Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,
My Rotary Journey
My Rotary journey began 40 years ago when I joined the Rotary Club
of Decatur, Alabama, at the age of 25, and it has brought my family
and me many unforgettable moments. But nothing could have prepared
me for connecting with the world as president of Rotary International.
My individual Rotary journey has become a shared Rotary journey
with each of you.
All of the incredible people Gay and I met this year — Rotarians,
Rotaractors, and the extended family of Rotary — will be an
inspiration for the rest of our lives. We visited clubs and projects
from Uruguay to Ukraine, from Nigeria to New Zealand, and beyond.
We were privileged to crisscross the globe, circumnavigating it
twice and moving back and forth between the Northern and Southern
hemispheres. Each country and each stop held its own Rotary magic.
While in Zimbabwe in March, we participated in a medical vocational
training team mission with Rotarians from India, providing health,
hope, and life itself to the thousands who came for treatment. We
also felt the energy of more than 300 young people at a Rotary Youth
Symposium in Harare. What a thrill it was to be with these young
This year Rotary launched our new Action Plan, and I trust each
club is putting that plan to use. And I have been energized by the
efforts to embrace the priorities I set for this Rotary year: engaging
families, providing leadership opportunities for all ages, celebrating
our history with the United Nations in its 75th year, and, most
significantly, growing Rotary.
As COVID-19 reached around the globe, we found ourselves in a world
transformed. We have been forced to connect in ways we could never
have imagined, testing our ability to adapt. We have made tough
decisions, including canceling club meetings, district conferences,
presidential conferences, and, much to our regret, the 2020 Rotary
International Convention in Honolulu. Together everyone is placing
the public good and welfare first, despite the loss of meetings,
events, and experiences that had been planned for years.
As we looked forward to the Rotary Convention in Honolulu, we learned
about the aloha spirit. Our Rotary friends in Hawaii showed us that
"aloha" means mutual regard and affection. It extends
warmth and caring with no expectation of anything in return. The
spirit of aloha applies wherever in the world we may live. As Rotarians,
Rotaractors, and members of the family of Rotary, we are connected,
and as aloha has been defined to me: Our connection to one another
is based upon mutual respect for our differences as well as our
appreciation for what we have in common. Community is the sum of
individuals — individuals who have concern for one another,
who care, share, and take responsibility.
As I have witnessed the members of the Rotary community act to care
for humanity amid the coronavirus pandemic, I have seen the aloha
of Rotary. We are indeed people of action. Every day, but particularly
during this pandemic, the Rotary community has demonstrated its
aloha spirit. It is a gift to be shared, and we are each a steward
of this gift of Rotary. Gay and I have been amazed, inspired, and
humbled by all of you within the family of Rotary.
Indeed, I would say that the last part of our shared Rotary year
was transformational. We found new ways to make the lives of others
better, new ways to move forward together. And, together, we will
continue to grow Rotary so that we may increase our gift of Rotary
to our local and global communities.
Gay and I will always remember and treasure our year with you, our
shared journey, as Rotary Connects the World!
Rotary International President, 2019-20
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Rotary eClub NY1 * Updated 2019
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