What would it take to change the world? Rotary's 1.2 million members believe it starts with a commitment to service above self, and they are surely making a difference.
In more than 34,000 clubs worldwide, Rotary Club members volunteer in communities to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, and eradicate polio.
We have our own clubs locally where men and women of all ages and professional and community backgrounds use their talents, skills, and energy to engage in projects and initiatives to improve the lives of others. The Rotary experience is built on service, friendship, business networking, personal development and fun and this is exactly what I encountered upon being invited to share an evening with our local Havelock North Rotary Club as a guest speaker.
I spoke about my journey, my background and the aspirations and hopes I have for our community a topic Rotary and I share in common. I explained that being a councillor was one of the most fulfilling and rewarding endeavours I'd embarked upon to date. In this role I often found myself in some intriguing situations with interesting people, as again I had found myself on that night.
I expressed gratitude for the opportunity of being part of them that night and in this role considering that I may once have fallen the other side of the tracks in life.
I have good parents. Nevertheless those tumultuous teenage years came where I needed someone other than my parents to talk to. I had always wished to attend university, however I found myself in a place where I had finished school, had no real plans and no real direction. I had all the ambition, passion and desire but lacked guidance as to how to get there and was fast becoming dejected and despondent.
Then came a phone call. My friend who was the year above me at high school phoned me and asked if I wished to go flatting with her in Dunedin the next year and attend university.
I explained that I didn't know how to fill out forms, I didn't know how to acquire funds for fees and board and didn't even know how to pick subjects. She told me not to worry about any of that as she would help me, and that she did. Had it not been for that one special friend being present at a particularly critical point in my life no doubt my life could have taken a much different track.
We all have people in our lives that show up and make a difference, not just to our today's, but they change our tomorrows. That was my message that evening to Rotary and I believe in many ways that is what Rotary's message is to us. They are a passionate group on men and women that I take my hat off to.
Literally a hat, or bucket was being passed around that night collecting coins from each other, no doubt such collection to be used towards one of their projects that benefit our community. What struck me was the humility of members who were esteemed businessmen, professionals and community members. They faithfully show up each week, pass a hat around and sit on sidewalks selling raffle tickets.
It's these little things done over a long period of time that gets great results. The magic of Rotary is that it allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and extraordinary things all Rotary clubs have done for our region simply bike or walk one of our beautiful pathways to find out.
Jacoby Poulain is a Hastings District Council Flaxmere Ward councillor.