Last June, as the incoming President, I asked the question, how does our Club make a difference? A year later I am happy to report that the Rotary Club of Milwaukee continues to make a significant difference not just in Milwaukee but globally.
Just look at the past year's activities. What would summer be without great bands and LIVE @ the Lakefront at the Rotary Amphitheater? In the fall we hosted the Rotary Large Club Conference, bringing Rotary Clubs from across the United States and Canada to Milwaukee. This was a chance to showcase our Club and our city. We succeeded at both, thanks to the efforts of a large group of committed Club members our hardworking staff. Kudos to both Mary and Liz for pulling off a great event. At almost the same time we hosted a group from Ukraine in Milwaukee for an extended visit.
Moving on from there, Club members traveled to Bangladesh, India as a part of a team providing cleft palate surgery, in partnership with Alliance for Smiles. Not long thereafter, another group, in partnership with Engineers Without Borders, traveled to Guatemala to visit local bridge and school projects supported by RCM with the help of a local Guatemalan Rotary club.
In June we have the Rotary Golf Classic, a great event for fellowship and fun which also supports our Rotary Scholars. This year the Rotary scholarship program provides financial support and mentoring for 24 Milwaukee students. If you have had a chance to meet any of the students, you know we are making a difference in their lives.
Also in June we will inaugurate the significant improvements to Johnsons Park, a long-term commitment made by the Club to enhance an almost empty green space in urban Milwaukee.
On top of all this, our Club continued its involvement at Oliver Wendell Holmes School and Brown Street Academy as well as two book distributions at 12 MPS schools. The Done-in-a-Day Committee provided a number of activities throughout the course of the year, including the annual bell ringing in support of the Salvation Army and an opportunity to clean up the shore of the Milwaukee River, among other activities.
The Inclusion, Racial Equity and Jobs Committee, formed last year at the request of a number of members, has continued its efforts to make a positive change in the lives of central city residents through addressing the roadblocks to employment such as transportation and driver’s licenses.
None of this could happen without the dedicated commitment of our Club members. Nothing has impressed me more over the past year than the commitment of our members to make a difference. So many people are involved in some many different activities that we needed a rather large and a bit confusing chart simply to diagram everything that is going on. Our Club offers all of our members a meaningful way to participate in our community. The theme for RI President Ravi Ravindan’s year was that we, as Rotary members, should be a gift to the world. While we can always do better, our Club has lived up to that theme, this year and every year.
Thanks to the Board members, Committee chairs and the active members of the Club who make all this possible. Also, a very heartfelt thanks to Mary, Liz and Rita, who always succeed in making challenging projects look easy.