Rotary International’s newly adopted theme for 2021-22 is “Serve to Change Lives,” and I cannot think of a more appropriate focus as we emerge from this worldwide pandemic and begin to rebuild our clubs, our communities, and our world.
Our world -- and certainly our Rotary world -- is much different today than it was 12 months ago. We faced a global health crisis, natural disasters, and economic turmoil all at the same time and the whole world was affected.
Through it all, Rotary has stood tall. We have heard stories of amazing acts of generosity and personal acts of service by clubs, Rotarians, and Rotaractors. Rotarians are, if nothing else, resilient, and our ability to adapt to a changing world put us in a position not only to survive the pandemic – but able to help others in the process.
Despite myriad hardships created by the pandemic, the humanitarian work of Rotarians never ceased.
Internationally, The Rotary Foundation was quick to respond to this generation’s worst humanitarian crisis. Since March 2020, The Rotary Foundation has awarded $32 million in global and disaster-response grants for projects related to COVID-19. All over the world, Foundation grants are supporting projects that demonstrate Rotary’s impact and reach. 
Closer to home, District 5495 Rotarians rolled up their sleeves and worked throughout the year serving those most impacted by the pandemic. Despite personal obstacles faced by many of our own members – our clubs never stopped serving their communities.
We may have been forced to meet virtually and stay in our homes for the better part of a year, but there was plenty we could – and did -- do: Collect food for local food banks. Plant trees. Donate computers to our schools. Purchase supplies for first responders. The list goes on and on.
Rotary has been serving our world for more than 110 years – over 100 years right here in Arizona! We’ve survived two world wars, depressions and recessions, economic disasters and now a second worldwide pandemic.
But our work is far from finished, and the year ahead may be even more challenging than the year we just completed. For as we emerge from this pandemic, the aftereffects and resulting damage will linger for many years to come.
Our communities, schools, neighbors, charitable groups and more need our help. The need for service is greater than ever before and Rotary International President Shekhar Mehtar’s call to “Serve to Change Lives” should be every Rotarian’s key focus during the year ahead.
Regardless of your club’s size – or whatever condition your club finds itself in as it rebounds from a year of limited activity – I encourage you to put community service at the top of your list of priorities for 2021-22.
How can we “Serve to Change Lives” in the coming year? Below are some real-life examples already put into practice by many of our clubs.
  • Plan a community service project. Make a strong service project your club’s first act of business as it returns to in-person meetings. 
  • Revitalize your club’s relationship with Interact. The pandemic was especially brutal on our schools, and many students were forced to attend school virtually. If your club has an Interact club, reach out to them, re-engage and involve students in your club’s activities. (Don’t have an Interact Club? Start one! Better yet, launch an Interact Club in a school in an economically challenged area not presently served by a Rotary Club.)
  • Help start a new Rotary Club or satellite club in an underserved area. The world can always use more Rotarians! As we like to say: Grow more, do more!
  • Along those same lines, let’s grow our club membership. RI President Mehtar encourages every Rotarian this year to bring at least one potential member to a club meeting, activity or service project. Let’s introduce others to the world of Rotary – “Each One, Bring One!”
  • Collaborate. Let’s partner with other Rotary clubs, service organizations and nonprofits to compound our impact in the community. I call this “flexing our collaborative muscle.” All of us have contacts in the business community, religious community and nonprofit world – let’s enlist their expertise to help us better serve our communities.
  • Give to The Rotary Foundation. Giving to the Foundation does more than anything to allow us to “Serve to Change Lives.” I would like every member of our district to set a goal of giving at least $10 per month -- $120 annually -- to The Rotary Foundation.
  • Participate in Rotary Week of Service. We’re going to make Week of Service an annual activity to shine the light on Rotary in Arizona. We had over 50 clubs conduct a project during our first Week of Service this past April.  Our efforts this year were recognized by the Arizona governor and next year we’ve invited our fellow Rotarians from District 5500 (southern Arizona) to join us in the endeavor, making this a truly Arizona Rotary Week of Service! 
Paul Harris once said, “Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the rest of the world it will be known by the results it achieves.”
If there ever was a year to achieve results, this is the year. Despite the challenges that lie ahead, I’m excited about the opportunities before us and look forward to joining District 5495 clubs as they “take action to create lasting change – across the glove, in our communities and in ourselves.”
This is our year to shine. To serve. To achieve results. 
Let’s find a way to “Serve to Change Lives.”
  • We all owe a special debt of gratitude to our club presidents, assistant governors, district leaders and especially District Governor Elizabeth Mahoney for their dedication and leadership in 2020-21. While many in our world lamented on the things they could NOT do because of the pandemic, our district’s leaders kept us focused on all the things we COULD and SHOULD be doing to help our communities. Please join us as we recognize their service during a District Celebration July 10 at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park.
  • Let’s celebrate our return to action! Please share information and photos of your club’s service projects and installation ceremonies with our social media team. We would love to share them on our district website and social media platforms. Send them to or
  • As your club updates its websites and social media platforms for the new Rotary year, be sure logos and branding are totally in line with Rotary’s guidelines. The new “Serve to Change Lives” logos are now available at the district website. Need additional help with public image? Email
Finally, if there is anything at all that I or the district can do to assist your club or members, please don’t hesitate to contact me personally. I look forward to meeting all our members and working with all our clubs over the next 12 months. Feel free to reach out to me at (602) 478-2835 or email me at