Rotary’s six areas of focus and ideas on strengthening clubs were at the core of District 6780 Gov. Ray Knowis’ speech to the Rotary Club of Cleveland Tuesday.
Knowis encouraged the club members to wear their Rotary pins. He also encouraged them to share their “Rotary moment” when asked the question “What is Rotary?”
The district governor said this was one way members could live this year’s theme: “Engage Rotary. Change Lives.”
“As we ‘engage Rotary [and] change lives,’ the more people we can get to help us do that, the better Rotary wil be,” Knowis said.
He said Rotary is the world’s largest service organization, with 1.2 million members around the world.
“But if you tell someone that statistic, I don’t think you have really engaged them,” Knowis said.
He said engagement comes when Rotarians share what their club is doing to better the community.
The six focus areas of Rotary outline how Rotarians seek to develop service projects. The areas of focus are: Peace and conflict prevention and resolution; disease prevention and treatment; water and sanitation; maternal and child health; basic education and literacy; as well as economic and community development.
"When you think of those in a broad sense, it’s kind of hard to think of any project that wouldn't be one of those," Knowis said.
The main goal of Rotary remains to eradicate polio.
"There is work still to be done in the eradication of polio," Knowis said.
The district governor emphasized the importance of choosing projects that meet specific needs. He also gave examples of how clubs could localize projects.
Some areas of focus may be more needed in some clubs' communities than others. While many may think Tennessee is fine in the area of disease prevention, Knowis pointed out that Tennessee ranks 48th out of the 50 states in this category.
The Rotary Club of Cleveland has participated in water sanitation projects. Knowis said this is one of the areas of focus he is particularly passionate about.
Monetary funds are available to Rotary Clubs that dream big to take on larger projects. These are available through district levels grants and through global grants. District grants allow a club to award scholarships, complete humanitarian projects or sponsor vocational training.
“Through the District grants we can now do bigger projects and better projects," Knowis said.
This year the amount that can be awarded for each project is larger.
Global grants provide opportunities for international projects.
"These grants are designed for more sustainable projects where you can make a difference in the long term not just through the life of the project, but ongoing," Knowis said.
To apply for a global grant, the project must involve two or more Rotary Clubs and meet a specific need. One of the clubs involved must be an international sponsor.
The minimum global grant a Rotary club can apply for is $15,000, with a requirement to match the grant
Knowis said he had heard Rotary Club of Cleveland members earlier in the day describing a potential project in Guatemala that would be a good fit for a global grant.
In order to be awarded funding, the project must also fit into one of Rotary's six areas of focus.
The Rotary Club of Cleveland also raises funds for local projects through its yearly auction.