R. I. President & Trustee's Theme & Message

Sept. 2016 President John's Message
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RI President's Message - September 2016

Dear Fellow Rotarians,

In the summer of 1917, only a few months after the United States entered the first world war, Rotary held its eighth annual convention in Atlanta. Although many Rotarians at the time thought the convention should be canceled, the Board of Directors ultimately agreed with Paul Harris that it should continue as planned.

In the midst of such uncertainty and fear, Harris penned, as part of his convention greeting, some of the most-quoted words in Rotary:
Individual effort when well directed can accomplish much, but the greatest good must necessarily come from the combined efforts of many men. Individual effort may be turned to individual needs but combined effort should be dedicated to the service of mankind. The power of combined effort knows no limitation.

Fittingly, it was at this convention that then-President Arch C. Klumph proposed a Rotary endowment fund “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” The power of combined effort was joined by a new power: that of combined resources. It was a combination that has proved unstoppable and has been behind so much of Rotary’s work for the last 100 years. Today, it is difficult to imagine Rotary without its Foundation. It was the Foundation that turned Rotary from an organization of local clubs into an international force for good with the power to change the world.


In this Rotary year, we are marking the centennial of our Rotary Foundation in the city where it all began: Atlanta. Our 108th Rotary International Convention promises to be one of the most exciting yet, with inspiring speakers, great entertainment, and a wide array of breakout sessions to help you move your Rotary service forward. And of course, we’ll be celebrating the Foundation’s centennial in style.


Whether you’re a regular convention goer, haven’t been to one in a few years, or haven’t yet attended your first, the 2017 convention will be the one you won’t want to miss. Atlanta is a great destination in its own right, with great food, friendly people, and many local attractions to enjoy. But the real reason to come to the convention is always the convention itself, and the people, ideas, inspiration, and friendship you’ll find there. To learn more, and save money on registration, visit www.riconvention.org. See you in Atlanta!

John F Germ
RI President 2016 - 17

John F Germ, President, Rotary International

.John F. Germ, President, Rotary International 2016-17

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Sept. 2016 Trustee Chair's Message

Kalyan Banerjee

Trustee Chair 2016-17

Sept. 2016

A few months ago, I read a story in this magazine about a man named Carl Sanders, a member of the Rotary Club of Kenosha, Wis. Sanders had developed a successful painting business despite the fact that he could not read – a shameful secret that he struggled to keep to himself.

This story surprised me a little. I tend to think of illiteracy as a problem that mainly afflicts people in poor countries, not U.S. Rotarians. But Sanders’ situation is not so uncommon. Even in a wealthy country like the United States, millions of people lack basic reading skills.

Sanders’ story had a happy ending. He shared his secret with a fellow Rotarian, who steered him to a local literacy program and encouraged him as he tackled his reading lessons.

Our Rotary Foundation wants to create more such happy endings, and there is no shortage of people who need them. Today, more than 750 million adults are functionally illiterate globally.

In 2015-16, our Foundation awarded 146 global grants totaling $8.3 million to support basic education and literacy projects worldwide. These projects vary considerably – from providing computers and school supplies in Ghana to sponsoring an after-school homework program in the U.S. to developing a literacy and mentoring program for Roma girls in Bosnia, a project that addresses the gender imbalance that exists in many parts of the world.

In my country, Rotary has been on a literacy mission for the past few years. India has a population of 1.2 billion and is about 75 percent literate. Illiteracy occurs mainly in rural India, where most people live.

So Rotary in India joined hands with the government to eliminate illiteracy, especially among women, because literate women raise literate families, ensuring a better future for all. Indeed, the numbers are staggering, and when it is done, the impact could be incredible.

As we observe Basic Education and Literacy Month in September, let’s think about the millions of people whose chances for success remain blocked by illiteracy. Our Foundation is helping many of them, but with Rotarian support and involvement, we can do so much more.

Kalyan Banerjee
Trustee Chair 2016 - 17


- Kalyan Banerjee, Trustee Chair 2016 - 17

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