Legacy Society – Jenny Horton

Legacy Society members are individuals and/or couples who substantiate a commitment of $1 million or more to The Rotary Foundation. Benefits include all Bequest Society benefits, unique tokens of appreciation from the Trustees and special invitations, registration and seating at Rotary events.

Currently a member of the Rotary Club of Paddington, Qld, it was through the “gift” of Youth Exchange that Jenny Horton first came to Rotary.

“I am a very ordinary person who was given a tremendous gift, a gift that has not only enriched my life but that of many around me,” says Jenny. “That gift, if I may call it that, was my year as a Youth Exchange student.”

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, it was also through Youth Exchange that Jenny later became involved in PolioPlus. The seed was planted in 1986, on a trip back to Oklahoma, US, to visit her Exchange families.
“My ‘dad’, Past District Governor Jim Loftis, shared with me the program to eradicate polio from the world. I remember the deep empathy with which he spoke of this and proudly showed me a bronze statue awarded to him for his work with PolioPlus. He was truly inspired by this program.”

After becoming a Rotarian in her own right in 1999, that seed, sown some 13 years earlier, began to take root. With the assistance of Past RI Director Brian Knowles and PolioPlus Manager Carol Pandak, Jenny jumped on a plane to India to participate in her first National Immunisation Day.

Legacy Society member Jenny Horton delivering life-saving polio vaccine in Ethiopia.

It was the beginning of a life of service dedicated to the eradication of this debilitating disease.
Through the Stop the Transmission of Polio (STOP) program, which places volunteer medical professionals in developing countries, Jenny put her skills as a registered nurse to good use, living and working in remote parts of Ethiopia, Botswana and Pakistan.

While in Pakistan, she was offered a position with the World Health Organisation as a technical consultant for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, where she worked for the next 16 years in various developing countries around the globe, including India, Kenya, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

“Within those countries I was posted to areas that had numerous health issues, including polio and measles outbreaks.”

“Within those countries I was posted to areas that had numerous health issues, including polio and measles outbreaks,” says Jenny. “These were usually underserved communities where tourists and locals did not visit.”

Security was an issue during her time in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. “Planning to reach children with polio vaccine in areas of insecurity, while limiting the exposure of polio teams, required a lot of interaction and was so different to anything I had ever experienced. Sadly, we did have polio team members killed in bombings and shootings, which was devastating. When I heard the sound of a bomb it sent fear throughout my body.”

Jenny says that her work in developing countries opened her eyes to the incredible difference The Rotary Foundation makes in the lives of so many.

“I’ve seen some amazing things done through The Rotary Foundation and I’d like to continue supporting that.”

“I’ve seen some amazing things done through The Rotary Foundation and I’d like to continue supporting that. In India, together with local Rotarians, we built a low-cost shelter in a very poor community, toilet blocks in girls’ schools, provided knitting machines for ladies to knit jumpers for school children and
other projects.”

“With polio eradication being the forethought of Rotary International Past President Sir Clem Renouf, from the Rotary Club of Nambour, Qld, it made this even more significant for me. During my polio service I became close to Clem, visiting him each time I came home so to discuss field activities. If only we could have eradicated polio before he passed.”

Jenny says she feels honoured to have served in Foundation projects and to have seen first-hand how life has been improved for so many.

“Contributing to The Rotary Foundation and the Legacy Society is my small way of continuing to assist humanity.”

MAIN PICTURE: Jenny administering polio vaccine during a National Immunisation Day in Karachi, Pakistan, in June 2007.