By: Tom Branum, Jr., District 6560 – Central Indiana, Past District Governor
I’m now an Immediate Past District Governor, but mostly I’m back to being a “regular” Rotarian. A few years ago, I started my journey to become District Governor. A common question among my friends was “Why?” and “What do you want to do as District Governor?” These were big questions for me. I wanted to “make it count”, as all leaders do. I also felt that as Rotarians, we have a special opportunity to be leaders of our communities. I wanted to inspire and encourage clubs in our district to address pressing needs in their communities.
In the United States, hunger is a problem that is both invisible and obvious in every community. It has probably been experienced by friends, family, or club members at some point in our lives, but rarely ever talked about. Although it is a huge problem, we can help lead the world towards a solution.
Our district decided to tackle this issue through The BetterTogether Conference. Bundled with our annual district conference, we asked leaders in the local and international fight against hunger, Rotarian or not, to come together. Our result: 20 speakers in a TED Talk style format helping us raise Rotary’s flag over this issue.
One of our collaborating partners designed an interactive workshop, an integral part of the conference. Each club was asked to work as a team (or teams for larger clubs) to develop a plan to implement a project against hunger in their own communities. Each team presented their plan to a panel of judges. The winning team took home a US $1000 prize to use on their project when they returned home. It was an amazing experience. The teams pulled inspiration from the speakers and all they had learned to work together and find solutions they were excited to implement.
Looking back, even we didn’t know our potential impact. The conference can be recreated by Rotary districts and clubs everywhere in the world. Each Rotarian can use their best talents, gifts, and resources to help: connections to influential people, marketing and management skills, social and community networks, youth and community outreach engagement. Working with your communities, you’ll develop a shared vision and take it places you may never have suspected were accessible.
I encourage all of you to get out there and be leaders in your communities. We need to come together and collaborate to fight issues like hunger.
World Food Day is 16 October. Share pictures of how your club and district is addressing hunger in your communities on Instagram and Twitter accompanied by the hashtag #RotaryStopsHunger. On World Food Day join Rotary First Harvest along with the Rotarian Action Group for the Alleviation of Hunger and Malnutrition, Alliance to End Hunger, Stop Hunger Now and The Global FoodBanking Network in a Twitter Chat. Sign on to Twitter from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Chicago time (UTC-5) and add your voice to the #RotaryStopsHunger conversation.