“ROTARY SERVING HUMANITY”
Rotary is an international service organization founded in 1905, with over 1.2 million members worldwide in approximately 35,000 clubs dedicated to Service Above Self. Each year Rotary renews itself by electing a new leadership team. This is true for Rotary at the International, zone, district and club level.
With each New Year (our new year starts July 1st), the Rotary International (“RI”) President choses a theme to not only guide us into the future but to also reflect the legacy of previous leaders. This year our RI President John Germ of Chattanooga, Tennessee, takes over from K.R. (“Ravi”) Ravindrin of Sri Lanka, and has adopted the theme of: “Rotary Serving Humanity”.
As the new president of the Rotary Club of Vancouver, I could not be more pleased to be serving under this theme. The theme may sound somewhat presumptuous, but I feel it truly reflects at a core level the true nature of Rotary and why I joined.
This year is also a special year for Rotary International as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Rotary International Foundation. This is a foundation supported by the worldwide membership of Rotary. Through a unique management program the foundation supports the grass roots efforts of Rotary Clubs around the world in Serving Humanity. Its greatest project has been the funding of the Polio Plus campaign. An audacious campaign to eradicate this disease from the world. From the inception of the campaign in 1985 when there were 385,000 cases worldwide we are now down to 76 reported cases in 2016 in just 2 countries! We are THIS CLOSE, to success!!
Service: We are a club of almost 90 members, and within our club we have very strong leaders at all levels that provide exceptional service to both the local and worldwide community through Rotary. A few recent examples include:
- Internationally, we ship containers of recycled medical equipment to third world countries; with funding support from RI Foundation, we provide safe drinking water and literacy projects in Africa.
- Locally: we help with funding for; Food on the Corner, Refugee resettlement programs, battered women’s shelters, and aboriginal studies
- Youth: through the Rotary Youth Exchange program we both receive and send students to and from around the world for a one year exchange; we fund breakfast and literacy programs in an elementary school, commit funding to grade 10 students for post-secondary scholarships to incent them to Stay in School
- Hearing: This is an area of special interest and focus for our club. In its 32nd year, our annual Bike a Thon ( 120km bike ride in July) is now averaging annually over $160,000 in funds raised to support hearing related research, and medical support in BC. We have raised almost $3 million to date for this cause.
These are all worthwhile endeavours initiated and supported by our membership with fundraising and from a financial base provided to us thru the foresight of previous Rotarian’s who initiated our local foundation which provides the lions’ share of funding with support from Rotary International. We always welcome new members who want to work with us on new social ventures.
Fun: I believe as Rotarian’s we are drawn to Rotary to do more in the world as a group than we could ever accomplish as individuals. However, it’s not all work and no play. We also enjoy the friendship and comradery of our fellow Rotarians in social functions. We meet each week to share a lunch and hear what our members are doing, and also to open our minds and hearts to the world around us through a vibrant speaker program. We enjoy social activities outside of Rotary, with our Ski weekend, Curling, “Wunday” ranch weekend, and other ad hoc events.
By working in our service committees and participating in social functions our members are able to network and build relationships with like minded people in the Vancouver business community.
I am very proud and honoured to be able to serve as President of the Rotary club of Vancouver in its 103rd year, and invite anyone who is not a Rotarian to come out on a Tuesday for lunch at the Terminal City Club of Vancouver ( 837 West Hastings Street). We would love to see you and talk to you about your areas of interest and where they would fit in the world of Rotary. As my predecessor, Terry Gunderson said, there are no secret handshakes or ritual, except a warm welcome. If you would like to contact me before attending a meeting my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
A final thought: According to the recent World Happiness Report authored by Dr. Helliwell, there are two secrets to being happy and they are: social contact (doing things together) and generosity (for a good purpose). The World Happiness Report describes how behaviour that increases social bonds and facilitates generosity is associated with better health and longer life expectancy and these improved health outcomes in turn can contribute to greater well-being.
I believe Rotary provides a golden opportunity to meet and regularly interact with friends, it also provides one of the best organizations to “give back” and be generous with both your time and your fortune.
So Live Long; Live Happy; Live Rotary, and let us be a Service to Humanity