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Karen’s Korner, Vol. 6: The Final Chapter

My year as President of Campbell Rotary – serving Campbell, Willow Glen and West San José – is coming to a close on June 30th, and our new president, Brad Cox, will take the helm on July 1st.

This year’s Rotary International theme was “Be the Inspiration” – three words with so much meaning. Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially something creative. The members of Campbell Rotary have been my inspiration all year, and here are just a few of the reasons why:

1. Our members’ commitment to service is phenomenal. No matter what the task or the project, there have ALWAYS been more than enough members of the club and the West Valley Rotary Community Corps to accomplish the task, sometimes on very short notice.

2. Our members are giving and generous. Not only have members stepped up to donate to the Rotary International Foundation, the club foundation, and the End Polio Now campaign, but when called upon without notice to “pass the hat” at a meeting, we consistently raise hundreds of dollars for local charities.

3. Every single member participates fully. We all know situations where a small group does all the work… NOT the case here. Every member of Campbell Rotary has fully participated in serving our club and community this year. This year was the 2nd Annual Orchard City Chili Cookoff, and I am so proud to say that every member of this club stepped up and took part to make it a success. Our new members jump in with energy and enthusiasm and join a committee as soon as they have their red badge.

4. Our members are joyful and welcoming. Guests ALWAYS remark about how welcome they feel when they come to lunch with us, including our incoming District Governor, Ramesh, who was astonished at the level of connection and caring our club has. He said he has never experienced something as extraordinary as he did with this club.

5. We are family. The connection members have to one another is, without a doubt, inspiration itself. When someone is sick, a spouse dies, or they just need a ride to meetings, we have one another’s back… no matter what. When members celebrate, we celebrate with them. We stand by each other.

So, to the members of Campbell Rotary I say, thank you for being my inspiration this year. You have made me a better leader and a better person, and it has been my honor and privilege to serve as your president. You truly are the inspiration.

Yours in service,
Karen

Karen’s Korner, Vol. 5: Why Service Matters

We all know that as Rotarians, our motto is “Service Above Self”, but what does that really mean and why? Here is my take:

Growing up, my parents did not instill the concept of doing service. They were too busy raising four children and keeping up with work, house maintenance, and taxiing us all over the place. My first real experience with service was in college, when my sorority (yes, I was a Greek, but that is another story) visited the elderly and the disabled. It was hard for me to meet others who could not walk or speak, but I walked away feeling more “whole” for the experience in a way I could not put into words.

As an attorney, I am bound by the rules of ethics to provide pro bono time to indigent clients each year as a way of giving back. As I mediate and do not go to court, my service hours have been spent managing major projects for the County Bar Association and the Superior Court Family Division. While the countless hours I spent on those projects benefitted many in our community, it was not the hands-on service I longed for.

So I joined Rotary, where I could be in service to others directly. There is satisfaction in serving. It is immediate help to others, it provides a path for Rotarians to become closer and build the bonds of friendship, and it directly impacts the community in ways that other service opportunities cannot. It brings us together.

Service for me is about connecting our community and building bonds with others, not out of a sense of pity but a genuine, heartfelt desire for inclusion – to demonstrate that we all belong, that we all are deserving of love and compassion, and we all are entitled to love and care in no matter what shape or form it comes.

Whether we are serving the homeless, reading to children at a local school, loading backpacks for underserved kids, cleaning up parks, or sponsoring our high school students in Interact and other projects, we bring a sense of love, care, and commitment to everything we do. We show others that they matter and that we are all the same.

Being of service is an act of love towards others and to ourselves; it completes us. Because what we give comes back to us in ways we never could have imagined.

Yours in service,
Karen

Karen’s Korner, Vol. 4

From time to time, our President Karen Russell will write an article or missive to keep you up to date on what we are up to… or other random thoughts.

The word gratitude is used a lot this time of year. It is not just a word we dust off and bring out at Thanksgiving; it is a deep appreciation for life and what it has to offer each of us. That looks different depending on who you are talking to, but the essence is the same. I am grateful to be a Rotarian.

Rotarians are naturally giving people who serve others because they can. We serve because it comes from our hearts and is genuine. For us, it is more than “doing good”, it is a passion to make the world a better place and to make others’ lives easier, and I am humbled to be a part of it.

Our fellow Rotarians in Butte County have lost their homes, and some may have lost their lives. One of our club’s former members retired to Paradise just two months ago and has now lost everything. In the coming weeks and months, our club will work to help him in any way we can so that he can have some semblance of normalcy and order back in his life. It is what we do when others are in need.

While we spend time with family and friends this Thanksgiving and reflect on all we have to be grateful for, let’s also hold our fellow Californians in our hearts. They are grateful for small things like a place to sleep, running water, a hot meal and a warm shower… things we perhaps take for granted. They have discovered the true essence of life with nothing and their lives are forever changed. Ours are changed as we watch them survive in spite of overwhelming loss.

Yours in service,
Karen

Campbell Rotary Awarded RI Presidential Citation for 2017-2018

Campbell Rotary was one of only seven clubs honored with a Rotary International Presidential Citation for the 2017-2018 Rotary Year at the District 5170 Avenues of Service event on October 4, 2018. President Karen Russell accepted the award on behalf of the club.

The Presidential Citation recognizes clubs that support each of Rotary International’s strategic priorities by completing certain activities. Clubs have the entire Rotary year to achieve the citation’s goals in the following areas:

  • Support and Strengthen Clubs
  • Focus and Increase Humanitarian Service
  • Enhance Public Image and Awareness

There are six goals under each of these categories, and in order to be eligible for a Presidential Citation, a club has to achieve at least three of the six goals in each category.

Congratulations to Past President Peter Allen and all of our members for earning this recognition for our club!

Karen’s Korner, Vol. 3

From time to time, our President Karen Russell will write an article or missive to keep you up to date on what we are up to… or other random thoughts.

I have had two members come to me in the past few weeks to ask if they should continue as club members because their jobs keep them from coming to weekly club lunches. They said they do not feel like active members if they cannot come to lunch. That got me thinking…

What does it mean to be an “active” member of Campbell Rotary?

First of all, it is not just about coming to lunch. Yes, that is part of it, but not all. Lots of things happen at lunch — club announcements, happy/sad dollars, and the marble draw, as well as a great lineup of speakers.

Not being at lunch really does make a member feel disconnected and out of the loop. So I have been thinking of ways to make lunch come to those who cannot come to it. Here are a few ideas I have and I need help implementing them:

  1. Send all club announcements via ClubRunner so all members have them. These include upcoming events and sign ups as well as service opportunities.
  2. Offer online signups for all club events.
  3. Live stream meetings so remote members can watch during lunch hours.
  4. Post videos of weekly speakers on our website and social media.
  5. Put the Happy/Sad shares in a summary and send that out via ClubRunner so all members know what is happening in people’s lives.

But again, coming to lunch is only part of the Rotary experience. At Campbell Rotary, we ask that members participate in two activities a month — that can include lunch, as well as a club board/committee meeting, social event, or service project.

Rotary is also letting board members know about the things that matter to you. It is caring about your club and participating in the way that best works for you. We have members who cannot come to lunch, and they are significant contributors to the club and the Rotary Community Corps. They support the club “behind the scenes.”

All members matter, and not just because of the “numbers”. Rotarians are generous of spirit, active in their communities, and leaders in their professions and professional organizations. They believe in the good in the world and in making the world better for others. Rotarians act with integrity in their daily lives.

Being a Rotarian is about sharing a spirit of service and of taking action to make our community better. It is about developing relationships and friendships within the club, and living the principles of the Four-Way Test.

When the two members who came to me with their concerns heard this response, I’m happy to report they decided to stay. You see, they discovered they are active members after all.

Yours in service,
Karen