As rotary 2015-16 draws to a close, we look back on the events that influenced and molded the year. The culminating event was “The Conference of Clubs”, held on May 20 and 21st, a celebration of our accomplishments and achievements over the past 12 months.
Starting off the conference, we had a presentation of awards to clubs and individuals: District achievement awards, Presidential Citations from RI, and Membership awards were given out to several clubs. This session concluded with recognition of several individuals for their dedication and service to Rotary. Appreciation Awards went to Terry Lubsen for his work in Microcredit, Bill Beamish for his service to Youth Exchange, and Peg Glink for her work on this District Conference. “District Service above Self” award went to Don LaBarge, for all his work behind the scenes, making sure everyone always received the equipment and supplies they needed for events, and being the keeper of the “District Locker”. The final award was “Rotarian of the Year” given to John Wintersteen for juggling so many “Rotary hats” and other hats, never complaining, going about the business of getting the job done, whatever it takes. We congratulate all these club and individual award winners!
Next on the program, were presentations from 9 different clubs of projects and programs these clubs had done in their community and around the world—to name a few, water filter project in South America, Special Day for Special Kids, Choices and Cowboy Up programs—making the right choices in school, Microcredit program (short term loans for business owners in Mexico), Food bank and Habitat for Humanity programs across clubs. The last plenary session of the day was the installations of incoming club presidents, district leaders and DGE Tonya Watson. The day ended with a hospitality picnic outside on the veranda, with a rotary band. The evening was pleasant, with a slight breeze.
On Saturday, we had a lineup of the future of Rotary—our youth! The “path to rotary” was demonstrated by interactors, Rotaractors, Youth exchange. A former ambassadorial scholar told her story of how Rotary changed her life, and our emerging leaders, our young professionals, talked about how the seasoned and young Rotarians can come together to make Rotary relevant and vibrant for all ages. Aiyana Havir told her story of “the path to rotary, from RYLA, all the way through to being a youth exchange student and beyond. The rotary world opened her eyes!
(Check out the YouTube Video of the Conference: https://youtu.be/N5N-PGwqh8Q)
Our keynote speaker on Saturday, was Vice President of Rotary International, Greg Podd. He conducted a town hall with the audience, sharing what it is like to be the vice president, and fielding questions from the audience. It was quite interesting and informative. At lunchtime, he shared his thoughts on Rotary, where it is and where it is going. It is up to us to do what is needed to keep Rotary relevant in the world and our communities. His presentation was inspirational, and thought provoking!
The most influential event of the year, was the decision to merge two Arizona districts, ours and 5490. Both districts had struggled with membership and filling leadership positions for some time. This is a voluntary merger and we will be forming a brand new district, 5495, as of July 1, 2017. Nancy Van Pelt, from 5490 will be the first District Governor of this new district, followed by our own Jim Erickson the year after. Arizona rotary can only get stronger and better!
As my term draws to a close, I want to thank the clubs for their dedication and service. You all are what makes Rotary work. It has been an absolute honor to have served as your District Governor this past year. Let us move ahead, and continue to make Rotary great!
Yours in Rotary Service