Mahatma Gandhi once said that “a nation will be judged on how it treats its weakest members.” As a politician, I always keep that thought in mind when considering policies that I believe in. And certainly, that philosophy is one that politicians must always remember.
But is that responsibility one to be borne only by government and the politicians who run government? I think not. In our society, we have many service organizations who do excellent work in providing service to our weakest members of society. One of those organizations that I am most familiar with is Rotary Club.
Here is how Rotary Club describes itself, its people, purpose and activities: “Rotary Club is an international organization of business and professional people who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.
“Rotary has united more than a million people through its 35,000 clubs. Through Rotary clubs, people from all continents and cultures come together to exchange ideas, and form friendships and professional connections, while making a difference in their backyards and around the world. Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbours, friends, leaders and problem-solvers who come together to make positive, lasting change in communities at home and abroad.
“Solving real problems takes real commitment and vision. For more than 110 years, Rotary members have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to act on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, they are always working to better our world, and they stay committed to the end.
“For more than 110 years, their guiding principles have been the foundation of our values: service, fellowship, diversity, integrity, and leadership. Their motto is: Service above self. They do this in several ways: promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; and growing local economies.”
Those are very wide reaching and ambitious goals. And its members devote a considerable amount of time working towards those goals. Attendance at weekly meetings is just the beginning of the service they provide. It is not a political organization, but all Rotarians are vitally concerned with everything pertaining to good citizenship and the election of good men and women to public office. It is not a charitable organization, yet its activities exemplify the charity and the sacrifices that one should expect from people who believe that they have a responsibility to help others. It is not a religious organization, but it is built on those eternal principles that have served as the moral compass for people throughout the ages.
Rotary is an organization pledged to upholding the highest professional standards. Rotarians believe that worldwide fellowship and international peace can be achieved when business people unite under the banner of service.
I am honoured to have been made an Honourarian Rotarian of the Charleswood Rotary Club several years ago. Although my schedule does not allow me to attend weekly meetings, I do try to attend whenever I can. I also hope that by carrying out activities to encourage community members to come together, and adhering to my belief that a community best strengthens itself from within, that I will continue to embody the ideals of Rotary.
Charleswood Rotary recently held another successful fundraising event – their annual Lobsterfest at the Eric Coy Arena. I look forward to this annual event as a place to meet with neighbours and friends while helping this organization raise funds for its many activities.
In addition to international programs such as polio eradication, building daycares and schools in underdeveloped countries, Charleswood Rotary is the steward of the Assiniboine Forest. They have also been huge supporters of the summer learning program carried out at Westgrove School.
If you are ever interested in joining a worthwhile organization and at the same time making a whole new network of friends, I encourage you to join your local Rotary – or any other service organization. It’s an excellent way to give back to the community and to feel like you are doing something worthwhile. One of the comments that I hear from people as they grow older and/or retire is that they miss being “relevant” in some way. You gain a sense of being a valuable member of society by giving to others.
Hats off to all Rotarians and other members of service organizations! Your passion and perseverance create lasting change.
Hon. Myrna Driedger is MLA for Charleswood and Speaker of the legislative assembly.