“Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” – Matthew 18:4-5
The chronological sequence of the themes of my columns at the turn of the year is (1) “May The Power of the P’s – Public-Private Partnership – Profit, People and Planet (the triple bottom line) guide the thoughts of our leaders”; (2) “Science tells us that an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is a good health choice”; (3) “Our physical existence is dependent on the production of food and that agriculture is the source of food”; (4) “Maintain a positive attitude and bring love to all that we do”; and (5) “Play our part and unlock our human potential by managing those God-given time resources to the best of our ability”.
There has been something for our leaders and there has been something for ourselves. For ourselves, we have been given life (24 hours per day) and to quote the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
Today, in this column, we shall focus on the service we can give to others. This way we contribute to the development of our fellow men and women. We may serve our family, we may serve our friends, we may share knowledge, we may serve others who may be in need, we may serve as individuals or we may serve through local or international service organizations.
The international service organization of my choice is Rotary International. Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members from more than 200 countries.
On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, Rotary International will celebrate its 111th anniversary. The work of Rotarians impacts lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Rotary also offers expanded service opportunities, including: Interact: a service organization organized and sponsored by Rotary clubs for young adults aged 12-18. There are more than 12,300 Interact clubs in 133 countries. Rotaract: groups organized by Rotary clubs to promote leadership, professional development and service among young adults aged 18-30. There are more than 8,000 Rotaract clubs in 167 countries. Rotary Community Corps (RCCs): groups of non-Rotary members who work to improve their communities. There are more than 7,500 RCCs in 80 countries, all organized and sponsored by Rotary clubs.
Rotarians contribute their time, energy and passion to sustainable, long-term projects in local communities across the globe. Projects focus on important issues like peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.
Polio eradication remains Rotary’s top priority. Rotary is working to raise US$35 million per year through 2018 for polio eradication, which will be matched 2 to 1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Rotary International motto has evolved from “Service above Self” to “One profits most who serves best”. It is about encouraging humility from the youth to the mature as one engages in camaraderie, engenders fellowship and serves those in greater need.
I have had the privilege of serving Rotary International through the Rotary Club of Barbados South, for almost 30 years, and through the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain (RCCPOS) over the past year. All Rotary International clubs are governed by the same corporate governance system through its Manual of Procedure, so it is easy to transfer from one club to another and continue serving with the smoothest of transitions.
The basic Rotary International structure includes a weekly lunch meeting; monthly avenue of service (principally club, community, vocational, international and youth) meetings which feed into the monthly board meeting of the club; and random fellowship meetings throughout the year. There are also annual conferences, primarily a district conference and an international conference.
This year, our District 7030 conference, a meeting of about 70 clubs, will be held in April in Barbados. About 500 Rotarians from St. Kitts to Suriname are expected to attend.
The international conference will be held in Seoul, South Korea in June. The last international conference that I attended was held in Chicago, Illinois, the birthplace of Rotary, in 2005 to celebrate Rotary’s 100th anniversary. More than 50,000 Rotarians attended.
This sequence of events is how the camaraderie and fellowship are developed both within the club, the region and internationally.
Rotary mounts fundraising projects which are supported by individuals, the private sector, the public sector and international organizations. In addition to setting the example to the members of our Interact and Rotaract Clubs, the RCCPOS engages in a variety of fundraisers e.g. Soup Fest, Choka Fest and Jazz under the Stars. The proceeds of these fundraisers are used to support the club’s service projects.
The service projects are many and varied and they include: (1) the TEACCH Autism programme for children all over Trinidad and Tobago; (2) Adopt a child from East Port of Spain and help with their schooling needs; (3) Creating a Port of Spain general hospital intensive care consulting room to facilitate the doctor/patient family communication; (4) Crop planting project at a school to build interest in the importance of agricultural production; (5) A formal Model United Nations youth presentation event to simulate a UN General Assembly session; and (6) the MovieTowne Christmas party for kids.
Let us open our awareness as to how we can volunteer to serve our communities, whether it is to formally align with a service club or not. Let us remember that Service above Self permits us to redress the holistic wealth divide which is predicated on unlocking the dormant human potential.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)