New Generations can look at Rotary with new eyes

By Sakuji Tanaka, President, Rotary International

Many of you know that we now have five Avenues of Service in Rotary. The fifth, and newest, is New Generations Service. There are many ways to serve through this avenue, and you will read about some of them in this month’s issue.

All of the work we do to educate children, to improve maternal health, to help families live healthier lives – all of this is service to New Generations. We also serve New Generations by working to eradicate polio, helping to ensure that future generations of children will be born into a polio-free world.

Our youth and young adult programs, such as Rotaract, Interact, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and Rotary Youth Exchange, are a very important part of this Avenue of Service. We must remember that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. By helping to develop young leaders and bringing younger members into our clubs, we strengthen communities – and Rotary’s future.

For most of my life, I have been a salesman. I learned long ago that being a good salesman is not enough. You must also have a good product. If you are a good salesman, you will make the first sale. But if you do not have a good product, you will make only the first sale. You will not make the second.

It is not enough to bring new members into Rotary. We want them to stay. We want the new, young members to become long time members. We want them to be Rotary leaders in 10, 20, or 30 years.

How do we do this? We have to look at our product. We have to look at Rotary not with our own eyes, but with new eyes. When we invite a new member to join and that person’s answer is no, we should ask why. This is not to pressure someone into joining. It is to find out more information. What are the obstacles to membership? Is it an inconvenient meeting time? Is it too much of a time commitment? Is it something else that we have not thought of?

We need to ask questions, and we need to open ourselves to the answers. We cannot say, “No, we will not do this,” just because we have never done it before. Why not have childcare at a meeting? Why not involve families in projects? Why not make attendance requirements less strict, or meet less often?

Our new Avenue of New Generations Service is an important step in ensuring many future generations of Rotary, and of Service Above Self.

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