By Frank Deaver
Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa, Alabama USA

Perfect Attendance. It's a challenging goal for a Rotarian to attend every week, even for one year. But many clubs count in their membership a Rotarian who has amassed multiple years, sometimes 50 or more, of perfect attendance.


For many Rotarians it may be an impossible attainment, for reasons of extended illness or unavoidable conflicts – a physician on-call for emergency duty, for example.

Still, the challenge of perfect attendance, or as near perfect as possible, has a noble purpose. No, not just one purpose, but at least two. Rotary's reason for existence is often summarized in two words: fellowship and service. Neither of those can be fully realized in absentia.

Fellowship. At Rotary meetings we join in conversation with fellow members. We sit together and share information and ideas. We eat and drink around a table while deepening the bonds of friendship. We become acquainted with a broad array of local citizens, beyond the limited contacts we have at work or in our residential neighborhood. Reflecting on one's circle of truly good friends, a Rotarian is certain to include other Rotarians among those who have become important in his or her life. This is the reward of Rotary fellowship.     

Service. Rotary defines four Avenues of Service: Club, Community, Vocational, and International. Members certainly serve in one or more of these areas outside Rotary, but it is in corporate effort that Rotary service is maximized. Members serve on club committees and in club projects. Members become better acquainted with others of the same vocation, and jointly promote high ethical standards. Members share in a vocational project such as mentoring young people. Members discuss community and international needs, and plan activity or support in these areas.     

Attendance. Although attendance is defined in the Standard Club Constitution, many clubs choose to ignore the consequences of absence until and unless it becomes pervasive. If questioned about non-compliance with the constitution, they may offer reasons beyond simple negligence. Rotarians do, in countless instances, serve society individually. It can be claimed that such service is faithful to Rotary principles and goals.     

Clubs that include meal charges with dues, equally collected monthly or quarterly from all members, have observed that absences create a lesser charge the club pays for those who do attend, thus benefiting the treasury. They may contend that increased finances make possible greater support of club service. Critics reply that Rotary does not exist merely as a conduit of money for activities, no matter how worthy or needy.     

These justifications have certain merit, but the fact remains that Rotary is best supported by those who maximize their membership benefits – fellowship and service – through faithful attendance.

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