Everyone has a story to tell and tonight I’d like to tell you “My Rotary Story”. It all began seven years ago when I moved to the Northshore and didn’t know anyone in the area except for two people – my sister and brother-in-law. The best thing that happened to me was to meet Kathy Smith who invited me to a Rotary meeting and I soon became a member. My personality is to get involved in every organization that I have belonged to so I soon began working on the Silent Auction for the Scholarship fundraiser and the very first Chili Cookoff. Two years of being Treasurer of the club followed and then two years of being Membership Chair. Over the years, I have also helped with Bingo, served on the RYLA committee, and participated in as many events as time would allow. Along the way, I have met the most amazing people who I call “My Rotary Heros”. These men made a difference in my life by the example they set in serving Rotary and our community. My heroes are Al Autin, Troy Gist, Sam Landry, Bob Fineran, Dave Simon, Mel Guillory and Bob Spitzmiller. To them, Mandeville Rotary was not just a club; it was a way of life. Their commitment to Rotary will not be forgotten to those of us who knew them. I also have to acknowledge two women in our club who have inspired me – Laura Mitchell, our club’s first woman President from 1999-2000 and Martha Elliott, our second woman President from 2003-2004. Thank you Laura and Martha for being an inspiration to all women in our club! That is “My Rotary Story”, and this year I will be asking some of you to tell “Your Rotary Story” and we’ll print it in the newsletter.
Also this year, we will continue with the great traditions that have been established over our 34-year history. We will continue to have interesting programs, profitable fundraisers, worthwhile service projects, and fun socials. We will also focus some attention on increasing our education of Rotary weekly and through the newsletter, increasing our involvement in the Rotary Foundation through Paul Harris fellows, grants, and individual and group giving, increasing our involvement in International projects with a student exchange program and through a district project, increasing our communications through emails, the website and our bulletin, and hopefully re-establishing an Interact Club at Mandeville High and establishing a new one at Fountainbleu High School.
Each year the International President chooses a theme for the new Rotary year. This year’s Rotary theme is “Rotary Shares”, and I’d like to read to you an excerpt from a letter from the incoming Rotary International President, Wilf Wilkinson. “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. Each 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”.
At next week’s meeting, I will discuss my plans for the year and ask for your input to help identify the needs of our club and our community. At that time, I will ask you what role you want to play in our club this year.
My favorite quote is from Sir Winston Churchill who said, “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give”. You may have heard the expression “Give till it Hurts”, but I am asking every Rotary member this year to search their hearts and to “Give till it Helps”.
Thank you all for the tremendous amount of time and energy you have given to Rotary and our community. I look forward to serving as your President and to working with all of you in the year ahead. Let the year begin!