We are almost at Rotary’s anniversary. On February 23rd we will celebrate 111 years as a service organization. From an almost inconspicuous start, Rotary rapidly grew and now is not only the world’s oldest service club, it is also the World’s largest service organization.
Rotary has grown from its inception in Chicago. First it expanded into a national organization, then with the formation of the Rotary Club of Winnipeg into a small international organization, until today it has become a far reaching organization with clubs in well over 200 countries. Its members come from nearly all walks of life and all have areas of special concern. It is this eclectic mix of talent and concerns that make Rotary successful in its endeavors, and “a gift to the world”.
February is Peace and Conflict Resolution month. With Peace and Conflict Resolution as one of Rotary’s centres of focus it is easy to look at the other areas of focus as imperatives to enable peace throughout the world.
Think about Peace for a moment. What is Peace? What does Peace mean to you? What does Peace mean to a refugee? Is Peace just a lack of warfare? Or is it a complex thing that can mean many different things to all people around our world? Is Peace freedom from poverty, fear, hunger, oppression, disease? Look carefully at the other areas of focus and you will see that we cannot have lasting Peace without solving the many problems involving clean water, disease prevention, literacy and basic education, maternal health, and  economic and community development  Rotary’s other five areas of focus.
This is the month to focus on Peace. How can anyone be a part of bringing peace to the world? Can you or your club send a student to MUNA, Adventures in Global Citizenship or the Emerging Issues in Human Rights this year?  Will your club support Peace Days next September by attending Peace Days events or even sponsoring an event? Perhaps you or your club will contribute to the Rotary Foundation to help fund projects that contribute to Peace. We can all be ambassadors for Peace by supporting Rotary Peace Centers and helping locate potential Peace Scholars. I leave it to you, the individual Rotarians with the support of over a million other Rotarians, to take your own steps to creating Peace.
Our district has a large presence in the Peace movement in World Peace Partners (WPP). Co-chaired by PDG Nancy Morris and David Newman, this small group of Rotarians and Friends of Rotary have accomplished great deeds in their work in support of the spread of Peace. Peace Days has grown from one small concert to a nearly two week long celebration of Peace, two youth adventures at the University of Winnipeg and support for Peace events for Rotary and other Peace minded groups. Among their accomplishments are memoranda of agreement with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the centres of higher learning in Winnipeg. They have reached out internationally and have forged links with the UNESCO Schools program and are leading the way for others to follow suit. Take the time to visit their web site at worldpeacepartners.org and learn about the many things WPP are doing to make the world a better place for all.
Our greatest tool for Peace, the Rotary Foundation is coming up to its 100th anniversary. District 5550 is celebrating the end of the first century of the Foundation with a Million Dollar Dinner to be held at the district conference on May 14th. The object of the dinner is to raise a million dollars in contributions to the Rotary Foundation prior to the dinner. Major donors will be recognized at the dinner. There are many ways to leave a legacy to the world and making a contribution to the foundation is one of the better ways to leave our marks on the world.