And to Think I Saw it in District 5020

To misquote Dr. Suess:

They do good both here and there
Rotarians are everywhere
They’ll let you take your dog out for a walk
They’ll give your kids prizes for their talk
They’ll sell your junk to raise money
Or race silly boats and that’s funny
Rotarians will park your car
Rotarians will work your bar
Rotarians are all above par
Servant leaders is what they are
They do good both here and there
Rotarians are everywhere
 
I have now had the privilege of visiting almost all of the Rotary clubs in District 5020 and have seen the incredible difference those clubs are making in the world and in their communities.
 
It has been an honour and it has been the most joyful part of being District Governor.
 
So how can we share that joy?
 
One of the most amazing things that has happened during our travels these past few months is the number of clubs who have connected at joint meetings.
 
I have been attempting to reduce the number of club visits required of a District Governor in the hopes that we can make this job attractive to a younger group of Rotarians.  Clubs have been very helpful in scheduling joint meetings.
 
It has been really exciting to hear comments from those joint meetings like, “We should do more events together”, “I had no idea that your club was involved in that project and I’d like to help”, and “I have so enjoyed meeting all these Rotarians.”
 
Clubs are connecting to make a difference in other ways:
 
They are collaborating with each other.  For instance, almost all of the clubs in the middle of Vancouver Island have joined together to create the Mid Island Group.  This exciting band of dedicated Rotary Clubs are finding ways to work together on international projects.  This gives all of them a chance to share their successes and challenges and they are learning from each other.   It also gives clubs, who don’t have a project of their own, the opportunity to support those who do. Clubs know what the others are doing, so they can band together to make a larger impact.
 
They are collaborating with their communities. The Rotary Club of Woodland, the most southerly of our clubs and with only 39 members, for instance, is constructing an $18,000,000 park with the blessing and assistance of their municipality and the state.
 
They are collaborating with their communities and with each other at the same time.  The combined clubs of Pierce County initiated and have been supporting the Courage Classic since it’s inception.  I was thrilled to be there when they were honoured by the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital for the excess of $10,000,000 that has been raised by this bike ride since 1992 for the benefit of the Child Abuse Intervention Department.
 
Those are only three examples of the extraordinary work that is being done by ordinary Rotarians in District 5020.  
 
Every single club has demonstrated an incredible commitment to Service Above Self and to having fun.
 
We have been travelling with our dog, Molly, so we have tried to set up in a central spot in each area to give her a home-like setting while we have visited clubs and projects and fundraisers.  As a result, we have had a good chance to connect with communities that we might not have got to know otherwise.
 
We stayed for three weeks in Gig Harbor, which meant that we were able to experience the Galloping Gertie half marathon, which is a fundraiser for the Gig Harbor North club.  They are a tiny but powerful bunch.  The work they are doing in the Key Peninsula for literacy and health is truly amazing.
 
Molly was impressed that we had the opportunity to attend the Puyallup South Hill “Hounds on the Hill” fundraiser.  It was fun, it raised money and people did something they enjoy- take the dog for a walk.
 
We also found places to stay, for various durations, in Port McNeill, Nanaimo, Victoria, Sequim, Westport, Poulsbo and Grand Mound. Most Rotarians don’t get the opportunity to experience our entire district like we did.
 
How many Rotarians have experienced the Norwegian experience in Poulsbo?  You should go.  And what about Westport?  What a beach!  How come they don’t have a Rotary club?
 
Speaking of which, kudos to the new Crossroads club in Poulsbo.  There is an energetic bunch!  Meeting in a brewery.  Making a difference.  Letting us bring our dog to the meeting.
 
And what about the soon to be chartered club of Graham Fredrickson Eatonville?  Charter night is January 25, but they are rocking it already.  Are there any other communities in our district that don’t have a club?  Why not?
 
Maybe there are communities that have a club but could use another.  Kingston North Kitsap is finding a good response to having a satellite club.  A satellite certainly works to bring enthusiastic people into Rotary who can’t fit into the host club’s schedule or time slot.
 
The Rotary Club of Comox Valley is proof that if you give millennials the opportunity, they will embrace Rotary.  Just because a community of 65,000 already has four thriving clubs with 225 Rotarians, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for 50 non-Rotarians to start another.
 
Uclulet is proving that no community is too small for a Rotary Club.  40 Rotarians out of a year-round population of around 800?  Why not?  If the need is there, Rotary should fill it.
 
Not every Rotarian is granted the opportunity to be District Governor, but you can experience Rotary on a bigger stage.
 
Our District 5020 Training Conference is being held in Victoria on May 15 and 16, 2020.  Last year we had to cut off registration early because of lack of space for training.  This year we are in the Victoria Conference Centre, which has more rooms and larger spaces, so there will be a spot for every Rotarian who wants to attend. The event is going to take place on the Friday and the Saturday of what is, in Canada, a long weekend.  
 
You are definitely going to want to be there for both Friday and Saturday nights, but you have the option of adding Thursday night.  That allows you to sign up for home hospitality, when Victoria Rotarians open up their homes to visitors.  You can also catch the optional training on Friday morning before the event officially gets underway at 10:30.
 
In conclusion, I would like to thank the Rotarians in our district, from Port Hardy to Woodland, who have been so welcoming.  
 
You should have seen the party that the Rotary Clubs of Area 10 put on when all five clubs met for a joint meeting. 
 
Clubs were so gracious in showing us a good time and introducing us to their projects.  Thank you to the Poulsbo club for letting us help with the cemetery cleanup and Tacoma 8 for allowing us to help fill backpacks.
 
District 5020 Rotarians are the best. I’m looking forward to seeing you more during this Rotary year and continuing to share the joy.