It is an exciting time to be a Rotarian. The 2,300 Rotary members of District 7620 (Central Maryland and Washington, D.C.) invite readers to join us as we work to eradicate polio from the face of the earth and work in our local communities and around the world to change lives, enhance communities and build peace and goodwill.

Our international theme for 2016–2017 is “Rotary Serving Humanity.” This theme truly describes the mission of Rotary. We serve those in need and work to make our communities better places to live and work. Rotarians have been serving others for 111 years and are just as essential today as when Rotary was founded by Paul Harris in 1905.

Many needs confront individuals, families and communities. Rotary has identified six areas of focus to guide clubs as they program locally and globally. Our most successful and sustainable outreach falls within one of the following six areas.

  • Peace and conflict prevention/resolution
  • Disease prevention and treatment
  • Water and sanitation
  • Maternal and child health
  • Basic education and literacy
  • Economic and community development

The 61 Rotary clubs in District 7620 determine which areas they address. Depending upon the needs of their local community, they may focus on a number of these issues or concentrate on one major area. With more than 35,000 Rotary clubs worldwide, it is possible to partner with an international club to address a need in another country. This is quite popular and expands the Rotary experience and impact that a member can have as s/he serves others.

All of this work is undergirded by the support of The Rotary Foundation. Clubs can access funding from our foundation for work right here at home and around the world. This is the 100th anniversary of the formation of The Rotary Foundation. In 1917, at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, an endowment was proposed. With a gift of $26.50 from the Rotary Club of Kansas City, the endowment was started and has grown to be one of the largest and most effective charitable entities in the world. Recently, Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, rated The Rotary Foundation as one of the most effective and well-managed charities. We will celebrate the foundation centennial in Atlanta June 10–14, 2017.

Rotary’s signature project supported by The Rotary Foundation is the eradication of polio. For the past 30 years, Rotary has been a major partner in the efforts to eradicate this disease. Working in partnership with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF, and with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a polio-free world is close to being realized.

Even though new, live cases of polio were recently discovered in Nigeria, a country that had been declared polio free, the work continues with added determination to remove this disabling disease from the face of the earth. Work continues in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan to immunize all children. Rotarians have supported this effort by raising funds and actively participating in immunization days around the world.

Our International President, John Germ, of Chattanooga, Tenn., said, “We need more willing hands, more caring hearts and more bright minds to do the work of Rotary.” Rotary is open to all business/professional people who are committed to serving others. We are actively recruiting young professionals under 40, women, people of color and new retirees. We want to reflect the communities we serve. And, good news, Rotary clubs have greater flexibility to set their meeting schedules. A number of clubs now meet twice a month instead of weekly. There is a club for everyone.

We are set to charter new clubs in Brunswick and Baltimore this year. We are beginning discussions about establishing a new club that will meet online. If you want more information about Rotary membership or one of these meeting options, email me at amkobbe@aol.com. Join the more than 1.2 million Rotarians in more than 200 countries who are committed to service.

Hats Off to the Rotary Clubs of Howard County

A great example of Rotary’s humanitarian outreach has been the response to the Ellicott City flood. The seven clubs in Howard County are doing amazing things to support their community’s recovery. They are aided by Rotarians from throughout our district and from around the world.

Our district has an established Disaster Relief Committee that deploys Rotarian volunteers as needed, and our district-based Disaster Aid USA Inc. (www.disasteraidusa.com) provides leadership and coordination for disaster response by Rotarians on an ongoing basis. Thanks to everyone who has made contributions to the Ellicott City recovery. This recovery effort by our Rotarians is an example of what we do best; helping those who need help. Our motto, “Service Above Self,” is most evident when the need is greatest.

— Anna-Mae Kobbe, Ph.D.
District Governor 2016–2017
Central Maryland & Washington, D.C.