When Clive Houston-Brown, the University of La Verne’s chief information officer, went to the Coco Palms Restaurant on the evening of May 4, he had no idea that he was going to be named the Pomona
Rotary Club’s Rotarian of the Year. Houston-Brown received the honor during the club’s second annual art auction and fundraising dinner.
Although some of the guests began taking their seats at 6 p.m., the festivities did not really get underway until approximately 7:10 p.m.
At 7:15, Houston-Brown was invited up to the stage to talk about the program of which he is in charge.
The program, established shortly after Houston-Brown joined the club last year, is drilling five freshwater wells in remote villages in the African nation of Zambia.
Houston-Brown was instrumental in securing the necessary funding from the Rotary District and Rotary International and has been in constant contact with the Zambian Rotary Club.
The project is scheduled to be completed by this October when Houston-Brown and a handful of other club members will journey to Zambia to document the progress made.
Once he finished his speech, Houston-Brown was presented with the Rotarian of the Year Award, a large wooden plaque with the names of past winners and an ornate, antique-style clock embedded within.
A visibly surprised Houston-Brown accepted the award and the standing ovation given by his fellow Rotarians and other guests, which included University of La Verne President Stephen Morgan.
“It means a great deal to me,” said Houston-Brown of his honor.
“To be given this award by my peers means a lot,” he added.
Richard Todd, the club’s 2004 president, said that selecting Houston-Brown as this year’s recipient was virtually a no-brainer.
“I don't believe that the Pomona Club has ever been awarded a grant on the National level,” wrote Todd in his letter to President Morgan. “I can honestly say that, without Clive, this project would have never been accomplished.”
Houston-Brown joined the Pomona Rotary Club last year, and he has been with ULV since 1997.
He was born in Zimbabwe and lived in Zambia for many years.
As a result, he has firsthand knowledge of how desperately that part of the world needs abundant supplies of clean water.
He said the region’s infant mortality rate is 20 percent, and half of those deaths are attributable to contaminated and polluted water.
Houston-Brown said that the five wells being drilled are projected to serve a total of 35,000 people.
He also said one of the main reasons for the October trip will be to document the project and use that documentation to help the Pomona Rotary Club pitch the idea to other Rotary Clubs and service organizations.
But even if no one else decides to rally behind this cause, Houston-Brown believes the result of his efforts and those of his fellow members will be rewarding in and of itself.
“It’s an extremely fulfilling thing to see your efforts helping people out firsthand,” he said.
Tom Anderson can be reached at tanderson1@ ulv.edu.
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Posted May 13, 2005