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May 12, 2005

Aw, shucks, ma'am...

I am a Rotarian. So's my Dad. I'm proud to be one, as it is through Rotary I have been able to serve in a volunteer capacity in my community - and the larger world. Via Rotary I serve as a volunteer and Board member for two other organizations, and help serve the entire region of northeast Kansas. I'm more than a checkbook giver - I give my time and skills, as well.

The New York times noticed Rotary International today. It's just amazing what we small-town dentists and funeral directors can accomplish, once we put our minds to it.

Next month Rotary International turns 100. Rotary clubs, a staple of small-town life, are celebrating the construction of innumerable parks, the holding of myriad blood drives, the awarding of countless college scholarships - and the imminent global eradication of polio.

Twenty years ago, there were a thousand new cases of polio every day. Now polio strikes only about a thousand children a year. By next year, that number should be zero. People who think of Rotary as a congregation of service-minded dentists and funeral directors may not have noticed, but the dentists and funeral directors have created the largest, most successful private health initiative ever.

The (to me) breath-taking assumptions about Rotary the journo puts into her piece (and the editors may have cut stuff, too, in her defense) do show that we don't market ourselves much. We prefer to act, and have since we were justly pilloried in the 30's for much talk, little action.

And act we do, locally and internationally.

For Ms. Rosenberg's edification - here's a list of the clubs that are a staple in the "small town life" of the New York City area... we invite her to join!

If you are interested - here's the Club Locator - you can find a club just about anywhere in the US, and in 167 other countries, too, for our non-US-based visitors! You don't have to be invited - you can just show up and you'll be welcomed.

And don't think that Rotary is a rigidly PC group of people. Each club has it's own character. One of ours is that every now and then certain members brings in things like machine guns, and other historical artifacts for the meeting program (note I said *members*, plural). And, when we have an exchange group come through, we take them shooting. Last week it was a group of Argentinians and Paraguayans, who got to shoot Argentine and Paraguayan Mausers, and some Span-Am war era weapons. Last year it was a Japanese group who got to shoot Japanese and US Civil War/Indian War era weapons. So don't just assume we're all nice little liberals... *or* conservatives - we're just people who put our money and our time where our mouths are - unlike many more vocal people who just like to make signs and smash windows, he said, engaging in a little stereotyping of his own...

If you sample your local Rotary Club and find it's not to your liking - give the other service clubs a visit - the Lions, Kiwanis, Optimists, just to name a few - they all share one thing in common - organizing local leaders and interested individuals to help out in the local community. And it isn't as expensive as you might think - but it *can* be as expensive as you're willing to let it be in terms of time and money. But the rewards are tangible and intangible, and worth it. And you guys and gals in uniform - it can be challenging to be a member, but the clubs all have mechanisms that allow you to participate as active members, while accounting for all those things that can make it difficult to attend on a regular basis. Don't just *assume* you can't make it work.