In 1990 Rotary International chartered the first Rotary Club in Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Rotary Club of Moscow was that Club and continues to lead the Rotary Community in Russia.
Summit Rotary Club became a Sister Club to the Moscow Rotary Club in 1993. The initial idea came from Michael Jones, one of our members who attended a make-up meeting at the Moscow Club while in Russia on business in 1991. Michael noted that their meeting seemed to be no more than a dinner that followed very little normal Rotary protocol and club organization, as well as having no Club Banner, name badges, etc. When Michael returned to Greensboro he proposed that Summit should become a Sister Club to the new Moscow Club and help them become a more fully developed and significant Rotary Club.
This idea was presented to President Phil Johnson and President Elect Mike Sigmon, who both fully endorsed Michael's idea and began planning a multiyear effort. In October 1993, five members of Summit Rotary Club traveled to Moscow: Vic Nussbaum (then Mayor of Greensboro), Terry Ball, Michael Jones, Phil Johnson & Mike Sigmon. They spent 10 days working, meeting, and traveling with the Moscow Club.
And what an experience they had! Ten days before their scheduled arrival there was an attempted overthrow of the Russian government, and intense fighting went on in Moscow for several days. A fax was sent to the President of the Moscow Club asking about safety. We asked a key question "Will you be bringing your wife & children to the airport to meet us?" The answer was ·yes", and they commented that things would actually more safe because a 10:00 P.M. curfew was in effect. The group decided that was the answer they wanted to hear and left several days later.
Since that initial visit there have been many friendship and vocational exchanges. Strong and lasting personal relationships have developed. Children of members of both clubs have participated in exchanges, and we have worked on projects in and around Moscow (Orphanages, Workshops, Theater for Disadvantaged Children, an ambulance for a retirement home, and many more). More are planned.
Summit's effort in helping the Moscow Club get started have paid good Rotary dividends. There are currently seven Rotary Clubs in Moscow and a total of 50 Clubs and 18 Rotaract Clubs in District 2220 (west of the Ural Mountains) and 24 Clubs in Territory 057- all partially responsible to the success of Russia's first Rotary club. In 2005, Mike Sigmon, the leader of the Summit's first exchange group, attended the official Chartering of Russia's first Rotary District (District 2220). The Chartering Ceremony included Mike's presentation about Summit's effort to form Summit's Sister Club relationship with the Moscow Club back in 1993.
Also, while at the Chart Ceremony, members of the Rennes, France Rotary Club proposed that Summit become a Sister Club to them, and that we form a three-way relationship with the Moscow Club. This continues to be successful with joint projects being planned in each country on a rotating basis.
Summit also has a member on the board of directors of the Russia-USA lnterCountry Committee which promotes Rotary in Russia and supports various project throughout the country