Program Report: Centennial Community Service

DonStanger at wrap-upWebCentennial Co-Chairs Don Stanger and Brady Surles shared the podium to provide a wrap-up before the end of the year of the Community Service aspect of the centennial milestone. Our chief fundraisers, Susan Ross and Andy Esser also shared the results of those efforts.

There were a lot of numbers and they were all good. We’ve blown past the fund raising goal and we’re now at $265,812. Ditto for the 100 Acts of Service where we are over 2000 and headed for 3000. All in all, it was an excellent summary of a year’s worth of activities with details and pictures. The PowerPoint that accompanied it is well worth clicking through to see a lot of smiling faces of Rotarians and some of the beneficiaries of the 100 Acts.  The links to the two pdfs are here and here.

All that detail presents a challenge to this reporter to pick the right things to summarize the summary. Should I note the breakdown of the uses of the funds? I could easily dwell on the Habitat House and the Habitat Family that were guests of the club at the meeting? Maybe highlight the active participation of so many Rotarians on a beautiful fall weekend at Centerfest? Or maybe the partnership that brought about the construction of toilets in Pune India.?

Rather than do try to do that, let’s step back and reflect a moment on what the original objectives were before the signs of “centennial fatigue” begin to show around the edges.

The first objective was to celebrate and reflect on the first hundred years. We’ve done that remarkably well. We’ve honored long time members, past presidents, and our history. Still to come is a written history of the last 25 years and a wrap-up celebration at the marvelous 21C Hotel.

The second objective was to prime the pump for the next 100 years and beyond.  We’ve had some extremely generous financial contributions from major donors to provide a solid underpinning for future activities and everyone in the club at the beginning of the Centennial Year has made some contribution.

BradyCentennialWrapupJust as important, the Centennial did something I really haven’t seen like this in all my years in Rotary. This was the effort to recruit and even badger everyone to participate in what Rotary is known for, Service Above Self. Some of the biggest beneficiaries of this were the many non-profits led by members including Habitat, Urban Ministries, EDCI, the Rescue Mission, the Carolina Theatre, the Senior Center, the Arts Council and others. There were so many things going on in Education that they had to be pulled together in one large committee to keep a handle on them. Partnerships became a big idea especially in the International Committee where other clubs locally and around the world and Sister Cities came together to tackle bigger goals.  All the people involved in organizing and supporting these efforts from Don and Brady all the way down to the humble communications committee contributed hundreds of hours that weren’t recorded as official Acts of Service.

One sign that we have been successful in creating the momentum needed to keep growing in service are the trends in membership, attendance and participation. Even such mundane things as the pot in the weekly raffle seem to be going in the right direction.

One thing that can never be completely documented are all the stories that this service generates that enrich us through getting to know our fellow Rotarians, people in need, our community, and ourselves.  Listening to Tom Kern recruiting for this year’s bell ringing, I can remembered vividly how wonderful the coffee tasted after spending an hour standing in front of WalMart one frigid December morning and how I was struck by the generosity of people that obviously didn’t have much and often parents teaching theirs kids to give.

BaradaHabitatFamilyWebSeeing Placide Barada and the new Habitat family recalled a moment on an earlier Habitat House working with Andy Barada and being struck by this dimension in a person I had known as a neighbor and Rotarian but not as a carpenter.

Another vivid memory I have is the shy smile of recognition from the beautiful 1st grader I saw in the hall at YE Smith that I had tutored the year before using flash cards and tissue to wipe her nose. Every time I drove over to YE Smith last year, I felt a little ashamed that I had spent more time in East Durham in three years of Reading Rangers than I had the previous 20 plus years put together and still called myself a citizen of Durham. I learned that it’s not scary and is part of the wonderful texture of Durham that I was barely aware of.

Yep, the motto is Service above Self, which sounds very noble. But it could easily be Give a Little Service, Grow a Little Self.

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