Rotarians and Friends –

My wife, Ann, and I have just returned from San Diego, California, and the Rotary International Assembly, and I am fresh with excitement and vigor about the tremendous things that Rotary is doing in the world. What’s especially exciting is that Rotary is positioning itself to do even more. Undoubtedly, you are a big part of that.

Here is an outline of important things presented to the 2012-13 Governor class:

  • Rotary International President-elect Sakuji Tanaka announced that next year’s theme is “Peace through Service.” Tanaka took great pains to clarify that the word “peace” is not only an antonym to the word “war,” but is also descriptive of a community of understanding, interaction, cooperation and trust. It’s in this way that even our local service projects can be seen as building toward a more peaceful world.
  • Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko announced that Rotary International would begin surveying and assessing the scope and value of LOCAL projects that clubs perform. Rotary is acknowledged as one of the top 75 philanthropic organizations in the world, but it is Hewko’s assessment that if Rotary had a verifiable means of quantifying all the work – including local projects performed by all 33,000 clubs – the organization would be in the top 10, and much more likely to draw the attention and support of resourceful partners. I see RI’s renewed attention to our local projects as a very welcomed development.
  • India has now gone over one year without a new incidence of Polio being reported. For those of us who’ve been following the Polio Plus campaign throughout its various iterations, this seems nigh a miracle. Due to India’s pervasive poverty, poor sanitation infrastructure and fast growing population, the country was seen as the “toughest nut to crack” in the fight against the killing and crippling disease. To paraphrase the old Frank Sinatra song – if Rotary can wipe out Polio there, we can “do it anywhere.”
  • During the conference, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced another $50-million contribution toward the campaign to eliminate Polio. While Rotary is nearing the end of Bill Gates’ $200-million challenge (which we have exceeded, six months early) it will still be important for us to remain vigilant and continue to support the cause until the new incidences of Polio have been reduced to zero for a period of two years or more. But here’s the payback: once Polio is eliminated, it will save the world billions of dollars that would have been used to contain the virus and to treat victims over the succeeding decades. Another step toward “peace.”
  • The Rotary Foundation’s new administrative structure – New Visions – will continue to roll-out to non-pilot clubs over the next year and a half. One of the primary purposes for this new way of doing things is to drive the administrative costs of overseeing projects down to the volunteer level so that Rotary will continue to be one of the most efficient processors of philanthropic funds in the world. It’s quite a challenge since, cumulatively, Rotary is enmeshed in so many thousands of projects. Two other objectives of New Visions: to encourage clubs to work together on bigger, more substantive projects; and, projects should leave a continuing and replenishing benefit for those who are assisted. (The RI vernacular for this characteristic is “project sustainability.”)

There is much more detail and many interesting observations that I could get into – and probably will in later missives – but I want you to know that things are moving in Rotary, and we want you to be shoulder to shoulder with Rotarians from around the world in helping to build understanding, interaction, cooperation and trust.

In a word – Peace.

Mark Pearce
Governor 2012-13
Rotary District 6080