"What does it mean To Lead the Way?  To me, when we "lead the way," we, as Rotarians, are continually taking steps to make a positive difference in our lives, our clubs, our communities, and the world."   - District Governor Richard Earne


Good afternoon, fellow Rotarians. It gives me great pleasure to visit with you today and I appreciate your warm welcome. Let me begin by thanking each of you for being Rotarians.Our international President, Bill Boyd, has asked us this year to Lead the Way. I would therefore like to ask each of you a question.

What would happen if Paul Harris and his three friends had not met in February of 1905 and led the way? Would we be enjoying each other's fellowship, today? Would the St. Catharines area have a civic group that would assist the community with their needs?

Would we have the thousands of humanitarian efforts that have been funded by The Rotary Foundation? The answer to these questions is, maybe. 


There are other service organizations, other foundations, there are similar projects,

but the one thing that we would not have is a network of over 32,000 clubs, in 170 countries, made up of people with diverse backgrounds and different cultures, who all share ideas for the common good of mankind.


What does it mean To Lead the Way?  To me, when we "lead the way," we, as Rotarians, are continually taking steps to make a positive difference in our lives, our clubs, our communities, and the world.  How can we do that? One thing that can work for us or against us is how Rotary is perceived. We all know that perception many times is reality. Let me share an experience I recently had that illustrates how Rotary is viewed. 


I was fortunate to be at the RI Convention in Copenhagen this past June. At the convention, Jeffrey Saks, a world renowned economist who has been working with the United Nations to eliminate poverty throughout the world, spoke to us. Professor Saks said that, in September of 2000, the world leaders came together and adopted goals to eliminate extreme poverty on the planet, which Saks said is, the only true route to peace at this pivotal moment in our history.  World leaders have not been able to get started on how to obtain these goals. But Saks said, to the assembled Rotarians: I don't know if speaking to the world leaders helps, but speaking to you, Rotarians, does help. You are truly the world's leaders. You can imagine how stirring that comment was to us.


Saks, likened these world leader's courageous goals to Rotary's ongoing partnership to eradicate polio, by saying, it is Rotary's example of action that I use everyday to try to convince world leaders, communities and business that we can accomplish these great goals. He praised Rotary's community based network of Rotary Clubs as an admirable model to get things done for the good of humanity.  Saks and others perceive Rotary as an organization that can get things accomplished, that can Lead the Way.


Locally in the St. Catharines area, I am sure Rotary is perceived as an organization that helps the community based on the good work that all of you have done in the area, one example being Hospice Niagara. I know the Rotary club of St. Catharines South has led the way in supporting their community in Service Above Self. This is how we would like Rotary to be perceived. 


What else can you do to enhance the understanding of Rotary in our community?

More importantly we should ask ourselves how we each perceive Rotary. Our perceptions can change based on vantage point, interaction, experience, these are all factors that aid in our perception.


I am fortunate to Serve our District as your Governor. This gives me a different vantage point which is one of the advantages I have as District Governor. I get to see what Rotarians are doing in the 74 clubs that make up our district, I get to interact with other District Governors from all around the world and I can then share your accomplishments with others and what they are doing with you.


Another way We Lead the Way is by helping others Experience Rotary. Let me share a story with you of what happened when I joined Rotary.  I, like every one of you, joined Rotary because someone asked me.  I thought it would be a good way to build business relationships and I looked forward to working on service projects for my community. 


The Grand Island club has changed over the years. Today, the club is warmer and friendlier. After I joined I began to have second thoughts and pondered leaving Rotary. In fact, I was about to leave Rotary and had stopped attending meetings. It was at this time that Ed Pfohl, a Past District Governor of our district and a member of the GI club, stopped by my house and invited me to a District Group Study Exchange meeting The committee was working on an exchange with a district made up of Israel , and Ed thought I might be able to help. I came to that meeting not knowing what to expect. It was a friendly group of Rotarians from all over our district.  The members of the committee discussed business items, rotary, family, they asked me about my business and family. I found this to be a very rewarding experience and it was at that time that I thought I was part of a group.  I stayed in Rotary because of that experience and that happened over 25 years ago. 


We often don't realize the impact that small gestures can have. Ed's seemingly small gesture had a life-changing impact on me.  If it wasn't for Ed Pfohl, I would not be a Rotarian today, and I would not have experienced Rotary Thank you Ed for showing me the combination of service to others through fellowship 


Therefore, Ed and I ask each of you:

1. If you see someone at your meetings, sitting by themselves, what small gesture can you make to help them feel welcome and important? Perhaps you can make room for them at your table or get up from your table and go and sit with them and start a new table

2. When someone you know isn't making meetings, how can you make a difference?

What do you think would happen if you called the Rotarian, met with them, and talked one on one?

3. When you bring a new member into your club, how do you help them feel part of the club? Do you find out what their interests are?  Ask about their family? Their business? -Encourage them to participate in an area of Rotary that may interest them?  

4. As Rotarians we need to help other Rotarians to experience Rotary.  Rotary is like a diamond, it has many facets that can appeal to different people. With a little effort, we can help any good-hearted person find a facet that will bring value to themselves and others.


Address is continued...