Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wishing U Well!

How have you been doing:  good or well?

   So, what's the difference between doing good and doing well, you ask?  It's a good question.  Well, back when I was teaching middle school kids, I'd always greet them as they entered my classroom, using some nickname or friendly comment or just a general "How are you doing today?"  When I knew they were just coming from a big test in a previous class, I'd often ask them, "How did you do on that test?"  Their usual answers were "I did good" or just "Good"!  Being an English teacher, I naturally took every opportunity to correct their grammar by saying, "I'm really happy and proud of you for doing 'well' on a important test!  It's really good to do well!"  (This kind of thing is what English teachers like to do.)  The grammar issue here is switching an noun/adjective for an adverb, or something, but it really is a lot more than simple semantics; it's a lifestyle focus choice.
   Think about it this way:  when we evaluate our success as adults, we say that he/she/we are "doing well", right?  If we are very successful, we are "doing very well, indeed"!  We know immediately that this person is making good money and enjoying the rewards of their efforts.  But what do we mean when we say somebody is doing "good"?  Is it a grammar error or something else?   What do we mean when we call somebody a "do-gooder"?  Is it good to be a "goody-goody"?  Should we be content to "leave well-enough alone" and not worry about being good, as well?  Well, this is a "deep topic", so let's clarify:
   The difference between doing "well" and doing "good" is all about for whom you do it.  If you succeed in advancing your own personal wealth, health, comforts, etc., you do well  for yourself.  Doing "good" means doing the same for others, but not necessarily for yourself.  When you do "good", you are doing "service".  When you are not motivated by personal gain or recognition, you do "Service Above Self", which just happens to be the motto of Rotary International.  But you really can't be a Rotarian unless you do well enough for yourself to be in a position to do good for others in a Service Above Self manner.  Is all this word-play confusing?  Let's simplify:
   If you are a successful person who cares about "giving-back" and sharing some of your personal good fortune, your skills, and your energy, you should join Rotary!  As a Rotarian, you will team with 1.2 million other successful and like-minded folks who collectively do good things at home and abroad.  Think about leveraging your "good intentions" 1,200,000 times!  I have been a Rotarian for 6 years now and working with my club, our district, and with the Rotary Foundation to raise money and do projects sure trumps the "cupcake sales" I used to hold as a school teacher!  It's amazing how much "good" Rotarians can do because Rotary manages their Foundation and their organization so well!  If I am preaching to the choir here, and you are already a Rotarian, then you know "well and good" about all of this.  I would simply implore you to continue to give generously to the Foundation to keep the "green life-blood" flowing!  If you are not yet a Rotarian, why not?  Are you good enough to do well or have you done well-enough to do good?  Visit your local Rotary Club and find out if Rotary is 4 U!!!!
   Well, it's a good time to stop this blog, but Rotarians and hopefully soon-to-be Rotarians alike . . . I wish you all well, good, er, both!  Cheers, Bill R

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When did YOU become a Rotarian?

"So, when did YOU become a Rotarian?"

My wife Beth and I both joined Rotary because our good friends asked us to. Recently retired from teaching, we both had extra time on our hands and no more classrooms/kingdoms to run; we needed some more to do. Rotary seemed to be full of fun people who enjoyed getting together for both good times AND for doing good works. The weekly meetings gave structure to our calendar and the fund-raising projects and social events added sparkle to lives. Being Rotarians gave us the structure to "Think Globally and Act Locally"; it was great working in our local community on projects that would make life better for folks here and abroad. Rotary was a rewarding and enjoyable part of our lives! Then it happened . . . . we went on a Rotary Service Above Self Trip to Mexico and Rotary took over our lives, for the better!

It started out casually enough; our friends suggested we all join with other Rotarians from our local clubs and travel down to Monterey, Mexico to help with a Wheelchair Foundation distribution day. Beth and I had done a lot of traveling and site-seeing before, but tourism with a purpose was a new and interesting concept for us. So, we happily paid our way, climbed on the bus, met a whole bunch of new friends, boarded the airplane and flew off to a whirlwind of fun, gracious hospitality, interesting sights and exhibits, and most of all: a new sense of purpose and devotion. Yes, I know, this also sounds scary. I mean, WHO IS DEVOTED TO ANYTHING, NOWADAYS WITHOUT BEING A FANATIC?

Well, we are, and it's all because of this little Mexican boy and his even smaller sister. In the midst of all the parties and site-seeing we had been doing in Monterey, we were given the opportunity to assemble wheelchairs in a big auditorium. There were teams of American and Mexican Rotarians working together, putting assembled wheelchairs into row after row across the floor while other teams assembled tables of recycled eye glasses and health kits. This was all good fun, especially racing our friends to see who was the fastest wheelchair builder, of course! But it wasn't until we had built every wheelchair and flattened every cardboard box that the real magic moment arrived!

The recipients arrived! From the city of Monterey, from the suburbs, and from the surrounding rural areas, those most in need had been screened, selected, and transported in one conveyance or another to this gymnasium bursting with hope. As these families arrived, bringing their needy members, young and old alike, Rotarians met them and introduced them to their "new wheels". Among many others, Beth and I were lucky enough to meet little Antonio pictured here, his family, and especially his little sister, Maria. Through translators and with our own stumbling Spanish, we learned from his grateful family that "Tonio" had been lame from birth and was a good but lonely boy who enjoyed his little sister's companionship when she would stay home to play with him rather than with her neighborhood friends. Shy at first, Tonio quickly realized his growing freedom and power with his new mobility and began to smile steadily. But it was little Maria who touched us the deepest when she said, "Thank you so much for giving my brother this wonderful wheelchair. Now I can take him with me when I go outside to play with the other children." Having said that to us through the translators, she smiled at us all and wheeled Tonio off on a whirl-wind journey all around the gym and out into the sunlight outside. Glancing at each other, Beth and I knew that we had just both become Rotarians.

So, now Beth and I devote a lot of time, energy, and resources to Rotary. Rotary structures our social lives because we want to socialize with our Rotarian friends. As Beth and I have moved into different positions of responsibility in Rotary, we spend lots of time, maybe too much time, telling each other the details of our efforts. We often violate the "no talk of Rotary after 11pm" rule, but who cares? After all, we are Rotarians!

To Blog or Not to Blog?

To Blog or Not To Blog?

Rubber Duckies never lie, are fair to all, make lots of friends, and are a great benefit to all they meet! They easily pass the Four Way Test and make superb bathtub buddies. Even so, not all duckies are identical. Like us, each duckie develops his/her own unique personality and legacy bobbing and weaving through the sudsy "tides of time". This particular plastic pundit has penned the really big ponderance we all must persue sooner or later, namely what the duck can we do to make a real difference in this world? Willie Duckspeare posits the very purpose of our existence! Against what specific injustices, inequalites, or outright evils should we "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them?" With so many good causes available, how do we contemplative crusaders decide? What to do? What to do and who will help us get it done? What hope is there in a world that needs so, so much good work?

The answer is: join Rotary! Rotarians use the magic of leverage to tackle diseases, hunger, ignorance, poverty, war, and injustice throughout the world! They multiply and leverage their efforts, their skills, their dedication, their resources, their intelligence, their caring, and their imaginations 1.2 million times over by working as a "world-wide family" in over 33,000 clubs spread out into every corner of the globe! Whether it's giving dictionaries to school kids, supplying villages with clean water, micro-credit loans to banish rural poverty, scholarships for future leaders, or eradicating the dread scourges of polio and malaria, Rotary does what no government or NGO has ever done. We Rotarians accomplish our dreams and then dream again and again . . . always bigger, better and bolder. Rotary gets it done! We fullfill our promises to others and to ourselves!

Rotary is huge; it offers members countless opportunities to participate in its programs and projects of SERVICE ABOVE SELF! In fact, each Rotary club is completely autonomous and chooses whatever projects it wants. Within each club, each member is also free to participate according to their own dictates and interests. All volunteers, all the time, Rotarians have skills and energy to offer and are dedicated to their causes in their own individual ways. Rotary needs and seeks all types of members and is a non-religious, non-political, equal-opportunity collection of those folks who want to give back and make the world a better place!

If you are already a Rotarian, then we have been "blogging to the choir"! You know what an incredible opportunity Rotary offers to folks who want to make a difference. To you we say: Thanks and "keep on, keepin' on"! If you are NOT YET A ROTARIAN, please check out our district web site @ for a club near you. Check out our web site for all our activities and projects. Check out Rotary International's web site at: to see the really, really, really big Rotary picture. But mostly, check out your own heart and mind and see if something is missing there. If you think that maybe you would enjoy helping other folks just like you do good things to make our world a better place, both locally and globally, and if you would like to have lots of FUN doing it, then you really need to check out joining your local Rotary club. Like all those rubber duckies in the world, none of us are identical either, but we ALL have something to offer to Rotary, and Rotary has lots to offer all of us! Rotary even needs bloggers! So, the answer for Willie Duckspeare? Blog on, McDuck, blog on for Rotary!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Randall's Rotary Rants: Gator Tails!

Snap! You're a Rotarian!??

     Nope, it isn't that easy to join Rotary. You can't just bite your way into a Rotary club! Mr. Alligator here would have to attend some meetings first and meet some folks who would decide, if they thought his intentions were honorable, to "invite" him to join their club. That's not all, either! Once initiated, Ally-the-Gator would be expected to live up to his promises to actively participate in "Service Above Self", helping his club with their projects and activities while "basking in the warmth" of their camraderie. Joining Rotary means committing both time and personal resources to the betterment of others! In the self-centered swamp Mr. Gator comes from, that might not be "business as usual"! In the ever-competitive swamp of human affairs, it often seems that folks act like gators, doesn't it? Me first, right? Snap!?

Well, not always. We Rotarians are NOT "me first" folks! Rotary has 1.2 million members in more than 33,000 clubs spread through out almost every country in the world! Our motto is: Service Above Self! So, why do so many of us join Rotary? Ask different Rotarians why they joined their clubs and you get lots of reasons; some answers might sound kind of different, but they all mostly say the same thing. "I joined Rotary because I wanted to do some good in the world, to give back, to make things better here and abroad . . . to make a difference!" And Rotarians do what they say! We live up to our promises, live by our "Four Way Test", and we accomplish humanitarian projects of scope and scale no world government or other NGO can match! Ending polio, malaria, supplying clean water, medical care, literacy, micro-credit programs, community service projects of all kinds, youth scholarships and exchanges, Peace Scholars, etc., etc., etc.; the list of Rotary's accomplishments seems endless and continues to grow. Being non-partisan, non-political, non-religious, and having an impeccable financial and business reputation, Rotary leads the world as the premier service organization composed of thousands of completely independent clubs! What holds this all together?

All Rotary clubs have a secret ingredient that binds members together and glues clubs together into the cohesive and happy/huge Rotary family: the fun of fellowship! Rotary is fun, and it's even more fun because we Rotarians share all our efforts and good times with our best friends and cohorts in commitment, our other 1.2 million family members we meet in Rotary! Whether it's attending the weekly club meetings, or our special events or working on projects, fund-raisers, club committee meetings, or even attending the yearly Rotary International Conventions which are held all around the world, Rotarians always have fun! This year's convention in New Orleans was a blast! Imagine visiting this city of music and festival, creole and cajun cooking, steamboats and swamps, with the Mississippi rising, and the party never stopping! Now, add to this 19,000 of your best friends all there to share it with you while you meet to swap ideas, share success stories, learn new strategies, and be filled, once again, with the profound inspiration that is Rotary! Nineteen thousand "tourists with a purpose", you and your Rotary family "basking in the warm New Orleans sunshine and in the glow of Rotary fellowship"! Life-changing experiences are Rotary's "stock and trade". We absolutely love meeting "new family members" from all corners of the world and sharing the joy of Rotary with them.

No, it isn't "a snap" to join Rotary; it does take commitment to become a Rotarian and to make a difference, but all good things take work. Visit your local Rotary club and see for yourself if you are the special type of person Rotary is looking for! Find your local club's meeting time and place at our district web site at: Rotary always welcomes serious applicants. Come help us be the change we want to see in the world! Am I pulling your leg? No, I'm pulling this gator's tail . . . for Rotary! Cheers, Bill Randall Rotary District 5160 PR