Sydney, Australia – International Convention

The Rotary International Convention in Sydney, Australia was certainly a week of “verbs”. I laughed, cried, spoke up, pushed my limits, challenged and was challenged, saw old friends and met new ones. I was proud and humbled. My eyes were opened as well as my heart. Most importantly, I developed and celebrated. To those who shared these actions and emotions with me, thank you. I was able to exchange ideas with leaders from around the world at Rotary’s largest event, the RI convention, held from June 1 to June 4, 2014. Attending the RI convention made me even prouder to be a Rotarian. It was an incredible experience!

As Rotary members from around the world filed into Allphones Arena for the opening ceremony of the 2014 International Convention in Sydney, they were greeted by news that the Australian government will commit $100 million over five years to help eradicate polio. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New South Wales Premier Mike Baird were on hand to address the convention and assure Rotary members of Australia’s commitment to their cause. Abbott has been at the center of attacks in recent days for his proposed federal budget, but he walked out to a standing ovation.

One of the highlights of the convention for me was the President Elect’s Luncheon. I was at the table with the Rotary Director from Germany and his wife. It was such a pleasure to have the chance to interact with Rotarians from across the world. The opening and closing sessions were motivational and entertaining. I especially enjoyed the Parade of Flags. Spending time in the International House of Friendship was inspirational to see all the different ways that Rotary contributes to the betterment of mankind. 2014 Rotary Convention ends with the passing of the torch.

RI President Ron Burton put the final touches on the 2014 Rotary Convention in Sydney by reminding a packed Allphones Arena why they joined Rotary.

“Being a Rotarian isn’t about our own achievements, it isn’t about our own careers, it really isn’t about us at all. It’s about the people we help,” said Burton. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters in Rotary is how much better the world becomes because Rotary is in it.”

The four-day event, which drew to a close on 4 June, attracted more than 18,000 attendees from 153 countries. Burton encouraged convention goers to return to their clubs ready to do more to improve the lives of others.

“Together, we can dream big and we can achieve. We can change whole communities for the better, not for a day but for a lifetime,” he said.

Rotary changes lives by improving literacy, making water cleaner, bringing better health care to mothers and children, and eradicating polio worldwide, Burton said. But he warned that complacency could set Rotary back.

“That’s why it isn’t enough for any of us to just go through the motions, to show up at our clubs, to do just the minimum needed and no more,” he added. “And it’s why each of us has to remember, every hour of every day, what a responsibility we have.”
Huang sets goal of increasing membership

Members of Burton’s Rotary Club of Norman, Oklahoma, United States, and RI President-elect Gary C.K. Huang’s club of Taipei, Taiwan, took the stage to exchange club banners, a tradition that unofficially marks a changing of the guard.

Huang will become Rotary International president on 1 July. During his term in office, he has set a goal of growing Rotary’s membership to 1.3 million. Huang told the audience that increasing and sustaining membership will help Rotary achieve its goals. He shared a story about a small Taiwanese club that had only six members. But after asking their wives to join, the club grew to 29 members in three years because the spouses asked their friends to become members as well.

“I want to remind everyone that sometimes getting a new member is as easy as asking,” said Huang, whose wife, Corinna, became a member in July. “It made perfect sense. She was a great match for Rotary. Corinna enjoyed it so much that our three children joined Rotary as well. They have been around Rotary their whole lives. They did not need to be convinced. It was a natural step for them,” said Huang.

Huang, whose presidential theme for 2014-15 is Light Up Rotary, also encouraged members to conduct Rotary Days throughout the year to help the community become more familiar with Rotary’s work.

“It can be a day to educate your community about polio, it can be a service project, or a celebration. Just make sure to invite the public, your families, and friends,” he said. “Show your community what you do, both locally and internationally. Make sure your community knows that Rotary is there, that Rotary is active, Rotary is fun, and it is doing good work.”

Huang gave attendees three words to guide them this year: hand, head, and heart. “Use your hand to help, use your head to make sure you are helping in the right place, and use your heart to make it sincere. Without your heart, nothing else matters.”

Below is a history lesson of two very important Rotary traditions the emblem and the Four Way Test.

Rotary’s early emblem was a simple wagon wheel (in motion with dust). It was designed in 1905 by Montague M. Bear, a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago who was an engraver. He designed the emblem to represent both civilization and movement. Most of the early Rotary clubs adopted the wheel in one form or another.

In 1922, the organization decided to create and preserve an emblem for the exclusive use of all Rotarian’s and the following year, the present emblem, a gearwheel with 24 cogs and six spokes was adopted. A key-way was added to signify the usefulness of the gearwheel.

An official description of the emblem was adopted at the 1929 International Convention. Royal blue and gold were chosen as the official Rotary colors and the flag of Rotary was designated as a white field with the emblem emblazoned in its center. The emblem, worn as a lapel pin, now identifies Rotarian’s around the world.

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarian’s were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created on 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served at RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.

This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealer and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to the simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:

Of the things we think, say or do:

Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Rotary Year 2014-2015 begins July 1

Rotary is a worldwide organization whose members are professional or business people (men and women) who have a commitment to serve their own community and the broader international community. Rotary Clubs enjoy friendship and fellowship while working together for common goals. The Rotary Club of Palm Springs is committed to the application and development of the principles of Rotary fellowship and goodwill and to the ongoing support of the Palm Springs community. It is important for leadership and the Board of Directors to lead by example and that we ALL buy in to the ongoing principals of Rotary. Rotarians must support in addition to the local Club, the District and Rotary International by not only contributing but with our attendance at events at the District and club level.

In March I had the chance to attend the President’s Elect Training Session at Mid-South in Nashville. It was informative and motivational. There were great ideas, hospitality and sharing between the Presidents Elect in attendance. Following “PETS’ a survey of the members of the local club was completed to gain insights. And on May 20 a planning session with the club Board for the new Rotary year will be held. It is exciting to be planning for the new Rotary year. And it is exciting to be the incoming President of the club. The theme for the new year is “Light Up Rotary” and our club is in the process of developing how we will be able to implement this theme in our community.

The Rotary Club of Palm Springs was founded in 1941. Members of the club have donated in excess of $1 million to over 50 local charities and sponsored scholarships for students via the club’s local Foundation. Additionally, the club has raised more than $55,000 specifically to assist Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate Polio worldwide.

Members of the Rotary Club of Palm Springs are leaders in the community and their chosen professions such as education, publishing, tourism, hospitality, medicine, real estate, and business.

Ethics and the Four Way Test

At the March 10, 2014 Interact Meeting at the local high school I was the speaker for the meeting. It was a great chance to interact with the students and talk about a very important topic — ethics. During the remarks I had a discussion with the students on each part of the Four Way Test.

Below is a summary of my presentation.

Everyone needs a Code of Ethics that they can live with each day.

Since it was developed in 1932 by Herbert J. Taylor, who later became RI president, it has never ceased to be relevant. It consists of four brief questions that are not based on culture or religion. Instead, they are a simple checklist for ethical behavior. They transcend generations and national borders.

The Four Way Test of Rotary has endured so long because it teaches of the value of ethical actions within ourselves. The Four Way Test … which guide Rotarians in the things that we think, say, or do.

1. IS IT THE TRUTH? – . TRUTH is objective and sometimes bitter to confront. Nonetheless it is an inescapable TRUTH – that in the end we will all have to face the truth.

2. IS IT FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED? – A close ally to truth is fairness. The TRUTH is only a worthwhile objective if we use it fairly. Fairness itself can be a controversial and contested concept. But in simple parlance, it means treating everyone with equal concern and respect. Respect for one another is a key ingredient of the 4 Way Test.

3. WILL IT BUILD GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIPS – this is the key to the Rotary way. It is our friendship that binds us in a common bond of service to humanity. That bond must be preserved at all times. Sometimes even at the expense of TRUTH. The TRUTH is the tool by which we are supposed to build goodwill and better friendships – not destroy it.

4. WILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED? This requires us to consider the value of truth within the context in which it is applied. We need to ask whether the context requires us to subjugate the truth to some other value like – kindness or compassion? There are situations where the truth is compromised or hidden in order to pursue a greater benefit. To blindly pursue TRUTH at any cost is not always the Rotary way. To do a greater good – compromise may be required.

Wisdom teaches us to value friendship and cherish it as does our 4 Way Test.

–Thomas Smith

Incredible India! Rotary Vocational Training Team Experince

VANAKKAM! In India, it is common to see the greeting (“Namaste”) where the two hands (palms) are pressed together and held near the heart with the head gently bowed as one says, “Namaste” or the Tamil “Vanakkam”.

I recently returned from a trip to southern India. Rotary District 2980 is geographically positioned in the State Tamil Nadu. Helping India achieve its national priority of becoming 100% literate by 2018 is a goal that Rotary District 5330 (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in California), and in particular the vocational training team that traveled to India, are helping to implement. The aim of this project is to establish a sustaining humanitarian capability for a future vocational training center for unskilled and unemployed of the rural based community.

This experience was: (1) a vocational exchange opportunity for professionals to travel to India to exchange information and business practices with similar professionals there; (2) to undertake a program designed to develop the team members’ professional and leadership skills and to build the capacity of the team members to address the needs of their communities in an increasingly global economy; and (3) for the experience to have a sustainable and measurable impact on the communities involved.

The trip included: (1) vocational visits to businesses and sites involved in the educational and literacy focus area of the exchange; (2) presentations to Rotary clubs in India; (3) formal university lectures and social events; (4) several hours per day of cultural and site visits and tours; and (5) a few hours of free time with hosting families.

” I feel very proud and fortunate to have been chosen as a member of the Rotary Club of Palm Springs, California, to represent district 5330 to India for a Vocational Training Team project for education and literacy. It was a 22 day trip of high intensity, great pleasure and happiness. We visited Rotary projects, temples, schools and universities. We stayed both in small guest houses and Rotarian’s homes. I gave five speeches on leadership at Indian universities and to a Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA). India is an incredible country of great passion, many contrasts and customs, and hospitable people. I experienced India’s culture and institutions, observed how their vocations are practiced, developed personal and professional relationships, and exchanged ideas. This experience allowed consideration of each others’ problems, aspirations, and community concerns. I have much gratitude to Rotary District 5330 and India Rotary District 2980 for allowing me to be part of this VTT experience. Thanks or Nanri as is said in Tamil!” — Thomas Smith

During this trip to India, I gained additional perspectives on what all Rotary club members have in common: (1) we take action; (2) as community volunteers, we reach out to neighbors in need; (3) we build, support, and organize; (4) we save lives; (5) we work locally and globally; and (6) we support Rotary’s efforts to help people in need worldwide.

Here are some of my reflections from the experience in India:

People Everywhere!
Horns Blowing!
Permanent Rushhour!

India Trip Jan. 28, 2014 through Feb. 18th, 2014 (22 days)

January 28th, departed LAX at 4:00 pm to Dubai. 16 hours. 2 hour layover, 3 hr. flight to Bangaluru (Bangalore)

Thursday, Arrived January 30 at 3:00 am, picked up by Sridhar and Sudharasan, and Babu, our driver for 3 weeks. We drove to Hosour and got dropped at the Hotel Sarovar Portico, slept for about 2 hours. We visited the Titan Watch Factory had a lunch and then went to a school run by the nuns of St. Joseph. We saw a Rotary project there; 50 computers were donated. We returned to the hotel and got ready for an evening meeting, dinner and fellowship. Many of the Rotarians had their wives there; and eight clubs were present. We exchanged flags and it was bedtime around 11:00.

Friday, rise and shine 5:45, went to the outdoor market very early with Sudharasan. Sights and smells were incredible, coconut juice wake-up drink. We ate some food and got packed up and into the van for a drive to Jayam College. We stopped at the Granite Rotary for a short meeting, exchanged flags, ate lunch and proceeded to the Hogenakkal Falls; it was beautiful and a lot of fun. We floated around on the river in round boats. We proceeded on to the college. There was a videographer filming, students clapping and bands playing. What a welcome! I gave a speech on leadership. Many students asked for autographs and it was really a moving experience. Spent one night at the college hosted by the Jayam College Chairman. They don’t use sheets on the beds, just a bedspread and pillows with decorative covers.

Saturday, Feb. 1. We got up and left the college and drove to Dharmapuri to the Deaf and Mute school. The children did a cultural program for us that was amazing. The music was loud, the children were silent. They danced, did a fashion show, and some very funny skits. What a wonderful job Rotary does supporting this school. We also went by another place where the Rotary was sponsoring vision testing. After lunch it on to Salem; we went to a wedding reception of one of the Rotarians. There were over 1,000 people at the reception.

Sunday, Feb 2. I went to a Hindu temple with my host who President Elect of his Club in Salem, back to their home for breakfast and I packed up. We went to the “Farm” of Hitesh for lunch and a RYLA group joined us and I gave a speech to the RYLA group of Teamwork. Around 4:00 we got back into the van and drove up a hairpin turn roadway that went to Yercaud.

Monday, Feb. 3. We spent 2 nights in Rtn. Ajith’s lodge. Rtn. Joy was our guide in Yercaud. We went to breakfast at Ajith’s. He also owns the small school and the Rotary hall. He is a very good cook. First we went to the facility run by Sister Louis. She is an Irish nun who came to India when she was 19 and has been there for 63 years. She ministers to the aged and is very dear. We had the great pleasure of touring a wonderful school that the teacher taught through art, music and dance. We spent the day visiting areas around Yercaud. We went to one very wonderful school and taught the children the Teapot song. They didn’t get it. We had a luncheon at a resort hotel and then drove over to the coffee plantation of Rajes. We were all very impressed by the operation and the workers were weighing the coffee while we were there. We also went to “Heaven’s Ledge”, it is a magnificent granite extrusion with a view that, on a clear evening, would equal any of the world’s great vistas. We made it back in time for another Rotary meeting.

Tuesday, Feb. 4. We left Yercaud and started to Chidambaram. (Rtn. Ramki) We visited the TSM College of Technology and I gave another speech on Leadership. The students were very interested and asked many questions. (Kallakurichi) Almost all students in Indian colleges are studying either engineering, technology or medicine. Their parents are very goal oriented as are the students. We left there and went to a Rice Mill and then moved quickly down the road to Chidambaram. We stopped on the way at the DG’s home for high tea, (Vridhachalam) back in the van, now rushing down the roads. We got to Chidambaram at about 8:30 for another Rotary meeting. We did our group presentation, ate some food and went to our assigned rooms. All night the horns honked.

Wed. Feb. 5. We stayed in Chidambaram. We went to the famous temple called Pichavaram. It is many acres in size with four large temples at each of the cardinal directions. Our Rotarian friends were Rtns. Ramki, Mahaboob Hussain, and Dr. Siva. We went to an agricultural college, had lunch and drove down to the famous Mangrove Forest on the coastal delta. It was 1,000s of acres of natural occurring mangrove that are only native in two areas of Asia. We had a wonderful boat ride. We got back to our rooms and had a late dinner on the deck of the hotel. There were many fireworks going off because there are only certain times when it is an auspicious time to get married. There was a very loud parade, at least individual sets of fireworks and it was certainly a colorful evening.

Thurs. Feb. 6. Packed up the van. We had breakfast at Dr. Siva’s home across from the lodge. We got back in the van and started heading up to Pondicherry. “Pondi” is the French colony that is unique to the Indian nation. Many citizens are still very connected to France and French is spoken. Rtns. Manickam (“Moneycome”) and Neil Foster, my host and friend took me around in the afternoon. We shopped, visited the Ghandi statue, went out on a fishing boat in the Bay of Bengal, went to a forest, and visited friends. GREAT DAY!!! I rode motorcycles all day long! We ate dinner at a nice restaurant. We stayed for two nights with our wonderful hosts. Neil was such a terrific friend.

Friday, Feb. 7. We went to another temple festival at Auraville. It was really packed with people. We went up to the Mahabalipuram stone sculptures which are more granite extrusions (they’re all over India which was so geologically active because of the plate tectonics) These ancient sculptures were conceptualized by their proportions and what shape could be imagined. Before returning to Pondi we went to a sea shell museum.

Sat., Sun. Feb. 8 & 9. It’s time to pack up again. We drove to Nagapattinam and Velankanni. We visited an orphanage full of children and elders whose parents and children were victims of the tsunami in 2003. Rotarians helped to build, furnish and support the structure. We also had the great pleasure of visiting another college where RYLA was happening. We spoke with the young people who were so enthusiastic. They asked many questions and manyrushed to shake our hands. We visited a Basilica and walked on the beach. We attended a Rotary Family meeting, exchanged flags and enjoyed the entertainment of the children dancing. We stayed at hosts homes. We visited the ancient temple at Tirivarur and drove over to Kumbakonam. We enjoyed tea at the home of AG Ravichandran and his family entertained us. He was a wonderful host.

Sun. Feb. 9. Kumbakonam. We got our luggage into Dharmachandri’s lodge for one night. For the second night we stayed in the lodge of Baalaaji. Rtn. Amir Jan was our main host. We visited Amir Jan’s school. We had a Rotary meeting with 18 clubs present. We met Rtn. Vasikaran and his wife Dr. Chitra. We visited the Dharasuram Temple and the Sri Vidhyashram School. Rotarian Lakshmikanthan was very knowledgeable about the temple.

Mon. Feb. 10. We went to our second Rotary wedding and saw both the reception and the wedding the next day. We toured a very nice school that had many Rotary sponsored improvements; solar panels, computers, clean water, etc. We were able to relax just a bit on this evening. Meeting organized by Rotary Club of Kumbakonam and dinner hosted by all clubs of Zones 16 and 17.

Tues. Feb. 11. We spent the night in Korangadudurai at an Ashram guest house and attended the rededication of the temple. Visit to the Abidean Matriculation School, Papanasam, that has Matching Grant Projects.

Wed. Feb. 12. After breakfast we started driving to Thanjavur (Tanjore) We had lunch at a wonderful English Colonial style hotel with a view of the River. Tanjore means the place with five rivers. It is also the music center of Tamil Nadu. We visited a music college and heard many traditional instruments. Our host Rotarian was Dr. Gunasekaran and our Rotarians were Manimaran, Sengu, Venkat and Anbu. We attended a meeting by the Rotary Club of Taanjavur Midtown.

Thurs. Feb. 13. We visited the Majaraja’s Palace, art gallery and Saraswathy Mahal Library. In the afternoon we went to the Thanjavur Big Temple that has a 90 foot tall pyramid. I did another lecture on leadership at the Gnanam School of Business. WOW was it an impressive school and campus. We decided to take a detour to a Basilica that turned out to be quite the ride along the rural, small, crowded backroads. Babu, our driver, was masterful at getting us across a bridge that was narrow and had trucks and buses ‘logjammed’ on it. There were at least fifty different Indian men trying to direct traffic. We got back to Tanjore and had dinner at the Hotel Lakshmi with Rtn. Manimaran and Rtn. Babu.

Fri., Feb. 14. We visited the Yagappa School, met with students and listened to the Shenoy Music Concert hosted by South Zone Cultual Academy. We discussed the Indian School Education System with Rtn. Edward who is the Correspondent for Yagappa School. We went to an orphanage for lunch served by the nuns of St. Joseph. Later we visited a school for mentally challenged children which is sponsored by the Rotary of Thanjavur Palace City. Later we went to the opening of the book fair fundraiser and the a meeting of the Delta Club. We had dinner at 9:30 and back to our host’s homes.

Sat. Feb. 15. After a light breakfast we were back in the van for a 2 1/2 hour drive over to Salem. We stopped in Namakkam for coffee and a rest break and then went to the Sona College for a fun teenage cultural program and then I had a speech on leadership at the college. We had a very good open discussion with the students and faculty. The interaction was very good for all. We then went to our hosts homes and then a meeting of the Cosmos and Salem Castle clubs.

Sun. Feb. 16. We met at the Rotary Hall in Salem and J.P. and Samraj took us down to Namakkal for the day. We visited a Veterinary College and saw many chickens, cows, goats, bunnies, pigs, etc. They are trying to help India with sustainable food products. In the afternoon we visited the Sports Festival at the Kongunadu College of Engineering and Technology. We were led into every sporting event and honored. We were honored as chief guests and given plaques and framed photos. On the way back to Salem we went to another wedding reception, ate some food at the hotel and drove back to Salem.

Mon., Feb. 17. We packed up to leave India. We met at the Salem Rotary Hall and got loaded into the van Rtns. J.P. and Samraj were there to send us off, along with Hitesh and Suresh. The people whose company you have enjoyed for many days are saying good-bye, but in Tamil they don’t say good bye, only Parkalam, see you later. We drove to Hosour and were met again by Rtn. Sridhar. We had rooms so we could get a bit of rest and get our bags repacked for the trip home. In the evening the Rotarians of Hosour joined together for a Farewell Dinner. They got us a cake and we all spoke. We drove to Bangalore Airport where they dropped us off for our 4 a.m. flight on Emeriates Air for our flight to Dubai and then onto Los Angeles.

We gained the day back that we have lost on the way to India. It was a 48 hour long day and I was ready to get home. I will always appreciate the gift that this trip to India has been for me.


Rotary and the Holiday Season




At this special time of year, I wanted to offer the following 

Dear Almighy,

We are thankful for the opportunity of meeting together as 
 Rotarians: to enjoy our fellowship and reaffirm our commitment
 to honesty and high ethics in all we do.

We are thankful for the privilege of being Rotarians to exemplify
 Rotary ideal: to provide service to others, promote integrity,
 and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace.

We ask for Your continued blessings for us to make
 even greater contributions in serving our community, and
 be more prepared to implement Rotary's strategic priorities and 
 goals for the years to come.

Thank You.


Being An Active Rotarian

The Four-Way Test Of The Things We Think, Say or Do

The 2014-2015 Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Palm Springs will be meeting for the first time following the ‘Holiday Lunch’ next week. One of the tasks for this meeting will be to elect the President Nominee for 2015-2016. On July 1 the new Rotary year will begin. In order to ensure that the our Club has an effective year for 2014-2015,  I sent a message to all Club members asking them ‘Are You Interersted?’

We are very fortunate in the Rotary Club of Palm Springs because we have some very active Rotarians that set an outstanding example for our Club’s membership.

Are you interested in becoming more active in your Rotary Club?

An active Rotarian is someone who cares about their community. Being an active Rotarian involves supporting your local community (or beyond). This can be done in a number of ways.

Being an active Rotarian is what you make of it! All you need is a desire to see your community change or improve and lots of enthusiasm.

I asked a number of people what they thought an active Rotarian was … here are some of the answers they gave:

‘Someone who gets involved’

‘Someone who gives back to their community’

‘An active Rotarian cares for others in their community, shows they can be involved and committed’

‘Active Rotarians are people who believe we all count, and individually and together, we can make a difference’

‘One who cares about their community and doesn’t just sit and wait – they do things’

Education and Literacy Team to India

“Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Back on October 11, 2013 , I was reading a message about a Rotary Vocational Training Team that was being planned to southern India.  It said:

Are you interested in an extraordinary 3-4 week Rotary Humanitarian service experience funded by your Rotary Foundation to Southern India Jan 20-Feb 14. 2014?  If so, this announcement is for you.  We are looking for 5 candidates (Rotarians and/or non-Rotarians) for a Vocational Training Team (VTT) exchange to Southern India’s District 2980.  The primary Rotary Area of focus of this exchange will be India’s number one priority – Basic Education and Literacy.   This VTT will establish a Vocational Training Center in India that will be supported by 5 Rotary Clubs.  We are looking for a variety of professionals who focus on PreSchool, High School and University education.  It is not necessary to speak their language, they will have interpreters as necessary and we will train you on their customs so that you will you be good ambassadors of Rotary.  

It continued to say in the message:

Service to Humanity is what we do in Rotary.  By participating in this service you are contributing to this year’s theme of “Engage Rotary, Change Lives” and you may be surprised that the life you change can be your own.

I thought about this for several days and decided to apply to be a member of the Team.

On November 16, 2013, I started my day reading my email.  This was after the interviews had been held and I had really given this experience serious thought.   I received the following message:

Congratulations on your selection to our 2013-2014 Vocational Training Team to India.

We will be providing vocational training to schools, colleges and the Vocational Training Centers managed by five Rotary Clubs in India.  I have been reading about southern India, reading more about Rotary Vocational Training Teams, and being excited about this experience since I was notified of my selection.    I am honored to be part of team that allow me to experience first hand Rotary at work  … on an Education and Literacy Vocational Training Team to INDIA.

Congressman Ruiz at Rotary Club

The speaker for the Rotary Club of Palm Springs on November 6, 2013 was Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D.  He was a great speaker.  After his remarks he was presented a ‘Paul Harris Fellow’ to exemplify how much we appreciate and recognize Dr. Ruiz‘ contributions to humanity.

He expressed appreciation to Rotary and our Club in particular, for its remarkable record of community service, saying he was privileged to be with us, and emphasizing that we are “all in this together” to help our citizens.

Doctor Ruiz, was a practicing emergency room physician before being elected to Congress last November.  He emphasized his focus on–and the importance of–providing constituent services.  He said that he and his staff have opened 669 cases, and so far 504 have been resolved.  These cases have primarily involved such matters as jobs, VA surgeries, veterans benefit backlogs, immigration, IRS conflicts.  But the majority have centered on military veterans’ issues.  He serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and also the Committee on Natural Resources.  Congressman Ruiz discussed the launch of his “Veterans Initiatives.”  He sees his role is to serve people and solve problems, not only through legislation.  Among his priorities  is to launch a “Veterans’ University,” which will soon help in assisting veterans and providing them with access to more jobs and services.

He commented on the extreme Congressional “gridlock” in Washington, adding that he has been successful in working “across the aisle” in a bipartisan way to help veterans and their problems.

Dr. Ruiz discussed our mutual social responsibilities, and emphasized how important it is to “forget politics and partisanship” to accomplish these goals.

The day’s event was especially meaningful since I had spent months trying to get Congressman Ruiz confirmed as a speaker.  After meeting with him and his staff at a reception a few months ago, I was able to get a date where he would be the speaker.  He is a good example of Service above Self  with his work in Haiti, his work as an ER Doctor, and his support for so many difference causes in the Coachella Valley.  It was indeed an honor for him to be the speaker today.

Seeing all the smiles and watching all the folks that attended the meeting today was confirmation that the hours spent in scheduling this very busy Congressman was worthwhile.  The meeting was a HIT!!!!

Another highlight of the day was being presented the ‘Benefactor’ Certificate and “wings”.   The presentation was meaningful and will always be a memory that I cherish.    I was asked to “Wear them proudly!    They are a sign of commitment to The Rotary Foundation and willingness to step up through Rotary to perform miracles!”

Rotary and Interact

I was asked to speak to the Interact Club at the high school about :   “What Is Rotary and Interact?”   It is always enjoyable to share with others especially about Rotary.

November 4, 2013  INTERACT   Palm Springs High School

Mission – The mission of Rotary International, a worldwide association of Rotary clubs, is to provide service to others, to promote high ethical standards, and to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs doing good all over the world.  Rotary is in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.   Rotary’s work impacts lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. 

The Rotary Club of Palm Springs was chartered in 1941.  Projects include book giveaways to elementary students, Angel View Prom, senior citizen projects such as Change the Batteries.   Scholarships are provided annually to students, and financial support is provided to senior center, community arts organizations, and internationally for water and buses.

Interact: a service organization organized and sponsored by Rotary clubs for young adults aged up to age 18. There are more than 12,300 Interact clubs in 133 countries.

Interact is a club for youth up to 18 who want to connect with others in their community or school. Interact club members have fun while carrying out service projects and learning about the world. Interact clubs organize at least two service projects a year: one that benefits their community and one that encourages international understanding. While Interact clubs receive guidance from individual Rotary clubs, they govern and support themselves.

Rotarians contribute their time, energy and passion to sustainable, long-term projects in local communities across the globe. Projects focus on important issues like peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy and economic and community development.

Every Rotarian joins Rotary for his or her own reasons. Often, the reason someone decides to join isn’t the same as the reason that person ultimately decides to stay.

Rotary Committees

Doing the work of Rotary begins in Committees

Furthering the work of Rotary in our community, our region or internationally happens in our committees. There is  an enormous opportunity as a volunteer in Rotary Club of Palm Springs to become involved and active. It’s personally rewarding and great fun!  I have found being the Program Chair this year and the Fundraising Chair last year to be very rewarding.

We have many levels of time commitments as well as different kinds of service to the club and community.   Committee work is where you really get to know fellow Rotarians and share the fellowship that ties us all together.

Being part of a committee is the best way to get to know members, enjoy personal rewards and contribute to the success of Rotary.