"The 2007-08 theme Rotary Shares will act as a daily reminder of what ordinary people can accomplish through the extraordinary work of Rotary, said RI President-elect Wilfrid J. Wilkinson at the 2007 International Assembly's opening session today. "What makes Rotary great is our expressing the love in our hearts through the work of our hands and our minds," said Wilkinson. "As Rotarians, we don't just sit back and talk about loving other human beings. As Rotarians, we demonstrate that love, and we share that love, through helping each other."
Almost everything Rotary does involves sharing, Wilkinson told more than 500 district governors-elect gathered at the meeting in San Diego, California, USA. "We share our time, we share our talents, and we share our money with others who need our help."
Furthermore, he said, "In Rotary, sharing doesn't mean giving away what you have to spare, what you don't need for yourself. Sharing means giving of yourself, selflessly, for the good of others."
And Rotarians don't need to do this alone. They know that when the need for service in their community can't be met by one club alone, they can call on Rotarians from around the world to help, said Wilkinson.
More than a theme, Rotary Shares is a call to action. As the incoming governors begin preparing for the year ahead with the training, leadership, and inspiration they receive at the International Assembly, Wilkinson asked them to focus on sharing their leadership, skills, and dedication to making clubs and districts stronger.
Sharing Rotary does more than strengthens Rotary; it ensures that Rotary continues a second century of service. Rotary Shares means inviting people to join their local Rotary clubs.
"Rotary will only be able to continue sharing if it continues to grow," said Wilkinson. To help Rotary grow, Wilkinson requested that all of the incoming governors ask their club presidents to bring in one new club member during their year in office.
"Without new members, nothing else matters," he said. Without our youth and new members, "it will only take a few decades for Rotary to disappear, and we've already seen that happen in other service clubs."
In addition to the crucial job of welcoming new club members, the president-elect said Rotarians should not forget their past. He asked them to reach out to former club members, including club members' widows and widowers.
Wilkinson reminded the audience that the opportunities they'll have to help may not come their way again.
"This year is your chance to be a district governor, to help your clubs, to guide them, to share your strengths and your love."
In the year ahead, a great deal will be asked of Rotarians, said Wilkinson.
"I ask you all, this year, to share Rotary freely and fully. Work hard, and work with love. And remember that everything you do in service to others is part of the magic of Rotary, the magic that allows ordinary people, like you and me, do absolutely amazing things."
Rotary International Assembly speech for 2007-08 Rotary year given by R.I. P.E. Wilf Wilkinson
"Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotarians are a varied lot. We come from dozens of countries, speak hundreds of languages, and adhere to a wide spectrum of religious, political, and philosophical beliefs.
If one strong common thread exists among our 1.2 million members, it is our willingness to share. Rotarians share their time, their talents, their expertise, and their money to successfully carry out projects that tackle a vast range of humanitarian and social issues. They share their compassion, their enthusiasm, and their commitment to help those in need and make the world better. And they share an unparalleled passion for service that has made Rotary the world's premiere service organization. It is this fundamental spirit of generosity that I have tried to capture in our theme for 2007-08: Rotary Shares. I hope that it serves as both a point of pride for all Rotarians and a motivating force for our activities in the coming year.
Sharing is a concept generally associated with promoting the greater good, but it is also an individual action, a personal choice. Each one of us decides how much of our time and energy we want to share with Rotary, which ultimately determines how much each club can share with its local community and communities abroad. For that reason, I urge you to become more personally involved in Rotary and to actively participate in both service projects and membership development. My call for individual involvement includes everyone in the family of Rotary, another emphasis that I want to continue. Our far-reaching family encompasses Rotarians and their families, Rotaractors, Interactors, Youth Exchange students, the widows and widowers of former Rotarians, and others who collectively work to promote Rotary's goals and ideals. Together, we can promote Rotary's programs throughout the world, handing down the ideals of service and fellowship from one generation to the next.
Continuity is essential to Rotary's success, and so health, literacy, and water will remain our service emphases for the year. For many clubs, that will mean continuing ongoing, successful projects in their communities and internationally. For those who want to start new projects, I urge you to think creatively and consider some new approaches. For example, let's look at how we can use new technologies to purify water, teach people to read, or provide safe sources of energy for homes. Then let's share those innovative solutions with other Rotary clubs that are looking for successful project ideas.
As they make plans for 2007-08, I also encourage clubs to consider the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, especially the Millennium Villages project in sub-Saharan Africa. Like our Rotary Community Corps (RCC), these villages employ a bottom-up approach to helping communities pull themselves out of extreme poverty. Let us share the knowledge we have gained in promoting self-sufficiency through RCCs to support this important goal.
Our theme for 2007-08 is reversible: Rotary Shares and so we must all share Rotary. During the first three decades of my life as a Rotarian, Rotary was growing steadily. No thanks to me, however, as I never brought in any new members. When Rotary's numbers began to drop in existing clubs, however, I suddenly realized that the organization I had come to care about so deeply would not simply continue to grow on its own. I understood then that I — and every other Rotarian — share the responsibility of bringing new members into our ranks, and it was time that I did my part.
In the coming year, I will be encouraging each one of you to do your part and share Rotary with other business and professional leaders in your community. I have set a goal for every Rotarian on my leadership team of directors, training leaders, membership coordinators, district governors, and club presidents to bring in at least one new member in 2007-08. I'm even asking all the past RI presidents to join us in this effort. Moving on from there, I have established a plan for recognizing all Rotarians who bring in new members. Working together, let us share the responsibility for Rotary's growth and make all our clubs stronger and more viable.
The dedicated Rotarians who develop dynamic
project ideas and galvanize other members to action form the backbone
of every club, but there are too few of them. I believe that every one
of us could be that kind of Rotarian if we just take that important
first step toward personal involvement — if we just say yes.
I'm convinced that 1.2 million involved and active Rotarians can finish the job on polio eradication; carry out projects involving health, water, and literacy; promote the cause of peace to every part of the globe; and clearly and powerfully demonstrate to the world that Rotary Shares".
Wilfrid J. (Wilf) Wilkinson, President,
Rotary International, 2007-08
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