The Rotary club meeting you walk into today might, at first glance, seem very different from the weekly meetings of 50 years ago. And if you could pay a visit to every one of Rotary´s 34,000 clubs, you´d see men and women from all different backgrounds, speaking just about every one of the world´s languages, involved in service projects from the local to the global. You´d see clubs that are getting together to repair a neighbourhood playground this weekend, while working in partnership with other clubs to install sanitary facilities in a school thousands of miles away. And you´d see a group of people who are absolutely committed to making the world a better place, in ways large and small.
There´s a lot that´s different about Rotary today. But the foundation that Rotary is built on hasn´t changed. Rotary is based, as it´s always been, on our core values: serves, fellowship, diversity, integrity, and leadership. There are the values that defines us as Rotarian: they´re the values we live by, and the values we strive to bring to the communities we serve.
Every one of us in Rotary is here because we were invited, and because we made a choice to accept that invitation. Every day since then, we´ve been faced with another choice : whether to just be a member of a Rotary club, or to truly be a Rotarian.
Being a Rotarian is a commitment that goes far beyond just showing up at meetings once a week. It means seeing the world, and our role in it, in a unique way. It means accepting our communities as our responsibility, and acting accordingly: taking the initiative, making the effort, and doing what´s right, not what´s easy.
All of us came to Rotary to get involved, and to make difference. And in Rotary service, as in just about everything else in life, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. If you only put in a token effort, you won´t accomplish very much, and you won´t find very much satisfaction in what you do accomplish. But when you make the decision to truly engage Rotary ― to bring Rotary service and Rotary values into every day of your life ― that is when you start to see the incredible impact that you can have. That´s when you find the inspiration, the excitement, and the power to truly change lives. And no one´s life will be changed more than your own.
In the 2013-14 Rotary year, our theme, and my challenge to you, will be Engage Rotary, Change Lives.
You´ve chosen to wear a Rotary pin.
The rest is up to you.
Ron D. Burton
2013-14 RI President
Engage Rotary, Change Lives