Terrence and Barbara Caster, founders of California-based A-1 Self Storage, have donated $1.85 million to Rotary International in support of the humanitarian-service group's polio-eradication and peace-studies programs. The donation was announced during an annual conference of Rotary leaders in San Diego. It is among the largest single gifts ever made to the organization by an individual Rotary club member.
"Barbara and I are blessed to be fruitful in our family business, A-1 Self Storage, and we've always felt it is important to give back and help others," said Caster, a member of the Rotary Club of La Mesa. "As a result, we are involved in numerous charities. But as a Rotarian, I can think of no cause more worthy than Rotary's work to end polio and promote world peace."
The largest share of the gift, $1.1 million, will go to Rotary's PolioPlus program, which works to immunize children in developing countries against this disabling, infectious disease. Rotary is a founding partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, launched jointly in 1988 by Rotary, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A more recent partner in the initiative is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will match two-to-one every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication through 2018, thus growing the Caster gift to $3.3 million in new money to fight the disease.
The remainder of the gift, $750,000, will go to the endowment fund of Rotary's Peace Centers program, which offers master's degree-level fellowships in peace studies and conflict resolution at six major universities in five countries. Specifically, the Caster donation will fully endow one Rotary Peace Fellowship every other year.
"We deeply appreciate the incredible generosity of Terry and Barbara Caster in support of polio eradication, Rotary's top goal as an organization, and also our very popular and successful peace-studies program," said Stephen R. Brown, a San Diego area Rotary member and a trustee of The Rotary Foundation, which manages both programs. "The Caster family's gift could not come at a better time in Rotary's effort to protect children everywhere by reducing the threat of disease and violence in our world."
Since the launch of the polio-eradication initiative, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99 percent, from about 350,000 cases a year in 1988 to 369 confirmed cases in 2013. Rotary's main responsibilities within the initiative are fundraising, advocacy and social mobilization. To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to fight polio.
Founded in 1905, Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 local clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. It works to improve lives at the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.
A-1 Self Storage has 17 locations in the San Diego County area and more than 40 locations statewide. It is the self-storage division of the Caster Cos., a third-generation, family-owned company headquartered in Southern California since 1959. Caster Cos. develops and manages A-1 Self Storage, A-1 Car Storage and other commercial properties in California. Its portfolio includes more than 4 million square feet of real estate.