Here we are at the 1/2 point in the Rotary year; six months behind us and six months to go. Time certainly does fly while we’re having fun and I have been having a blast in this role.
I’d like to take this time to bring all D7980 Rotarians up to speed on where things are within our district.
Membership: It’s no secret that maintaining (and growing) Club membership is a top priority this year for the majority of our Rotary Clubs. Our district has suffered a 10-year decline in membership that has seen us drop approximately 530 Net Rotarians during the past 10 years. The district hasn’t a single ‘positive’ membership growth year in the past 10 years but this year all of our district leaders and club presidents have dedicated themselves to turning this ship around.
As of the 1/2 way point in the year I am happy to report that we are up by 21 Net Members since July 1st. We have added 120 Rotarians while losing 99 Rotarians. This membership news is very encouraging as what it really means is that our clubs are starting to grow again. Finishing the year in positive territory would be an incredible accomplishment.
Public Relations / Public Image: Many of our Rotary Clubs are very good at getting the word out about what they do while others struggle to do so. Clubs use various methods for their public facing messaging including:
- Websites – about 48 (80%) of our 61 Clubs maintain a website
- Social Media – about 52 (85%) of our 61 Clubs use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Blogs for messaging in some fashion.
- Brochures – over 30 (50%) of our 61 Clubs have a brochure which they handout to prospective members that describes what they do and what they are all about.
- Press – about 35 (57%) of our 61 Clubs manage to get press coverage in the local papers on a regular basis.
- Signage – many of our Clubs leverage roadsigns (Rotary meets here), signs on dedicated projects, and signs at meeting locations to advertise their presence in the community.
The challenge of maintaining an effective public facing Club presence is compounded by the multiple media outlets that our contacts frequent, which forces us to ‘be everywhere’. Helping Clubs to create greater public awareness for themselves is a primary goal for this year and our team will continue to work with Clubs to achieve the greatest community visibility possible.
Did you know what many of our Rotary Clubs do within their communities?
Dictionary Projects – 75% of our Clubs (that’s about 45 of them) distribute an average of 360 dictionaries to Connecticut 3rd Graders for a total just north of 16,000 books.
- Food Drives – 70% of the Clubs in our District (42 of them) participate in or run Food Drives to help out people in need within their communities. About 1/2 of the Clubs are involved with the Liberty Bank Food Drive while the other 1/2 run Club based drives. All told, our Rotary Clubs raise well over $250,000 in money and food products for people in need right here in Connecticut.
- Keeping Our Neighbors Warm – well over a dozen of our Clubs either run programs where they give away thousands of winter coats to kids at schools and/or they arrange for ways for family members in need to obtain new clothing. Some of our Clubs focus heavily on providing fuel assistance to those in need by either providing financial assistance or by having fuel deliveries arranged.
Serving Meals – many of our Clubs take a ‘hands-on’ approach by actively participating at community soup kitchens, serving Thanksgiving dinners, serving Senior luncheons/dinners, running recognition luncheons for Veterans, making food baskets for families in need and delivering meals to ‘shut-ins’.
- Amber Alert Registrations – 21 of our D7980 Rotary Clubs are actively engaged in taking photos of children and entering their information into an encrypted nationwide database for the Amber Alert Safe Child ID program.
Scholarships – Our Rotary Clubs are especially good at giving back and helping young people in variety of ways and the vast majority of our Clubs provide some sort of scholarship program. Scholarships programs vary based on the Club and awards can range from several hundred dollars to well over thirty thousand dollars.
- Youth Engagement – The vast majority of our progressive Rotary Club leaders recognize the importance of engaging and connecting young people to Rotary and they work hard to do so by sponsoring and supporting student participation in district-wide youth services programs like Rotaract, Interact, RYLA, Advanced RYLA and Youth Exchange. Programs for young people allow Rotarians the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ in ways that have tremendous positive impact on future generations.
- Literacy – Some of our Rotary Clubs are focused heavily on improving literacy by creating Rotary Library Corners, running book drives and book sales, by leading town-wide ‘One Book’ programs and forging strong partnerships with school systems, Colleges and Universities within their communities.
Of course the above says nothing about the fabulous and the many unique community projects like Habitat for Heroes, playgrounds, pavilions, smoke detectors for seniors and the many more which our Rotary Clubs do.
- The Rotary Foundation – Our Rotarian’s continue to generously support the Rotary Foundation as 47 of our 61 Rotary Clubs have contributed over $130,000 to the Rotary Foundation since July 1st. Contributions have been made to the Annual Fund, the Permanent Fund, the Endowment Fund and Polio Plus.
- Oklahoma Tornado Humanitarian Relief – About 20 of our Rotary Clubs have raised just over $12k to provide assistance to those who were affected by a series of deadly tornadoes that hit Moore OK and Oklahoma City in May of this year.
Philippines Typhoon Relief Effort – 20 Rotary Clubs and 22 Individuals have contributed over $27k to provide assistance in the form of Shelter Boxes for those who have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan. These contributions will allow us to send 27 Shelter Boxes to those in need; 16 have been sent already with the balance going out within the next few weeks.
Mombassa Kenya Project – 18 of our Rotary Clubs have expressed preliminary interest in participating in this Global Grant project for school a complex in Mombassa Kenya of 8 buildings that needs just about everything: Electric power to all buildings, a well pump and new water storage tank, new functioning toilets for students and staff, new roofs, desks, a library, a computer lab, cooking facilities, etc.
Still other Clubs do many unique International projects such as clean water projects, well projects, first aid in India, dengue fever project, Gift of Life, building schools in Zimbabwe, dental clinics, Haitian Health foundation, playground projects and the South Asia Water initiative to name just a few.
I know that this was a long post but thankfully you didn’t have to sit through a speech covering all of this.
There is much to do still in the remaining six months of this Rotary year and I look forward to working with each of you in achieving your goals.