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District governor gives Rotarians a mission

By Staff | Aug 28, 2009

Rotary District Governor Gerald Retzlaff encouraged Estherville Rotarians Thursday to take charge of the future of Rotary. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

“The future of Rotary is in your hands,” Gerald Retzlaff, Rotary district governor, told Estherville Rotarians Thursday, repeating Rotary’s theme for this year. “We are nothing more than custodians for this year until we hand it over to somebody else next year.”

Retzlaff reviewed seven Rotary principles for this year.

First is eradication of polio, a mantle Rotary picked up in 1984. Rotary International was presented a goal of raising $120 million to help get rid of polio. However, Rotarians did not meet that goal.

They raised $1.2 billion instead.

However, polio remains – undoubtedly for politically related reasons that prevent access for health-care workers – in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria. Retzlaff said imams in Nigeria were claiming polio vaccine made in the U.S. was actually sterilizing women. So the vaccine is now made in France.

Retzlaff also noted the contribution of Bill Gates who challenged Rotary to match $100 million then pledged another $255 million if Rotarians raised $100 million. That amount is voluntary on the part of Rotarians rather than an assessment, he said.

The second priority is public relations. The district governor suggested brochures for prospective members.

Third was asking that Rotarians give more of their time and talent to helping others.

Fourth was increasing membership. Retzlaff said Rotary clubs lose 10-15 percent of their members each year, so he encouraged Rotarians to invite new prospective members.

Fifth was an emphasis of Rotary as a vocational service. Retzlaff encouraged Rotarians to seek out people in occupations not currently represented in their club.

Sixth was optimizing leadership talents. Retzlaff said some of the best program presentations are by Rotarians who talk about their businesses.

Seventh was making a smooth transition from one year to the next.

Following his presentation, Retzlaff encouraged Rotarians to participate in such activities as the Rotary Youth Leadership Conference, group study exchange to Poland and next year’s district conference in Dubuque.