In 2013, I attended my first meeting of the Colonie-Guilderland Rotary Club. I was a guest speaker, along with my boss, invited to talk about Consumer Directed Personal Assistance. As the daughter of a Rotarian, and a former Rotary Youth Exchange Student, I was very comfortable interacting with the Rotarians present that day.
What is Rotary? At least once a week someone asks me that question. Because I grew up in a Rotary family, and have been involved with levels of Rotary all my life, sometimes I forget that there are people who do not know about Rotary – or who think it is just a weekly meeting of boring, old, white men.
Rotary International is a service organization with more than 1.2 million members worldwide. Rotary clubs, along with the Rotary Foundation, provide international and local acts of service. Globally, Rotary is committed to six areas of focus:
- Promoting Peace
- Fighting Disease
- Providing Clean Water
- Saving Mothers and Children
- Supporting Education
- Growing Local Economies
Rotarians are dedicated men and women of all ages who share a commitment and passion for service. My experience has taught me Rotarians also like to have fun. My views on this might be influenced by my exchange year, but my years as a Rotarian also support this observation.
In 2015, I agreed to accept the role of President-Elect of my Rotary club. This meant I would spend the 2015-2016 year planning to become President for 2016-2017. It was an honor to receive the support of my club, who believed I would be able to take on this responsibility.
I never expected to break my leg. But of course, life has a way of throwing the unexpected in your path.
Some of my first visitors to the hospital in January were my fellow Rotarians. They brought cards and balloons, gift baskets and cookies. Some of them sent me cheery emails and one brought me soup. When I returned home, they continued to visit, bringing me casseroles and dinners.
Because of my broken femur, I missed all of the training sessions for incoming club Presidents. I missed three months of club meetings. I was not able to honor my commitments to service projects with my club.
I offered to withdraw as President-Elect, but my club was willing to have me continue on. I explained that I would not have independent transportation, and might have to skip a meeting without warning due to my inability to independently get to/from the senior housing center where we meet. My club members assured me they would go with the flow, and shift responsibilities if needed when I was absent.
Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self.” As the recipient of acts of service performed by my fellow club members this year, I am reminded of how easy it is to be of service to someone else. Today I offer gratitude to those Rotarians who took the time to check on me while I was in the hospital, and who made my recovery less stressful by providing nourishment for my body and spirit. I am thankful to be part of an organization that embraces everyone who has a desire to serve. It is an honor to have your support in my role as President, and more importantly, to call you my friends.
Are you looking for a way to provide service in your community? Rotary has clubs in almost every country. To find a club near you, click this link!