R. I. President & TRF Chair's Messages + R. I. Changes

Rotary International President Ron Burton's December 2013 Message

Dear fellow Rotarians,

RI President's message - December 2013

One winter day, Rotary founder Paul Harris took a walk down a well-kept street just outside Chicago. Watching children sledding down a hillside, he recalled his own boyhood in New England. At that moment, he decided that if he ever were to own a home, it would be on top of that hill on Longwood Drive. In 1912, Harris and his wife, Jean, made that dream a reality. They named their new home Comely Bank, after the street where Jean grew up in Scotland.

Over the years, the Harrises hosted Rotary meetings and entertained visiting dignitaries, surrounded by objects they had collected on their travels throughout the world. The trees they planted in their friendship garden still grace the yard. In 1947, Harris died there; Jean sold the home not long afterward and returned to Scotland.
The property changed hands twice more before the Paul and Jean Harris Home Foundation purchased it in 2005. Through the efforts of that group, and with the help of the Rotary clubs of Chicago and Naperville, the Harris home has been saved from demolition. Now, it is up to us to protect the home for posterity, as a place for Rotarians to gather in the spirit of friendship and service.

The RI Board has agreed to loan $500,000 to the Paul and Jean Harris Home Foundation to assist with the restoration of this irreplaceable piece of Rotary history. A goal of $5 million has been set for the project, to complete the necessary renovations and to provide an endowment fund to allow the property to operate as a museum and historic site.

I am committed to the restoration of the Paul and Jean Harris Home and hope you agree that this project is worthy of your support. My wife, Jetta, and I have made a contribution to our Rotary Foundation to establish a donor advised fund to accept contributions from anyone who shares our love of Rotary history, and our desire to preserve Rotary's past.

If you would like to join us, please go to www.rotary.org/daf and click on "How to Contribute." Include the account name, "Paul Harris Home Preservation," and number, 474. A gift of any size is welcome, and naming opportunities are available in the home and garden for those who are considering a larger gift. We are excited to have the opportunity to celebrate the spirit of Paul Harris in this special way. Together, we can save his home for generations of Rotarians to come.

Ron Burton, President, Rotary International


A year of major accomplishments

Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee (left) and Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair William B. Boyd provided leadership throughout the 2011-12 year.

The 2011-12 Rotary year was a time of striving for change in the context of Rotary continuity. We challenged ourselves to Reach Within to Embrace Humanity — while Doing Good in the World. In this annual report, you will see just a few examples of the ways in which 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide worked to improve the lives of people in need.

Tremendous strides were made toward the eradication of polio. We made history on 13 January, when India marked one full year without a single new case of the disease. Long considered the toughest nut to crack, India has now been removed from the list of polio-endemic countries — leaving just Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Also in January, we were able to announce that Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge had been surpassed, six months ahead of schedule. On 30 June, the Challenge closed, having raised over $228 million for polio eradication, thanks to the generosity of Rotarians and friends of Rotary around the world. We are confident that Rotary will continue to lead the way toward the momentous achievement of global polio eradication.

During 2011-12 we also looked to the future, through our new Future Vision grant model and the RI strategic plan. We expanded Rotary’s reach in new and effective ways by entering into partnerships with Mercy Ships, UNESCO-IHE, ShelterBox, the Global FoodBanking Network, and Youth Service America. And we built on our record of humanitarian service by continuing our strong relationships with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative spearheading partners (the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; USAID; Aga Khan University; Oikocredit; Goodwill Industries International; Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library; the International Reading Association; and the Rotary Peace Centers.

As we move forward into a new Rotary year of building Peace Through Service, we can be proud of all that Rotarians have accomplished — day by day, week by week, throughout the world, together.

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Rotary International Foundation Chair D. K. Lees

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