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Building bridges to local Rotaries

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New governor pays visit to Chiefland club

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

David Rauch, Rotary International 6940 district governor, likes to introduce himself as a member of the only Rotary Club named for a bridge. 

And they may define his year in office as he travels to visit all 51 clubs in the 19 counties that make up the district. The Chiefland Rotary Club visit on Aug. 6 was his 19th since taking office.

A third-generation Rotarian, Rauch is a member of the Mid-Bay Club in Niceville. His father is a member of the Destin Rotary club and holds the record for 44 years of perfect attendance.

Rauch was bringing a message from the Rotary International President Gary C.K. Huang of Taiwan is: "Light Up Rotary.”

Rauch said the goal is to retain members and grow the organization and that means building bridges within a club's community. Doing so will have its rewards, Rauch said.

“You'll find out Rotary is bigger than you,” he said. He said clubs with under 40 members, like the Chiefland Rotary are the right size. He told the members to bring the right people into the club, those devoted to service and to build bridges in the community by using social media to carry the club's message.

He said Facebook could also be a good tool for retaining members by keeping them engaged. And members need to ask themselves, “Who are we not inviting to Rotary?” To help with recruiting, one club, initiated a special pin to be awarded to honor those who successfully recruited two new members. Rauch said at a presentation, he noticed one member who got his pin challenge another by asking, "When will you get your pin?”

He said the club whose motto is “Service Above Self” should trumpet the many ways it serves with water projects, polio eradication projects, education and other worthy causes.

The program "Every Rotarian Every Year" is where donations to the Rotary International Foundation bring money back to the donor's club. “Half comes back,” Rauch said. This can be used for local projects – like Chiefland's dictionary giveaway to third grade students in Chiefland and Cedar Key schools.

Other projects supported by the clubs include the Rotary Youth Camp for disabled and developmentally disabled youth. The week-long camp offers the children's caretakers a break and gives the children a new experience. And there is also the Rotary Youth Leadership training where a student nominated by a school's faculty as someone who needs that “little push” to step up is sponsored by a club and mentored to be a leader.

He told the club to pursue vigorously the Polio Plus project which RI has conducted since the '80s because the end is near. The goal of the project is to eradicate polio in the world and now only three nations are left — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

“They are predicting eradication by 2018,” Rauch said. And the goal for this year is to get every child immunized. Rauch reminded the club that for every $1 raised in the local Purple Pinkie Projects, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donates $2 to the cause to immunize children and eradicate the crippling disease. “Nigeria has been one of the toughest countries (for eradication),” Rauch said. “But it had only five cases this year.

Rauch also told the Rotarians about a new activity “Rotary Fellowships” where members with similar hobbies get together online and in person. He said nearly 60 fellowships have been formed.

In closing, Rauch told the Chiefland Rotarians to remember: “We all light a light when we all work together.”