I remember the first time I heard the word ‘Rotary.’ I was a teenager and one of our neighbors was a member of the Pottstown Rotary Club. I had no idea what Rotary was, but I can tell you that our neighbor’s son was always saying that his father was going to a Rotary event and would proclaim how great Pottstown Rotary was.
It was not until about 35 years later that I once again heard about ‘Rotary,’ this time from my dear friend, Jean Spotts, who also happens to be the first woman inducted into the Pottstown Rotary Club. Jean is a member of my church and a Rotarian extraordinaire. Jean was selling tickets for the Pottstown Rotary’s annual Duck Race, which benefits area charities, and in the process, she was trying to make two sales at once — one to get me to buy some tickets and the other to tell me how great Rotary was and that I should consider joining. My mother had just passed away and things were extremely busy at my business, so joining an organization at that time was the last thing I wanted to do.
Jean continued to work on me, keeping me abreast of Rotary events and telling me with her wonderful heart-filled smile that I would love Rotary and should join. On one of these occasions, it struck me that whenever Jean talked about Rotary, she would light up and you could see and hear the love she had for Rotary. Needless to say, after nearly a year of her trying, I finally agreed to attend a Pottstown Rotary Club meeting as Jean’s guest.
From the moment I arrived at the meeting, Rotarians were coming up to me, welcoming me, engaging me in conversation, showing real interest in wanting to get to know me. As first impressions go, it was a great beginning and the club members made me feel like family right from the start. The following week, I attended another Rotary meeting with Jean and quickly began to see that not only was the Pottstown Rotary Club very active, but that the members were there to do much more than have a nice dinner and chat with one another. These Rotarians were filled with purpose and passion to make a difference in our community and the world. Like with Jean, I witnessed that the club members had that same spark of love for serving their community, while also enjoying great fellowship. It was at that ‘moment’ that I decided that I wanted to share in that experience and become a Rotarian.
It’s hard to believe that a little over four years have passed since that ‘moment,’ and what an incredible journey it has been for me as a Rotarian. Through Rotary I have been given many wonderful gifts — the ability to learn about and engage in ways to help the community, the chance to help orchestrate fundraisers and events, the opportunity to grow personally through leadership positions and share ideas with other people committed to excellence… and that’s just scratching the surface. I can honestly say that when I leave a Rotary meeting, I feel energized and proud to be part of such a great organization filled with such good people. When you join Rotary, you gain a whole new family of wonderful friends, a group of individuals who are dedicated to making good things happen in the community, not just once or twice a year, but all year ‘round. Plus we also do other fun things together — the annual clam bake, the Valentine’s Day dance, our annual bowling fundraiser and more.
It’s a great feeling to be a part of an organization like Rotary that continually leaves its mark on the community in so many ways — such as supporting literacy, awarding student scholarships, helping young students develop leadership skills, and staging fundraisers throughout the year to benefit local charities. That’s what Rotary is about — ‘service above self.’ But in the end, living that motto is really about putting oneself first because being a Rotarian gives you the ability to give and grow as a person and a friend.
It’s funny now that I think back on those conversations with the neighbor’s son talking about his dad and Pottstown Rotary. Now I totally get it. I only wish that I had joined Rotary sooner. My hope is that others will take the step to experience their ‘moment in getting it’ and consider joining and sharing their talents and friendship with Pottstown Rotary. It’s a journey you’ll never want to stop travelling and one you’ll never forget.