January / February Message
We have closed the door on the first half of this Rotary year… and what I wonderful first half it has been. According to RI President Ian Riseley, we began a year “that will change all of our lives, in ways great and small, and will probably change the lives of countless others who we may not even know.” His theme … Rotary: Making a Difference in 2017-18!
As we move out of Vocational Month and into Peace and Conflict Prevention / Resolution Month, you should revisit your plan and program to ensure you continue Making a Difference this Rotary Year. It’s time to Gear UP and Get Excited About Rotary as we continue our Rotary “flight path” and end this Rotary year as we began, by Making a Difference both individually and collectively as a District, as we defined who we are.
What is Rotary? I believe as President Ian does, that Rotary is defined by what we do, through impactful action and meaningful service. Who is Rotary? Rotary is you and me, working together by taking actions to serve others. Rotary is “People of Action” … doing good in the world, through service-above-self.
I would like to thank each of you personally, who “rang the bell” over the holiday season; adopted families or foster families within your communities; fed the hungry and provided clothing to those who needed it during the cold weather of winter. Also by giving to your charities of choice, including our own Rotary Foundation, to Make a difference in someone else live; working to provide clean water and accepting the challenge to participate in our Polio Day and week challenge. The children of the world are counting on us and you delivered! Our District members were terrific! Leading the way in Zone 33 in Making a Difference in 2017!
Collectively as a District team, we made a difference by working together to improve literacy in our communities. Some of our clubs began Freedom Reader programs and worked in conjunction with the local library system to “wet the whistle” of our youth; set up Free libraries in neighborhoods where the children have fewer resources to help them improve reading skills; developed First Reader programs within the Children Centers and volunteered in mass to share the written stories with the youngest in our communities; partnered with other clubs and medical organizations to give the “Gift of Life”. The Clubs and Club Members truly performed the “heavy lifting” required to be a successful Rotary … by serving those who needed help the most. Our District was number one in Zone 33 in Annual Fund Giving to the Rotary Foundation and number one in Paul Harris Society Members (there is still room for others!). Giving to the Foundation is what allows all of these wonderful programs of Rotary to continue throughout the year. Providing services to others in our communities and expanding the programs globally … Making a Difference around the world! There are some clubs which have chosen to hold their donations until the end of the Rotary year. I would suggest that they review their goals and release some of the funds now (those founds in your checking or savings accounts) probably aren’t earning the interest to really make a difference; not like the difference that can be made by releasing the funds donated or raised by your members, to continue strong programs throughout the entire Rotary year. Check with your Club’s Treasurers to see if your club has released funds to the Foundation as you may desire them to be released. I am so proud of our Rotarians and District in their active participation in these important programs!
As I have said numerous times, the good news about Rotary is that Rotary offers so many ways one can give back and Make a Difference! We can all find the programs or avenues that mean the most to each of us … thank you for expanding your involvement in the first half of the year; but please don’t stop now.
The District accomplished so many things collectively, that we could never have accomplished on our own…as we made a difference this first half of our Rotary year. I saw so many good programs being executed in the communities within our District, as I completed my club visits in mid-December. I also met so many young exchange students during my travels. What a fantastic opportunity for these students and they are an inspiration to all of us whose lives they touched. For those focused on Eradicating Polio, we helped drop the cases of Polio to only 22by the end of 2017, by providing and administering two vaccine drops on the tongues of the children around the world. A far cry from the 350,000 cases a year which many of our members faced when the Polio Program began in 1985. We lead Zone 33 in financial support to continue the “End Polio Now” program and funding the final campaign. Our District’s Rotarians are awesome!
Membership in the District as a whole continued to increase over the start of this Rotary year. While our growth rate is not as high as we believe is needed to keep pace with attrition, we are moving in the right direction. As you know, the District’s leadership team approved “special grant funds” for each club to hold Rotary Information Events to attract new member prospects. Unfortunately, only one club has taken advantage of these “free funds”. Please consider this program as you start the second half of your Rotary program for 2017-18. I am convinced that it may be as simple as asking someone to join. However, Clubs need to engage our current members to keep Clubs vibrant for generations to come! Finally, if we begin by attracting good prospects on the front end, who want to be involved and are committed to service above self, you will see a “win / win” for growth in the second half of the year.
Rotary needs EACH and EVERY ONE of us, as the vision and strategic plans change! We will need to attract new diverse members, mature members, and young professionals to add the diversity in the club to keep pace. We need our experienced, knowledgeable members to act as mentors, sharing their Rotary stories through friendships. We learn and build from our past, providing continuity & training to our new members and leaders.
Please continue to tell your Rotary stories to everyone who will listen, as it is through the stories that allow potential members to understand not only “what Rotary is” but more importantly, “who Rotary is”. Rotary is a membership association focused on serving others. Rotary offers solutions to others who are in desperate need. Rotary: making a difference not only in the lives of those we serve, but also in our own lives!
Finally, I ask each member to Gear UP for Rotary … be part of the fun and actions within your District. Please attend the District Conference at the Myrtle Beach Marriott, March 9-11, 2018. I promise you a very exciting, informative, and fun-filled conference. We planned this conference around the wisdom of deceased PRID Lambo Schwartz from the Myrtle Beach Club, who stated that a conference should have a little bit of Rotary and “a whole lot of FUN! Book your conference registration on the District Database Calendar now. You must reserve your hotel room, if needed, separately with the MB Marriott. By contract the guaranteed room block ends Feb 15th. So, to avoid having to stay somewhere away from the actual conference site or standing by for a room cancellation, reserve your room needs now and before Feb 15, 2018. Susan and I hope to see many of the fabulous Rotarians we meet on our official club visits. Please don’t let us down!