Giving the gift that really counts.

May 2007
The Rotarian

Dear fellow Rotarians,

When I speak before a Rotarian audience, I often find myself quoting the words of others. And although the quotations I use rarely come from Rotary sources, they speak to the universal lessons of Rotary and to our tasks as Rotarians. Khalil Gibran wasn't thinking of Rotary when he wrote: "You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." Yet these are perfect words to apply to the pleasure we experience in giving to our Rotary Foundation and doing our humanitarian work as Rotarians.

I frequently come across a quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." That surely is so, for the world needs people of vision, people who are capable of dreaming dreams. We see in Rotary day after day how these dreams influence the things we do, for it is not enough just to dream: You must put your dreams into action.

Last year in Copenhagen, Denmark, I began a speech by quoting from the sundial that stands outside Union Station by Alameda Street in Los Angeles, a historic part of that city. The inscription on the sundial reads, Vision to see, faith to believe, courage to do. That line struck me as a perfect representation of what is required of us to be successful in Rotary. We must see the needs around us, believe we can make a difference, and step forward to act.

Over and over throughout this year, Lorna and I have seen Rotarians who have done all of this. They have had the vision to see â¿¢ to look at their community and to look even more broadly at the global village. But that vision alone is not enough. It is essential that we as Rotarians have the faith to believe we can make a difference. We see so many statistics that horrify us: how many are hungry, how many are illiterate, how many are denied access to clean water and sanitation. It would be so easy to say these problems are too great for us to attempt to solve.

But as Rotarians, we do not walk away from these tremendous challenges. Not only do we have that faith to believe we can make a difference, we have the courage to do. That courage is the difference between dreaming great dreams and putting them into action.

In all our travels this year, Lorna and I have seen projects that, one by one, are changing the world. They are succeeding because Rotarians everywhere are acting on their courage to do. I have always been proud to be a Rotarian, but as I see more and more of what Rotary can accomplish, I am ever more honored to be a member of the first and the greatest service club in the world.

W.B. (Bill) Boyd
President, Rotary International

Read more messages from Bill Boyd.