This was the theme of the Rotary International Convention which recently took place in Toronto, Ontario.  District 7090 was out in full force, with over 300 Rotarians in attendance.  As the incoming District Governor, this was the major kick off for my Rotary year and what a blast my husband John and I had!  We had the opportunity to hear some amazing speakers such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, current and incoming RI Presidents Ian Riseley and Barry Rassin and many, many more!  The speeches were electrifying, the House of Friendship was overflowing with amazing projects, and the Rotary vendors hocking the latest in Rotary “fashion” were everywhere!!  However, in my opinion, the best part of it all, was connecting with old and new friends alike.  As my husband tells it, “Every 5 feet we ran into someone we knew, and she’d spend another 10 minutes talking!”  While I’d like to say he’s exaggerating, the truth is… he’s not!  I love to talk to people about Rotary.  Put me in a venue with 26,000+ of my favorite kind of people and “poof” … I’m in my version of heaven!!  How can you NOT talk about Rotary!  Couple that with meeting other Rotarians and Rotaractors from our own district and you have nothing short of a recipe for great success!!  We talked, collaborated, brainstormed and got really excited about how to bring this inspiration back to our district!  I saw once “shy” club presidents getting excited about partnership connections; I watched as some of our Rotaractors started dreaming of water projects that we could collaborate with in New Mexico.  I ran into my fellow district governors who were also getting ready to start their governor year like myself.  We talked about our fears, our plans and our goals – celebrated with some drinks and just enjoyed the overwhelming joy of being at the convention, getting ready to Be The Inspiration!
Now our new Rotary year has started, and I am so excited to be on this journey with you!  Sometimes the thought of trying to be inspirational is a bit overwhelming.  Take this article for example!  Imagine the pressure of writing your very first newsletter article as the District Governor.  No pressure at all.  As I sat down to write this, I hoped that Inspiration would just ooze right out of my brain to my fingertips and translate into an amazingly written piece worth framing!! Not so much.  I put way too much pressure on myself and had a brain freeze instead!  So, I went “back to basics” and made of list of everything I’ve been doing since my official role started.  And then it happened… inspiration came so fast and furious I wasn’t sure how to keep up, or how to keep this article under 10 pages... (just kidding, it’s not that long!).
I draw my energy and inspiration from YOU, the Rotarians I am honored to serve this year.  I was invited to the changeover ceremonies for the Rotary Clubs of Fonthill and Niagara On The Lake as some of my first official duties.  What a pure honor it was, to meet the club members, listen to the projects and achievements of the clubs and to hear the hopes, dreams and goals of the incoming presidents!  As you’ve heard a million times from other district governors before me – it is truly a humbling experience.  Between these two clubs they have used grants to help fund a computer and skills program targeting women and youth through Niagara Peninsula Homes, funded a sensory room in conjunction with the Red Roof Retreat, and raised thousands for dollars for Polio Plus and other local programs!
Next I met Sue Collins and Ryan Bridge from the Rotary Clubs of Waterdown and Flamborogh AM respectively.  Together, these two clubs host the wildly successful Waterdown Ribfest.  Practically every member of their clubs participated in one way or another to make this fundraiser a success.  I was invited to attend and help “serve some suds”.  But in true Rotary spirit – once I arrived my duties expanded, and I could not have been more thrilled to pitch in and help out!  At one point in the day, I had the pleasure of sitting down with President Sue and asked her what her vision was for her year.  The vision she shared was moving, inspirational and almost brought me to tears.  Sue’s dream is to help her club realize their goal of building more affordable housing for the elderly in her community.  Wow. Not much more I can say about that.  The level of “Service Above Self” that I see everywhere I go is just amazing.  Everywhere I look, I see #Changemakers!  People tirelessly dedicated to being People of Action.  Rotarians dedicated to improving the communities they live in and even the ones they don’t.
My goal for this year, is to share this inspiration with all of you.  To connect us with each other.  To open your eyes to the larger world of Rotary.  To inspire you to take action and create lasting change.  I truly believe that we need to look no further than our own district, to see first-hand, the up close and personal impact that we as Rotarians are making in our own communities and around the globe!  I am so proud to be serving you and our district.  Thank you for giving me this incredible opportunity!  Please follow me on Facebook at Melisa Schrock – Rotarian.  There you will find updates on what other clubs are doing, learn about new initiatives from Rotary International, and get a glimpse into a “day in the life” of a district governor!  Some days, you might be moved to tears, other days you’ll laugh at my crazy life – but I promise that every day will be inspired!!