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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. Having healthy skin and reduce wrinkles is a concern of both women and men, but this is not so easy to achieve, since age, skin care or simply the daily expressions that we have when laughing, crying or frowning. Frown eventually cause frown lines.

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’s Korner, Vol. 1


Welcome to a new Rotary year, and thank you for being a part of our Rotary family. For those who do not know me, I am Karen Russell, president of the Campbell Rotary Club, serving Willow Glen, West San José, and Campbell. From time to time, I will write an article or missive to keep you up to date on what we are up to… or other random thoughts.

I have just returned from the Rotary International Convention in Toronto with a much greater understanding and appreciation for what Rotary is doing around the world. The biggest realization I had while in Toronto is that Rotary is about more than eradicating Polio. Yes, we are so ridiculously close that Rotary International (RI) is now preparing their own five-year plan and looking towards their next BIG goal for the world.

Rotary actually has five areas of focus, and they are all interconnected: disease prevention; clean water and sanitation; maternal and child health;  literacy and education (I heard Laura Bush speak on this topic); and community development. Each plenary session during convention focused on one of these areas and how it was related and connected to the others.

Over the past year, our club has participated in a strategic visioning process, and we are in the process of creating an action plan for our club’s five-year vision. Here’s a look at what we’ve developed…

Our Vison
The Rotary Club of Campbell, Willow Glen, and West San José is the “go to” service club for the Campbell, Willow Glen and West San José areas and is known for serving the underserved on our communities and for its annual chili cookoff to fund its philanthropic activities.

Our Mission
How we will achieve our vision:

  1. Membership: We will have a strong, involved, and active membership of 60 members consisting of 70% business owners, with a 50-50 gender balance. We will provide educational and interesting programs for our members. 100% of our members will participate in giving to the International Rotary Foundation every year as well as our Club Foundation. Our annual PolioPlus campaign will grow into a public music festival.
  2. Club Service: Simplifying our new member process, we will have a three-year leadership development program for all members and create a process for all members to have the ability to bring forth service project ideas to the club.
  3. Vocational Service: We will develop a scholarship program for students wishing to enter the trades or other non-college routes to careers,  a mentor program for young people in our communities, and  better branding and other Rotary “swag” to create a higher awareness of Rotary in our service areas.
  4. Community Service: We will develop a strong Rotary Community Corps to give members, potential members, and friends in the community the opportunity to participate on multiple and ongoing service projects. We will partner with other Rotary Clubs in our area on service projects, and develop a “big”, sustainable service project that is ongoing.
  5. Youth Service: We will continue to offer competitive scholarships to local students for college and/or vocational education. We will expand our annual backpack program to benefit one or two other organizations in addition to Uplift Family Services and co-sponsor two Enterprise Leadership Conferences each year in conjunction with other Rotary clubs.
  6. International Service: We will collaborate with other Area 8 Rotary clubs on International service projects, and with four (4) other Rotary clubs in India and El Salvador to provide clean water systems and hygiene in three (3) countries.
  7. Fundraising: We will explore other fundraising opportunities in addition to the annual Chili Cookoff, such as obtaining corporate sponsorships of at least $20,000 per year and auctioning off civic leaders.
  8. Public Awareness: Our club will march in every parade in Campbell and Willow Glen, improve our branding and public relations in Campbell, West San José, and Willow Glen, and have a club booth at all Campbell and Willow Glen festivals and events.

It is a big vision, and I invite our entire community to become a part of it.

In service,

Backpack Drive with Uplift Family Services

For the eighth consecutive year, Campbell Rotarians volunteered to assemble backpacks for local students with the help of Uplift Family Services. More than 450 backpacks were filled with school supplies following our weekly lunch. This service event was highlighted by a story in the Campbell Reporter.

Our club is honored to play even a small part in improving outcomes for at risk youth. If you’d like to learn more and join us for one of our volunteer opportunities, send an email to Community Service Committee Chair Bob Carlson.

Relay for Life 2016

John Shannon and Jerry Cummings prep the breakfast tent

John Shannon and Jerry Cummings prep the breakfast tent

Last Saturday, our club provided delicious scrambled eggs, sausage, and pastries for cancer survivors and their caretakers at Campbell’s annual Relay for Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Special thanks go to Bob Siudzinsky for organizing our group and to Jimmy Zien and his crew from the Home Church for setting up, taking down, storing the goods, and cooking the eggs. (City Manager and Rotarian Mark Linder was the chef on site for the yummy sausages.)

Also pitching in from our club were Carol Hoffman, Kit Whitney, Jerry Cummings, Bob Carlson, Peter Allen, Bill Ellington, Mike Anderson, and the unstoppable Bill Highley. Former Campbell Rotarian Janine Payton escaped just long enough from Colorado to take a lap in the relay. And speaking of escapes, John Shannon was “arrested and held in jail” until a nice lady posted his “bail.”

All part of the FUNdraising!

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