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Rotary Happenings: District Conference highlights club accomplishments

By Staff | May 25, 2016

Last Friday, May 13, Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club got to take a little vacation, not really, but we did cross the causeway and take part in the Rotary #6960 District Conference at Sanibel Harbour Marriot Resort and Spa. This year’s theme – think Hobbitts here – “Fellowship of the Wheel.” “Its hobbits love of food and good drink that caused them to form clubs, using the wheel of the mill in hobbiton as their symbol. Clubs spread slowly in middle earth until a cause arose to unite them all in service and fellowship”.

Cyndi Doragh, Rotary’s District Governor 2015-2016 planned a great event bringing to light all the positive things Rotary does and is doing within district and around the globe while still stressing the fellowship and fun members have at these events – pointy ears and hobbit feet. Greeting from these middle earth dwellers and “Everything you are and can become you will find on the Road to Riverdell” Rotary.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary hosted the opening breakfast meeting on Friday morning and with that came the responsibility to bring the meeting to order by the ringing of the Rotary Bell. Chris DeCosta, our Rotary Club president had the honors, along with leading attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, San-Cap Rotary Song, and the introduction of our District Governor, Cyndi Doragh. She in turn introduced Deepa Willingham our Rotary International president, K.R. Ravindran’s representative for this event.

Rotarian Deepa brought us greeting from RI President Ravindran and spoke about the meaning of the president’s theme for the year “Be a Gift to the World.” Deepa spoke of her own journey toward the understanding of this theme. Deepa was born in Calcutta, India eventually coming to the states becoming a naturalized citizen.

Throughout her years here she has been recognized for her dedication to Rotary and for her connection with special education programs for the federally funded Upward Bound program and her involvement with educating “at risk” high school students from the inner city in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But the very words of “Be a Gift to the World” epitomizes her experience of founding a nonprofit organization named PACE Universal Educate and Empower -with her pilot school in Calcutta- Piyali Junction, India to educate young girls from 5 to 15. PACE is committed to ending trafficking and uplifting communities through the education of girls and women living in extreme poverty.

Deepa did not do this alone, she was encouraged and supported by her home Rotary Club of Santa Ynez Valley and a $330,000 Health, Hunger and Humanity Grant from The Rotary Foundation for the now Piyali Learning Center.

We all have a special gift that we can use for “Service above Self” to take care of those that have-not. A quote from Tolkien, “all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Now the Crazy Scotsman Rotarian, George Robertson-Burnett from Bartow, FL. stepped on stage with music blaring and a traditional kilt. Full of energy, full of amusing stories, even a few salty words, and the enthusiasm of a revival preacher directing his comments toward Rotary Club service and strong membership development. Club service strengthens membership retainment anchored by strong relationships and purpose reaching full potential as contributing members of society with emphasis on humanitarianism.

Burnett commented on the public’s perception of Rotary as an all-male club, aging-out of the current fast-paced technological society; a club with secret handshakes and peculiar rituals. But, as we viewed the pictures on screen of Rotarians in action what we see is men and women of all ages from all countries united together in making a difference in this world. Rotarians need to promote the real face of Rotary, an all-inclusive club that promotes fellowship, networking, and doing good in their community.

Burnett brought to light examples of recent Rotary networking: the head of Publix’s was at a Rotary meeting, met a pharmacist and they started talking and developed a friendship, the pharmacist went to work for Publix’s and was responsible for developing a plan to have a pharmacy in all Publix’s Grocery stores.

There are smaller examples: Networking between Rotarians and local police and Rotarians purchasing and placing defibrillators in 130 police cars in Central Florida. Rotary networking can be done on a local level, or in partnership with humanitarian organizations such as the World Health Organization and Gates Foundation to eradicate Polio.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Gandalf “it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.”

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7 a.m., Friday mornings at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests are always welcomed.