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Rotary Happenings: Rotary marks holiday, heads to Germany for conference

By Staff | Jul 23, 2019

Halfway through July already! The Sanibel 4th of July parade was outstanding this year; probably the best I have seen. Congratulations to this year’s parade committee and to all the participates in the parade for their devotion in celebrating our nation’s birthday together by-way of our unique island community spirit.

Our Sanibel-Captiva parade float guru, Bill Rahe, is probably already mulling plans for next year’s float, but Rahe doesn’t do it alone. Much of this year’s float design was conceived and produced by Rotarian Joleen Raho. Raho and Rahe collaborated on finding a design that represented both the community parade theme “Seas the Day” and Rotary’s global commitment to clean water. Raho painted for hours the outstanding and fun under the sea design that ran along the sides of the float and Rahe and his team assembled and constructed the final float’s overall design. Certainly, our patriotic design was present on the float bunting dressed, uncle Sam standing tall, and flags waving. God Bless America!

July is also the beginning of the new Rotary calendar year, but because our club didn’t meet on July 1 this year, formally our club year started on July 11. Our new club president for 2019-2020, Eldon Bohrofen, sported his brand new Rotary shirt emblazoned with Rotary International’s new logo for the year – representing Rotary International President Mark Daniel Maloney’s theme for 2019-2020, “Rotary Connects the World” – asking Rotarians to strengthen the many ways that Rotary connects the world, building the connections that allow talented, thoughtful and generous people to unite and take meaningful action through Rotary service.

President-elect for 2018-2019, Bohrofen had been preparing for his presidency by attending District 6960 Rotary Florida PETS (President Elect Training Seminars). This involves learning about the partnership of Rotary districts, covering the state of Florida and Grand Bahama Island. The informative seminar exposes presidents-elect to the trends and techniques in the operation of a Rotary Club. The PETS experience is also a wonderful opportunity for great fellowship and networking with approximately 650 Rotarians. Bohrofen also had been involved with club planning for his year in office, more about this to come. There are lots of nuances to the workings of Rotary. The cherry on top was Bohrofen’s attendance at this year’s Rotary International Conference in Hamburg, Germany, with about 25,000 attendees representing 185 countries. Rotary Clubs have a presence in 225 countries, with a total membership of 1.2 million members.

Our Rotary District 6960 had 80 attendees at the conference. Augusta Bohrofen attended the conference with Bohrofen and shared his pride and enjoyment in this amazing Rotary event. They arrived early for the conference and got the opportunity to participate in a pre-conference event – the three-kilometer “Hamburg on the Move” walk through the historic center of the city, raising awareness for Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio. The Bohrofens also attended a first-nighter Welcoming Party in Hamburg’s Chamber of Commerce building. It was a rather intimate affair with only 2,000 people in attendance. Sort of overwhelming, but fun.

For the grand-general session, two massive “House of Friendship” areas were opened, which included a plethora of informational booths representing different clubs from around the world. Information was available for Rotary Club initiatives and partnering organizations globally. Some pleasurable booths were included – BREW/Beers Rotarians Enjoy Worldwide – samples anyone? And Whiskey DRAM/Whiskey Drinking Rotarians – samples included. Seeing people from all of the world milling around in their country’s native dress, speaking many languages, exchanging ideas and believing in the same guiding principles that Rotary International stands for is amazing.

After a day of mingling, our District 6960 gathered for dinner and shared their experiences of the day. The next day the opening session of the conference was held. Actually, the conference was so large there were two opening sessions in the morning and afternoon. After welcoming introductions, a parade of flags marched into the room representing the clubs in attendance. Colorful, spectacular and truly impressive. The colorful flags, the native costumes – the ceremony was outstanding.

The amazing general assembly speakers gave testimony and told their stories of what Rotary does throughout the world and their personal commitment to Rotary and the future of Rotary. Then a myriad of breakout sessions. Three days of morning gatherings and then breakout sessions – learning what’s ahead for Rotary and emphasizing the engagement of all members. This past year, Rotarians have given over 45 million hours of service to the world at an estimate value of $850 billion.

There was plenty of time to mix, mingle and socialize with other Rotarians from around the world. One of the most enjoyable evenings for the Bohrofens was a small intimate dinner hosted by a Hamburg Rotarian in her home. Paraphrasing Eldon Bohrofen: “We may have come from all parts of the world but we speak the same Rotary language.” Rotary is a diverse group of individuals with experiences to share about the world that the world can learn from.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.