Press Release:- The new virtual space was the perfect catalyst for the energy that was released during the just concluded Rotary PETS seminar, organized ahead of the District Conference and hosted by Rotary clubs in Saint Lucia.
A pre-curser to the annual District Conference, PETS is a required training programme for all in-coming Presidents and Secretaries who will carry on the mantle of leadership for Rotary in all clubs at the start of each new Rotary year.
This is where the strength of Rotary comes from, its succession planning.
This year’s feature speaker was Rotary International (RI) President Elect (PE) Shekhar Mehta who hails from Calcutta-Mahanagar West Bengal India.
Addressing the virtual audience of Rotaractors and Rotarians alike, he opened with his borrowed interpretation of words inspired by Muhammad Ali, “service to others is the rent we pay for being alive, for being tenants on this earth”.
He had his audience captive from the word service.
RI President Elect Shekhar charged his incoming presidents with the responsibility to grow Rotary worldwide from the existing membership of 1.2M, to 1.3M active members. He threw out the challenge to each person to “grow their club by one member”.
He urged them to become “change-maker Presidents and in so doing, to treat the membership as customers.”
RI President Elect Shekhar was electric. Not only did he throw out the challenge to build the membership.
He gave strong suggestions as to how this could be accomplished.
He pushed for engagement and retention as critical to the process of bringing in new members.
In addressing this issue, he said, “find out what are they looking for and keep them engaged. Use the technology in the growth of Rotary and build hybrid clubs around themes.”
He pushed his in-coming Presidents to consider new ways of engagement.
“When we grow more we will be able to do more on projects in the nation building process; real projects that will impact people, like education. Think about projects that will, through global grants, bring e-learning to the school system”.
He went on to say, “Projects must create an impact in the country itself. Make an impact worthy of the organization. Think about water projects; toilets; Rotary can change lives. The biggest gift we are given is the power to touch lives. Reach out with our minds, body and soul. We have the power and magic to serve to change lives”.
In his bid to draw the attention of non-rotarians, and to impress upon the Rotarians who were present, PE Shekhar drew on help from his ancestors. He pulled a quote from Mahatma Gandhi.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Having spent a life committed to Rotary, and recognizing that the hybrid club format will be the future of Rotary, he implored those present to “serve to change lives, think big, and to give peace a chance.”
In closing, PE Shekhar pulled out all the stops. He said, “In this world many people just don’t have the things we take for granted. Grow more. Do more.”
In Saint Lucia, Rotary is over 50 years old, and falls within District 7030, in Zones 33/34.
District Governor Lisle Chase currently sits at the helm of this district, presiding over the first virtual district conference for the 2020-2021 Rotary year.
Headline photo: Shekhar Mehta