The clock was about to hit midnight, and it would signify July 1. Unless it is your birthday or anniversary, there was little significance. But if you are a Rotarian, July 1 signifies the start of the Rotary year.
Most every position in Rotary starts at the new year, including district governor. This year, the district governor position has a special meaning to the Prior Lake Rotary Club. One of our own, 16-year Rotarian Paul Perez, will lead District 5960, which covers Rotary Clubs in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
The changing of the guard came on Tuesday, June 25, when Paul was installed as the district governor. I had the opportunity to sit down with Paul:
1. Tell us about your involvement and
history with Rotary.
I was an average contributor for the club until early 2010, when my employer, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, came on board as the presenting partner for the inaugural Lakefront Jazz and Blues Fest. I stepped up to lead a committee, and my engagement skyrocketed from there.
I was the event co-chair for two years, including year 3, when we changed our format to more rock and country. From there, I rolled into club president for 2013-2014. It was a fantastic year, and I started to get involved at the district level.
2. Why is Rotary so important to you, the community and the world?
Rotary is a symbol of hope for others. We are people who get things done like eradicating diseases; we are very close to eradicating polio. Rotarians are innovators and change-makers.
We ask the question “What if?” and then move to action. And because we are an international organization, we have opportunities to help those in our community and those people across the globe, many whom we will never meet.
3. As the new district governor, what will be the hallmark of your leadership year?
Our presidential theme this year is “Rotary Connects the World.” That is what I have been doing intentionally for the last several months. I’m trying to connect with as many clubs as possible by attending meetings and fundraisers to show support. We are stronger when we connect.
Another area of focus is trying to deliver a great experience for every Rotarian. When we take care of our members — give value to his or her membership — they will be excited about Rotary and want to do more and share that with others. They become our best recruitment tool. Youth programs and Rotaract Clubs (ages 18-30) are another focus, since they are 100% our future.
4. What makes Rotary different than other
We are grounded in ethics. This includes our 4-Way Test that we recite at meetings or events. Of the things we think, say, or do: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? We use this in all facets of our lives.