Rotary International Theme 2018-2019

Be the Inspiration, asks the Rotary's district governors to “inspire the club presidents, and the Rotarians in your districts, to want to want to do want to reach their own potential."
Dory Beatrice
I had already been doing volunteer work on my own in India with Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, India.  I was just about to leave for India again when a friend recommended I check out Rotary.  “Why?” I said.  “Isn’t it an old boys club?!”  She said it had changed, and now I would find kindred spirits doing similar things to mine.   I was introduced to the remarkable Steve Brown, who fast-tracked my membership in Rotary so I could go to India as an official Rotarian. He also connected me to Rotary clubs in India, including a Past President of Rotary International,  who I was privileged to visit on that upcoming trip.
Being a Rotarian also meant I would have access to funds for projects.  So I visited many sites that were in need, and decided to focus on two of them.  First was a residential  school for handicapped children.  The founder was struggling day to day to keep it open.  They had a leaky roof, 2 toilets for about 50 kids + staff, and no fence so the kids often wandered off and got lost.  The second was Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV),   a residential school for 14,000 Tibetan children who were orphaned or smuggled out of Tibet so they could have a brighter future.  They were in need of a science/math computer lab.
So again I consulted with Steve Brown upon my return, and he helped me learn the ropes of getting grants for these 2 projects.  I was able to obtain $13,000 for the handicapped children’s school, plus funding for the Tibetan Children’s Village.   I returned to Dharamsala 2 years later and went to see the 2 programs.  When we drove up to the handicapped children’s school, I saw a snug 2-story building with a new roof, a sturdy fence around the building, and several new toilets.  I was moved to tears!  Similarly when I went to see the TCV, there was a long line of children waiting to get on the computers.  From a remote town in the Himalayas, hundreds of miles from any city, suddenly they could access global information.
Seeing the impact of Rotary face to face made me fall in love with Rotary, and the “affair” has never ended!
Steve Brown
Ellen Kondowe was my inspiration. I met her in South Africa in 1992 when four of us from our La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club traveled to South Africa at the urging of club member Lionel Katzenellenbogen who had recently immigrated from South Africa.  We were involved in a matching grant with a school in the Black Township of Soweto. We visited the school where Ellen was the Principal and was receiving an award for her school having the highest matriculation rate in the region. In spending time with us after the ceremony, she advised parent involvement was the best way to keep the students engaged. She was so impressive, our club brought her to San Diego for a month so she could learn from us for how our schools function. Instead our educators  learned from her for  how one can excel with limited resources. That month with Ellen in San Diego inspired me in preparing for my upcoming year as District Governor to arrange for a uni-vocational Group Study Exchange program using all educators with District 9200 in eastern Africa. Our team of educators went to many schools in District 9200 and educators from that district visited many schools in our district. That was the beginning of using uni-vocational GSE teams by our district for several years to follow and eventually set an example demonstrating the benefits of utilizing the Vocational Training Teams concept under The Rotary Foundation’s new grant model in place today. Thank you so much Ellen Kondowe for Being the Inspiration.
Pam Russell
I never saw myself as a leader in my career.  But several people in Rotary did see it in me.  Lee Ann Cusick asked me to join.  Bonnie Brunner asked me to be club president.  And Larry Scott was the first to tell me that I should be a district governor.  I am surrounded by leaders who help me every day.  And now I strive to return the favor by inspiring others to use their skills as leaders, club presidents and district governors.  La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club is a strong club that gives its members opportunities to lead and inspire.
Alex Monroe
Rotary inspires me through the collection of men and women from all different walks of life that are fueled by what we share in common.  Which is summed up by our motto of, “Service Above Self.”  That philosophy is wholeheartedly practiced in our club.  When you share that quality with others it is incredible how quickly strong friendships can be forged and good can be done in the world.
Nancy Gatschet
Joining this club was a no-brainer – this is a group of people who really DO make a difference in the world we live in – here and abroad – and also know how to have fun doing it!!"
Fary Moini
When I joined Rotary and went to work in refugees camp in the boarder of Pakistan & Afghanistan; I was so overwhelmed with the miserable situation in camps that I called Steve the next day and while I was crying; I told him that I wanted to come back.
Then, he told me below story and that was it: I found the reason why I am here and it is more than 18 years still doing the things I love to do and I am a member.…………………………….and love every minutes of it .
“The Starfish Story: one step towards changing the world Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves. When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.” The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.” The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
Brett Morey
I joined Rotary in 2002 when we relocated to Brentwood in Northern California to get more involved in our community.  I immediately made friends with fellow Club members who have since become family.  While there have been many people who have inspired me through their servant leadership example David Wahl is one that certainly stands out.  David is now a retired Fire Captain and I had the honor of pining him as Membership Chair, attending his retirement party, serving along side him and dozens of volunteers to raise over $1.5M for American Cancer Society through Relay for Life events, loading trailers full of supplies for Hurricane Katrina and Rita to assist those in need, doing pancake events at schools for 8th graders and Grad Night events at local High Schools.  Over the years we’ve truly done it all, from feeding families in need through Regional Food Banks to assembling bicycles at Christmas for children.  Rotary provides the opportunity to serve others less fortunate.  We support one another as friends, love one another as family and are there for one another always.  
In 2008 we relocated back to San Diego and I joined the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle.  I met club members like Frank McGrath and Dory Beatrice.  Frank has a way of lighting up the room and making everyone laugh.  I have absolutely loved serving families with Frank and fellow members at Ronald McDonald House over the years and painting barracks at military bases.  Dory lead our Club as President and she recognized me as Rotarian of the Year in 2011 which was incredibly humbling.  She has a heart for International Service and I remember how she not only served immigrants from Somalia in her professional career but encouraged each of us to support those who immigrated to the USA seeking asylum.  We furnished apartments, supported these remarkable individuals and helped them transition to a new way of life in America.  Dory inspires me with her kind and gentle approach, her genuine kindness and her incredible passion for helping others in need.  Lastly I’d say my experience in Rotary has been greatly enriched by Dr. Cynthia Villis.  Cynthia is not only a Past President like me but she served for many years as Chair or Co-Chair of the International Service Committee.  Our club has over 20 active international projects.  Professionally Cynthia has been involved in various levels of Administrative leadership at multiple universities and has been at USD for over 30 years.  Not only has she enriched the lives and inspired thousands during her tenure Cynthia has also become a dear friend of our family for more than a decade.  As our kids considered their college options she gave them wonderful advice and opportunities to tour the campus and meet with Department Heads.  Cynthia is an amazing and kind hearted person...just the kind of person you’d expect to meet in Rotary.  In fact, I would say that Rotary attracts people that make it a priority to put joy in the hearts of others and live by the motto of “Service Above Self.”
Ranjan A. Lahiri
I was initially inspired to join Rotary by my mother, Vivien Lahiri, and one of her fellow Rotarians, James Morrison, both of whom extolled the virtues of being a Rotarian and becoming more involved in what Rotary does both locally and internationally.  As a relatively new Rotarian, I am still finding my way through the organization.  However, one of the best parts of Rotary for me has been meeting a group of amazing people who have accomplished a great deal in their personal and professional lives, all while giving back to the community.  Through the club meetings and my new Rotary friends, I have been exposed to new ideas and new possibilities.  The vast network of service that Rotary has created and the sheer volume of potential opportunities that Rotary offers has shown me that anything is possible if you are surrounded by inspiring people.
Rick Clark
I grew up in a very small town (7,000 people) in Iowa. Community Service was not in my vocabulary. My father, however, was past president of Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, two Rotary Clubs and others.  I still remember his motto: “If, when you cross life’s finish line, the world is a bit better because you were here, you ran a good race.” … He ran a good race ….
From the beginning of my architectural career, I came to realize that our job was primarily to make rich people richer. I began to search for a way to assist the less privileged in my non-professional time.
Invited by a good friend, I joined La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club in 1992. In 1995 I was invited to participate in founding a new organization in San Diego called “Christmas in April”. It was dedicated to hands-on programs of refurbishing homes of poor, elderly and disabled homeowners. I served as the second president of CIA for the entire city of San Diego and introduced the concept to my La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary club. They decided to sponsor a house. Seeing the enthusiasm of the members, it inspired me to continue to help organize subsequent hands-on projects. From the Christmas in April (Now called ‘Rebuilding Together’) programs, we expanded into ten annual school painting projects of Navidad en Noviembre in Rosarito Beach, Mexico and several projects for our Marine heroes at Camp Pendleton and Miramar. I am currently involved in my 35th undertaking.
Shortly after 911, I designed several projects that were built for students in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The inspiration I received was seeing how our small club had made an enormous impact on thousands of young Afghans now and in the future. I enjoy producing videos that showcase the amazing things that our club has accomplished all over the world!
Having served as an officer with the US Navy SEABEES in Vietnam, all of the above is earning the right NOT having my name on that big, black granite wall in Washington, DC.
Finally, I believe we as LJGT Rotarians are running a great race, Dad!
Eric Freeberg
Here is my Rotary story. 
In 1969, I was one of a group of 12 Southern California high school seniors who has competed to be exchange students for a month during the summer in Japan under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Wilshire Rotary Club who managed the completion and a club in Japan which I now forget but their flag is in our club’s flag collection. We did not attend school but were hosted by Rotarians all over Japan.  At that time, to be a Rotarian in Japan meant you had money.  My father was a long time member of Rotary but my exposure to Rotary was limited to the annual pancake breakfast hosted by my father’s club and while I still have a unique fondness for pancakes I knew nothing meaningful about Rotary.  After our month, 8 Japanese high school seniors came to Los Angeles to be hosted by Rotarians in the Wilshire Rotary Club.  That summer changed my life.  What inspired me was the sincere desire of our Japanese Rotarian hosts to be nice, expose us to their world and culture and treat us with respect and kindness despite our being dumb clueless seniors in high school. I realized that the United States was not the center of the universe and was only a young upstart to the ancient cultures of Asia.  I came away from that trip with a goal that was based upon a profound desire to learn more (and to do more) to promote among all people of this earth an understanding and respect for other countries and their people, cultures, and their religions.  Rotary’s mission statement of Service Above Self is something I try to live by daily and Rotary is for me the perfect venue for continuing to attempt to accomplish that goal, and 32+ years later I am stilling trying to do accomplish that goal in my life and in Rotary.