I’ve never been so proud to be a Rotarian.  Seeing firsthand all the things the 91 Rotary clubs plus 2 Rotaract clubs in our District are doing is more than inspiring.  Just take a minute and imagine what our communities, and the world, would look like without Rotary and you will know why we exist.

I’ve been on a two year, eight month journey to get prepared for this amazing year of my life.  I’m so blessed to have such a great District Council and 18 Assistant Governors to help me this year.  But it truly is not about me.  Sure, I’m the DG (District Governor), the CEO, the Head Cheerleader for a year, but this is about you, the people who make up our 91 wonderful clubs.

I was at the International Assembly in San Diego in January with every District Governor Elect in the world (all 528 of us), when RI President Elect Holger Knaack announced his annual theme for the coming 2020-2021 year:  Rotary Opens Opportunities.  It was a far different world way back then.

In March most Rotary clubs switched to Zoom or other electronic meeting platforms.  Now some clubs are holding small, socially distant meetings and broadcasting via Zoom for members to join in at home.  I believe these hybrid meetings may become the new standard for Rotary club meetings in the future.

August is Membership and Extension Month.  Why is our focus on membership important?  Without new members our organization would age out and die a slow death.  By bringing in new, energetic, young, diverse members the clubs can better reflect the local communities we live in and serve.  And we can Grow Rotary.  We have made a substantial investment in Rotary (through time, talent and money) to get where we are today.  We should work hard to keep it healthy and grow to better serve our communities and beyond.

If your club is struggling, I suggest you contact Marilyn Hoppen, the District Membership Chair.  She has lots of ideas to share with you.  One of the best articles on membership was on page 53 of the November 2019 Rotarian magazine.  It told how one club took a hard look at itself, made some changes, and increased from 22 to 60 members in three years!  You know the saying, “if you continue to do the same thing, why would you expect different results”?

D E I

In light of some of this spring’s protests and demonstrations around the country in support of certain movements, I have been asked if the District has a statement concerning racism.  Rotary has always strived for diversity, equity and inclusion, more commonly called D E I.  I’d like to post one of the many statements from Rotary International:

At Rotary, we have no tolerance for racism.  Promoting respect, celebrating diversity, demanding ethical leadership, and working tirelessly to advance peace are central tenets of our work.

We have more work to do to create more just, open, and welcoming communities for all people.

We know there are no easy fixes and that challenging conversations and work lie before all of us. Rotary’s strength has long been our ability and commitment to bringing people together. We will tap into that strength now as we stand with those who are working for peace and justice. 

Rotary will do our part to listen, learn and take action to ensure that we continue to contribute to making positive change.

My challenge to you and your clubs is this:  Since Rotary is a clubs-up organization, it is up to the clubs to determine what our future will be.  Many of the clubs in District 5020 have already began formulating their own diversity policy.  In future issues of this UD5020 magazine we may showcase some of these efforts.

Paul Harris said, “Rotary must always be evolutionary, and at times revolutionary.”  I’m looking forward to seeing where clubs will lead us. I’ll be taking the opportunity to visit and meet many of you in your club meetings via Zoom soon, before my official governor visits begin.

Stay safe, wear a mask, and Grow Rotary!