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  • Writer's pictureJulie Graham

Raise Your Voice to Make a Global Impact

image of Ukraine flag waving

“One voice can make a difference.”

My faith in humanity was wavering, and I wasn’t sure how much I believed that statement anymore.

I wanted our first post to highlight a cause that I believe is very important. My name is Julie Graham, and I am the president and co-founder of Health Insurance and Retirement Advocates, Inc., a boutique Medicare agency located in historic Mount Dora, FL.

My desire to be of service is what drew me to becoming an independent agent and is also how I ended up happening to find this charity that truly does amazing work.

At the beginning of February 2022, I was looking for something to get involved with from a personal perspective, to become more active in this community that I now call home. A good friend and my marketing guru, Ali Bias of Concierge Creative Group, suggested Rotary.

I did some research and was shocked that I wasn’t familiar with them. As defined on “Rotary is a global network of 1.4 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.” Yes, please!

I found our local club, Rotary Club of Lake County Golden Triangle, which covers the cities of Mount Dora, Tavares, and Eustis. After I attended an evening social and a couple of weekly meetings, I was hooked. Everyone was so welcoming and what the club accomplished in just the past six months provided a tangible benefit to our community in the areas it needs most.

At the start of meetings is something called “happy bucks” – used to raise money for that quarters’ chosen local charity. You hold up however much you’re willing to donate and tell what you’re happy about. I wanted to participate.

While I am all about being of service locally, I realized the name was Rotary International, so I did more research to understand their impact globally. Spoiler: they eradicated polio.

I challenged myself to find and learn about an international charity that I could support. This would be my “happy bucks” story. It brought me to World Central Kitchen (WCK).

The war in Ukraine had just started. I stumbled on an article about the early refugees. WCK had already mobilized and was on various borders providing hot, tasty and nutritious meals to these displaced souls.

I had never heard of WCK, so I did my due diligence. I checked Charity Navigator. Then I read older articles, before delving into

That night I made a donation, and the next day shared my experience with our Rotary Club, along with 10 happy bucks. I was already starting to feel connected to this group of like-minded folks. Maybe humanity wasn’t doomed after all. Maybe I just needed to look outside myself. To get involved. To speak up.

Three days later, on a lazy Sunday morning, I answered a call from an unfamiliar number. It was the Mayor of Mount Dora, Chrissy Stile. She told me the story behind the effort that was occurring downtown, where a local merchant and artist had rallied her fellow artists and they began painting all the store windows with sunflowers (Ukraine’s national flower) in a show of solidarity. The local news stations came out. Watch the report here.

People were moved to show support for Ukraine and donations started coming in. The city needed a place to send the money that was raised, and Mayor Stile had heard me speak of my donation to World Central Kitchen (WCK) at the last Rotary meeting.

All I had to do was raise my voice for good and, together with our community, was able to make an impact halfway around the globe! We are all connected, and what we do and say matters.

Needless to say, this charity is now close to my heart. On Tuesday, 4/12/22 I received an email from WCK with current updates and wanted to share it with my community. Read it here.

If you choose to make a donation, give us a shout out on Facebook.

Let’s keep the “one” voice echoing!

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