John Germ President, Rotary International, 2016-17
Rotary has been many things, to many people, in the last 111 years. Through Rotary, our members have found friends, community, and a sense of purpose; we’ve forged connections, advanced our careers, and had incredible experiences we couldn’t have had anywhere else. Every week, in more than 34,000 clubs around the world, Rotarians come together to talk, laugh, and share ideas. But above all, we come together for one, overriding goal: service.
Service to humanity has been the cornerstone of Rotary since its earliest days, and has been its main purpose ever since. I believe that there is no better path to meaningful service today than Rotary membership; and no organization better placed to make a real and positive difference in our world. No other organization so effectively brings together committed, capable professionals in a wide variety of fields, and enables them to achieve ambitious goals. Through Rotary, we have the capacity, the network, and the knowledge to change the world: the only limits are the ones we place on ourselves.
Today, our organization is at a critical point: a historic juncture that will determine, in so many ways, what comes next. Together, we have provided extraordinary service to our world; tomorrow, our world will depend on us to do even more. Now is the time to capitalize on our success: as we complete the eradication of polio, and catapult Rotary forward, with determination and enthusiasm, to be an even greater force for good in the world.
Of the many lessons polio eradication has taught us, one of the most important is also one of the simplest: that if we want to bring all of Rotary forward, we’ve all got to be moving in the same direction. Continuity of leadership, at the club, district, and RI level, is the only way we will flourish, and achieve our full potential. It is not enough simply to bring in new members and form new clubs: our goal is not more Rotarians, but more Rotarians who can achieve more good Rotary work, and will become the Rotary leaders of tomorrow.
Near the end of his life, reflecting on the path that brought him to Rotary, Paul Harris wrote: “Individual effort may be turned to individual needs, but combined effort should be dedicated to the service of mankind. The power of combined effort knows no limitation.” He could hardly have imagined then that one day, more than 1.2 million Rotarians would be combining their efforts, and, through our Rotary Foundation, their resources, to serve humanity together. And we can only imagine what great deeds Paul Harris would have expected of such a Rotary! It is our responsibility to achieve those deeds; as it is our privilege to carry forth the tradition of Rotary Serving Humanity.