you’re going nowhere. . . .”
Enter Sister Rachel, who taught at the newly opened Catholic high school nearby. “Instead of chastising me for my accent, she actually praised me by asking me to teach the other kids Spanish!”  This was the turning point for Eli, who equates Sister Rachel’s act of kindness with the type of work we in Rotary perform.
“Let’s think about what we as an organization have accomplished,” Eli implored. “There are children who will never endure the ravages of polio. . .because we exist. There are whole communities around the world who drink potable water. . .because we exist. There are abandoned kids in Tijuana who are being educated. . .because we exist. The list is endless.”
Eli left off with this homily:  make a kindness, make a difference.