The people who know me best — my family —
know that my passion for Rotary is boundless. They
also know that I don’t expect them to get involved
in Rotary the way I have. It’s a choice that’s up to
them. But I must admit, I can’t help smiling when I
see them making the right choice.
At the end of the Toronto convention last year,
my 12-year-old granddaughter turned to me and
said, “I’m inspired to do something. What can
I do?” Naturally, I did what any other Rotarian
grandfather worth his salt would do: I asked her if
there was an Interact club in her school. When she
discovered there wasn’t, she attempted to set one
up. Unfortunately, her principal had other ideas,
but we should not be deterred from helping Rotary
youth programs whenever we can, because their
value is beyond question.
Take Rotary Youth Leadership Awards as one
example. It transforms young people into more
confident, focused individuals with a better
understanding of the world around them —
changes I was pleased to see in my 16-year-old
grandson after he participated.
My family is just the beginning. Everywhere I go,
I meet people of all ages whose lives have been
changed by our youth programs. They tell me how,
five or 15 or 25 years ago, Rotary Youth Exchange
taught them a new language or introduced them
to a new culture. Their eyes light up when they
talk about how New Generations Service Exchange
helped them advance in their career, or about how
membership in Rotaract first ignited their passion
for giving back to the community.
Rotary’s programs for young leaders extend
our ideals of service, friendship, and leadership
development beyond the doors of our clubs to
hundreds of thousands of young people each
year. And when we serve with and for those
young people — as sponsors, project partners, and
mentors — it brings out the best in us, and it brings
out the best in Rotary.
May is Youth Service Month, and there are many
ways your Rotary club can celebrate. Sponsor an
Interact club or Rotaract club, and your Rotary club
will give young people in your community the tools
they need to take action, become leaders, and
gain a global perspective. Team up with your local
Rotaract club for a service project. Get to know the
participants in Rotary’s programs for young leaders
and share their stories with your community.
You’ll find more ideas in this year’s Rotary Citation
brochure, located under the Awards section of the
Member Center at my.rotary.org.
This month, let’s Be the Inspiration to the young
leaders in our communities by mentoring them,
engaging them, and working side by side with
them on meaningful projects. It’s an investment in
their future and in the world they will live in after
we’re gone. And it’s work that will forever enrich
their lives, and our own.