I am going to use the KCS Blog today to reflect on a wonderful organization with which I have only recently (2+ years) become associated.
When I decided to start KCS in August 2011, one of the benefits for me was the opportunity to eliminate my commute into NYC, which I had done since I was 18 (34 years in total), when I began my college career at Fordham. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was going to be invited to join the Wyckoff / Midland Park Rotary. As someone who would routinely leave his home at 6am or earlier to commute to work, attending Rotary meetings every Thursday morning at 7:30 am was just not in the cards.
When I was first approached to join, I gladly accepted the invitation to check out Rotary, but I was very skeptical. I had neither the knowledge of what Rotary did nor who they served, and my unease was further exacerbated by my fear that I would likely be asked to wear some funny looking hat and to learn a secret handshake. Despite those reservations, I was willing to listen to their “sales pitch”. I am so thankful that I took that plunge. Following a brief courtship, I became a member of the local Rotary.
The W/MP Rotary supports numerous local, regional and international programs. We sponsor and financially support scholarships for local high school students and leadership programs for those children who are willing to bring the output from these programs back into their schools. These are all wonderful endeavors, but the one program that I am most proud that our club participates in is the “Gift of Life” program for which Rotary is a major supporter. Currently, our local club is sponsoring a young child from Peru, who will have heart surgery next week. He and his mother are staying with one of our members, and many of the club’s members have helped to shuttle them from one doctor’s appointment to another. It is this sense of community that so impresses me.
Just this morning, we had a surprise guest from Uganda. Grace was the very first recipient of a “Gift of Life” in 1975. She remains very much involved with the Gift of Life program in Uganda, where she helps to organize the many missions of hope that travel to Uganda. She has felt compelled to give back to this program that obviously had such a profound impact on her life, in addition to the lives of the more than 17,000 children and young adults that have received these amazing gifts.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to become familiar with Rotary, I’d like to encourage you to do so. Find a local chapter. Get involved. Rotary is all about service above self. There are currently 1.2 million members, in more than 200 countries around the globe. In addition to the Gift of Life program, Rotary began a fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By 2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down from 125 in 1988. Rotarians have immunized more than 2 billion children, and contributed or helped raise more than $10 billion to fight this horrible disease. Incredible!
Starting KCS in August 2011 has been wonderful, but having the opportunity to get involved in Rotary because of being imbedded locally in my community has been priceless!