A well-known saying goes, "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." That doesn't mean people should ignore the needs outside their own homes; instead, they should pay attention to the needs within.
It can be tempting, when our priority is service, to focus only on the things that look like service: the projects, the planning, the work that yields a visible benefit to those who need it. But to do that work effectively, we need to keep our own house in order. In Rotary, that means conducting ourselves in accordance with the principles of Rotary, treating others with respect, and following The Four-Way Test. It means maximizing our impact by planning carefully and stewarding our resources wisely. And it means looking after the long-term health of our organization by ensuring that our membership is strong, engaged, and healthy.
Our membership has hovered around the same 1.2 million mark for 20 years. We aren't growing, and our membership is getting older. We have too many clubs that don't have the knowledge or motivation to have an impact: clubs that don't know what we're doing on a global level, clubs that don't know about our programs or our Foundation, that don't even know how to get involved. And with a membership that is still mostly male, we clearly aren't doing enough to become the organization of choice for women who are seeking to serve.
We are a membership organization first. If we want to achieve the goals we've set for ourselves, we need to put membership first. All of us have a responsibility to take membership seriously, not only by inviting prospective members, but also by making sure new members are welcomed into clubs that offer them something of value. If you see someone walk into a meeting and hesitate, be sure that person has a place to sit and is part of the conversation. If you're enthusiastic about a Rotary program, make sure your club knows about it and knows how to get involved. If you see a need in your community, talk about it at this week's meeting. If we want to be part of an organization that's strong, that's active, that's having an impact – start at home, and Be the Inspiration in Rotary.
Since 1905, Rotary’s role in the world and in the lives of its members has been in a state of continuous evolution. In its earliest days, Rotary offered its members a way to find fellowship and friendship and to build connections within their communities. But since then, service found a place in Rotary, and as our organization expanded, so did its influence. RI continues to receive international awards for outstanding achievements and this will surely continue.
On 1 July every year, new leaders take on roles that will allow them an exceptional experience. I thank PP Carolyn Khoury for her hard work and dedication to ensure that our club had a successful year. Although this is the fourth time that I am serving as a president since I was first inducted in August 1993, I continue to learn more and more about our amazing organisation.
2018/19 President Barry Rassin has chosen Be the Inspiration as this year’s Rotary International theme. He chose this theme because, throughout his years in Rotary, he has seen that is what truly motivates Rotarians is their work.
Our public image, using social media to build our membership and attract the partners that can help us scale up our service, has been enhanced in our club, district and worldwide. We have focused on small and on larger projects that have a more lasting impact, and we should continue to do so. But, we need to ‘register’ our projects with our community project committee, so that we can ensure that they are loaded onto Rotary Showcase. I look forward to sharing your projects in the club’s newsletter, website and potential sponsors.
One of this year’s Citation goals is to strengthen our club by achieving a net gain of 7 members. In our case it is about 14% of our current club numbers which now stands at 59. If each one of our members introduced just one member into our club we would double our membership to well over 100!
There are a number of other Citation goals for every club to achieve and we will flag these during the next 6 months. We have achieved the Presidential Citation since our club was chartered and we would like to continue with this great achievement. With your help, input and inspiration we can do it!
We will continue to support the Rotary programs for young leaders, such as RYLA, the Rotary Youth Exchange and during this year, we hope to charter our first Interact club.
We have an exciting year ahead. But we cannot achieve our club’s goals independently – we can however do this collectively.
In time, Rotary’s service, supported by our Rotary Foundation, would
change the lives of families and communities across the world. We formed partnerships and focused our service to increase our impact. We need to do continue doing likewise – forming partnerships like with Sasego Cares and many others.
Rotary gives you the chance to be part of a global network of people who have the talent and the drive to change the world. In this case, we have been very successful in being awarded a global grant for US$ 73 704 to train teachers on the Early Childhood Development programme. Thanks to DGN Annemarie Mostert for her tireless work, dedication and effort to ensure that all the paperwork – and there was plenty… was done in time and with efficiency.
Most important of all, we need to Be the Inspiration for positive change, inspiring our members, our communities, and our organization to face today’s challenges head on, with courage, optimism, and creativity.
I thank the board members and all the committee chairpersons as well as all the Rotarians, Rotaractors and the young generation in advance for a great year ahead. Be the Inspiration and let’s have a superb year ahead.
Pres Shirley Downie
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