I’m often asked what really happens at a Rotary meeting? Is it boring, how can you spend two hours sitting listening to people talk? Do you have secret handshakes, Grand Pooh-Bahs and do you wear special regalia – eg Mooseheads or antlers? Do you say prayers and recite memorised codes of conduct?
Featured image(above): Rotarians and guests enjoying the fellowship of a meeting
Are there special artifacts in the meeting room? The answer to these questions can be funny, informative and educational – but I must say, our meetings are certainly never boring. Rotary International, the world’s first service organisation, is made up of over 33,000 clubs, in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Our members form a global network of business, professional and community leaders who volunteer their time and talents to serve their communities and the world.
Rotary’s motto, Service Above Self, exemplifies the humanitarian spirit of the organisations more than 1.2 million members. Strong fellowship and friendship among Rotarians and meaningful community and international service projects characterise Rotary worldwide. Members include wealthy, middle and low-income working and retired professionals and tradespeople. Rotarians also set a standard for ethics in business management and in their daily lives through the use of ‘The Rotary four-way test.’ The test ensures that a planned action is compatible with the Rotary objectives and spirit.
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Formats of meetings vary from Club to Club. The Rotary Club of Bribie Island follows a more traditional agenda. Following a formal introduction of visiting Rotarians and guests our meeting commences with Rotary Grace and a toast to Australia. This is followed by an International Toast which is given by a rostered member and gives information about an overseas Club and their projects and activities. The President and any member who has something to pass on give a Report to the meeting.
A meal is served and then the guest speaker gives a talk – not necessarily on Rotary. The meeting ends with a game of Heads and Tails (similar to Two Up) and we sing the National Anthem to close the night. During the meeting, there is no ‘informal discussion’ amongst members. The meeting is ‘controlled’ by the Chairperson, just as a President of any other group or organisation would do – not allowing chit chat to disrupt the set agenda. However, because friendship and fellowship are so very much a part of Rotary, before and after the meeting members and guests mingle freely and during the meal (and perhaps over a glass of wine) they talk about anything and everything.
Catching up on local events, finding out how things are going with other members and much more, it’s a process whereby Rotarians come to know each other better and form a special connection. As with all things in life, a positive attitude really helps. If you arrive at the meeting expecting to be bored and thinking that your time would be spent better somewhere else, then yes, it may not suit your needs.
However, a person arriving with a positive attitude, looking forward to an evening of friendship and fellowship with like-minded people, who – although from very different backgrounds and professions – all want to be there, will likely find the time spent to be productive, informative and of value. To ensure we have successful meetings and functions, preparation is essential. Our Secretary is responsible for ensuring that all parts of the meeting are planned and prepared.
She sets the agenda and makes sure that those rostered for various duties are aware of their responsibilities. Our President and Directors not only give reports on our activities but they ensure that proper attention is given to welcoming members and guests and that friendship and hospitality are extended to all. So while there is “ritual/ planning” (of a sort) to a Rotary meeting, the most important ingredient is the friendship and fellowship of like-minded people who want to make the World a better place.
I must admit, however, we don’t wear Mooseheads or the like – or have a special handshake – but sometimes we dress up for a special night. People with a sense of fun, a sense of adventure, those wishing to help in the world, those who care – and maybe those with time on their hands who feel they’d like to do more – are ideal for Rotary. Young and old, outspoken and shy, gregarious or lonely, are most welcome. Religion, race, sex, and/or politics are not criteria to be a member.
Whether it’s planning a function, helping out at Rotary Park at Woorim (planting and cleaning up), cooking at the Rotary Markets which are on this Sunday 14 April, raising money for the less fortunate here and overseas, you’ll certainly find your niche. If you would like to join us we meet at the Bribie Island Hotel on Thursday at 6.30pm. Please ring our Secretary Mary Grant on 0421 529 824 for more information.