Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary members were honoured to have District 5080 Governor Mike Dalessi and his wife Mary Ann grace us with their presence last month. Governor Dalessi gave a presentation at the July 28th morning meeting. Mike passionately conveyed his message on how Rotary changes our hearts, giving personal narratives on how it had changed his heart.
Mike moved to Juneau, Alaska in 1987 and shortly thereafter joined Rotary. Mike said he joined Rotary for only one reason and that was for networking purposes. Due to scheduling conflicts, he quit the Juneau club, however Mike did rejoin Rotary after he moved to Anchorage where he became International chair.
It was in Anchorage that Mike watched a video on the “Wheelchair Project,” which depicted kids dragging themselves through the streets in third world countries. Another part of the video revealed that a wheelchair could be purchased for $75.00, of course a formidable amount of money for a third world country resident. Watching the video inspired Mike to get involved in the Wheelchair Project and together with others raised a substantial amount of money, resulting in him personally taking chairs to South America. Mike said: ``It was an Ahha moment for me.``
Mike’s second Ahha moment came to light in Victoria when he observed kids with looks of awe on their faces as they threw breadcrumbs to birds. Mike said he began to cry during the experience, an emotion he seldom felt prior to this incident. Something had changed his heart.  “My heart has changed, since I joined Rotary, exclaimed Mike. It makes us better people, so why wouldn’t you want to invite someone to Rotary for a heart change?”
Mike went on to congratulate the Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club for its many endeavours in carrying out community projects: the train restoration project, Gran Fondo/Kids, Moir Park fieldhouse, Youth Exchange project. Other accomplishments include: sending 3 local youth to RYLA this year; scholarship program; shelter boxes, amongst others. The Sunrise Club exceeded Foundation’s goals by over 200 per cent,  said Mike.
On an International level Mike points out the Polio Plus program, which is designed to eradicate Polio. Rotary International wanted to be something “bigger than a club or district.” Mike said there were 385,000 cases of polio in 1985. Today, there are 33 cases of polio: 27 in Pakistan and 6 in Afghanistan. Rotary International’s goal is to eradicate polio by 2020. Mike emphasizes, Rotarians are responsible for that.
Mike would like to see the next big Rotary event come out of District 5080 and believes that overall sanitation in the world could be that next big event, an endeavour that would require a contribution from each club. Nearing the end of his presentation, Mike cited a Siegel and Gales study which states that 92% of people join Rotary to do something good in their own community.  Governor Dalessi concluded by saying to the Sunrise Club, “Be a gift to the world, whole world, the Cranbrook world.”