February 23rd is the 116th birthday of Rotary!  If you haven’t already made plans to commemorate this event, I have posted a few ideas to the District 6840 facebook page.  Please encourage all of your fellow Rotarians who are “on” social media to “like” that page and include Rotary District 6840 news and events into their newsfeeds.  An easy birthday gift in the spirit of Rotary is to put on your Rotary shirt and make a blood donation – it requires no club organizing, just for each of us to be People of Action.  (Our Group Number with The Blood Center is 213516)
As I reflect on the one year anniversary of the Louisiana shelter-in-place orders that resulted from the realization that COVID 19 was a highly contagious and largely preventable virus, I have been thinking a lot about those millions of people worldwide, including many right here in our communities, who do not have a shelter.  How much more challenging must this year has been for them than for us who have the great fortune to have roofs over our heads and a home to take shelter in.
This reflection prompted me to reach out to ShelterBox, a Rotary Partner Organization championed by the late PDG, Slidell Rotarian, and one of my mentors, Ken Thompson.  At every district event, Ken would bring a ShelterBox tent and put it on display – he transported the box, set up the tent, raised awareness, and encouraged all Rotarians to make a financial commitment to help those who become homeless due to natural disasters and political crises through no fault or failing of their own.
This intense year, with all of its challenges, is actually the perfect year for an inTENTS Event Series.  I announced the series at the Mid Year Check Up and have been working with assistant governors and club presidents to create this all-clubs-in-a-territory social “party with a purpose” to celebrate Rotary and our good fortune.  We will be outdoors together in this Rotary and ShelterBox awareness campaign with a friendly competition for good measure!  The inTENTS Event Series will kick off on the grounds of Safe Haven with the Rotary Clubs of the Lake Territory on March 14, one year to the day of the first Louisiana shelter in place directives and my birthday!  The series will continue in each territory and conclude in Gulfport, MS at The Centennial Plaza on May 22nd with the clubs of the Gulf Territory.  The more detailed announcement can be found here as a file on Rotary6840.org  Follow the links to watch the videos to learn more about ShelterBox and how to build the tent so you’re ready to compete!
My personal hope as 2020-2021 District Governor is that every club will join in this event.  There is no greater perk to any District Governor than the opportunity to shake hands and hear stories and participate with Rotarians in every club.   Disease Prevention is one of Rotary’s Areas of Focus, however, and has made it a challenge for me to meet the nearly 2000 D6840 Rotarians who share the core values of Integrity, Service, Leadership, Diversity, and Fellowship.  This inTENTS Event Series is my chance to make it happen after all.
Have FUN with this!  We will have a photographer at each event, Rotary branding on display, food, fellowship, and media coverage.  Come put your best Rotary foot forward and inject your club with some new energy to complete this Rotary year.  Prizes to a club at each event for best Rotary Team Spirit on display, fastest Club ShelterBox tent building time, and to the territory that raises the most funds.  There is no cost to participate, but I have set a district goal to provide shelter to 100 displaced families.  The link to donate is HERE