Dear fellow Rotarians:
Rotarians are a varied lot. We come from dozens of countries, speak hundreds of languages, and adhere to a wide spectrum of religious, political, and philosophical beliefs. If one strong common thread exists among our 1.2 million members, it is our willingness to share.Rotarians share their time, their talents, their expertise, and their money to successfully carry out projects that tackle a vast range of humanitarian and social issues. They share their compassion, their enthusiasm, and their commitment to help those in need and make the world better. And they share an unparalleled passion for service that has made Rotary the world’s premiere service organization.
It is this fundamental spirit of generosity that I have tried to capture in our theme for 2007-08: Rotary Shares. I hope that it serves as both a point of pride for all Rotarians and a motivating force for our activities in the coming year.
Sharing is a concept generally associated with promoting the greater good, but it is also an individual action, a personal choice. Each one of us decides how much of our time and energy we want to share with Rotary, which ultimately determines how much each club can share with its local community and communities abroad. For that reason, I urge you to become more personally involved in Rotary and to actively participate in both service projects and membership development.
My call for individual involvement includes everyone in the family of Rotary, another emphasis that I want to continue. Our far-reaching family encompasses Rotarians and their families, Rotaractors, Interactors, Youth Exchange students, the widows and widowers of former Rotarians, and others who collectively work to promote Rotary’s goals and ideals. Together, we can promote Rotary’s programs throughout the world, handing down the ideals of service and fellowship from one generation to the next.
Continuity is essential to Rotary’s success, and so health, literacy, and water will remain our service emphases for the year. For many clubs, that will mean continuing ongoing, successful projects in their communities and internationally. For those who want to start new projects, I urge you to think creatively and consider some new approaches. For example, let’s look at how we can use new technologies to purify water, teach people to read, or provide safe sources of energy for homes. Then let’s share those innovative solutions with other Rotary clubs that are looking for successful project ideas.
As they make plans for 2007-08, I also encourage clubs to consider the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, especially the Millennium Villages project in sub-Saharan Africa. Like our Rotary Community Corps (RCC), these villages employ a bottom-up approach to helping communities pull themselves out of extreme poverty. Let us share the knowledge we have gained in promoting self-suffi ciency through RCCs to support this important goal.
Our theme for 2007-08 is reversible: Rotary Shares and so we must all share Rotary. During the fi rst three decades of my life as a Rotarian, Rotary was growing steadily. No thanks to me, however, as I never brought in any new members. When Rotary’s numbers began to drop in existing clubs, however, I suddenly realized that the organization I had come to care about so deeply would not simply continue to grow on its own. I understood then that I — and every other Rotarian — share the responsibility of bringing new members into our ranks, and it was time that I did my part.
In the coming year, I will be encouraging each one of you to do your part and share Rotary with other business and professional leaders in your community. I have set a goal for every Rotarian on my leadership team of directors, training leaders, membership coordinators, district governors, and club presidents to bring in at least one new member in 2007-08. I’m even asking all the past RI presidents to join us in this effort. Moving on from there, I have established a plan for recognizing all Rotarians who bring in new members. Working together, let us share the responsibility for Rotary’s growth and make all our clubs stronger and more viable.
The dedicated Rotarians who develop dynamic project ideas and galvanize other members to action form the backbone of every club, but there are too few of them. I believe that every one of us could be that kind of Rotarian if we just take that important fi rst step toward personal involvement — if we just say yes.
Yes, I will lead that project.
Yes, I will bring in a new member.
Yes, I will share my ideas and my resources to make my club stronger.
I’m convinced that 1.2 million involved and active Rotarians can fi nish the job on polio eradication; carry out projects involving health, water, and literacy; promote the cause of peace to every part of the globe; and clearly and powerfully demonstrate to the world that Rotary Shares.