New energy with SRC’s, Rotary’s birthdays coming up

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 8.26.38 PMThe 58th birthday of the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club is coming up fast.

Our club was chartered on March 2, 1960, as the East Greenbush Rotary Club. The name was changed in the 1990s to reflect the expansion of its area of membership and service.

On a global basis, Rotary itself will mark its 113th birthday on Friday, February 23. With that in mind, and sensing new energy throughout Rotary, our District 7190 Governor wrote this “Happy Birthday, Rotary!” essay:


There’s that old saying that you’re only as young as you feel. Or maybe that’s what “the old” say. Having just celebrated a personal centennial with my father’s sister, my great Aunt Ellie, and having just enjoyed the centennial of the Rotary Foundation and its incredible new round of pledges in the fight to eradicate polio, it is worth noting Rotary’s upcoming 113th birthday.

Maybe a little creaky? Stiff? How’s your vision? Getting a little hard to remember all the details? Wondering what the future holds? How about stamina? In it for the long haul?

I was at a recent PETS (Presidents-Elect Training Session) training for District 7190, when all the incoming presidents get together to start their training and bond as a team.  Toward the end I looked around the room and realized, quite suddenly actually, that about 70% of the people at the tables were really quite young!

When I had a chance to speak at the end I asked them all to tell me why they thought I was so excited, and asked them to look around the room. It didn’t take but a few seconds till they had the answer — “We’re all young!” And then my friend President-elect Donna (with a silvery head of hair) said: “Or, young thinking, Fred!”

And that’s the key. Young thinking, from younger Rotarians or seasoned Rotarians, is the key to Rotary’s stamina, Rotary’s vision, and the long haul. And in District 7190, I am very excited to say, there is a lot of young thinking going on.

At this same PETS training, DG-elect Tammy Heckenberg offered a few comments about the most recent Council on Legislation. That is when representatives to Rotary from all over the world come together to make suggestions about improving Rotary and solving the challenges we face. Tammy said it was revolutionary, and it was, because the leaders of Rotary loosened up the organization.  In fact, the adjustments they made to membership policies, ideas they formalized regarding collaboration, and improvements they adopted regarding public image were like a super-cocktail of steroids, vitamins and energy boosters infused into the organization.

The infusion didn’t just loosen up the joints of Rotary, it loosened Rotary upon the world. It speaks to Rotary’s vision, which remains razor sharp. Not only is it about bettering humankind and “Service Above Self,” it also is about staying focused on the fact that everything about Rotary happens at the club level — one club at a time.  It always has been that way, and all the policy changes implemented at the recent Council on Legislation affirmed that the clubs know best how to make it happen: how best to serve their community, how best to engage the world with optimism and energy, and how best to actually save humankind.

It all happens at the club level, and that’s why I am very excited to see so many young Rotarians in our District taking the leadership as presidents, working with our Next Gen Committee, and organizing dynamic service projects in our communities and around the world.

So, how’re ya feeling, Rotary? Creaky joints? Nope, just got a big shot from the Council and they’re loosening right up. Vision? Focused, tight, and clear. Memory? Keeping with the right traditions, and moving toward new, dynamic and smart models that are keeping the brain sharp.

Stamina? Still need some work there because we need to keep working hard on membership, bringing new energy into the organization, and developing the new generation of Rotary so us oldsters can ride off into the sunset without needing to look back. And the future? Just look around at any District gathering. Young faces and young thinkers all around us. Look around your club. Seeing some younger faces? Watching as your leadership tries new things and works hard at being flexible and dynamic?  If not, call me!

It’s happening. There is a leadership shift in Rotary. And, this coming July 1 — the start of the 2018-19 Rotary Year — a new crop of young-thinking Rotarians will be in charge of District 7190. Folks my age (62) will recognize the line from this song: “Summer’s here, and the time is right, for dancing in the streets!” Wanna dance, Rotary?

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