I am honored to be your next President. What a privilege to be able to serve you in this capacity and be a Rotary Club of MKE steward, alongside of you. Our specific Club’s theme is “Connecting”. As I think of the next Rotary Year, I have one central thought and request of each of you: Connect by further Engaging. Many of you know that we held some Listening Sessions several months ago. The impetus for the Listening Sessions was to touch Rotarians more directly and hear what is on your hearts and minds. I want to share with you three big themes from the Listening Sessions. They revolve around connecting and engaging:
Impact through engaging.
Our members like Connecting with People and Ideas with a shared commitment for enduring impact. One quote: “When Rotary is involved, we can change the dialogue.” This means making a difference when we’re engaged. Examples of Rotarians engaged and in action: Decade-plus scholarship program, Feeding America, Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum, Johnson Street Park, Live @ the Lakefront, MKE Stables, and more recently our work with Afghanistan refugees and Ukrainian humanitarian efforts.
Relationships through engaging.
Our members said we and others in the community have an immediate high-level of trust when we know someone is a Rotarian. One of the Listening Session participants said, “Rotary brings instant trust and credibility like a Good Housekeeping ‘Seal of Approval.’” Many said they join Rotary to build relationships, develop networks, and cultivate lifelong friendships, often outside of usual social circles. Relationships and trust happen through engagement over time.
Learning through engaging.
Our members love to learn. Rotarians continue to have a curiosity to learn from a wide range of topics and experiences. Our Program Committee continues to bring us exceptional speakers who offer depth and breadth of knowledge in their areas of expertise. Who’s involved in the Program Committee? Raise your hands. Let’s give them a big “Thank You” for their work. We consistently get high marks for our speakers and programs. Our members also learn through the various opportunities and experiences that come by participating on committees. All these opportunities of learning and leadership come from engaging – from showing up every Tuesday to engaging in the inter-workings of our Club, where the real magic happens.
The three themes: Impact, Relationships, Learning – all through engaging.
Let’s take a moment to pause. Think of one of your most meaningful Rotary moments. What were you doing? Who were you with? Keep that memory. That moment happened because you were engaged.
At the heart of all I heard from many of you, it is – we want to make a difference and be part of something bigger than ourselves.
To continue to enhance these aspirations, to elevate our Club to another level, and to evolve who we are as individuals, I ask each of you to find ways to more deeply connect by increasing your personal engagement in our Club. Here are some ideas for you consider:
If you’re not on a committee, find one that is interesting to you where you can contribute. If you don’t regularly attend our weekly meetings, make it a point to come more often. If you have not frequently participated in one of Rotary’s community projects, sign up, show up and bring others with you for fun and an extra pair of hands.
AND for certain, if you meet someone interesting who is not in Rotary, invite them to attend a Rotary event and to consider membership. Remember, our Club membership drive this past year to bring in 50 new Rotarians. We achieved 51. It’s paramount for us to continue to recruit amazing leaders from all walks to our Club and continue our membership momentum. In fact, let’s aim to exceed that number this next year.
As far as what is in store for the new Rotary year: We are innovating and going to pilot some opportunities for Rotarians to get to know other Rotarians better. This is based on what we heard in the Listening Sessions. I also want to work with our new Board to think about what we as a Club may want to accomplish in the next three years that we may need to start this year. More to come as our thoughts develop. I am open to your strategic ideas along the way as we continue to grow our Club together.
As a membership organization, we are only as good as our members. I ask you to increase your individual engagement in meaningful ways. Why? Engagement is core to personal and Club vitality – it’s good for you, and it’s good for all of us.
Here’s to our next level of “Connecting by Engaging” with our Rotary Club of MKE in the year ahead. I’m excited to start this journey with you today.