Imagine Rotary…
 
Creating Hope in The World.
 
What a great transition of Rotary Themes from one year to the next. President Jennifer Jones asked us to Imagine a Rotary where members act to make their dreams become reality and make the most of their club experiences. During her year, her four presidential initiatives were to Imagine Rotary: advancing our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; creating a welcoming club experience; empowering girls; and expanding our reach.  
 
Thanks to Ralph’s guidance our District has accomplished so much this past year and truly embraced the shared vision to Imagine Rotary.
 
Now, as we look at Rotary’s Seven Area’s of Focus, let’s work to CREATE HOPE in the WORLD.
 
HOPE…that no one will ever suffer from life threatening diseases like Polio, HIV/AIDS, and malaria ever again.
 
HOPE…that mothers and children receive basic health care to help stop the nearly 6 million children who die needlessly each year due to malnutrition, inadequate health care, and poor sanitation.
 
HOPE…that our environment is protected and remains sustainable through innovative projects, planning and policy changes supported by Rotary.
 
HOPE…that no nations are at war with each other and that conflicts can be prevented in our communities through adults and young leaders trained by Rotary.
 
HOPE…that all people have safe water for drinking and hygiene through the many projects supported by Rotary.
 
HOPE…that all individuals have access to basic education and literacy to be able to provide for themselves and make a better, stronger future for their families.
 
HOPE…that all communities have opportunities for productive work for young and old, and support for local entrepreneurs who help strengthen the local economy.
 
The Seven Areas of Focus for Rotary provide HOPE because of the actions of Rotarians just like you. Someone waking up tomorrow with HOPE of a better day because of what we do today.
 
Rotary International President Gordon McInally chose CREATE HOPE in the WORLD as our theme this year and, along with the perfect way Creating Hope fits with our seven areas of focus, it also fits perfectly with one of his presidential initiatives this year, Prioritizing Mental Health. When I first met Gordon and his wife Heather about two years ago, I felt an instant bond with them, and I was so happy to hear that Mental Health was going to be one of his priorities as we have experienced the battle with mental health within our own family as well as watching friends and their families struggle through the daily hardship of mental health. I shared with Gordon and Heather that night our own family’s story that I really had never shared outside of our family, and Gordon and Heather, they both hugged me and cried with me. It was not until my husband Jim and I attended the International Assembly in Orlando this past January that I knew of Gordon’s whole story and how mental health problems caused Gordon’s brother Ian, his only sibling, to take his own life on February 8th, 2014, while on a business trip.
 
An important part of Gordon’s message for us is that we need to create a space within Rotary, our communities, and our families where people feel safe talking about mental health issues. He wants us to work with our clubs and district to take actions to erase the stigma around discussing emotional wellbeing, raise awareness of mental health needs for ourselves and those in our communities and to work together on proven prevention techniques and improve access to quality mental health services. Gordon wants us to be sure to ask the question “How are you?” but don’t just leave it at that, ask the question “How are you, REALLY?” I look forward to kicking off this initiative throughout this coming year because I believe that it is so important. I am in the process of creating a District Committee on Mental Health.  As Gordon says, “It’s a Big Ask, it’s an Important Task and he’s asking us to be champions of this effort.”
 
I want you to know this, moving forward, this is not Gordon McInally’s year. This is not my year. This is not your club president’s year. This Rotary year belongs to all of us! This is our year to take our dreams of projects, programs, ideas and make them our reality.  
 
Do you have a dream of how Rotary can make a difference but don’t know how to approach it? Talk to me and let’s see if we can make it happen.
 
Do you have an aspiration of where you would like to go in Rotary but don’t know how or where to start? Talk to me and I will point you to the right people who can help get you going in the direction you’re trying to find.
 
Rotary must constantly be ready to make changes as our members change. E-Clubs, Satellite Clubs, Passport Clubs, these are all the result of changes that were made to reflect our diverse membership and the changing needs to support the lifestyles of our members. Breakfast clubs work for some but not others, dinner clubs can be difficult for some with families that have sports, rehearsals, scout meetings or more. More types of clubs open the doors to more members, active members who can find a club that fits them. I don’t want to hear “We can’t do that because we have always done it this way!”. If that’s the attitude everyone has, our clubs will die off. We must be open to change.
 
Rotary continues to move forward; we are making great strides on multiple fronts. It may look different from the Rotary you remember joining. But the one thing that looks the same is our desired outcome of our efforts.  
 
The Rotary International Vision statement reads as follows:
 
“Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”
 
We want a world without Polio.
 
We want a world with safe drinking water for children.
 
We want a world where all seven areas of focus have been addressed.
 
Together, we can handle any changes that come our way.
 
Together, we will all have a voice that will be heard.
 
Together, we can accomplish this year’s task.
 
Together, we can and will CREATE HOPE in the WORLD.