Rotary is a service club, but I joined Rotary for selfish reasons. Period.
In 2012, I moved to Pottstown and wanted to start my own law practice. My problem was, aside from my realtor, I didn’t know a single person in town. A friend suggested I join Rotary, saying it would be a great way to meet local businessmen and women.
To be honest, I really wasn’t too keen on the idea. I’ve never been much of a club joiner. My favorite part of meetings is when they end. And the only community service I had ever done was the result of getting into a little bit of trouble on Mischief Night when I was a nearly brainless teenager.
Shamefully, it’s true!
Still, I figured, if it helped me grow my law practice, if I could shake a few hands, pass out a few cards, I could put up with attending a boooring meeting for a couple of hours every now and then.
That’s it. That’s why I joined.
And, if you’d like to join Rotary for those same reasons, there are worse ways you can spend a few hours a month.
But let me tell you a better story. Let me tell you why, after three years, I’m still a member of Rotary.
When I joined Rotary, I met some of the nicest, friendliest, funniest people I’ve ever known. And they welcomed me to their family like a long lost son . . . I feel proud and privileged to call my fellow members my friends. Every meeting I attend, when I look around at the doctors, lawyers, bankers, musicians, housewives, teachers, haberdashers — yes, haberdashers! — who are now my good friends and who, had I never joined Rotary, I probably never would have met in a lifetime lived in Pottstown, it’s a life affirming moment. Serendipity.
I also learned that for a minimal, almost nominal, amount of time volunteering — serving — you can make real world, tangible positive differences in other people’s lives, your community and the world we all share. And you can have fun doing it with your good friends. And feel really good about the small and great differences you’ve made. The return on investment is so absurd, you nearly feel guilty about it! You certainly feel guilty for not doing it sooner.
And finally, the dreaded meetings… I hardly ever miss them. I look forward to them! Once a week, I get together with dozens of my good friends for dinner and drinks, good conversation, and plenty of laughs. And every meeting we have a wonderful speaker give a presentation of local, national, or international concern who doesn’t ask you, but gives you the opportunity to do something. In our town. In our country. In our world. In our time.
I joined Rotary to build a better practice. Instead, I built a better person.
If you’re thinking about joining for the same reasons I did, by all means do! Plenty of Rotarians do. And I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. But when your turn comes to write about why you joined Rotary, it won’t be the thing you want to write about, either.