At Thursday’s weekly Greenville Rotary Club Meeting, District Governor for Rotary 6820 Mark Fields delivered a keynote message that encompassed the ruthless efforts toward eliminating the polio virus and expanding the Rotary’s connection to the world.
Fields began by bringing attention to what his mindset was when he first joined Rotary in 1990, which was “self above service,” he said.
“Rotary is a networking organization so a lot of people join for that reason but generally they turn it around somewhere along the way and it becomes “service above self,” he said.
With Rotary having reached international heights, the connections made via the Rotary organization are numerous.
Fields shared an “a-ha” moment he experienced during a Rotary Youth Exchange program, where he hosted a group of students from the Netherlands in his home and then his organization sent five students to the Netherlands for a period of time.
The purpose of the exchange is for students to learn a new language, discover another culture, and truly become global citizens.
In that experience, Fields said he witnessed firsthand how much of an impact, a global one, the Rotary organization makes when its members put service above self.
Fields said the Rotary organization has four priorities and objectives and the first one he expounded on was increasing its impact.
He followed introducing the first objective with a video advertisement of the “This close” to ending polio campaign.
According to poliofree.org, the global fight against polio represents one of the greatest achievements in global health in recent decades and has mobilized millions of volunteers, staged mass immunization campaigns, and helped strengthen the health systems of low-income countries.
“One of Rotary’s ways of increasing our impact is by finishing its job of alleviating the world of polio, and the job isn’t over,” Fields said. “We only had 48 cases last year, this year, we have about 90.”
Even though the cases are concentrated only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Fields said, “If you don’t get rid of them there, you don’t get rid of them.”
On a more optimistic note, Fields pointed out there are companies working with the Rotary organization to make sure the polio virus is on the path of elimination.
Fields also commended the Greenville Rotary Club on the results it’s yielded with its polio projects.
Six areas of focus for the Rotary Club are eliminating polio, peacekeeping, disease prevention, maternal healthcare, child healthcare and basic education.
Support of the Rotary Club foundation was emphasized by Fields because the foundation is the driving force behind those six focuses.
He explained that while dues are great, giving to the Rotary Foundation is what makes the organization thrive and Fields congratulated the Greenville Rotary Club for the support it has given to the foundation.
Another way Fields said the Rotary Club could extend their reach is through youth services.
“When I think about Rotary and when I think about the things that Rotary wants to do, I can’t think of anything we should want to do more than youth services,” he said. “What better thing can we do than to teach children how to serve and help them serve and mentor them in serving?”
Enhancing participation engagement was another objective Fields spoke about and one way the Rotary organization is meeting that objective is by way of the Rotary Leadership Institute Training.
The Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI), seeks to provide quality education in Rotary knowledge and leadership skills to Rotarians interested in developing their Rotary participation and to those identified by Rotary Clubs as having a potential in club leadership.
The last or fourth priority Fields explained was significant to the Rotary organization in expanding its reach was increasing its ability to adapt.
“It’s important that every club be a connecting point for Rotary. And the way we’re gonna do that is changing our clubs as the world changes and fostering diversity and diverse perspectives about the world, even if those perspectives differ,” he said.
As Fields continued to shed light on the importance of fostering diversity within the clubs, he also added, “By getting different people of different persuasions (women and different ethnicities), we address problems that may escape us if we’re not in tune to them.”