With a new position in the Greenfield Rotary Club and being in the 11th hour of planning the Greene Countrie Towne Festival, Rotary has been on my mind a lot these last few days.
The first Rotary Club was begun in Chicago more than 110 years ago, and since then that Rotary wheel has made its way across the globe.
The first logo was a rendering of a wagon wheel said to symbolize “civilization and movement,” according to a website on Rotary’s history. Through the years, the symbol has transformed into the gear wheel of today’s Rotary.
I think that I have been among those who at one time or another have thought that Rotary was a bit elitist, a bit exclusive, but I don’t think that way anymore.
I joined the club nearly three years ago and on July 1 began my term as the president. And while that last bit is overwhelming me a little, I plan to meet any challenges that come up head-on because I love my club and I believe in what the organization stands for.
Through the years, Rotary has adapted and changed, as most anything planning on surviving must. But the organization still stands firm on the foundations on which it was built.
One example of adapting is that it wasn’t until the late 1980s, and after some time in the courtroom, that women were allowed to be a part of the club. But here we are, and whether met with reluctance or with open arms, women are now a very big part of the organization across the globe.
I am not the first female president of the Greenfield club. That’s good, but I also think it’s good that all members, no matter their gender, are able to take leadership roles within the organization.
We are a service organization, meaning we are here to serve our communities in whatever ways we can.
Each year in our little corner of the world, my club holds the annual Greene Countrie Towne Festival. We do the telethon during the holidays to benefit the needy kids. Each spring we partner with the Hillsboro Rotary Club to raise money for the Highland County Society for Children and Adults.
Through the years, an annual auction during the festival has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been funneled back into the community through the Ralph Philips Recreation and Civic Center, the police department and emergency services, city beautification, the various services of the Greenfield Area Christian Center, supporting student clubs and activities, student scholarships, student academic needs, and several other community organizations that serve citizens and more.
As a worldwide service organization, Rotary has led the way in the eradication of polio, partnering with UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Health Organization, and others. And over the last three and a half decades, the last remaining endemic countries are but three, down from 125 endemic countries in 1988, according to Rotary.
In early June the Rotary Convention was held in Brazil. According to Rotary, those who attended learned that in the span of 2013 to 2014, Nigeria’s reported cases of polio plummeted from 56 to six. The last reported case in Nigeria was in July of last year and the last reported case on the entire continent of Africa was reported in August.
“In 2014, 85 percent of polio cases worldwide were in Pakistan, the country’s highest case count in over a decade,” the Rotary website reads. And while political issues continue to thwart efforts in this area, the update adds, “Progress has been made over the last few months to stem the spread of the virus.”
It’s a noble cause, and the war on polio is just one aspect of what I see as a noble organization.
We Rotarians say, “Service above self.”
And frankly, that’s as it should be in all things.
Rotary’s focus is making the world a better place through service to our very own communities and extending into the global community.
We are all connected, somehow and in some way, and knowing that there is such an organization that is so long-lived makes me feel a lot better about humanity as a whole.
And as I am now in the position of leading my own club as president, it may be with a bit of trepidation, but it’s with a great deal of pride, too.
I am very proud to call myself a Rotarian, and I hope that I can be steadfast in serving others above myself.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.-