With less than ninety days left for the Rotary year, one can’t help but wonder where does the time go?  I have been a Rotarian for 28 years and that time has gone fast too.
Perhaps it’s because being a Rotarian is more than just volunteering.  We have a purpose and we set goals.  It becomes part of our lifestyle.
Looking back I remember one of the first projects we did in Jordan.  Someone had donated a school building for children with challenges, which was extremely generous, but parents had no way to get the children there. They had a bus that was donated by a private school but did not have the money to pay a driver. One enterprising woman came up with the idea that if our club provided them with a knitting machine, she could teach the mothers how to knit and sell sweaters, and with the money made, they could hire a driver.
So we did.  Every year she would come back to the club and report on how many women had been trained,  how many students attended, and the project became sustainable.
This type of project fit so many of Rotary’s goals of serving the community, providing vocational training, and addressing issues of mother/child health.  Plus the mothers felt empowered.  It wasn’t a handout. This wasn’t charity.
As we look to the coming year with the theme of Imagine, my hope is that it is projects like this that will ignite the creativity in our clubs. Before COVID,  we were able to be more hands-on, travelling to work on our international projects, like building schools in the Dominion Republic and taking young people with us so they could experience firsthand what it was like to make a difference and  see the results of what they’d done.
I believe it is those experiences, like seeing the relief on a parent’s face after her child’s surgery, are what makes it all worthwhile as well as keep us invested in Rotary for the long haul. I’ve always found it a privilege to serve members of our local and international communities.
Helping refugees coming from the Ukraine is one thing we can do in the months ahead, just as we have done in the past with others fleeing conflict.  We stand strong in our neutrality, but we have a responsibility to help people who are hurting.  We have a  humanitarian obligation to help in addition to our strong commitment to promoting peace
Before I step down from this role, I do hope to meet as many of you as possible at the District Conference.  Because of the pandemic, I have not had the pleasure or opportunity to meet many Rotarians in person.  I therefore hope you will join us on May 28 as it will be a time for us all together.  It will be a time for us to renew our commitment to one another and the communities we serve.  And it will be a time of fun and fellowship.