2-14 Int'l Assembly Speeches

Rotary International 2014 International Assembly Speeches

John Kenny, TRF Trustee Chair Elect, at International Assembly 2014

"2014-15 Foundation Goals"

Past, present, and future officers of Rotary International, guests, and fellow Rotarians: I am delighted to address the most important people at this International Assembly — the district governors-elect. Today is the day that we will focus on our Rotary Foundation. The engine that drives the Rotary machine

We are an international organization. As we look around this room, there can be no doubt of that. And when we look at the experiences of the Rotarians in our clubs — which are the experiences that matter most in Rotary — there can be no doubt that the force that binds Rotarians together, the force that allows us all to share in the work of our fellow Rotarians in every corner of the globe, is our Rotary Foundation.

I could stand here for hours telling you of the good work that our Foundation does — the lives that I have seen changed by clean water and sanitation, by education and health care, and above all, by the fundamental belief that every human being is worthy of dignity and respect.

Few Rotarians will have the chance to see firsthand the result of all of our Foundation’s good work. But every single Rotarian has the chance to be part of it. This is why we have our Rotary Foundation — to enable every Rotary club and district to do the most of which it is capable, and to allow every Rotarian the opportunity to participate in all of Rotary’s good work, in every part of the world.

Our Rotary Foundation is the responsibility of every Rotarian. And in 2014-15 it will be your responsibility to motivate the Rotarians of your districts to advance our Foundation to the best of their abilities, by stewarding its resources wisely, by using these resources sensibly and ambitiously, and of course, by supporting our Foundation themselves, as every one of you here has already done.

As your incoming Rotary Foundation chair, it is my task and my privilege to tell you of our goals for our Foundation in the 2014-15 Rotary year. The first goal will come as no surprise to any of you. It is, of course, doing everything we can to achieve the complete eradication of polio. You have already received, earlier this week, an update on the details of our polio eradication campaign, of the triumphs we have recently seen and the challenges we now face.

For myself, as a Rotarian, the question “Why must we eradicate polio?” has a very simple answer. We must eradicate polio because we said we would. In Rotary, a word given is a commitment made, a promise that must be kept. And we have committed our time and money over a quarter of a century. But we have staked something far more precious than our time or our money. We have staked our reputation.

When we eradicate polio — and we will — we will have achieved something tremendous, something historic. We will have freed the world from a disease which has plagued humanity since the beginning of history. And we will have earned for ourselves the reputation we wish to deserve, of an organization with the ability and the determination to achieve anything it sets out to do. That is and will remain our number one goal, until the moment the world is certified free of polio.

Our second goal is to support our Foundation by our continued giving, by every Rotarian, every year. The goal of Every Rotarian, Every Year is simple: a donation from every Rotarian, every year. We do not say how much any Rotarian should give, for that is a decision that can only be made by each Rotarian. But just as all of you have been asked, this week, to give to our Foundation, every Rotarian should be asked to do the same. For it is indeed our Foundation — and every Rotarian should feel the ownership, and the responsibility, that comes from supporting it.

The goal for Annual Fund giving this current Rotary year is $120 million — a sum that reflects our Every Rotarian, Every Year philosophy. Last Rotary year we came the closest we have ever come to reaching that sum. I challenge all of you to see to it that in 2014-15 for the first time this goal is not only met but exceeded and every club in your district makes a contribution to The Rotary Foundation.

Our third goal is to ensure the progress of our new grants program, by planning and carrying out sustainable educational and humanitarian projects. We have all heard a great deal about our new Rotary grants program. Our new model was based on an idea that is far older than Rotary — that when you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but when you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

Rotary service has always taken the long-term view, aiming to do the most good possible, for the most people, over the longest time. With our strengthened emphasis on sustainability and on larger projects with a greater impact we will be able to do just that.

Our fourth goal is to foster world understanding, goodwill, and peace by promoting and publicizing the Rotary Peace Centers program. No one organization or government will ever build peace on its own. If it is to be achieved, it will be through the work of many people, in many ways, over many years. Our peace centers are designed to train those people — the people who not only believe in peace but have the talent and the ability to help bring it that much closer

Our fifth and final goal in 2014-15 touches every Rotarian: to emphasize that the future health of our Rotary Foundation is in all our hands. I cannot emphasize enough that The Rotary Foundation is the only international charitable organization that supports only those projects identified by Rotarians, funded by or through Rotarians, and implemented at the project site by Rotarians. It is directly responsible for a great majority of the international service of which we are so justly proud. Without a Foundation we could never have considered a project on the scale of PolioPlus. Rotary as we know it has been the vision shaped by the foresight of those who proposed and established our Foundation, and those who have supported it over the years.

We in Rotary understand the truth of the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Every one of us in Rotary, whether we participate directly in a Foundation program or not, benefits from our Foundation. And every one of us has a responsibility not only to acknowledge that but to act on our understanding by supporting our Foundation, by making it our charity of choice, and by stepping forward to say, the future of our Foundation is in all of our hands.

The year to come will be a pivotal one, for all of Rotary. We will be faced with unprecedented challenges and unprecedented opportunities. What we do with them will be up to all of us.

But there is one thing that is certain about this new Rotary year, and all those that are to follow: that if we truly intend to Light Up Rotary — if we truly wish to do justice to the vision of those who have come before us — if we truly intend to achieve everything of which we are capable — we will rely, every day, on the strength of our Rotary Foundation.
And the strength of our Foundation is in your hands.

Thank you. - John Kenny, TRF Trustee Chair Elect


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