Every year, Rotary International has a new president. The president designates a theme he wishes to focus on in his/her Rotary Year of service.
Our club was chartered in Rotary Year 2013-2014. For that Rotary Year, Rotary International's President Ron Burton chose for his theme “Engage Rotary, Change Lives”.
He unveiled his theme during the opening plenary session of the 2013 International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA, the annual training event for incoming District Governors.
In explaining his presidential theme, Ron told the incoming District Governors:
“If we really want to take Rotary service forward, then we must make sure that every single Rotarian has the same feeling about Rotary that each one of us here has today,” Burton said. “We need to make sure that every Rotarian has a meaningful role to play, that they’re all making a contribution, and that their contribution is valued.”
The theme is just four words but contains a lot of room for thought.
Let’s start with the word Engage. This is a proactive word not a passive word. It means to participate or become involved in. Rotarians by nature are engaged people. Engaged with their families, their job and their community. They have chosen to help their communities by becoming members of a Rotary club and to support Rotary’s world-wide effort
The next word is Rotary. This is our world wide organization whose members are dedicated to the concept of “Service Above Self”.
The third word Change is again a proactive word not a passive word. It means to make or become different. For our purposes this is in a positive sense of change for the better.
The fourth word Lives refers to the people who we impact as Rotarians and this includes ourselves. Yes, our service projects do bring positive change to the people who we help. But, in the process of helping others we are also help ourselves. Feeling good about what we do for others has been proven to make us happier and healthier people.
So, it was really fortunate that Ron Burton chose this theme for his Rotary Year. It aligns with one of the basic premises stated when forming our club – we were going to be a service focused club.