Message from 2018-19 Rotary International President


Barry Rassin
President 2018-19
July 2018

One year ago, your Rotary International Board of Directors adopted a new vision statement, reflecting our aspirations for our organization and its future. It reads, “Together; we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”

That simple sentence distills so much of what is essential about Rotary. We unite, because we know that we are far stronger together than we could ever be alone. We take action because we are not dreamers, but doers. We work to create lasting change that will endure long after our involvement has ended – across the globe and in our communities. And perhaps most important of all, we work to create change in ourselves– not just building a better world around us, but becoming better people ourselves.

A quotation attributed to French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry goes: “If you want to build a boat, don’t begin by collecting wood, cutting boards, or assigning tasks. Begin by awakening in the souls of your workers a longing for the vast and boundless sea.” Each of us came to Rotary because we had a longing – to have an impact, to make a difference, to be part of something larger than ourselves. That desire, that vision for a better world and our role in building it, is what drives us in Rotary. It’s what made us become members, it’s what motivates us to serve, and it’s what led me to choose our theme for this Rotary year: Be the Inspiration.

I want to see Rotary Be the Inspiration for our communities by doing work with a transformational impact. It’s time to start moving forward, by removing the barriers that are holding us back. Let’s make it easier to make adjustments in our clubs or start new clubs that suit different needs. Let’s work to strengthen Rotaract and smooth the transition from Rotaract clubs into Rotary. Let’s give all Rotarians the flexibility to serve in the ways that work best for them so that every Rotarian finds enduring value in Rotary membership.

Truly sustainable service, the kind of service we strive for in Rotary, means looking at everything we do as part of a larger global ecology. This year, I ask all of you to Be the Inspiration for sustainable service by addressing the impact of environmental issues on our work. The environment plays a key role in all six of our areas of focus, and that role is only becoming greater as the impact of climate change unfolds. It’s time to move past seeing the environment as somehow separate from those six areas. Clean air, water, and land are essential for healthy communities – and essential for the better, healthier future we strive for.

Be the Inspiration– and together we can, and we will inspire the world.


Message From Maria Kalapati, Rotary Club of North Port Central Treasurer

mariaBe a Gift to the World –   This is Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran’s theme for this coming Rotary year. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo, Western Province in Sri Lanka and his message is simple. “All of you- have been given so many gifts. And you have now been given this great gift: one year to take all your talents, all your gifts, everything that you are and can become – and Be a Gift to the World.

In a world consumed with self-centeredness and self-gratification, we, Rotarians stand out as a special breed of people. We joined Rotary because we wanted to take the focus off of ourselves and do some volunteering work at the local, district and international levels in a true dedication of our motto of SERVICE ABOVE SELF. As Rotarians, our club has contributed thousands of dollars towards service projects with funds raised through fundraiser events, and through the efforts and contributions of each and every one of you.

SERVICE ABOVE SELF – That is what Rotary is all about – A vision to see; the faith to believe and the courage to act. It is your spiritual salary here on earth – one that impacts our working colleagues, family, and friends- who see the difference we are making and are going to make in the community and in the world. We will bring hope this year to a hurting world – the hope that throughout this year, YOU will be giving to the many who will come in contact with you.

For Rotary to thrive, members must face current and future challenges and opportunities with “passion, enthusiasm, perseverance, and above all, integrity.”

I envision that this year our Club will boldly and creatively engage the success of polio eradication, membership, and identity issues, strengthening our club with RLI training and introduce a Rotary Minute at the luncheon meetings We will work with youth (through Interact) – our future lifeblood, and a signature fundraiser event to fund community, district and international projects.

We currently have several community projects that we will continue to fund. One of them is the Dictionary Project.

The object of the Rotary Dictionary Project is to give every student a personal dictionary of their very own that will serve them at least through elementary and middle school.

Many teachers see this as a key to better reading, speech, and writing.  These skills will improve student performance in other subjects as well.

Receiving the dictionaries from Rotary members is beneficial to students as well.  The young people meet successful adults in their community who care enough about them to purchase these dictionaries and come to their school to present them personally.

The brief explanation of Rotary service in the community and around the world gives students a lasting positive impression of Rotary and the ideal of service.

What I would like to add is the following projects:


The introduction of the Josh the Otter project to the PreK, K and grade 1 students encompasses water safety for the very young children. Tragically a large number of small children (10 deaths per day) drown each year in the safety of their own backyards. This can be prevented through awareness and action and Josh the Otter is a great first step in building awareness for children and parents alike. This project was undertaken during my first-time presidency and it was very successful, and with the members help, we can do it again. We wish to do this project in the April timeframe under the theme month of Maternal and Child Health.

HOMELESS COALITION: We will plan to work with the Homeless Coalition by providing a meal and serving it to the homeless. The set date for this year is September 29th so note your calendars for that afternoon. What better way to teach our children, family, and friends about Service Above Self.

This is what we have for local projects so far and I am sure that we will ensure that we will also provide scholarships as in the past to a deserving High School Graduate and any other local need that you as members should bring to the Board of Directors’ attention.

The 2018-2019 Rotary year offers a tremendous opportunity for Rotary International and the Foundation partnership unified and thriving through global grants, on all levels, via the six areas of focus: PROMOTING PEACE, FIGHTING DISEASE, PROVIDING CLEAN WATER, SAVING MOTHERS AND CHILDREN, SUPPORTING EDUCATION, GROWING LOCAL ECONOMIES. As a Club, we would try to give towards at least one of these areas of focus partnering with perhaps other Rotary clubs on the international level. So, let’s summarize these areas of focus. Think about this as a club and bring your ideas to the Board.

Promoting peace

Today, 42 million people are displaced by armed conflict or persecution. Through our partnerships with several leading universities, Rotary Peace Fellows develop the skills to strengthen peace efforts, train local leaders to prevent and mediate conflict, and support long-term peacebuilding in areas affected by conflict. We provide up to 100 peace fellowships per year at Rotary Peace Centers.

Learn how Rotary projects address the structural causes of conflict

Fighting disease

More than 100 million people are pushed into poverty each year because of medical costs. We aim to improve and expand access to low-cost and free health care in underdeveloped areas. Our members educate and mobilize communities to help prevent the spread of major diseases such as polio, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Many of our projects ensure that medical training facilities are located where the workforce lives.

See how Rotary projects provide low-cost healthcare

Providing clean water

More than 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation facilities. At least 3,000 children die each day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water. Our projects give communities the ability to develop and maintain sustainable water and sanitation systems and support studies related to water and sanitation.

See how Rotary is building sustainable clean water and sanitation facilities

Saving mothers and children

At least 7 million children under the age of five die each year due to malnutrition, poor health care, and inadequate sanitation. To help reduce this rate, we provide immunizations and antibiotics to babies, improve access to essential medical services, and support trained health care providers for mothers and their children. Our projects ensure sustainability by empowering the local community to take ownership of healthcare training programs.

Watch how Rotary helps bring health care to mothers and newborns in rural Haiti

Supporting education

Sixty-seven million children worldwide have no access to education and more than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate. Our goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy.

Watch how a Rotary grant helps bring tablet technology to students in Fiji

Growing local economies

Nearly 1.4 billion employed people live on less than $1.25 a day. We carry out service projects that enhance economic and community development and develop opportunities for decent and productive work for young and old. We also help strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly women, in impoverished communities.


No one should ever have to ask, “What is Rotary?”

We will enhance Rotary’s public image by successfully and enthusiastically marketing who we are, what amazing things we are doing, and incredibly, have done locally and globally.

With the global economy still unpredictable, Rotary must make participation affordable and “also be unfailingly diligent in efforts to ensure we spend every dollar effectively and efficiently.

Rotary will adapt to a rapidly changing world by embracing innovation within the guidelines of our tradition and values. By aggressively embracing new technologies, social media, and new opportunities, individuals and businesses will see that Rotary helps promote a good civic and public image while adding credibility to their people.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…we will have fun working together – it won’t be all work and no play. Plans to have activities inviting perhaps other Rotary groups to have dinners (for example the Mystery Train in Fort Myers) or other ways we can create fellowship amongst ourselves will be an integral part of our year.

I am excited about this year and look forward to a successful fulfillment of all the anticipated projects – but it can only happen with everyone’s participation.

In closing, I would like to pass on a quote that I have had in my office for many years by Ralph Waldo Emerson – a 19th-century American poet, lecturer and essayist that reads…

“DO NOT FOLLOW WHERE THE PATH MAY LEAD…GO INSTEAD WHERE THERE IS NO PATH AND LEAVE A TRAIL.” This is my wish for each and every one of you – To be a Gift to the World.

Now, I would like you to please turn to the back of your program …….and say this phrase out loud with conviction


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