Fellow Rotarians!
A Happy Canadian Winter to you all, especially to those such as I, who need to be here and cannot escape the cold weather for long, if at all, this year! To those who have found a warmer place to enjoy, good for you! 



February is World Understanding Month. On Feb 23rd we also observed Rotary’s 110th Birthday, a landmark in Service and Fellowship!
We all see World Understanding in different ways. Our Youth Exchange Program is one means of bringing the World to us and provides an opportunity to experience and understand different cultures!  Our many Alumni upon their return can also teach us from their experience as well.
Frank Deaver, a Rotarian from Tuscaloosa, Alabama has written a short piece at the Rotary Global History Fellowship titled “World Understanding Starts at Home”. His ideas are in synch with my thoughts on World Understanding today!
Our world is full of minorities. There are racial and ethnic minorities, there are religious minorities, there are political minorities, and many more. Rotarians also constitute a minority. Of the more than seven billion people in the world, our number is only a little more than 1.2 million. What makes Rotarians different is that we are a distinctly privileged minority. Most Rotarians are among the one percent of people in the world who have a college education or who own a computer. In our comfortable homes, we are far richer than the 80 percent who live in substandard housing. With food enough to eat, we are healthier than the 50 percent who suffer from malnutrition. With the ability to read and write, we are more employable than the 70 percent who are illiterate. We are all too often the victims of a lack of understanding, or perhaps more accurately, of misunderstanding. We give to the Rotary Foundation, but we are only minimally aware of how our contributions are spent. We speak of Rotary's humanitarian programs, but we know too little about the plight of the recipients. The life of a Rotarian is in many ways too comfortable. Too few of us have had opportunity to personally witness the poverty and misery of the world's majority. Perhaps we have not even been exposed to the homeless, the illiterate, the oppressed, within our own communities. Perhaps our daily commute from comfortable home to comfortable office fails to take us through "that part of town." February, World Understanding Month, challenges Rotarians to introduce one minority (ours) to other minorities (those who are in need). What we may come to understand is that there is more opportunity for service in our own communities than we realized. 

We need not look to distant lands to find the minority among us, the unfortunate ones who lack even the basic necessities of life. They are virtually on our doorsteps, and the fact that they so often remain invisible is as much our fault as theirs. Rotarians in our own community, and in every community throughout the Rotary world, could embrace the philosophy of Stephen Grellet, French-American advocate for social reforms: "I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good things, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show a fellow being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." World understanding is a noble and worthy Rotary goal, but it does not begin on the other side of the world. It begins where we are. It begins at our very doorstep.
Many District 5550 Rotarians practice this philosophy as they “Light up Rotary”.  There is of course always a need for more service in the name of “World Understanding” and I know that you will continue to give of yourself as you are able.


Fred and I had the honor to be invited by the Rotary Club of Kenora to participate in a Flag raising ceremony and a very special Paul Harris evening where we recognized several Rotarians,  both first time and multiple Paul Harris Fellows. We also recognized two very worthy citizens of the Community as Honorary Paul Harris Fellows.
As an aside, we left Nipawin early on the 22nd, probably with some risk, at minus 47C with the wind chill, but arrived trouble free after a 997 km trek! The warm hospitality of the Kenora Rotary Family really put the cold weather on the back burner!
On the topic of Paul Harris, please consider using your Clubs’ Points to honor either Rotarians or non-Rotarians in your midst if you haven’t already done so. This will result in greater appreciation of volunteers plus good PR in the community! And maybe even in a new member!


President Gary Huang asked each Club to host a Rotary Day in their Community. It can be a large or small event showing non Rotarians what we do. I know many of you have already done so but if not I urge you in this Rotary year to do one. And please notify me if you do as I want to share your experience with all District 5550 Rotarians.  Anything done to “Light Up” Rotary qualifies. Personally, I hope that 100% of Clubs will have done something by the time our District Conference rolls around.  Note that means you have an extra month this year as our Conference is later than most years!


These are due by March 31st ; please revisit this and you will obtain the recognition which you so much deserve!


“Light Up Rotary with Health and Happiness”
Excitement is brewing! The website is open for registration and information. Watch for frequent updates about the Program and Keynote speakers from our Communications Executive Committee member Lorna King.


Once again we have a net gain of members this month (3)!  We began with 1513 members on July 1st and now have1551 according to RI stats. Finally we have turned the corner! This is the first year in five which has shown a gain! Please congratulate yourselves! Our district goal was an average of 1 member per Club. We now only have 8 more to go!  We can do it!


Keep the momentum going! Support our TWO District Fundraisers!


March 8-15th recognizes the chartering of the first Rotaract Club in North Carolina in 1968. Over 7000 Clubs have formed since then. They have been are working alongside us in service for 47 years! Please recognize the Rotaract Clubs in our District which have shown growth this year! 
Thank You ALL for “Lighting up Rotary” in your own special way! You are ordinary people doing extraordinary things!