Caricature of Fred Collignon, by noted Berkeley artist, Stan Washburn

Caricature of Fred Collignon, by noted Berkeley artist, Stan Washburn


The game is on. Your Rotary year has started, with presidents moving on all their planning over the last year. Your Governor has launched the official required visits to each club, meeting with the club board, reviewing what the club is doing, and providing advice on how other clubs deal with various club problems. The club talks are meant to make club members proud of their club, of being in this amazing District, and their decision to be part of the  Rotary movement. They cover District and Rotary themes of the year, too.

So what are the District themes? The first is the District’s Centennial, its 100th birthday, ending with the District Conference in Berkeley on the UC campus March 24-26.  Register now for yourself and your club’s youth leaders.  It’s looking, based on early registration, that the conference may sell out. It’s the first conference in the U.S. where our Rotarians are joining with our Interactors, Rotaractors, and other club-sponsored youth program participants to celebrate what the club has done over its history and looking to the future of the movement. The conference party has a “Summer of Love” theme – practice your dance moves to the best music of the last 50 years.  Top-line speakers, service projects, and breakouts for all groups and interests.  Each club has been asked to identify their greatest service projects over their history.  Do a poster to “brag” about your projects and bring it to all District events (Six Flags, fall and spring assemblies, and the conference). We’re hoping for a fete like the Flags ceremony at the RI international conference, where club leaders march with youth leaders down the aisle, as their greatest projects flash across the screen above.

The second major District theme is integrating our youth programs more into our Rotary life. We want Rotarians’ families to be part of club life, and we want our youth and their families to be part of club life. The youth provide workers for projects, and are small-scale donors, but we want them to aspire to be future Rotarians. Our youngest District Rotarians are graduates of Interact and Rotaract.  But we also want to involve their parents in our service work, in our fundraising, and potentially as members when appropriate, because we hear from our youth that they share our values.  Only some parents will respond, but when appropriate, they need to be invited to join our movement.  We’re also using our Interactors and Rotaractors this year to teach the rest of us how to use social media for fundraising. We couldn’t find Rotarians willing to volunteer last year for this new approach, but know our youth have been using it for years with great success for their international and local projects.

Other important RI themes are the Rotary Foundation’s Centennial and the imminent victory in the war on polio.  It’s not merely “this close”; the last new case of polio may occur this year according to internal authorities – the great victory by human agency in public health since smallpox, led by Rotary. This IS a year of CELEBRATION..

So it’s a year to be proud of being a Rotarian, and helping our clubs, our District, and the world do even more in local, regional and international service to humanity.

Gee, that’s even the Rotary International theme this year – “Rotary Serving Humanity.”

Yours in Rotary,