THE RI PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
I believe it is a time in our world for brave, courageous, intentional leadership.
Last month, in this column, you heard from my dear friend Anniela Carracedo. She is an amazing member of our Rotary family, and as a past Interactor and now Rotarian, she is this kind of leader. Anni shared a very personal story about coping with a panic attack, something that I have also experienced. The outpouring and response to this story have been tremendous and punctuate how critical it is that we acknowledge not only our strengths but our vulnerabilities too.
When we talk about finding space for one another — creating comfort and care within Rotary — we’re describing a club experience where we can all feel comfortable sharing like Anni did, and we can all empathize with and support one another. Whatever we are facing in life, Rotary is a place where we know we’re not alone.
We spend so much time helping our world, whether it’s working to end polio, cleaning up the environment, or bringing hope to communities that need it most. Sometimes we can lose track of the need to apply some of our energy and care to our fellow members and partners in service.
The comfort and care of our members is the single greatest driver of member satisfaction and retention. We need to ensure that it remains a priority — and that we further strengthen these bonds by performing service that helps reduce the stigma of seeking out mental health treatment and expands access to care.
That is why I’m so heartened by President-elect Gordon McInally’s wonderful vision to help improve the global mental health system, not only for Rotary members, but for the communities we serve.
When Gordon announced our focus on mental health at this year’s International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, he reminded us that helping others benefits our mental health by reducing stress and improving our mood. Studies show that performing acts of kindness is an effective way to improve your own mental and physical health. Rotary service brings hope to the world and joy to our lives.
Our new focus on mental health will take some time to do right, and yet it builds on something that has been part of who we are for 118 years. We are People of Action, and behind that action is care, compassion, empathy, and inclusion. Becoming champions of mental health is not only the right and kind thing to do, it is a tool that can Create Hope in the World, Gordon’s inspiring theme for his upcoming year as president.
If we serve our members, we serve our communities, and if we can meet people where they are and lift them up, they will imagine Rotary in a new light and come to fully understand our value and our infinite potential.
President, Rotary International