We Rotarians are, if anything, eternal optimists. Otherwise, why would we work so hard in the face of insurmountable obstacles and challenges to make the world a better place for all?
Despite suffering through a pandemic that has severely impacted our world, our communities, our families and even our own clubs – Rotarians remain steadfast in their mission to “Serve to Change Lives.”
This optimism – this conviction that our work as Rotarians really DOES make a difference – is readily apparent as I begin traveling throughout the district and visit our clubs. 
Our July 10 year-end celebration and installation was not only enjoyable, but invigorating! Not only did we salute the great efforts of those who persevered and kept Rotary involved in helping others through this pandemic, but the overwhelming focus was on the future -- and the opportunities this year to serve others.
Time and time again, I was approached during the weekend by Rotarians excited to tell me of upcoming projects and activities their clubs are planning as we emerge from a year of meeting virtually and self-imposed quarantine.
I’ve sensed that same enthusiasm as I’ve begun to visit our clubs. Since July 1, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few club installations and have now begun my official DG visits. The atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever sensed before – our clubs are clearly eager to get back to work and find ways to serve! 
Mesa West club members in July pitched in to renovate a child-care room at the local YMCA. Gilbert Rotarians volunteered at the local food bank. Our Interact District sent two groups of students – one to Kenya and the other to Mexico – to distribute mobility devices. The list goes on, but one thing is certain: Our clubs are committed to this year’s theme: Serve to Change Lives.
In addition to reinvigorating our members and impacting lives, our commitment to community service leads to one other potent result: It builds our membership.
There is no better way to attract new members then to invite them to a project and see we Rotarians at our best: Serving others! 
Our district started this July exactly 102 members less than we had last July. The good news, though, is that we’ve already signed up nearly 25 new members in July – and the clubs report that most of those new members were introduced to Rotary at a recent service project.
So, let’s get out there and start serving our communities – the sooner, the better! I challenge all our clubs to find a way to serve: Conduct a food drive, support your local school, assist a nonprofit, build a community garden and more. And be sure to invite the public and non-Rotarians to join us in this effort!
And by the way, I’ve shared with club presidents that for my official DG club visit, I’m just as happy to participate in a service project as opposed to the traditional DG talk. 
Please drop me an email or visit my Facebook page to keep me posted on your projects. We intend to share ongoing projects and success stories on our district’s website and Facebook page.
This is the year to “Serve to Change Lives” – let’s make it one to remember!
District news and notes:
  • We’ve posted a photo carousel depicting the awards and activities that took place at the July 10 District Celebration and Installation on our district website. Special thanks to Wayne General for his superb photography!
  • We are in the process of creating a quarterly “service project consortium” that will focus on service opportunities – both local and international. The intention is to host a virtual program once per quarter and invite clubs to share their upcoming service projects. The idea is to keep clubs and members in our district aware of projects they may want to support or join. Information will soon be posted at the district website.
  • Congratulations to Brianna Rodriguez, this year’s new district governor for our District 5495 Interact Council. We have over 80 Interact clubs at high schools throughout our district, and I encourage our clubs to reach out to their Interact clubs and re-engage with students. Congratulations to the Rotary Club of Silver Creek for being the first club in our district to start a new Interact Club this Rotary year!