Just a thought… When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed. [Maya Angelou]
Ah, Giving Tuesday. After the orgy of excess following US Thanksgiving (Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to name two of the red letter days on the spending calendar) this day is dedicated to thinking of others and maybe putting your money where their needs are.
For Rob and me, giving back has meant leaning in. I wrote here last year when he was officially made a member of Rotary International; I didn’t tell you that a few months ago, I joined, too. Here I am with our president Carolyn Morley, who also happens to be a neighbour of ours.
I waited until the book was finished so that I could attend as many of the semi-monthly meetings as possible. Some Thursday nights (that’s when we meet; others get together at lunch or for pre-workday breakfasts) I took advantage of the few solo hours to dig deep.
So, what is Rotary exactly? You see those blue or gold wheel signs as you come into many towns or you may even spot one on a clock or as part of a special walkway in a place you’re visiting. Rotary is everywhere – that you know.
It’s a service club, meaning we’re all in the service of others. We’re located around the world in 200 countries with some 1.2 million members, all of whom pay to join and are expected to help raise funds and do good works.
In our nearby town of Sidney, BC for example, we’ve put up bus shelters. We ring the bells for the Salvation Army. We host coat checks at arts events to put more money in the coffers, so that projects like house builds (both locally and internationally) for Habitat for Humanity and polio vaccinations in poorer countries can continue. The ways we give to our communities, and to people we’ll never meet, are countless. So what’s in it for us?
Mostly, we enjoy the company of good, like-minded people who just want to help out in their community. When Rob and I arrived on the Saanich Peninsula nearly two years ago, we knew enough people to count on two hands. But joining Rotary gave us a new purpose: helping others, meeting people with diverse backgrounds (we all have our professions on our name tags) and getting together every few weeks and at community events to have a good time. It’s just so fulfilling.
Here’s what Rob and I are working on right now, even from this long distance: a radio campaign for the Rotary clubs in our district. 30 second public service announcements that are going to run on our favourite local FM station, trying to reach as many potential Rotary members as we can. So, in our way, we’re using our own abilities – writing, announcing, producing – to contribute to Rotary.
If you think this is a club you might want to look into, certainly there are 33,000 chapters worldwide. I’m going to guess there’s one near you that needs what you have to offer and you’re always welcome to go as a guest to a meeting near you.
In the meantime, to find out more, here’s a list of frequently asked questions. Maybe on this Giving Tuesday, giving of yourself could be the best way to mark the day this year.