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At the beginning of this Rotary year, I asked Rotarians everywhere to Light Up Rotary by holding a Rotary Day. How you do this is something I'm leaving up to you: It can be a full day or just a few hours. It can be organized by your club, by your district, or even across your entire country. It can be a service project, a festival, or any kind of event you want. As long as it's open to the community, embraces the whole family of Rotary, and is fun, it's a Rotary Day.

The goal of a Rotary Day is to shine a light on Rotary. For many years, we in Rotary felt that it wasn't appropriate to boast about our good work. We felt it was best to serve quietly and let our work speak for itself. But today, in many communities, people aren't even aware that they have a local Rotary club. Not because the clubs aren't strong, or because they aren't serving well. They are. But if Rotarians don't talk about their work, people will never know about it.

It is time for us to Light Up Rotary and let people know what we are doing. In the first half of this Rotary year, I've been thrilled to see how many Rotarians have taken up my Rotary Day challenge. I've attended Rotary Days in so many places, including the Philippines, Korea, China, the United States, Turkey, India, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Every one has been different, and every one has met the challenge to Light Up Rotary in its own way.

If you've organized a Rotary Day in your community, tell us about it: Email details and photos of your event to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., with "Rotary Day" as your subject line. We'll do our best to feature as many Rotary Days as possible in the coming months.

And if you haven't planned a Rotary Day yet, why not? It's a great way to share your love for Rotary with your community. When we tell others about Rotary and let them know how membership can enrich their lives, we share a gift that was given to us when we were invited to join our clubs. By passing that gift on, we help ensure that Rotary, and its service, will endure for generations to come.

If you take a look at the Rotary calendar, it's easy to see where our priorities as an organization lie. The Rotary year begins in July; in August we mark Membership Month, in September we celebrate New Generations, October is for vocational service, and so on, turning our attention to different topics that are important in Rotary.

It's a great idea to do this, because it reminds us to talk about subjects that we might otherwise overlook during our busy Rotary year. But we all know that every topic on our calendar – from fellowship to our Foundation – is important. All of them are part of what makes Rotary what it is, and what makes all of us Rotarians.

In Rotary, December is Family Month. Looking back on my years as a Rotarian, I have seen how important family is in Rotary – and how important Rotary can be to our families.

My wife, Corinna, chose to join Rotary just a few months ago, after many years as a Rotary spouse. All three of our children are also Rotarians. All of them joined their own club, in their own time. All of them have found unique interests in Rotary. As we have watched them find their own paths, we have been struck by how wonderful it is to have so many members of our family involved in Rotary service.

Rotary gives us something good that we can all do together. With Rotary, we always have interesting things to talk about at dinner. We are all involved in different service, in different clubs, so when we sit down together, we are talking about humanitarian needs of every kind, in every part of the world. There is always something new to learn.

Our conversations are also a wonderful way to teach our children, through our own actions, what is really important in life. They learn about what life is like in different parts of the world, and how all of us have an obligation to help others when we can. I can think of no better lessons to teach our families than the lessons of Rotary service.

I hope that in this Rotary year, many of you will encourage your family members to join Rotary, Rotaract, or Interact. Bringing your family into Rotary doesn't just Light Up Rotary – it lights up your own lives as well.


- 18-Jun-2014