Posted by Tim Kelley on Jul 13, 2018
Here is the text of my speech at our Club Installation Dinner on June 19.
 
 
I want to thank you all for coming to this celebration of the start of another new Rotary year.  I want to thank DG Dave Gardner, DA Marian Ryan, Rich Winant from Kelly House for being here tonight.  I also want to acknowledge my family, my famous wife Chris, our children, Betsy, Mary Kate and TJ, my mother, Barbara, and brother, Brian, are here, too, as well as Bob & Laurie Cavagnaro and Lori & Ken Foley and my nephew and nieces, Rob, Allie, Emily and Julia.  I also want to say how pleased I am to have Linda and Tricia Snell here.  We’re really missing Brian.  You know it takes about 10 Rotarians to do all the jobs Brian does himself.  We’re really glad to hear some positive reports on his recovery and we’re all pulling for him and praying hard.
 
I also want to thank the Club members who brought this event together.  Brian was of course taking care of everything.  Then Gregg Johnson jumped right in along with David Traniello and Kathi Spurr.  Thank you.  I appreciate the support.
 
I am pleased and excited to begin my term as Club President.  Reading Rotary has been a very special place for me.  My mother in law, Laurie, was my sponsor.  Rotary has been a family affair;  all of my family members here have been enlisted to help with Rotary projects, whether it was the Auction, Town Day, the Street Faire, the Snack Shack, the Road Race (which was our major fundraiser when I joined).  Some of you will remember when we used to bring the Circus to town.  My Mary Kate was among the Charter Members of the RMHS Interact Club, which included Eric Johnson, Gabby Amico, Erin Doherty, Abbi Chuha.  My nieces and nephew have all been members of Interact and TJ is now Co-President.  I think TJ has logged more hours in the Interact Dunk Tank than most high schoolers have done total community service.  RYLA has become a requirement for the high school students in our houses.  Because of Rotary my kids know as much about running an auction as anyone.  It was mandatory for them to help from when it was held in the gym in the Y.  Brian deejayed 17 Auctions.  My brother in law, Ken, wrote a program for charity auction check out because of the Rotary Auction.
 
I always say Reading Rotary is a great group of people.  You are some of my best friends in the world.  We are a fun group.  People are drawn to Rotary for a lot of reasons, interest in community service, to make connections or networking, but I believe the reason most people stay is due to the friendships … and the fun.  We all are here to work, but it should be fun.  And that’s something Reading does really, really well.
 
Sometimes we get insular in our perspective and don’t know how our Club compares to others, but be assured that Reading is exemplary.  We do a lot.  And for better or worse, we are being recognized in town as being a group that will get things done.  We have been approached by the Town or others to take on Adopt a Family (the program matching donor families to needy ones at Thanksgiving and Christmas), the Snack Shack, when the Boosters couldn’t continue, doing the Food Bank Run for the Reading Food Pantry and our largest undertaking, the Reading Fall Street Faire.  Amid a budget crunch, the Town looked to Rotary to take it on and we did.
 
I’d like to tell you why I volunteered to be Club President again.  Although, in a lot of ways Reading Rotary is bigger than ever, we are in need of people to take on key leadership positions in the Club.  Brian went half his year as President without a Pres Elect or a Vice President.
 
For our Club to continue on, we need people to volunteer to lead.
 
So, I hope to accomplish a few things in my year.
 
First, I want to make sure we have a good succession plan in place so Reading Rotary will continue to be the strong, fun, workforce it is.  Part of that is to make sure leadership a manageable role.  I understand well that people’s first reaction to the question, have you considered being Club President?, is to recoil and say, I can’t do that, I don’t have the time.
 
Well, there are enough doers here so that it should not be an overwhelming undertaking. This year we will share tasks, delegate and work together to accomplish all the things we want Reading Rotary to do. 
 
Second, and this is closely tied to my first goal, is to concentrate on getting a new generation of members involved and invested in our mission.  When I joined Rotary in  the 90’s, I was much younger and we had a group of members who were around my age.  Mostly we’re still all here, but we’re not in our 30’s anymore.  At PETS (President Elect Training Seminar) there was a lot of talk about attracting younger members.  We need to adapt and we have created  alternative styles of membership, including Service Membership and Corporate Membership.  The bottom line is that Rotary in general and Reading Rotary specifically does so much good in the community and we need help.  If you want to help us, we will welcome you as a traditional Member, Service or Corporate Member or as a Volunteer.  Reading has been doing something like this years as our family members and friends always pitched in.
 
A third general goal I have is for Rotary to help build good will and better friendships in our local community.  Rotarians will recognize that as the third prong in the 4 Way Test.  The Four Way Test is the moral code of Rotary.  I believe we have a great opportunity to bring people together.  I recently participated in a community forum in advance of a possible Reading World Café. One of the biggest problems identified there was the level of rancor in public interactions, especially online.  It is very easy for some to fire off very negative, insulting comments in a Facebook group.  Public discourse nationally and in Reading can have a very negative tone.  I believe Rotarians can help repair this if we focus on promoting good will and building better friendships.  Regardless of how ardently we disagree, we’re all friends and neighbors who live together.
How do we get the word out about Rotary?  Here’s a challenge to all Rotarians, think about your Rotary Story.  First, what made you join?  Second, why do you stay?  Be prepared when people ask you about Rotary to tell your story.  You can be someone’s Inspiration.
 
My story is that Laurie told me: you need to join Rotary.  Rotary had appeal because service was important to me.  My parents’ and my church’s (St. Agnes) influence left a strong impression on the importance of giving service to others. 
 
Why do I stay?  It’s the friendships first and foremost, but I feel Reading Rotary is so important to our community.  We are a vital cog in the fabric of Reading.  There is so much we support including:  Reading Food Pantry; Reading Scholarship Foundation; purchase of wheelchair accessible van for elderly and disabled residents; purchase and support of defibrillators for RFD; promoting literacy by providing reading books to Reading Kindergartners; distributing trees to all Reading 5th graders for Arbor Day; Adopt a Family; purchase of RMHS Band golf cart; Reading Education Foundation; RMHS Robotics Team; Coolidge Science Team; homelessness and hunger initiatives; ROTAPLAST Project to repair cleft lips and palates; Polio Plus; Burbank YMCA; Cure Alzheimer’s; Zambia Water Project; Understanding Disabilities;   PAN MASS CHALLENGE; sponsor 2 Interact Clubs; run the Snack Shack; host the Reading Fall Street Faire; sponsor Opioid Prevention Workshops run by RCASA at RMHS.  There is so much additional potential for Rotary throughout the world.
 
These are only some of the stories of the good Rotary does. 
 
So in conclusion, I ask you all to help our Rotary Club by telling your Rotary story and in doing so make the connections to build good will and better friendships in Rotary and beyond.   
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