Rotary Opens Opportunities

As we embark on the 2020 – 2021 Rotary year under the banner of RI President Holger Knaack’s theme, Rotary Opens Opportunities, the entire Rotary world finds itself challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and widespread global economic challenge.
In the face of such difficult times, many outside of Rotary would retreat from their volunteer activities. That is not the Rotary way; we are People of Action, and working to change the world for the better is in our blood. We have already seen this throughout our district as clubs are finding new and innovative ways to meet virtually or via creative and safe social distancing. Clubs in our district are also executing a diverse array of service projects. Many are different than those the clubs had planned before the pandemic, yet through these projects our clubs are continuing to serve our world.
As we move forward through this Rotary year in the shadow of COVID-19, it is critically important that we stay safe and be adaptable. If we do not take care of ourselves, our loved-ones, and our community through careful action to prevent infection, we will be less able to act on our motto, Service Above Self.  While the pandemic is still active, each and every Rotary event must be completely optional for in-person participation.
With that limitation, though, there are still many things we can do to continue to serve our world, and I encourage each club to brainstorm creatively, looking for novel approaches that are both safe and effective. 
It is also a time to embrace the unexpected opportunities that will arise amidst this crisis. Examples include building new and innovated membership and meeting models that work better when traditional in-person meetings are not being held (and may continue to work well in the long-term), inviting potential members, past members, and past alumni to join via virtual meetings, creative service projects to support communities harmed by the coronavirus, and more.
I urge us all to keep a positive focus on finding opportunities that will allow us to continue to serve. If we work together in optimism, we can do more than just survive – we have the opportunity to grow and thrive.