Theme: Peace Through Service
This year’s theme was Peace Through Service. Peace starts from within, grows, and radiates outward to the community and ultimately the world. Our weekly meetings provide a haven of peace in an often rancorous world, and our myriad of service projects improve lives in Salem and the world beyond. Multiply that by the thousands of Rotary clubs out there, and one starts to realize Rotary’s significance in bringing about peace around the world.
This was the second year for our Peace Builder committee, and through it our club helped to sponsor 2 pairs of students from Cyprus, representing both sides of the divided country, who came to the US to learn about each other and how to help bridge the conflicts that divide them. Our club also sponsored its first candidate for a Peace Fellow Scholarship.
Locally, we continued our long-standing programs of community service, including the Food Drive, Tree of Joy, Salvation Army Bell ringing, grants to local non-profit causes, and dictionaries for every 4th grader in the school district. We rolled up our sleeves and got dirty, building trails for the Adaptive Riding Institute. Our major GoodWorks project was a $28,000 grant to purchase medical equipment and fund comfort and safety upgrades for Liberty House.
Internationally, with the help of other Rotary clubs and matching funds from Rotary International, we completed our water well project in Haiti. We also completed our heart surgery project for children in India, and helped other clubs with their projects around the world.
Our international Youth Exchange program continues to flourish, helping to increase world understanding and build the foundations of future peace. This year we hosted two delightful exchange students — Ditte Larsen from Denmark and Mateus Bianchi from Brazil. Our club also hosted two friendship exchange groups of adult Rotarians, one from Israel and the other from Argentina.
To fund all of these efforts we raised a lot of money! Our contribution to The Rotary Foundation, the international arm of Rotary, was almost $32,000. We raised $87,000 (and 18,800 pounds of food) for the Food Drive, $8,925 for the Tree of Joy, and $5,600 for the Salvation Army. Our major GoodWorks fundraiser netted almost $52,000. And through a combination of a record year for Bellringers, a successful Fall Social, and personal donations, our own Salem Rotary Foundation surpassed the halfway mark on its way towards accumulating $1 million by the year 2020.
These numbers are all the more impressive considering that our club dropped to just 159 members at the beginning of the Rotary year. During the course of the year, however, we added 26 strong and vibrant new members, and lost only a few along the way to bring our total to 176 at year’s end.
Our communications grew stronger this year, with a weekly eBlast that is continually improving, and a brand new website that helps club members keep track of what’s going on and tells the world who we are and what we do.
The fellowship committee came up with new ways to get us together outside the confines of the weekly meetings, keeping us laughing and engaged with each other.
We continue to be a club that gets things done, in a way that is fun and inspiring. And because of what we do in our club, in our community, and around the world, we bring about Peace Through Service.