Rotary International Kalyan Banerjee's January 2012 Message
RI president's monthly message - January 2012
My dear brothers and sisters in Rotary,
At Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C., stands a memorial to the Seabees, formally known as the U.S. Naval Construction Force. An inscription reads, "With willing hearts and skillful hands, the difficult we do at once; the impossible takes a bit longer."
In Rotary, we already have our own mottoes. If we didn't, I might be given to nominate those two lines. The power of combined effort, as Paul Harris once wrote, knows no limitation. When we work together, the impossible becomes possible.
I thought of this when I read, a few months ago, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the premier medical journal in the United States. Titled "The Polio Endgame," it outlined a strategy for a post-polio era, including managing post-eradication risks.
Thirty years ago, such an article could never have been published. Today, it is a testament to the power of dedication, of persistence, and of combined effort. The impossible has, indeed, become possible. A post-polio world, once the stuff of dreams, will soon be here.
My friends, the day that polio will be eradicated is close at hand. We have to be ready for it with a powerful Rotary – a Rotary of enthusiasm and confidence, of bold vision and clear ambitions. It is time for us to prepare by taking an honest look at our clubs. Are our projects meaningful, sustainable, and relevant? Are our meetings productive and enjoyable? Are our clubs welcoming to new members, and are our schedules and events friendly to young families? And once people join us, do we welcome them properly, involve them enough? Do we make them a part of the family of Rotary quickly enough?
The figures tell us that while enough new individuals join Rotary every year and everywhere, too many exit Rotary, on an ongoing basis. What unfulfilled hope do they leave with? What expectations are we not meeting? Can we do more and better?
Now is the time to focus our energies on our clubs, and on the way people see them. It is time to show our communities that the Rotary of today is not the Rotary of their preconceptions. Rotary is a way to connect, to do more, to be more – it is a way to take our idealism and our vision, and turn them into reality.
Areas of focus are the causes that drive Rotary
Trustee chair's monthly message - January 2012
We are now halfway through the pilot of our Future Vision Plan, and as I look to the future I think the most significant change will be the adoption of the six areas of focus – and not just for our Foundation. I recently heard RI Director Stuart Heal, the chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, say that our areas of focus fit very comfortably into our RI Strategic Plan.
Today's generation supports causes rather than organizations, and so we in Rotary should be able to clearly identify the causes that drive us. When somebody asks you what Rotary is, you do not have to fumble for words. Tell the person that we are an organization of service-minded individuals around the world who are working to make the world a better place with our efforts in water and sanitation, basic education and literacy, maternal and child health, disease prevention and treatment, economic and community development, and peace and conflict resolution. You can say that in 20 seconds!
You can see how this may bring new members to Rotary and increase the giving to our Foundation. If you approach corporations for a contribution, they are much more likely to respond if they know how their money will be spent, and that we will spend it wisely. We are building on a strong record of performance over a long period of time. Bill Gates has said as much on a number of occasions. He has shown his faith in us through his significant gifts for polio eradication.
While I am writing this from a Foundation perspective, the membership factor should not be overlooked. Plenty of organizations talk about issues, but Rotary is about action, not words.
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