Rotary has been many things, to many people,
in the last 111 years. Through Rotary, our
members have found friends, community, and
a sense of purpose; we’ve forged connections,
advanced our careers, and had incredible
experiences we couldn’t have had anywhere else.
Every week, in more than 34,000 clubs around
the world, Rotarians come together to talk, laugh,
and share ideas. But above all, we come together
for one, overriding goal: service.
Service to humanity has been the cornerstone
of Rotary since its earliest days, and has been its
main purpose ever since. I believe that there is
no better path to meaningful service today than
Rotary membership; and no organization better
placed to make a real and positive difference in
our world. No other organization so effectively
brings together committed, capable professionals
in a wide variety of fields, and enables them to
achieve ambitious goals. Through Rotary, we have
the capacity, the network, and the knowledge to
change the world: the only limits are the ones
we place on ourselves.
Today, our organization is at a critical point:
a historic juncture that will determine, in so
many ways, what comes next. Together, we have
provided extraordinary service to our world;
tomorrow, our world will depend on us to do even
more. Now is the time to capitalize on our success:
as we complete the eradication of polio, and
catapult Rotary forward, with determination and
enthusiasm, to be an even greater force for good
in the world.
Of the many lessons polio eradication has taught
us, one of the most important is also one of the
simplest: that if we want to bring all of Rotary
forward, we’ve all got to be moving in the same
direction. Continuity of leadership, at the club,
district, and RI level, is the only way we will
flourish, and achieve our full potential. It is not
enough simply to bring in new members and
form new clubs: our goal is not more Rotarians,
but more Rotarians who can achieve more good
Rotary work, and will become the Rotary leaders
of tomorrow.
Near the end of his life, reflecting on the path
that brought him to Rotary, Paul Harris wrote:
“Individual effort may be turned to individual
needs, but combined effort should be dedicated
to the service of mankind. The power of combined
effort knows no limitation.” He could hardly have
imagined then that one day, more than 1.2 million
Rotarians would be combining their efforts,
and, through our Rotary Foundation, their
resources, to serve humanity together. And we
can only imagine what great deeds Paul Harris
would have expected of such a Rotary! It is our
responsibility to achieve those deeds; as it is
our privilege to carry forth the tradition of
Rotary Serving Humanity.
John Germ
President, Rotary International, 2016-17