April 2016 President
& Trustee's Messages
Many years ago, in Kolkata, India, I had the
chance to meet Mother Teresa. She was an incredible woman with an
incredible force of personality. When she walked down the street,
the crowd parted in front of her like the Red Sea. Yet when you
talked to her, if you mentioned the tremendous things she had done,
she almost did not engage in this topic at all. By many reports,
if you asked her what her greatest achievement was, she would answer,
"I am an expert in cleaning toilets."
The answer was both humorous and absolutely serious. Her business
was caring for o
thers. Toilets had to be cleaned, so she cleaned
them. There was no question of a job being beneath her. Helping
people who needed help was her work, and there was nothing higher,
nothing in the world more important than that.
So one day, when an elegantly dressed man came to Kolkata looking
for Mother Teresa, the nuns who answered the door informed him that
she was at the back of the house, cleaning the toilets. They pointed
the way, and indeed he found Mother Teresa scrubbing the toilets.
She said hello, assumed he was there to volunteer, and began explaining
to him how to hold the toilet brush correctly and how not to waste
water. Then she put the brush in his hand and left him standing
there, in his expensive suit, alone in the lavatory.
Later, the man came out, found Mother Teresa again, and said, "I
have finished; may I speak with you now?" "Yes, certainly,"
she said. He took an envelope out of his pocket and said, "Mother
Teresa, I am the director of the airline, and here are your tickets.
I just wanted to bring them to you personally."
That airline director told that story again and again for the rest
of his life. He said those 20 minutes spent cleaning toilets had
filled him with the greatest joy he had ever known – because
by putting his hands to Mother Teresa's work, he became part of
that work. For those 20 minutes, he cared for the sick just as she
did: with his own hands, his own sweat.
That is exactly the opportunity that Rotary gives us. We might not
do what Mother Teresa did – give up our lives, our homes,
our families. But for 20 minutes, 20 hours, 20 days of the year,
we can be like her. We can do the work that others will not with
our hands, and our hearts, and our sweat, and our devotion –
knowing that what we do is the most important work in the world.
KR, R.I. President 2015 - 16
April 2016 Trustee
The numbers are impressive: Rotary comprises
more than 35,000 clubs with 1.2 million members in 200 countries
and geographic regions. It's big enough to be a major partner in
the eradication of polio, the largest health initiative ever undertaken!
Despite its size and reach, Rotary is accessible to members through
their individual clubs, which provide outstanding opportunities
for friendship, fellowship, and networking at the local level. As
a result, most Rotarians think of their involvement as primarily
local, with ideas for service projects limited to their communities.
They should recognize that, with the assistance of The Rotary Foundation,
the sky is the limit!
Every great idea in Rotary has started in the mind of an individual.
Even the success of End Polio Now can be traced to a few notable
Rotarians around the world: Clem Renouf of Australia, for example,
proposed a large corporate project to increase Rotary's visibility,
while U.S. Rotarian John Sever identified polio as a worthwhile
target. Each had an idea that was accepted and supported by other
Rotarians, and polio will soon be eliminated from the world as a
When Rotarians begin to think of service projects beyond the size
and scope of their clubs, they have access to district and global
grants from The Rotary Foundation. They also have access to a team
of Rotary volunteers at the district level, starting with their
district governors and district Rotary Foundation chairs, to help
them along the way. They also have the support of regional leaders,
including the regional Rotary Foundation coordinators, and the entire
Rotary staff in Evanston, Ill., and in the international offices.
Who knows where the next great ideas for Rotary will come from?
Since Rotary is a grassroots organization, they are likely to come
from individual Rotarians. It behooves all of us to encourage good
ideas within the six areas of focus and direct local Rotarians with
good ideas to The Rotary Foundation's resources. After all, it is
the mission of the Foundation "to enable Rotarians" to
do good in the world!
Ray Klinginsmith, Trustee Chair 2015 - 16
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