“The Rotarians and Warm Springs have a decade-long history of working together on projects that aid Georgians with disabilities,” said Commissioner Butler. “Thanks to the Rotarians, it will not be necessary to use any state funds to restore the cottages.”
The campaign renews the shared polio legacy of the RWSIR and Rotary International.
“Rotarians are excited about this project,” Ms. Kersey said. “In 1988, Rotary made a bold statement that we would wipe polio from the face of the Earth, and we expect to see that dream come true very soon. The Roosevelt Warm Springs project will serve as a reminder to future generations that seemingly impossible goals can be accomplished.”
RWSIR plans to utilize its historic cottages for current and future statewide programs and services. The cottages will be used as housing for Georgians with disabilities as they learn to live independently and obtain employment.
The project, which Ms. Kersey will make a top priority during her term as district governor, will provide a tremendous amount of restored and usable space. Fourteen of the cottages surround a new $20 million vocational rehabilitation residential complex scheduled to open later this summer.
Already, 44 of the 70 Rotary clubs in District 6900 have made commitments of time and money. The goal is to restore The Village of Warm Springs by 2017. That’s the same year Atlanta will welcome Rotarians from around the world when it hosts the Rotary International Conference.
Each participating club will be permanently memorialized at the cottage where their restoration efforts take place. Past District Governor Steve Stanfield of Americus, also a member of the
Board of Trustees of the Roosevelt Warm Springs Development Fund, will lead coordination of the project along with RWSIR Facility Services.
Rotary District 6900’s major involvement with the RWS Development Fund dates back to the Rotary International Tennis Center at Warm Springs in 1998. Local Rotarians also played an integral role in securing a two-year loan of the Smithsonian Exhibition, “Whatever Happened to Polio?” at Roosevelt Warm Springs (2007-2009), and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Polio Hall of Fame (2008). Rotary International’s status as one of four Global Partners seeking to eradicate polio worldwide has also insured its shared legacy with Roosevelt Warm Springs, where FDR initiated efforts that led to treatment, research, successful vaccines and The March of Dimes, all leading to the start of polio eradication in the 1950s.
The earliest of these core cottages were resort homes for wealthy Georgians who took advantage of the warm springs at the base of Pine Mountain on a regular basis. Later, after Franklin D. Roosevelt founded his world famous polio treatment center here, those same cottages and newer ones became the homes of prominent polio survivors and their families who required on-going treatment. Two of the cottages were actually owned by FDR. He lived there for seven years prior to the Little White House, including 21 of his 41 total visits to Warm Springs.
In more recent times, and especially since state ownership of the rehabilitation center occurred in 1974, they have all been used for staff, intern and conference housing. But, due to their structural decline, additional funding for restoration and expanded utilization has become a priority of the Roosevelt Warm Springs Development Fund, RWSIR’s non-profit support organization.
RWSIR Executive Director Greg Schmieg added, “These cottages are significant in the history of the state and the nation, and they can help us fulfill the legacy of the healing village that FDR started here. With Rotary’s help, we hope to make this unique opportunity – reality.”