2008-2009, Ron Kelemen

Theme: Make Dreams Real

We started our Rotary year in May with a Board planning retreat where we set big goals, reorganized along the Four Avenues of Service, revised our bylaws and constitution, and got ready for a big year. President Ron Kelemen challenged us to make our future greater than our past. We adopted the tagline: “Rotary Club of Salem—a club that gets things done. Good programs, good fellowship, good works.” We more than lived up to that slogan, as we had a lot of fun along the way. These are but a few of the things we accomplished:

We started our rear at 192 members, and ended with 204. To help members in financial stress with their dues, we created the Rotarian Angel Fund from anonymous donations. We added younger people and increased our diversity. At the same time, we started the Salem Area Rotaract Club for young adults between ages 18-30. We made a big effort to get every member participating on at least two committees.

RI’s theme for the year was “Make Dreams Real,” and we did. We set a goal of $25,000 to the RI Foundation, and exceeded it, giving us one of the highest contributions in the District. We also met our $7,500 Polio Plus pledge. With $10,000 and nearly a 4:1 match, we completed our water projects in Indonesia and Simferopol, Ukraine, providing clean water to thousands of children. We also completed in an egg farm in Guatemala, and helped ship thousands of textbooks to Uganda. The International Service Committee greatly expanded its membership and collaborated with other clubs on six projects in Indonesia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Tanzania.

We hosted Sophie Schneider from Austria and sponsored Colleen Harrihill to Argentina. Tragedy struck in January when several exchange students were gunned down outside a nightclub in Portland, killing two. We closed ranks and did what we could to support all of the exchange students, their host families, and friends. We strengthened our Student of the Month program, adding a month to honor vocational students. We co-sponsored the Job Interview Fair for Youth (JIFFY), put an emphasis on the Four-Way Test with wallet cards presented to each of our guest speakers, and a christened a new banner.

The Good Works Committee got to work early in the year and selected Helping Hands Resources as our community project. Our $40,000 was used to help them get matching grants to build a new building. We raised money for this and our international projects through the sale of raffle tickets and a silent auction. In addition, we raised $84,853 in cash and 82,765 pounds of food for our annual food drive. We rolled up our sleeves to work on the Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center and to sell elephant ears at the Salem Art Festival.

Under the fine leadership of Past President Lois Mulrooney, we hosted the District 5100 conference. As the platinum sponsor and the contributor of so many volunteers, we showed the other Rotarians in the District that indeed, we are a club that can get things done.

Three words characterize the feel of the year: communications, fun, and accomplishment. Almost everyone stayed “in the loop” electronically through weekly emails from President Ron, the Rotogram, and our website. We had two road rallies, a concert at the Zena Winery, four fellowship meetings, and we started the tradition of an annual meeting in December. Above all, we made the meetings a fun and inspiring weekly refuge from the economic turmoil in the world. May our future be greater than our past!