As we focus on membership in Rotary this month, I ask you to help make history this year. For more than 20 years, our membership has stood at 1.2 million. Rotary is a vibrant organization with a 116-year history, members in more than 220 countries and geographic areas, and a rich legacy of work in polio eradication and other humanitarian programs. Rotary has changed so much in our own lives and the lives of others. As we Serve to Change Lives, don’t you think Rotary could have an even greater impact on the world if more people were practicing Service Above Self?
My vision is to increase Rotary membership to 1.3 million by July 2022, and the call to action is simple: Each One, Bring One. This year, I want every Rotarian and Rotaractor to introduce a new person into their club.
We are a membership organization, and members are our greatest asset. You are the ones who contribute so generously to The Rotary Foundation. You are the ones who dream big to bring good into the world through meaningful projects. And of course, you are the ones who have put the world on the brink of eradicating polio.
As we make membership a priority this year, let us focus on diversity by reaching out to younger people and especially to women. Every club should celebrate its new members, and every Rotarian who sponsors a member will be personally recognized by me. And those who are successful in bringing in 25 or more members will be part of our new Membership Society.
Even as we share the gift of Rotary with others, let us be sure to engage these new members, because an engaged Rotarian is an asset forever. And remember that engaging our current members and keeping them in our clubs is just as important as bringing in newcomers. Let us also be ready to form new clubs, especially flexible ones. I am very bullish on clubs that hold virtual or hybrid meetings, and satellite clubs and cause-based clubs can also be very effective ways of growing Rotary.
As you grow more, you will be able to do more. Let us keep empowering girls through our work in each of the areas of focus. Scholarships for girls, toilets in schools, health and hygiene education — there is so much we can do. Projects focused on the environment are also attracting interest the world over. Do participate in these projects locally and internationally to make this world a better place for us and for all species.
Each of you is a Rotary brand ambassador, and all of the wonderful work done by Rotarians around the world needs to be shared outside the Rotary community. Use social media to tell your friends, colleagues, and relatives the stories of Service Above Self.
Finally, I’m challenging every club, during the coming year, to plan at least one Rotary Day of Service that will bring together volunteers from inside and outside Rotary and will celebrate and showcase the work of your club in your community. Visit rotary.org to find out more about all of these initiatives, along with other ways to Serve to Change Lives.
I wish each of you and your families a great Rotary New Year! Together, let us make it the best year of our lives, by making it a year to grow more and do more. Let this be a year of changemakers, and let us begin with our membership.
That is precisely why the Each One, Bring One initiative is so important. During this year, I urge you to dream of new ways in which Rotary can expand its reach into your community and therefore the world. If each member introduces one person to Rotary, our membership can increase to 1.3 million by July 2022. So, let’s just do it!
Imagine the change we, as Rotary members, can make when there are so many more of us! More people to care for others, more people to Serve to Change Lives. Think of the impact we can have through grow more, do more. More members will enable us to embark on bigger and bolder service projects. And each of us can also continue to serve in our own personal ways, responding to needs in our communities.
The beauty of Rotary is that service means different things to different people around the world. One element, however, that we can incorporate into all of our service initiatives is empowering girls. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, girls and young women face disproportionate challenges all over the world. We have the power to lead the charge for gender equality. Empowering girls and young women to have greater access to education, better health care, more employment, and equality in all walks of life should be embedded in every Rotary project we launch. Girls are future leaders, so we must ensure that we help them shape their future.
The biggest gift we are given
Is the power to touch a life,
To change, to make a difference
In the circle of life.
If we can reach out
With our hand, heart, and soul,
The magic will start to happen
As the wheel begins to roll.
Let’s turn the wheel together
So all humanity thrives,
We have the power and the magic
To Serve to Change Lives.
These are challenging times, and I compliment each of your efforts in grappling with COVID-19. No challenge is too big for Rotarians. The bigger the challenge, the more passionate the Rotarian. Look at what we can do when we take on a colossal challenge such as eradicating polio. Look at the millions of lives we improve by strengthening access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Look at what we do every year to promote peace in places where it seems unimaginable. Our basic education and literacy programs have nation-building impact.
This year, let us challenge ourselves to do more such projects and programs that have national reach and impact. This year, let us Serve to Change Lives.