R. I. President Ravi & Trustee's Messages

 

March 2016 President & Trustee's Messages

Some years ago, I was asked to speak at an Interact club in my home city of Colombo, Sri Lanka. I have always taken my interactions with Rotary youth very seriously, so I prepared my remarks carefully and put the same effort into my presentation that I would for any other event. After the meeting, I stayed to chat with a few of the Interactors, answering their questions and wishing them well.


I came out of the classroom where we had met into the autumn afternoon. The bright sun was shining directly into my eyes, so I found a bit of shade behind a pillar where I could wait for my ride.
As I stood there, hidden from view, I overheard a group of the very Interactors who had just listened to my speech. Naturally I was curious: What would they be saying? What had they taken away from my presentation? I quickly realized that what they had taken away was not at all what I had intended.

They were not talking about what I had said, the stories I had told, or the lessons I had come to their school to impart. To my astonishment, the major topic of conversation was my tie! I listened with amusement as they chattered about my Western clothes, my background, my business; every aspect of my appearance and behavior was dissected and discussed. Just as they began to speculate about what car I drove, my ride arrived and I stepped out into view. They were perhaps a bit embarrassed, but I just smiled, got into the car, and drove off with a wave.

Whatever they learned from me that day, I learned far more. I learned that the lessons we teach with our examples are far more powerful than those we teach with words. I realized that as a Rotary leader, and a prominent person in the community, I had, for better or worse, become a role model for these young people. Their eyes were on me in a way that I had never before appreciated. If they chose to emulate me, they would model themselves on what they saw, not what I told them.

All of us in Rotary are leaders, in one way or another, in our communities. All of us bear the responsibility that comes with that. Our Rotary values, our Rotary ideals, cannot be left within the confines of our Rotary clubs. They must be carried with us every day. Wherever we are, whoever we are with, whether we are involved in Rotary work – we are always representing Rotary. We must conduct ourselves accordingly: in what we think, what we say, what we do, and how we do it. Our communities, and our children, deserve no less.


KR, R.I. President 2015 - 16

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March 2016 Trustee Chair's Message

When Arch Klumph was president of Rotary in 1916-17, he suggested in a speech at the 1917 Atlanta convention that Rotary should start an endowment fund for the purpose of doing good in the world. It was only a brief reference, but the idea caught on with Rotarians. The Rotary Club of Kansas City, Mo., made the first donation of $26.50 to the new fund, which was officially named The Rotary Foundation in 1928.


The Rotary Foundation had some activity in the 1930s and 1940s, but it was the memorial gifts to honor Paul Harris after his death in January 1947 that provided the funds to undertake the first major program. That was the award of 18 international scholarships for successful college graduates to spend a year studying abroad as Rotary Fellows. The fellowship program grew to 125 students a year in 1960-61, when I was a Rotary Fellow in Cape Town, South Africa, and it later became the largest privately funded scholarship program with 1,200 students a year.


Rotarians' constant search for the best possible charitable programs led to the introduction of the Matching Grants and Group Study Exchange programs in 1965-66. From there, the Foundation assumed responsibility for the PolioPlus program in the early 1980s, established the Rotary Peace Centers in 2002, and restructured Rotary's Humanitarian Grants Program as a part of the Future Vision plan in 2013.


What has been the result of these efforts? Rotarians have been justifiably proud and supportive of the Foundation for many years, evidenced by their generous contributions of $123 million to the Annual Fund in 2014-15. In addition, the CNBC television network recently confirmed the success of The Rotary Foundation by naming it one of the "top 10 charities changing the world in 2015." In fact, our Foundation was ranked as the fifth-best charity working to make the world a better place!


What a powerful tribute to Arch Klumph's visionary idea in 1917! We have so much to be proud of in Rotary, including The Rotary Foundation, and so much to celebrate at the Atlanta convention next year. Please plan now to attend the centenary celebration at the convention and show your support for one of the very best charitable foundations in the world!


Ray Klinginsmith, Trustee Chair 2015 - 16

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