A High River Rotary Club member's service has been recognized with the highest award a Rotarian can receive.

Wally Gardiner was recently honoured with the Service Over Self award.

"Totally a surprise and really I'm deeply honoured people put their trust and faith in me for what I was doing," he says. "It's a peer award, or peer nominated award so that was very special."

His efforts include his work, along with others in southern Alberta Rotary, dealing with poverty in Honduras by providing small loans for women to set up businesses.

"In Spanish we have a saying that everybody does their little grain of sand, so if I do my little grain of sand and put it together with somebody else's , I mean pretty soon we have a beach and if you're looking at community development terms putting a beach someplace gets tourists in which means people can start a business and their kids now can go to school and that's been the miracle of Rotary for me, seeing that in action," Gardiner explains.

He says they started in the southern Alberta district that if they raised a million dollars to fight poverty in Honduras and have been able to put about $2.5 million in the hands of poor people through micro loans of $100 to $150 to get the economy rolling but, he says the spinoffs have been enormous.

"To get to the point where you now have women that are the head of businesses, their kids can go to school, the family nutrition has improved, the level of education goes up, the violence level in the community goes down, that's been enormous.

Gardiner says they drilled a well to get clean water where cholera outbreaks had happened before.

When they went back a couple years later they saw how things had changed with clean water going to homes and excess water used for growing lufa sponges like those being used in spas.

Rotary also supports local causes like the High River Handibus and providing meals for kids in town.