A Rotarian from North Kingston RI commenting about her most recent Rotary experience writes “PETS, one of those ever-loving Rotary acronyms for President Elect Training Seminar, takes place around the Rotary universe roughly 4 months before the annual changing of the guard. It is a thorough indoctrination into Rotary: how to run a club, membership, the Manual of Procedure, fundraising, activities, budgets,etc. The only problem is that all this is crammed into the newbie’s brain in a mere 48 hours. Not really unlike water boarding.”
I recently attended the same PETS, and my takeaway was that for although for 5 years I’ve attended my Club’s lunches, given out happy bucks, worked fundraisers, done some projects, but never REALLY got the spirit of what Rotary truly is and truly can be until I attended PETS.
While there I heard stories about Rotarians who have done good throughout the world and their communities. Of children of Rotarians, who became Rotarians themselves, and who are raising their children in the same mold – to be future Rotarians.
A few quick stories:
Dave Clifton from the Sharon Club our own District who was the End Polio Now coordinator told a story about how as a young child he was awakened by his father, a Rotarian to help with a Pancake Breakfast. “But I didn’t join Rotary, Dad, you did. And I hate pancakes.” “Get up, get going, and get in the car. Today, you’re a Rotarian and you’re helping with the Pancake Breakfast.”
Brad Howard a founding member of the Oakland CA Sunrise Club, and currently Rotary’s North American Membership Chair, talked about some of his experiences as a Rotarian, (which have included Polio vaccination missions abroad). He related a story about how on his honeymoon he attended a Rotary meeting, and one of the Rotarians invited him on a “behind the scenes” tour of the city. He and his new bride later found themselves enjoying parts of the city he never would have seen as a tourist, culminating in a fireworks display from a beautiful rooftop overlooking the river. He turned to his wife and said can you believe where we are? (Did I mention the city was Paris? The date: Bastille Day. The river: Seine.) Brad also related a unique concept: he asked if the business of Rotary is Service, then who are Rotary’s customers? His answer: the members. His mission and focus? Providing better service to Rotary’s customers, which all neatly falls in line with next year’s Rotary theme: Engage Rotary: Change Lives.
And lastly, I met a young woman, a single mom, from Maine, who as we related our struggles as parents of young children told me of her own personal struggle with cancer. Upon hearing her diagnosis for the first time, she collapsed, sobbing in a heap on her kitchen floor. With no one to turn to, a job to go to hosting an important function, and a boss out of town leaving her no escape valve, she picked herself up off the floor, got dressed and went to open the hall for the function. Moments after she did, the first person in the door identified herself as a Rotarian. And an oncology nurse. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Do I need to tell you they are friends to this day, and after hearing their story of comradery and triumph, dinner and lunch with them tasted great?
I tell you these stories today because I want you all to know what great organization Rotary is and can be. Senior members: please take a newer member aside and tell them about projects you’ve done, fun you’ve had, and the friendships you’ve made. Newer members: Listen to these stories. Check out Club Runner to get to know our members better. Visit rotary.org and see what is happening in the world of Rotary. Go to a district event, another club meeting, or an event outside the club. Do good. Feel good. Be a Rotarian.