We have a saying in Oklahoma that you need to leave the woodpile just a little higher than you found it. To do that, I needed to ask you to get involved. Involvement is what our theme this year – Engage Rotary, Change Lives – is all about. And, as each of us has done that – as each of us has gotten up out of our chairs and truly engaged Rotary – we have changed lives.
This year, I asked each one of you to bring in one new member. The Board has laid a foundation for strengthening membership around the globe: Sixteen regional membership plans are now in place. They are built around making sure that we give people a reason to be in Rotary. I believe that if we can get prospective members to help us with a project – it could be reading to kids, or working in a soup kitchen, or picking up trash along the highway – the rest will take care of itself. They will realize that they made a difference in someone's life. And they'll also realize that when you give through Rotary service, you get so much more in return.
I also asked each one of you to make a gift of some amount to our Rotary Foundation. All of our governors did that and became the first class in the history of Rotary to make that commitment.
Sometimes we get comfortable in going to our club and not having any responsibility. Maybe it's because we haven't been asked to be more engaged. And, of course, it's great to go to your meeting and see your friends. But if you want to get fired up, you need to be doing projects. Hands-on projects are great equalizers. When you're unloading boxes off a truck, you're just like the next person, and that person is just like you. When everyone's serving together, there's a camaraderie, and that's how you keep people engaged.
Rotarians sometimes don't realize all that Rotary is doing and is capable of doing. If they could witness the impact of the projects I have seen this year, it would change their lives. They would understand that they belong to an organization whose members have a common desire to do something good and who, working together, accomplish incredible things.
I continue to be in awe of the good I see Rotarians doing. I am firmly convinced that the woodpile is just a little higher because of your efforts. It is my hope that each one of you will continue to Engage Rotary, Change Lives.