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International work wins service award for retired scientist

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Stanimir Vuk-Pavlovic accepts the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary for his work with Croatia Outward Bound.

"A job well done, against many odds" was an award-winning effort for retired Mayo Clinic scientist Dr. Stanimar Vuk-Pavlovic.

Vuk-Pavlovic's philanthropic work of bringing needed equipment to Outward Bound Croatia garnered him a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow award.

The Paul Harris Fellow award is given to both Rotarians and to non-Rotarians who exemplify the principles of Rotary, which include providing humanitarian service and helping to build peace and goodwill in the world. It is named after Paul Harris, the man who founded Rotary in 1905.

Vuk-Pavlovic has been a resident of Rochester for more than 30 years. He is an emeritus consultant in hematology and oncology and emeritus professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.

He was born in Croatia, and is a founding member of Outward Bound Croatia. He currently serves on the board of trustees. The organization was founded in 2005, and is a member of Outward Bound International. OBC provides leadership programs to 250 youth each year.

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'A means of healing'

Vuk-Pavlovic, along with friends and colleagues, began to take steps to bring Outward Bound to Croatia in 2005. He believed it would be a good program for the people of Croatia — that it could provide a "partial remedy for the trauma of war, a means of healing to veterans and their families."

The Croatian War of Independence, also known as the Homeland War, was fought from 1991 to 1995.

Vuk-Pavlovic said the mission of the organization is something he feels strongly about.

The mission of Outward Bound is "to encourage people to discover and develop their potential and to create a better world for themselves and others through challenging experiences in unfamiliar settings."

There are more than 50 Outward Bound Schools in 34 countries.

Nine-year project

The project for which Vuk-Pavlovic was honored was a collaborative effort between Zagreb Gradec Rotary Club of Croatia and eight clubs in the United States, including all three Rochester Rotary Clubs. Begun in early 2007 with a grant proposal to Rotary International for commercial grade kitchen equipment for the education center, the project took nine years to complete.

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"I never thought it was going to be as difficult as it has been," Vuk-Pavlovic said of the project. "I have a sense of a job well done, against many odds."

The global economic recession, extreme winter weather, and legal issues all caused delays to the project.

Rotarian Judith O'Fallon is a member of the World Community Service Committee, a group formed in 2006 which merged the resources of the three Rotary groups of Rochester. The project with Outward Bound Croatia was one of the first international projects undertaken by the group. She said Vuk-Pavlovic was "the powerhouse behind the project from the beginning. He was absolutely critical to its success."

She said he played a pivotal role, serving as liaison between Croatia and the U.S. as well as working to get funding for the project, which cost more than $20,000.

"He was working with both sides of the Atlantic," she said. "He held it together. It would never have been done without him."

She added that the project ignited the local Rotary to become more internationally minded.

Vuk-Pavlovic said he appreciated the work of local Rotarians and is pleased to be remembered and honored.

"This is a distinguished group of people," he said of local Rotarians.

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He hopes the relationship with the local Rotary Clubs and Outward Bound Croatia will continue through Rotary's youth exchange program.

He will continue his work in overseeing the progress of Outward Bound Croatia. He considers this his "lifetime project."

"I want this to become financially stable," he said. "I want to continue to provide support for them to fulfill their mission."

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