Rotary Meeting March 3, 2014

Speech Contest day at Rotary always promises to be a good day, except perhaps for the judges who have the difficult task of selecting only three students out of seven.  In fact, because of the number of students participating from the Christian School, those students had an elimination contest so that three of the students had to deliver their speech twice. The students come prepared but are perhaps a little anxious when the time comes to deliver.  However, any anxiety was well-hidden today as they made their presentations.
Cameron Rose spoke first.  Cameron was a summer exchange student to Australia last year.  He admitted that before he went he knew little about Rotary, but he did some research and was amazed by how immense the Rotary Club is and how much they do to serve others.  He spoke of the efficiency, the sustainability and reliability with which Rotary provides programming year after year.  While on exchange in Australia he asked to be involved in some program to help others, and ended up going with some students to Melbourne where they were housed and fed by a church, “and they asked for nothing in return.”  The students spent time feeding the homeless and talking with them.  Cameron remarked the best part of the experience was when those they were serving looked at you and smiled.  It encouraged him to come back to Quincy and look for more ways to serve.
The second speaker was Gracie Yates.  Gracie began with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”  She went on to say that we can change the world one act, one smile at a time and that no one is too young or too old to do an act of service.  And when we work together we can do even greater things.  Gracie left us with a challenge in the form of a question about whether we want our legacy to be memorable or not?
Brianne Turner suggested that some people are reluctant to consider “service above self” thinking they are too insignificant or can’t see what they might get out of it.  She countered that idea with reminding us that everyone has something to contribute to their community.  She also related the pleasure she gets from caring for her goats that she shows at the fair each year reminding us the pleasure comes from the endorphins released into her body.  The same is true for volunteering time to help others siting that every individual has a role in making the world better.  In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, she said, “The world would not be a good place to live unless it is a good place to live for everyone.”
Matt Beeson opened with the idea that living life provides many eye-opening experiences and opportunities to serve.  Most people, he suggested, say they don’t have many opportunities to serve in a town like Quincy.  Matt countered that with the idea there are many opportunities.  He has looked to the many opportunities he has had serving with groups in different parts of the country and the world. He was particularly excited about a mission trip to an orphanage in Mexico where people of different experiences and backgrounds have come together to do amazing things from digging ditches to playing soccer with the children.  They also teach the children how to sing and do crafts and art.  One of the things they have helped to complete is a large house to house babies who have been taken from bad situations and placed in the care of one couple may take care of them for years.  So many things can be accomplished by people who are willing to serve.
Josh Alread began by sharing what he had received thanks to people who believed in service above self.  He particularly remembers the volunteers in the little league program.  Not only did he make friends and memories, but he learned a lot such as teamwork and that everyone is essential for victory.  Everyone, he said, has something to contribute.  But sometimes giving of oneself can be uncomfortable.  He recalled working with the residents of Country Villa.  It made him uncomfortable at first, but as they expressed their gratitude in different ways, he became more and more comfortable.  There are many ways to serve, he said, and sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone.  Josh left us with a quote from Mahatmas Ghandi, “The best way to find yourself is to involve yourself in service to others.”
In the end, the judges had to choose the winners.  First Place prize of $100 went to Gracie Yates.  Second Place prize of $75 went to Josh Alread.  Third Place prize of $50 went to Cameron Rose.  The other contestants – Brianne Turner, Matt Beeson, Kathleen McQuade-Sturley, Lindsey Jensen -  were each awarded $25.  Congratulations one and all!