Dear Fellow Rotarians,
For 60 years, choosing a theme has been the privilege,
and sometimes the challenge, of each incoming president. Looking
back on those past themes opens a small window into the thinking
and the vision of each leader – how they saw Rotary, the place
they saw for Rotary in the world, and what they hoped Rotary would
When my turn came to choose a theme, I did not hesitate. I knew
immediately that our theme in 2017-18 would be Rotary:
Making a Difference. For me, that small phrase describes
not only what we do now, but what we aspire to do. We want to make
a difference. We strive to help, to have an impact, to make the
world a bit better.
Over the past two years, I have seen so many ways that Rotary is
doing just that. In California, after the devastating wildfires
last year, I saw Rotarians Making a Difference to those
who had lost everything. In Guatemala, I saw the difference that
simple wood stoves are making in the lives of women who had been
cooking on open fires: They no longer breathe smoke when they cook,
they spend less time gathering firewood, and they are using their
stoves to start small businesses. In Israel, I visited a Rotary-supported
hyperbaric center that is helping brain injury and stroke patients
return to healthy, productive lives. In communities around the world,
Rotarians are Making a Difference by resettling refugees,
immunizing children, ensuring a safe blood supply, and helping young
people learn and thrive.
All over the world, I have been a part of Rotarians’ commitment
to planting trees. As this issue of The Rotarian goes
to press, we are still awaiting the final count of trees planted,
but I am delighted to announce that we have already far surpassed
our original goal of 1.2 million trees, one new tree per Rotarian.
And, all over the world, Rotary is continuing its advocacy, fundraising,
and support for polio eradication. Last year, wild poliovirus caused
only 22 cases of paralysis in only two countries. I am confident
that soon that number will be zero, and we will begin a new phase
in the timeline of eradication: counting down at least three years
from the last sign of wild virus to the certification of a polio-free
As Juliet and I return home to Australia, we will bring warm memories
of the places we have visited, the friends we have made, and the
service we have seen. Thank you, all of you, for the tremendous
work you are doing, through Rotary: Making a Difference.
Ian H.S. Riseley
Trustee Chair's Message - June
Paul A. Netzel, Trustee Chair 2017-18
It’s hard to believe that the first year of
Our Foundation’s second century of service – and my
term as chair of The Rotary Foundation – is coming to a close.
It has been an amazing experience to see Rotary and Our Foundation
in action as I’ve traveled the world. It has been inspiring
to see the passion and dedication of Rotarians, the energy and creativity
of Rotaractors, and the diversity of projects and forms of service.
I’ve seen Rotary: Making a Difference in the lives
of countless people in need, because Rotarians are People of Action!
These experiences have reaffirmed my belief in Rotary’s future
and the vital role Our Foundation can and must continue to play
– especially as we approach our post-polio era.
As Rotarians, we have big challenges and bold opportunities
• We must achieve our goal of eradicating polio! Please contribute
to the polio campaign – whether through a direct donation,
by fundraising, or by telling the polio story using your preferred
• We must expand the conversation and determine what corporate
project or projects we will undertake next. Think bold!
• We must work to engage the 50 percent of the world’s
population that is under the age of 30. Surveys consistently show
that these young people want to make a difference and to volunteer.
We need to continue developing proactive strategies to engage millennials
and Gen Z-ers.
• Women account for 50 percent of the world’s population.
They are proving to be the backbone of many clubs. We need to expand
their reach and welcome their leadership at every level of
• More Rotarians and clubs need to connect more closely to
the Foundation to understand how it can help achieve our goals.
This Rotary year, I invited you to share your ideas with me. Many
did – about how to raise more funds, to simplify the grant
process, to better engage youth, to build peace, to enhance our
membership experience through The Rotary
Paul A. Netzel
Trustee Chair 2017-18
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