By Mikayle Stole
Having been a member of the Springfield club from 2009 to 2014, I wasn’t sure I really needed this opportunity. However, at this point in my life, I feel more able to commit this second time around. I got an email invitation from Bill Grile, our club’s past president, and feeling that he embodies what a Rotarian should be, I thought RLI might be worth it. And it took place in my hometown, and my husband loves it there.
I’ve attended a few make-up sessions at other clubs but always loved my home club due to the long history and deep relationships I find among the folks I like to think of as my mentors. These are the members who have been in the club for the longest and have a life-long commitment to Rotary. One of the things I learned at this educational opportunity is that membership is aging and declining just like the rest of society. My club is very traditional, and that is what I like about it—we wear those funky round buttons, and we meet at the Elks Lodge. And while I was away for almost 10 years—I felt back at home on my first revisit. I love my club the way it is!
RLI allowed me to see a whole new vibrance to Rotary. Inspiring and innovative presenters like DGN Christine Waugh, PDG Aimee Walsh, and Judy Corwin allowed me to see women’s involvement in Rotary. I had informed my husband at breakfast the morning before the event that women had only been allowed to join Rotary in 1989. He jokingly said that now that women were in Rotary, the old man’s club attitude, and secret handshake had probably gone by the wayside, “poor old codgers”. He’s quite a jokester and meant no harm, but it got me thinking and in the right mindset for the day.
The big takeaways? Rotary isn’t just a stodgy old man’s club; it can be an innovative way to serve the community. Chris Waugh demonstrated that you could create an offshoot of your club if you cannot meet at the traditional time and meet only twice a week if need be. Your meetings can be service-oriented and not lunch at all. I’ve always been a staunch believer in branding and am excited that Rotary has taken this seriously and Judy Corwin did an excellent presentation beyond correct logo usage. Aimee Walsh provided a teamwork exercise that blew my mind. I can’t wait to try it again! PDG Rick Olson explained how the Rotary Foundation works and how to establish goals.
A foundation grants presentation by DISC/AG Juli DiChiro explained how our money goes to work with district and global grants. Gary Allen sat at my table on Saturday and posed excellent questions to our group. Jim Polk wrapped up by focusing on “Service above Self,” the five avenues of service, and the Seven areas of Rotary. Do you know what these are? You can find them in his PowerPoint on the DACdb site under the “District” tab under the public files in the folder labeled “Rotary Leadership Institute/RLI Coos Bay 2023/ RLI CB 2023 PowerPoint files,” his is number 12.
I discovered at the Rotary Leadership Institute that I had much to learn about Rotary even though I had been a previous member. I realized that this old dog could learn new tricks. I also came back appreciating my club that much more, and proud of all we have accomplished for Springfield and beyond.
Photos of the event: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAXhwd