John F. Germ
I joined Rotary as an engineer. There are almost as many classifications in the profession of engineering as there are in Rotary, but I happen to be a mechanical engineer. A mechanical engineer calculates the heating and cooling loads for a new building, makes sure the right lights are in the right places, and plans the plumbing so your hot water pipe doesn’t end in a drinking fountain.
Mechanical engineers don’t stand out in a crowd, and they don’t call attention to themselves with what they do. You probably haven’t thought much about the engineers who designed the buildings you use, the car you drive, or the traffic patterns you follow. But every time you get in an elevator, turn the key in your ignition, or cross the street when the light says go, you are entrusting your life to an engineer somewhere whom you’ve never met. You trust that your elevator will open at the floor you want it to. You trust that your car will start and stop as it should. You trust that the traffic light is going to turn red before the walk light goes on. Every day, you put your life in the hands of people whose names you do not know and whom you might never meet. You might not think about them at all – but they touch your lives every day.
I could draw the same parallel to any number of other vocations – ordinary occupations with the same kind of life-changing impact. In so many ways – some of which we see and some we don’t – our vocations allow us to help other people live better, safer, and healthier lives.
Just like the work we do in Rotary.
Through our vocations and in our clubs, in our communities, and across continents, we are touching the lives of people we don’t know and might never meet. And in every part of the world, every single day, whether they know it or not, people are living better, safer, and healthier lives because of the work of Rotary.
The people we help might not have met a single Rotarian. They might not even know that Rotary exists. But they are drinking clean water from a bore well that Rotary dug. They’re learning to read with books that Rotary gave them. They’re living lives that are better, happier, and healthier – because of Rotary Serving Humanity.
From the October 2016 issue of The Rotarian
On a drive along the N2 Freeway in Cape Town, South Africa, travelers speed past endless clusters of corrugated metal shacks that fill the sandy Cape Flats area between the airport and iconic Table Mountain.
“I grew up in this area,” says Lloyd Whitfield, a retired dairy products company owner and member of the Rotary Club of Constantia, pointing out where his family once owned land. “There was just bush. I used to ride horses, and we used to shoot game in this area – there was nothing.”
Now, more than a million people are crowded here, the townships established when black residents were forcibly relocated out of “white areas” during the apartheid years. More recently, the townships are the destination for hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking to benefit from Cape Town’s growing economy.
But the rate of migration has outpaced job growth.
The Constantia Rotary Club has helped set up a community garden and farm training center for young residents in Khayelitsha, the largest township. The club is working with Abalimi Bezekhaya, a local organization that helps create income-producing gardening opportunities in the community, and partnered with Rotary clubs in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany to secure a global grant from The Rotary Foundation worth $46,000, on top of a previous matching grant.
“The philosophy behind both projects is to try to get young people, men and women, into the gardens,” says Kelly Winckworth, treasurer of the Constantia club. “Traditionally, this kind of work is older people, and largely women.”
The Association of Fundraising Professionals has recognized The Rotary Foundation with its annual Award for Outstanding Foundation.
The award honors organizations that show philanthropic commitment and leadership through financial support, innovation, encouragement of others, and involvement in public affairs. Some of the boldest names in American giving — Kellogg, Komen, and MacArthur, among others —are past honorees.
“We are honored to receive this recognition from the AFP, which gives us even more reason to celebrate during our Foundation’s centennial year,” says Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Kalyan Banerjee. “The continued strong support of Rotary members will help us keep our promise of a polio-free world for all children and enable the Foundation to carry out its mission of advancing world understanding, goodwill, and peace. We look forward to another 100 years of Rotary members taking action to make communities better around the world.”
The announcement came on 15 November, known to industry professionals since the 1980s as National Philanthropy Day. The award will be presented in early 2017 at the AFP’s annual conference in San Francisco.
Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair-elect Paul Netzel is set to accept the award on Rotary’s behalf, and Eric Schmelling, director of fund development at Rotary, will speak at the conference. The event is expected to draw more than 3,400 senior-level fundraising professionals from 33 countries.
“While almost everyone is familiar with Rotary, not everyone may realize just how much of an impact Rotary and The Rotary Foundation have had on countless people and communities across the globe,” says Jason Lee, AFP president and CEO. “On behalf of the entire charitable sector and people around the world, all of us at AFP are honored to be able to recognize The Rotary Foundation as our 2016 Outstanding Foundation.”
AFP’s committee of judges cited Rotary’s comprehensive campaign to eradicate polio as a major driver of the selection. They also mentioned that Rotary applies a methodical, purposeful approach to support a wide variety of causes, from providing clean water to educating the next generation of peace professionals.