Dear fellow Rotarians:
Rotary is so much more than the sum of its parts. Every program of Rotary — the club and district activities, the scholarships and exchanges, and the vast and varied humanitarian projects — serves a different purpose. No two clubs anywhere are exactly alike, and it is this diversity that is our strength.
Together, we show the world that a better future is possible anywhere and everywhere and that generosity of spirit, tolerance for differences, and high moral values are not obstacles to success but the path to success.
In a world full of ethical challenges, where cooperation among countries and tolerance of differences is so vital to peace, Rotary provides a much-needed example of solid integrity, international cooperation, and the spirit of volunteerism.
My theme for the 2006-07 Rotary year, Lead the Way, reflects my belief in the power of Rotarians to change the world. Together, 1.2 million Rotarians will Lead the Way to a brighter future through fellowship and service.
Today’s world needs heroes, not celebrities. All of us in Rotary are ordinary people with busy lives, striving to do our best. Quietly, in thousands of different ways, we are working to make the world a better, healthier, and safer place. I believe strongly that we, as Rotarians, must be motivated in our choice of service much more by what is practical and necessary than by what tugs at our emotions. We must identify real needs and work flexibly and cooperatively. Rotary service cannot be a one-way street; every project must be a partnership with those we wish to help.
Throughout the world, there are so many tremendous needs. As Rotarians, it is easy to want to meet them all, but as practical people, we know that we must apply our efforts where they can do the most good. For this reason, I have chosen water management, literacy, health and hunger, and the family of Rotary as my emphases for 2006-07.
Outside of Rotary, there is far too little awareness of the shortage of clean, safe water in the developing world. If a natural disaster wiped out 6,000 children under the age of five in one day, it would be on the front page of every newspaper. And yet, 6,000 children do die, every single day, from waterborne illnesses. This is a situation that can be addressed very effectively through small-scale projects on a local level and has been addressed through successful Rotary projects for many years. I encourage clubs and districts throughout the Rotary world to expand on this work and focus on bringing clean water wherever it is needed, one community at a time.
As a member of a family of readers, literacy has always been very important to me, and its value to society can hardly be overestimated. Literacy is a prerequisite for democracy, stability, and prosperity in a nation; it has the potential to halt the cycle of poverty and bring a better life to the next generation. Literacy has been a Rotary priority for many RI presidents and must remain high on our agenda.
Health and hunger concerns encompass much of the work that Rotary clubs do at the local level. These projects are at the very core of Rotary service and brought us to the great work of PolioPlus. We must continue to work for polio eradication until it is achieved, and pursue the many and varied health and hunger projects that Rotary is known for worldwide.
In 2006-07, I would like to return to the family of Rotary and the emphasis on caring equally for everyone in the Rotary family. Youth programs, such as Youth Exchange, Interact, and Rotaract, are vital to ensuring the health of Rotary’s future. They also further Rotary’s work by instilling a sense of integrity, tolerance, and unselfishness in the next generation. And caring for Rotarian families and spouses can only strengthen Rotary.
In 2006-07, I will ask Rotarians everywhere to focus on the possibilities that Rotary brings to each individual and that each individual brings to Rotary. Together, we will Lead the Way to even greater successes. And together, we will continue to identify real needs, work with communities and institutions, and see that those needs are addressed in a practical, sustainable way, not through idealism and wishful thinking but through steady effort and sound knowledge.
As Rotarians, we know that it is not enough to dream about a better world. A better world will only come through careful planning, honest cooperation, and hard work.
As Rotarians, we will not just wait for it to happen. Together, we will Lead the Way.