RI President 2020-21 Holger Knaack
- Aug 2020
Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,
The year 2020 has brought monumental changes that have already included
a global pandemic and a renewed call for social justice. We are
reminded that we live in a constantly changing world, and Rotary
is a reflection of that world.
We must be ready to listen and adapt, always drawing upon our core
values of service, fellowship, diversity, integrity, and leadership.
If we live these values and apply The Four-Way Test to all aspects
of our lives, we will be prepared to lead at all times.
I am proud of how we have proven our ability to adapt. Faced with
a pandemic, Rotary has not stopped. We moved meetings online and
found new ways to serve. We turned the canceled 2020 Rotary International
Convention in Honolulu into our first virtual convention. Each week,
we are proving that Rotary is a flexible gathering that happens
anywhere — in traditional meetings, on cellphones, and on
computers. Rotary offers a way to connect for everyone who wants
to, at any time, and will continue to do so.
Some have even told me that they enjoy Rotary's mix of online and
in-person meetings more now than before! How can we build on this
momentum and seize the opportunity to embrace change so that Rotary
For me, supporting new types of clubs is key. They are no longer
just experiments but a real part of Rotary today. In addition to
traditional clubs, we have e-clubs, Rotaract clubs, cause-based
clubs, and passport clubs. These help make Rotary more inclusive,
more flexible, and more attractive to new members. Visit these clubs,
exchange ideas and partner with them, and promote them to one another
and to our communities.
We all agree that we need to grow Rotary, but sometimes we can get
caught up in the numbers game and lose sight of the bigger picture.
After all, an increase in membership is meaningless if next year,
those new members leave our clubs. Let's grow Rotary sustainably.
Rotary's flexible options for participation will engage members
and show the community how we're different from any other club.
Let's celebrate that Rotary is now less about rules and more about
joining together in a variety of ways besides traditional meetings.
I recommend that each club hold an annual strategy meeting to ask
— and honestly answer — if we are doing all we can for
our members and if our club reflects the community we serve. We
are taking this approach at the international level, too. I am proud
that six women are serving with me on the RI Board of Directors
this year, the most we have ever had. Let's keep Rotary moving in
this direction at every level. We need more perspectives, more diversity,
for Rotary to thrive.
It's fascinating to imagine how we will find new ways to adapt and
stay nimble this year and beyond. But I am also inspired about what
hasn't changed and never will in Rotary: the friendships, the networking,
the ethics, and the service. Indeed, these are the values that make
Rotary attractive to all.
As Rotary's founder, Paul Harris, said, we have to be revolutionary
from time to time. Now is such a time. Rotary Opens Opportunities
— countless ones — for us to embrace change that will
strengthen us even as we remain true to our core values.
Trustee Chair's Message - Aug
Rotary Club of Colombo
Western Province, Sri Lanka
Trustee chair's message
There is a world of difference between a problem and
If a honeybee faces a giant hornet alone, the bee
has a problem. But if the honeybee faces the hornet
with a swarm of other bees, then it is the hornet
that has a problem.
This is true in nature, but it is also the human predicament.
So when the situation I confront is greater than the
resources I have, then it can be termed as a problem.
However, if the resources I have are greater than
the situation I am faced with, then it is just a challenge.
Sometimes we overestimate our problems and underestimate
our ability to overcome them.
The COVID-19 pandemic seemed like a situation that
might overwhelm The Rotary Foundation. But as things
have progressed, we have not allowed it to do so.
As of 4 June, we have funded 208 disaster response
grants for $5.2 million and 169 new global grants
at $13.8 million — all in three months. We have
leveraged individual Rotarians' generosity with Foundation
funds and in many cases other corporate funds to make
projects larger and more impactful.
We never allowed the pandemic to overpower us. Indeed,
history shows that Rotarians are a curious breed.
We are visionaries, an idealistic lot that dreams
big dreams of a better world. At the same time, we
are resilient and able to withstand challenges that
others might succumb to.
We were not idle during the pandemic lockdowns. We
raised funds and did projects just as we would have
if there had been no lockdown. We remembered that
it's the same business that we always do — reaching
out to people in distress — except the methodology
by which we did it changed.
Our process of preparing and delivering the projects
The way we communicated what we did changed.
The Rotary Foundation is more than 100 years old and
has already weathered many storms — some of
them mild and others devastating to the world. Thanks
to the strength, sacrifice, and compassion of Rotarians
and the level to which they have extended themselves,
I believe the Foundation will continue to face the
future with renewed hope and inspiration.
Our Foundation will emerge from this pandemic much
stronger and more resilient as long as you continue
to have trust and faith in it.
Trustee Chair 2020-21
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