By Bronwyn Stephens, District Governor Elect - January 2018
We understand connections, opportunities and fun are what Rotary offers. Please may I share this seemingly little but very important vignette of Mark and I experiencing it while travelling to International Assembly for DG leadership development? We had a few days on our hands and thought to visit a Rotary club. Rotary San Francisco - the second club chartered in the world who had a service evening instead of a meeting evening. So we took the leap and registered to attend.
There are 12 clubs in the wider San Francisco area and they combine to purchase dictionaries for children in schools who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to afford them. The members shared with us new words that have been added this year. Eg “schmuck. someone who is stupid”
Our project was to add 2 stickers to the fly leaf of each book. One sticker with the 4 way test and the other letting the child know that this book is specially given to them and from whom - Rotary Club of San Francisco! With the rest of the team we got through this fun chore in no time flat. 2 pallets of books. They will be distributed by the club members to the students.
The side benefit of volunteering is chatting while you work. Rowan McClean (Rotary Club of North Balwyn) you are going to be one very happy vegemite from down under. Within 15 minutes of arriving, I discovered that a certain San Franciscan Rotarian is also passionate about project work in Vietnam and believes that they are “this close” (like eradicating polio this close) to chartering a club in Vietnam. The club has a global grant in progress with pepper plantations. They sooooooo want to connect with you dear friend.
This club inducts 20-25 new members each year. Yes, true! There is a competition for the person who brings the most new members each year. One member has a holiday house in Hawaii and the winner enjoys a week in that holiday house.
President John tucked me under his wing right from the moment we met. We chatted about him volunteering 3 days a week with “hospice”. Ie spending time professionally with people who are dying. He sits with them and listens, shares, entertains or whatever they require. He has also written a book about leadership after retiring from his career in management. What a fascinating man. Mark connected straight away with another John - he is facilitating the global grant in Vietnam.
I must admit we were nervous about just arriving at a Rotary club on the other side of the world without knowing anyone there, but there was no need. We were so welcomed and it was such a joyous experience to be of help, while having fun, and to make a connection for a club member back home...what more could we have wanted to do?
So, if you are travelling and think to add Rotary to journey we would highly recommend it. It isn't just fascinating and fun to meet wonderful people. Opportunities for added service are exciting, and Rowan it will be so wonderful to charter that club in Vietnam - certainly San Francisco Rotary are excited at the possibility to engage and combine efforts with you.