In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we recognize Rev. Anke Flohr and Alita Charron from our Pacific Health Ministry (PHM) ‘ohana, who proudly participate in local Rotary Clubs, focused on an ongoing effort to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and raise awareness. Dating back to its establishment in 1905, Rotary International boasts a profound history of service. Initially conceived as a gathering for business leaders, Rotary’s mission evolved to prioritize “Service Above Self,” leveraging its members’ networks to address pressing issues. Embracing diversity, Rotary welcomed women into its ranks in 1969, catalyzing significant positive change within the organization.



Today, Rotary’s expansive network of clubs stands as a beacon for social impact, a mission that aligns seamlessly with PHM’s commitment to holistic well-being. Rev. Anke Flohr, PHM’s Executive Director, Assistant Governor (2023/24) for four Rotary Clubs on the Windward side of Oahu, and Alita Charron, PHM’S Non-Profit Program Development Coordinator, currently serves as president of the Kane‘ohe Rotary Club. Their decision to join the Kāne‘ohe Rotary Club was motivated by their shared passion for helping the community.


Each year, Rotary clubs pick community organizations that need help. The interests of these clubs span from supporting kupuna to nurturing the environment for keiki and more. However, a central focus remains promoting mental health initiatives and fostering community well-being. This dedication mirrors Rotary International President Gordon McNally’s 2024 theme, “Create Hope in the World.”


The Kāne‘ohe Rotary Club took steps to support mental health by organizing a cleanup at the Ko‘olau Clubhouse. These nationwide clubhouses, which are their own institutions, serve as volunteer-driven psychosocial rehabilitation programs for adults grappling with mental health challenges. Recognizing the Clubhouse’s emphasis on reintegration and wellness, the Kāne‘ohe Rotary Club created a new gardening area as well as benches. This initiative fosters community, gathering, and a connection with nature, known to enhance mental well-being. Additionally, efforts were made to enhance the Clubhouse’s aesthetics, including repainting the parking lot and planting native Hawaiian plants.



Interact Clubs, designed for age groups from 12 to 18, play a crucial role in fostering youth engagement and community service. The commitment of the Kāne‘ohe Rotary Club extends beyond the Clubhouse. They’ve spearheaded the establishment of an Interact Club at Castle High School, involving students in meaningful service projects. Notably, they collaborated with the school to develop an “Inspiration Garden,” dedicated to staff and faculty lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a space for healing and community bonding. The garden is designed as a butterfly habitat, featuring plants that serve as both egg-laying sites and food sources for butterflies, such as lantana. The selection of butterflies mirrors the transformative journey they undergo, similar to the changes experienced by people.


In a collaborative effort to promote mental health and community well-being, PHM supports the Windward Community Mental Health Center with their annual food drive. Unlike conventional food drives, this effort seeks items suitable for immediate consumption.


While Alita oversees the work of the Kāne‘ohe Rotary Club, Rev. Anke leads other initiatives across the Windward side, including a collaboration that involves the Windward Sunrise Rotary Club, which supports “The Shelter.” The Shelter caters to women and children who are houseless. While it operates under a religious organization, it stands out as the sole provider in the neighborhood dedicated to this demographic. Unlike traditional shelters with strict time limits, residents aren’t pressured to leave after a set period. Instead, they’re encouraged to participate in parenting classes and engage with their community.


On the environmental front, the club participates in restoring the Waikalua Loko I‘a Fishpond. Over the years, the Kāne‘ohe Rotary Club has been steadfast in supporting community restoration efforts through Rotary Workdays. These restoration projects have served as educational opportunities, connecting native Hawaiian students with their cultural heritage and fostering outdoor learning experiences.



Recognizing that all volunteers may not be able to engage physically, donations offer a tangible means of support. Hosted by the Hawai‘i Rotary Youth Foundation, the Kāne‘ohe club members are encouraged to donate $25 as a part of a scholarship. If every member donates $25, the scholarship amount doubles, significantly impacting the recipient’s educational journey.


The Kāne‘ohe Rotary Club has also rallied support during crises like the wildfires in Maui, creating a special Maui Fire Relief Fund. The collective efforts of Rotarians in Hawai‘i, comprising 52 clubs, demonstrate the power of solidarity in times of need. Contributions to organizations like the Hawai‘i Rotary Youth Foundation and The Rotary Foundation aid in disaster relief and youth development initiatives, showcasing Rotary’s commitment to making a positive impact locally and globally.


In addition to its local efforts, the Kāne‘ohe Rotary Club has pursued an international project aimed at supporting water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives in Papua New Guinea. Rev. Dr. John Moody, PHM Founder, and Alice Tucker, PHM board member, are active participants in international Rotary projects. Alice’s late husband was also a very dedicated Rotarian.


When it comes to mental health awareness, Rev. Anke and Alita recognize the importance of addressing mental health stigma and providing support to those in need. The rise in mental health challenges, exacerbated by events like the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, underscores the need for community-based interventions.


Looking ahead, Anke and Alita envision expanding Rotary’s mental health initiatives, including ongoing support for houseless individuals and collaborating with schools to implement awareness programs. Their dedication to promoting mental health awareness reflects Rotary’s core values of service, community engagement, and compassion. As Anke summarizes, “Rotary isn’t just a club; it’s a network of individuals dedicated to making a difference, one community at a time,” embodying this year’s motto to “Create Hope in the World.”