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2009/10 The Future of Rotary is in your hands

With over a century of successful Rotary service, we are proud to be confident of a future in which generation after generation of Rotarians will bring hope to those in  need and peace to a world full of conflict. We see ourselves as part of a great Rotary tradition, as links in a chain joining our future to our past. 

If that chain is to continue, every link in it must be strong. It is our responsibility, yours and mine, to forge solid links to Rotary’s future. It is our responsibility to ensure that Rotary will be stronger next year than it is now, and even stronger the year after that. It is our responsibility to fulfill our promise of a poliofree world today so that Rotary can take on other great challenges tomorrow. 

As Mohandas Gandhi once told us, “The future depends on what we do in the present.” If we hope to see Rotary continue through a second century, we cannot simply leave well alone. If the road ahead is to be long, then we will need a map to travel it — and we have that map. 

With input from Rotarians worldwide, Rotary International has developed a strategic plan with seven priorities that set the course for a strong future. Now is the time for us to take the initiative to make this plan a reality: 

o Eradicating polio is our first and main priority. Through our fundraising challenge, we can help to provide the resources to finish this crucial job and keep our promise to the world. 

o Advancing the recognition and public image of Rotary will help Rotary attract new members and cooperation from other organizations. PolioPlus has given Rotary prominence on the world stage. Now is the time to build on our international reputation by promoting our local and global service activities to the media and to our communities. 

o Increasing Rotary’s capacity to provide service speaks to the heart of Rotary’s mission. Every Rotarian can contribute to reaching this goal by volunteering a little more time, talent, and enthusiasm along all four Avenues of Service. In 2009-10, I will encourage Rotarians to continue to focus their service efforts in the areas of water, health and hunger, and literacy — vital issues that clubs have been addressing most effectively in recent years. 

o Expanding membership globally in both numbers and quality is a key priority because everything Rotary hopes to accomplish depends on its members. Each of us is responsible for bringing in qualified new members. Too few Rotarians fulfill this responsibility, and only Rotarians have the ability to increase our numbers by inviting others to join their club. 

o Emphasizing Rotary’s unique vocational service commitment will enable us to distinguish Rotary from other service and humanitarian organizations. By demonstrating our strong commitment to high ethical standards in our professional lives, we can provide a model for our colleagues, our employees, our customers — even our competitors — to follow. 

o Optimizing leadership talents within RI is essential to Rotary’s future. Each of us should take a leadership role, whether it be heading a club committee or service project or serving at the district or international level. All Rotarians are leaders in their businesses and professions; let us be leaders in Rotary as well. 

o Fully implementing the strategic planning process to ensure continuity will allow us to make a smooth transition during the annual change in leadership at the club, district, and international levels.  

Although this strategic plan was approved by the RI Board, its implementation depends on you. The RI president cannot invite members to join your club. The RI Board cannot organize and promote a fundraiser in your community to support polio eradication. Nor can any senior leader demonstrate Rotary’s code of ethics in your workplace. The Future of Rotary Is in Your Hands. 

This simple truth will be our theme for 2009-10, serving as a constant reminder of the personal responsibility that each Rotarian holds. Winston Churchill once said: “The price of greatness is responsibility.” Rotary is a great organization, and it has the potential to become even greater — if each one of us rises to the challenge and takes responsibility for its future. 

In Rotary, each one of us has been assigned a job. Its title is Rotarian. Our duties are to offer relevant service locally and internationally, and to expand our club’s capacity for service by inviting professional and business leaders to become members and promoting a positive image locally. Our job description also calls for each of us to be an example of ethical behavior in our professional and personal lives, to act as leaders in our club and community, and to fully support Rotary’s highest priority of polio eradication.  

The job of Rotarian brings immense benefits. We enjoy incomparable fellowship with one another and the great personal satisfaction that comes from serving others. If you believe in Rotary and its power to make a difference in the world, it is time to stand up and commit to doing the best job you can — with all of your mind, your heart, and your soul. The Future of Rotary Is in Your Hands.  

John Kenny

President, Rotary International, 2009-2010

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