New Year 2020 – Service Above Self
RE: Rotary District Governor 5970 – Michelle Bell ( Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids - Marion East & Rotarian Caprice Jones (Rotary Club of Dubuque)

“ A New Birth in the New Year”  
When New Year’s Eve arrived, and most friends and family headed out to celebrate, it appeared a safe evening for the young mom to bring in the New Year alone with her toddler. But, at around 5:28 am, while she and her toddler relaxed in their room, her water broke. By 5:54 am, everything took an interesting turn.

In between contractions, she called a cab and grabbed the necessary items for her toddler and headed to the hospital that would bring her into the New Year in a memorable way. The cab driver was ecstatic! He was transporting one of the first new births of 2020. With his blessings, he dropped her off at the emergency room at St. Luke’s Unity Point
Hospital zeroed out her cab fare, handed the young mother $40, and bid her a Happy New Year and safe delivery of her new bundle of joy.

While in the hospital, her delivery came quicker than anticipated. It came so quickly that there was no moment to reach her family that lived 6 hours away or the baby’s father, who was out enjoying his evening celebrating with co-workers.
Many calls were made to no avail, striving to get a family member or friend to the hospital quickly to look after her toddler. Her blood pressure spiked from the stress of the lack of a caretaker for her toddler while being alone in the hospital delivering a baby, and the fear of losing her toddler to Child and Protective Services due to regulatory issues of her inability to be both a patient in a hospital and a caretaker of a the child at the same time.

The excellent, caring hand and support of the nurses helped her to keep a clear head, especially Nurse Chelsea, who she found very helpful and attentive with a great personality that aided her moments of challenge. As she reached out to her mother, who was far away in the state of Florida, that one call showed how “Rotary connects the world”.

You see, this young mother had grown up through her younger years serving alongside her mother and father who were both passionate Rotarians, always serving the needs of other individuals both locally and abroad. This time, she was the one in need, and for the first time in her life, she truly experienced seeing the powerful hand of how Rotary makes a difference in the lives of others.

Her mother who serves as Rotary District Trainer of District 6270 realized she couldn't fly fast enough to make it in time for the delivery, but knew that she could reach out across the world and know that her Rotary family “even on New Year’s Eve” would put “service above self” and be the hands and feet needed to help her and her daughter with this challenging situation.

A message to a fellow Rotarian in Dubuque, Iowa, Caprice Jones (Rotary Club of Dubuque), whom her mother had just met briefly at a Rotary Leadership Training in Kansas months earlier, connected this mother’s world. She shared the location of her daughter and the baby’s delivery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with Caprice and he, in wisdom and keen action identified a Rotarian he thought would be closest to St. Luke’s Unity Point Hospital. Caprice, who was willing to go himself, but was at least an hour away in Dubuque quickly remembered the location of none other than Michelle Bell, Rotary District Governor 5970 (Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids- Marion East) (who was at a hospice patient visitation of a dear friend this New Year’s).

When Michelle read the message sent by Caprice stating “Rotary Family Emergency,” she thought, what could be more urgent than a hospice visit? But, she called him immediately to hear what the emergency was. When Michelle called, she was informed that a bundle of joy had just been born; however, a toddler was at risk of being taken by social services if no adult came to pick the toddler up from her mother, who had just given birth to the toddler’s newborn baby sister.

Rotary District Governor, Michelle Bell, (Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids - Marion East) leaped into action, utilizing social media to reach out to nearby Rotarians in her district to obtain “two-car seats” and rushed to St. Luke's Unity Point Hospital to retrieve the toddler before her fate of entering the system of the Department of Children and Social Services could become a reality. Michelle quickly child proofed her home to take care of the toddler until her mother’s extended family could get to Cedar Rapids to retrieve her and enlisted the help of her teenage neighbors to assist in this selfless service to keep a family together in theNew Year.

The combined sacrificial service of Rotarian Caprice Jones, Rotary District Governor Michelle Bell, the nursing staff and staff in OB-GYN at St. Luke's Unity Hospital made a lovely ending to one of our first New Year’s Day births.

The new mom, Candace Tools (37), her newborn 5lb. 11 oz. baby girl, A'miah Renee Tools-Anderson and her toddler (Khaliah) are now safely back home in Milwaukee, WI. They were sent on their way with the blessing of many gifts from Rotarians, such as a car seat for the newborn, and clothes, toys and shoes for Khaliah, all donated by District Governor Michelle Bell, Rotary Club members and local community neighbors who rallied to “keep this family together.”

We hope that local Rotary Clubs in the Cedar Rapids area and St. Luke's Unity Hospital continue this lovely service relationship that they kicked off so beautifully at the beginning of this New Year, January 2020, and continue to make the quality of life differences together, as each strives daily to impact lives by putting “service above self.” Kudos to the entire team (doctors, nurses, staff, and Rotarians of Rotary District 5970)!
Written by:
Alicia Nickols, District Trainer
Rotary International District 6270