|Nominated for ‘Champion of Change’|
Jon Morris (left), Rev. Walter Hughes Jr. (third from left) and Kenny Lovelace (third from right), all of whom are Rotarians, are pictured above with some residents of a village in West Ghana, Africa, during a visit in 2011.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
A local humanitarian has been invited to the White House as part of a Community Leaders series.
Rev. Walter Hughes Jr. of Union Hall, a member of the Rocky Mount Rotary Club and a worldwide leader in bringing clean water to African countries, will be at the White House next month as one of the nominees to be recognized as a "Champion of Change."
It's part of the Rotary Day at the White House celebration, organized by Rotary International and the White House Office of Public Engagement.
As part of the proceedings, the White House and Rotary will recognize key service projects and individuals who are making a difference in the lives of others.
Hughes will be among the leaders invited from across the country who best exemplify the Rotary motto of "Service Above Self."
"I am honored and humbled to be chosen to go to the White House," he said. "I'm thankful to be able to serve God, to give water to the thirsty and to see the end of guinea worm disease from the world in our lifetime."
Hughes has made many trips to West Ghana, raising money through Rotary clubs to dig wells, providing remote villages with clean water.
With the clean water, guinea worm disease has been eradicated in the country.
Hughes is now concentrating on bringing more clean water to South Sudan.
"I will be representing the Rocky Mount Rotary Club and the Rotarians in Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia and all over the world who work to provide clean and safe water in Ghana and South Sudan," he said.
Hughes and his wife, Susan, will attend a reception at the National Press Club on Thursday, April 4, an event held for those being honored.
The White House celebration is on Friday, April 4, where the Champions of Change will be announced in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (adjacent to the White House residence).
In addition to recognizing the Champions of Change, the day-long meeting will serve as an opportunity for high-level officials from the federal government and representatives from Rotary to discuss how both are addressing key issues that impact communities in the United States and across the globe.
Hughes said his work would not have been possible without help from many people and organizations.
"The work being done has been accomplished with contributions from the United Methodist Women of Highland United Methodist Church, the Christmas offerings of Redwood United Methodist Church and the prayers of many congregations here at home," he said. "Rotary humanitarian grants have funded much of the work to drill wells, eradicate guinea worm disease, and change the lives of people with a neglected tropical disease called buruli ulcer."
Hughes said partnerships with such organizations as the Carter Center, American Leprosy Missions, Map International, The Hershey Company and World Health Organization have also been instrumental in the accomplishments.
"Sometimes, it is hard to imagine the ways that God is using me to connect people to form this team," he said. "I am so thankful for my wife because without her my ministry would not exist. She is my strength and joy."
Hughes said his wife will be ordained as a deacon in the Methodist church after she graduates from Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C., in May.
"I'm thankful to be one representative of that amazing team who works together to transform the lives of people here at home and around the world," Hughes said.
The trip will be at no cost to Hughes or the Rotary club.