Wow, where does the time go? Welcome to the beginning of another Rotary year. This new year our 2019-2020 Rotary theme has been designated by RI President Mark Daniel Maloney as “Rotary Connects the World.” As I compose this message I am on my way across France on the Oui Bullet Train to Epinal, a little later in this message.
This year we have so many things to accomplish, and I have big goals for myself, and I hope you all do as well for your clubs. It will be a year of change as we begin our first year in a new zone. If you don’t know, District 5630 was moved to be included with some new friends to our east. For the first time in a long time we will be partnered with eastern Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan’s Northern Peninsula AND now we will actually be considered an International district as we will also include a portion of Ontario, Canada! So rather than being discouraged by redistricting, I’m excited about meeting so many new Rotary friends!
Speaking of meeting new friends, I hope that you will all take the opportunity to invite many people to your clubs, projects, and social engagements this Rotary year. This is our single biggest challenge, as it always is. You have all heard this from every Governor who preceded me, so no need to repeat the same message. But this year will be our chance to reverse the negative trend. I will just give you this one thought, “don’t think of your club as if it exists inside 4 walls, on a specific day or time.” I have given all of the 2019-2020 club Presidents permissions to think differently, outside the box, be courageous and break the “rules.” I plan to. I’m certain with all the tools I have been given and the opportunities we have ahead of us that together we will meet and exceed my expectations of growing the membership in our clubs.
Rotary presents all of us with some unbelievable opportunities for leadership, service, diversity, and fellowship. Have you ever really thought of what your membership really offers? For most Rotarians, it never goes outside the 4 walls of your club meetings, and I must tell you that you are missing so much! It would be like having a banana split with only vanilla ice cream. No chocolate, no strawberry ice cream. No chocolate, strawberry, or pineapple toppings. No nuts, no whipped cream, no bananas and no cherries on top! Oh my gosh, of course, we have so many people that don’t stay in Rotary. All they ever get is vanilla ice cream (aka chicken luncheon.) So, if you aren’t enjoying the full banana split, let’s indulge. Stay tuned, I have so many things to share, starting July 1 with my new travel blog, OurRotaryMojo.com. I hope you will help me to share stories of leadership, service, diversity and most of all fellowship as I travel across the district.
So, in the beginning, I said I was on the bullet train to Epinal, France. We are rocketing across France towards Zurich at almost 200 mph. Where is in Epinal? Epinal is near the border with Switzerland. It is the location of one of America’s most beautiful American cemeteries for our European war casualties. Rotary has given me and my wife Tracie a lifetime opportunity to do something we only dreamed of doing. Today is June 7, the day after the 75thAnniversary of D-Day. Tracie’s Grandfather Henry Repeta, TSgt. U.S. Army Air Corps was shot down over France on May 30, 1944. He is buried at the American cemetery in Epinal, his final resting place. When we think of what we are given an opportunity to do, we must always pay respect to those who made it possible for us. Neither Tracie nor I ever met her grandfather, we don’t even have pictures. As I look out the window of the train I am left thinking about those that have given us so much. People we have never met. That’s what we as Rotarians also do every day. We are doing good for others, just because we ARE Rotarians!
So, I thank all of you for giving me the opportunity to serve you this year, and for giving Tracie and me the opportunity of a lifetime to visit France.