Jul 182018
 

A final message from Past District Governor Gary Bradham to the District Membership and leaders of District 7770.

This past Rotary year started with heartfelt enthusiasm and dedication by the membership of District 7770.  Please allow me the opportunity to express my wholehearted “thank you” to every member of the District.  Your support has been unwavering and passionate throughout.  As we “close the books” on this 2017-2018 Rotary Year, I would like to thank everyone for their support and actions to Make A Difference this Rotary year.  It is hard to realize that this year is over, and we are already “closing the books” on such a great year!   It’s been a fantastic experience for me representing the District’s membership at all of the various functions of Rotary Service and my work with all of you on the various Rotary activities.  It was also a great experience for me, personally, as the District’s only Rotary International Officer and representative for our District to the entire Rotary world.  You are all truly “People of Action” who accomplished many, many worthwhile programs.  In my view, you had a banner year in all categories of Rotary service … meeting or exceeding our collective goals for the year.

I would like to highlight some of our accomplishments since last July, 2017.  It is important to remember that everything we achieved was because of how each of you decided to personally “Make a Difference” this Rotary year.  We are nearing the end of the calculations for contributions to our great Foundation.  While there are still some contributions being processed, most clubs met and many exceeded their Foundation goals, not to mention your remarkable contributions to End Polio Now through the polio plus goals. Rotary moved closer than ever toward “making history” as we continued to “count down to zero” the number of Polio cases which will allow us to claim success on eradicating polio worldwide. Through the leadership of PDG Sandee and Bernie, we exceeded both goals as a District and Clubs in both categories and we continued to build on last year’s performance and exceeded $1 million dollars in “Total Giving”!

From the Foundation dollars returned to the district, we awarded 62 District Grants, about a dozen Global Grants, three Global Scholarships, and $25,000 to Rotary’s Peace Center. We increased the number of Paul Harris Society members to 300, one of the largest groups of PHS members in the WORLD!  The District’s Grant program allowed members to engage across the spectrum of community support with a multitude of service activities, health, youth, and children support programs.  Providing dictionaries, hot meals and take-home meals, reading books, book bags, and clothing items, to name a few.

We continued the District’s emphasis on RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) with Rotarian Akil and PDG Lou hosting another fantastic event this past June.  Clubs hosted 16 inbound and sent out 16 outbound Exchange Students. Through the leadership of Rotarian Paul Walter and retired educator Terri Brashears, we stood up the first Middle Interact Club.  This new type youth club was chartered in the Hilton Head Middle School, with over 50 student members, and leadership support from the local Interact Club, the Hilton Head Island Rotary Club, High School and Community leaders.

Clubs continued their generosity to the CART Fund this past Rotary year, through strong CART donations … a program which started in District 7770 some twenty three years ago.  Clubs donated a record breaking $202,511.55 toward the annual program, producing a $52.46 per capita giving record.  This allowed grants to be awarded again this May exceeding $700,000 for cutting edge, start-up research. After talking with and hearing the grant recipients at the Annual CART Meeting, I firmly believe we are on the verge of finding a cure for this deadly disease which impacts so many families and friends of our membership.  This year’s Club donations truly were a great way to honor the vision of Rotary Club of Sumter’s Rotarian Roger Ackerman, who has been the mainstay behind this remarkable and unique Rotary program.  Through the assistance of PDG Rod and the leadership of Rotarian Arthur Jamison from the North Charleston Rotary Club, the first-ever Annual Alzheimer’s Gala was held in Charleston in 2017 producing over $10,000 dollars to the CART Fund.  Two follow-on Galas are programed again for 2018-2019, one in Charleston and one in the Columbia area. And again this year, PDG Alan and Past Club President Pete from the Rotary Club of Georgetown raised over $40,000 for the CART Fund effort.

We had a “fun filled” and Informational District Conference with record breaking attendance with over 450 attendees.  A special “thank you” to Jaime and Terry Moore, Conference Co-chairs, and the assistance of so many other fine Rotarians who volunteered their time to “Make A Difference” at this Conference.  Volunteers like Maggie Kosinski and Sherry Smith (general administration and registration), Steve and Carolynn Jones (Hospitality, Sponsorship, and Facility Support), Jason and Britt Atkinson (PDG Dinner), PDG Anne Walker and Melissa Evans (Major Donor Luncheon), Herman Dixon (Awards – over 100 individual awards presented), Pauline and Ron Levesque (Decorations and Transportation), Drew Hansen (House of Friendship), Don Hovis (Photography) and Nichole Gainey (Entertainment and Chamber support), to name a few in some of the key areas.  At the conference, many of you may recall my update on the school situation in Ghana. Our District has been supporting this effort since the Atlanta RI Convention, as well as my announcement from the stage of a shared dream of mine and PRIVP Anne Matthews to build an additional larger school in Ghana funded entirely from District 7770 donations.  I am proud to inform the membership that this dream was made a realty when more than $175,000 was committed by District members and Clubs to support this dream… allowing a larger six room school with a modern library, clean water and a sanitation system on-site to allow both girls and boys to attend the school, to be built by Rotary.  In addition there are  also sufficient funds to drill 21 boreholes for clean water / wells and 67 micro-flush toilets in the surrounding communities where the students live who will be attending the school.  Thanks to everyone who stepped up to help.

The District Membership Chair, DGN Johnny Moore,  made significant strides growing “e-membership” classification members, a stronger Membership committee structure, and we added two Satellite Clubs; exceeding our goals for these categories of membership goals.  We should continue to attract active members and retain existing members to allow “net positive growth” within the District’s Clubs.

We had an active, strong, sharing, and educational Public Image program and focus! Successfully promoting Polio challenges, informational articles, and centrally organized campaigns to tighten the Foundation and Membership programs and activities together and sharing the benefits with everyone who would listen.  The PI Chair, Mary Gasque, used a wide variety of social and written media avenues.  The third leg of our Rotary stool has never been stronger and helping to shoulder the efforts across a board spectrum of Rotary Service and performance.

As I stated in my opening remarks, these successes were the result of each of our District’s members, deciding how they would participate and taking individual and collective actions for Rotary: Making A Difference!  I’d like to offer a special thanks to my sixteen Assistant Governors for their dedication and hard work with their clubs and almost 3900 members. We could not have done so well without your help, personal assistance, and leadership.  The Past District Governors, through the Council of Governors (COG) under the guidance of my Vice Governor and Chairperson of the COG, PDG Kay Davis, and with the help of PDG Bernie Riedel filling in on occasions when Kay had health issues, continued to offer sound and important input to me and the District’s Leadership team. Allowing us to build on the actions of those who have led our District throughout the years. A special “thank you” to my wife and Rotary partner, Susan, for assisting me on so many levels to accomplish the multitude of duties of a District Governor and for helping me to energize the District’s membership with her engaging and personal contributions to the District as a whole.  Also, our District is very fortunate to have the mentorship of  Sarah and David Michaux who epitomize tradition and embrace change while graciously providing leadership and guidance for all of us to emulate.

My most overwhelming and heartfelt thanks goes to the Club Presidents. Your enthusiasm for Rotary, programs to support your communities, and your inspiring “service above self” was absolutely marvelous this Rotary year and inspired me to work even harder on your behalf as District Governor. You made it happen at the top of the Rotary world, … where the “rubber meets the road” … the club level.  I ask you to continue to work together with this year’s leadership team to “Be an Inspiration”!   You should continue to strive to Make A Difference, as we continue to work together to make Rotary and our District, even stronger than ever before.  Add to your personal goals for this coming Rotary year to continue the “hunt” for good, engaging Rotarians that will inspire your clubs. The communities and people we serve around the world are counting on us!

The health of District 7770 has never been stronger!  You truly “Made a Difference” in 2017-2018.  Again, I would like to thank all the Rotarians in District 7770, you are all truly people of action, generously giving to others and doing good in the world.  Join me to “Be An Inspiration” in 2018-2019 and being a strong supporter of our District Governor, David Tirard.

Gary Bradham
Past District Governor
District 7770

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