Lessons Learned from the Columbia Rotary Club

 

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L-R: Russ Gobble, Vernon Gray (nearly hidden behind some other dude with a luminous collar), Earl Wilkinson (the dude with the luminous collar), Rick Hope with head in hand…hopefully thinking about something important, John Startt, Dave Parris, and PDG Jim McDiarmid “The Admiral.”

 The Columbia Rotary Club (Tuesday evenings) is another one of the “not big” Rotary clubs in our District doing great things that you’ve never heard of.  I visited with them this week and  I’m pleased to report that they are quietly going about serving the local and international community in a big way.   Before I get into sharing some of what they are doing,  here’s a shout out to Past District Governor, Jim McDiarmid, who is  a member of the Columbia club.  Jim was DG when I began doing training in the District all the way back in 2003-2004.  Yes….it’s been THAT LONG.

Here’s the first thing I noticed about the Columbia Evening Club.  Maybe it’s because our long-time and legendary Polio Plus Chair, Raj Saini, is a member, or maybe it’s because their hearts are in the right place, this club is a long-time supporter of Polio Plus.  How do they do it?  Check this out.  Each member is committed to giving $200 per year to the Rotary Foundation.  Their secret sauce is that $120 goes to the Annual Program Fund, and $80 per member goes to Polio Plus.  The currently have 24 members so they have $2,000+ Polio Plus giving “baked in the cake.”  But last year, due to some special donations, the club contributed $19,000 to Polio Plus.  Wow!  They also have several Paul Harris Society members giving to Polio Plus as well. (See my recent post about the Bill Gates 2 for 1 match on Polio contributions.)

The next thing about the club is that they are BIG fundraisers.  This less than thirty member club raises $30,000 per year through their golf tournament and other fundraisers.  That’s big money for a club this size.  But the interesting thing is that they do a lot of “hands on” community service and members pride themselves on spending time each week doing service work.  A favorite charity of theirs in Howard County is the Loan Closet, an organization that loans out wheel chairs and other medical equipment.  It’s not the money…it’s the labor that they seem to be most proud of.  Couldn’t we all do a little more of that?

The challenge for this club, as it is for many of the smaller clubs that I visit, is to realize that although they are deservedly proud of the good work they do in Howard County and in supporting the Rotary Foundation, they have the opportunity to reinvent themselves to do even more.  Speaking with Club President, Mimi O’Donnell, and President-Elect Tom Burtzlaff, after the meeting, we agreed that one of the roles of Rotary club leaders is “to love their club a little less.”  They agreed there is much that can be done to move this club forward.  The only limits to where they can go and what they can accomplish in the future is their own imagination and the club’s willingness to leave the status quo behind.  Ready, Fire, Aim!  My own suggestion?….more younger members.

I sense that change is on the way in the Columbia Rotary Club.  I can’t wait to see what direction its going to take.

 

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One thought on “Lessons Learned from the Columbia Rotary Club

  1. It’s always encouraging to see “not big” clubs really take Rotary to heart and get out there to do the things that need doing. I see a few gray hairs, too. So it’s even more encouraging that their not sitting on their laurels.

    Younger members. A challenge for us all.

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