Catching up on some recent meetings:

January 14: Margaret Brown shares part of her life.
January 21: Louise Boisvert, asking for support for children with invisible disabilities
February 4: Bruce Falkens and Marjolein Lloyd, on the new focus for finding and keeping members.
 
 

Membership Matters

                Thursday February 4, the club held an evening meeting instead of the usual morning meeting, so that Past District Governor Bruce Falkins and Assistant Governor Marjolein Lloyd could expose members to a new approach to gaining membership.
                The international branding agency siegel + gale surveyed thousands of Rotary members, on why they joined, and why they stayed. Their report can be summed up in five words: “You’re doing it all wrong!”
                Few prospective members care that Rotary has 1.2 million members, in 36,000 clubs, holds annual conventions in exotic cities, has almost eliminated polio worldwide, and helps thousands of projects from water wells in Ethiopia to street kids in Tegucigulpa.
                People join for four basic reasons:
To make friends and contacts
To have local impact
To feel valued, for their vocation and their talents
To work with community leaders
                And they stay for exactly the same four reasons.
                Marjolein and Bruce led us through a variety of exercises, role plays, and discussions to get those four points across, over and over. You can read most of the material they used by downloading it in pdf format from the Zone 25/26 website – www.zone2526.org. Click on the “Strengthen Clubs” tab, click “Membership”, and click “Membership Resources.”
 

Re-classification

                Classification talks are supposed to inform other Rotary members about a particular member’s vocation and experience – that is, the employment “classification” that qualifies them to enter Rotary. Usually, classification talks are done soon after a member joins, as a “get to know you” process.
                Our club realized that as new members join, they know little about the stories of members who have been around longer. Some of the founding members did their talks in the 1990s – which doesn’t do much good for a member who joined in 2015.
                So the club is now inviting some long-term members to re-do their classification talks.
                January 14, Margaret Brown had a second run at her classification. She got as far as being transferred, with her husband Rick, to Dubai. There were so many questions, she never got back to Canada. Maybe someday she can do a re-re-classification talk.
 

Angel Award

                Louise Boivert came to the club January 21 to talk about her pet project – the Angel Award in support of children with Juvenile Rheumatoid Disease. You may know it also as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis – “idiopathic” meaning that no one knows just why it happens.
                Louise’s daughter Alise has it. It makes her allergic to almost everything, Louise says. It attacks joints, eyes, senses. Her growth is stunted, but otherwise there’s no way of knowing that Alise and others like her are on megadoses of chemotherapy.
                Alise says that the only time she doesn’t hurt is when she’s singing. So her mother (who claims to read medical journals in her bath, and wonders, “I don’t know what happens to other kids who don’t have a mother who talks constantly”) has organized three annual Angel Award talent shows especially to support children with invisible disabilities.
                This year’s Angel Award will be June 26, the first time it has been held in Lake Country. (See the unauthorized editorial below.)
 

Personal Editorial

                I wish Rotary – not just locally, but perhaps nationally or even internationally – would take up the cause of invisible disabilities.
                I don’t know how many these disabilities affect. I don’t have any statistics. But I know that at least two members of our small club have family members with invisible disabilities. And I know something of the strain they can put on the rest of that family.
                I’ll illustrate with my own family. My wife and I were younger, we had a son with cystic fibrosis. You don’t need to know all about the disease. You only need to know that superficially, our son looked as healthy as anyone around him. He played sports. He went camping. He had a paper route. He once got 110% on a math test.
                Only if you lived with him would you know about the hours of therapy he had to get every day. The handfuls, literally handfuls, of medication he had to take with every meal. The sheer volume of antibiotics he needed every single day to ward off infections.
                Most people didn’t know he had a disability at all. They wondered why he didn’t show up for a game, or a trip. Why he sometimes had to opt out in the middle of a program. Why he couldn’t rough and tumble with the rest of the guys.
                Those who did know about his condition wanted to know
a) How could we risk letting someone so fragile take part in normal activities? Or
b) Why didn’t we just let him lead a normal life like everyone else?
                Louise Boisvert asked for Rotary’s help to make her Angel Award a success. Her daughter has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, which means she lives with constant pain. Louise faces the same problems as our family did – her daughter looks normal, acts normal, is just as talented as anyone else, but sometimes has to drop out, back off, get help.
                People with visible disabilities get wheelchairs and guide dogs and specially designed prosthetic limbs. DreamLift sends them to Disneyland. I don’t begrudge them that special treatment – they deserve it. But so do people with invisible disabilities. They need recognition. Their families need support.
                No one who hasn’t been part of one of these families knows what a toll it can take – financially, socially, and emotionally.
                What’s needed is not necessarily financial help. What’s needed is a more open attitude, that is more sensitive to disabilities, and that offers emotional and personal support to the families who need it.