DG Dan Hall - In our Rotary world, December is “Family Month.” Family Month celebrates the family of Rotary, which, in addition to individual Rotarians, includes all of those who are involved in Rotary's work from Rotary Foundation program alumni to participants in Rotary youth programs in thousands of communities around the world.

Spouses and the children (and grandchildren) of Rotarians play a vital role in Rotary too. Rotary clubs benefit immensely when they strive to achieve a balanced interaction between Rotarians and their families, enhancing home lives and family interactions.

In my home club, we have a person designated to be aware of both the positive and the sad things that occur within our “family of Rotary.” Should a member, his or her spouse, or other family member suffer an injury, illness, or even death, our “Family of Rotary” designee will make sure a “get well” or sympathy card is sent and, when appropriate, flowers are sent in behalf of our club.


Likewise, at every meeting, our club president asks for announcements from “our Family members,” of any positive developments in their lives. Responses cost a dollar (for our High School scholarship fund) but that doesn’t detour members who are happy to tell their friends about birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, or about the achievements of a spouse, son, daughter, or grandchild. As a Rotary family, we appreciate and enjoy this positive news with our Rotary “brothers or sisters.” Over time, we grow to not only know our fellow members better, but to truly appreciate each others lives.

In fact, one of the great joys of Rotary membership is the wonderful relationships we establish with people we would never have known outside the framework of Rotary. Having listened, with my heart, to what our RI President Kalyan Banerjee has said about the 2011/2012 Rotary theme, “Reach Within to Embrace Humanity,” he is really talking about the “Family of Rotary.” He asks us to first embrace and support those family members who are closest to us such as our spouse, children, parents, and other family members. Then he asks us to reach out in club service to our local community and then to the world. A correct order of priorities don’t you think?

Here are some more ideas (from Rotarians around the world) to strengthen and include a Rotarian’s family in our great organization: 1) Invite the family members to our important programs. Invite them for dinner meetings. Arrange picnics and short trips to keep our family commitments and to have better fellowship. The three Lee’s Summit Rotary Clubs recently had a hayride and hotdogs family event at the Rotary Youth Camp which members and their families really enjoyed. 2) Plan several club fellowship activities per year that includes family and friends of Rotarians. For example, you could take your members, family and friends to a baseball game and bill it as “Strike-out Polio Day.” 3) (The following idea your DG really likes) When the District Governor makes his official visit to our club, we make it a special event and invite our club members' family and friends. 4) I feel the key to continued active membership is to open a line of communication between our club and our members' family so that they understand why their family member is involved in Rotary. Who knows they may want to join themselves or become supporters. 5) Having a Friends of Rotary (email or mailing address of family & non-Rotarian supporters) list helps to keep them informed of club activities in which they may want to participate. 6) Be a “family friendly club” and invite the kids -- some Rotarians may frown upon children at meetings because they feel that the parent may not be in control of their child. I guess the question would be, "How can we reach out to children of other families (locally and internationally) and not include the children of our own Rotarians?" 7) (The following idea is from a 33 year old mother & Rotary member) Encourage provision of child care facilities during conferences or events like districts conferences, conventions and other similar Rotary events. I like to attend major Rotary conferences and it becomes a struggle when you have to travel out of your area as it is difficult getting child care during the conference. Rotary should enable young members to participate in conferences with their family. It is not a curse for Young Rotarians to join Rotary and so they should be supported towards fulfilling their Rotary desires. (To this last comment, let me add “amen.”)

As this calendar year comes to an end and the Christmas season approaches, now is the time to remember your friends…your Rotary family. Likewise, remember to reach the goodness within yourself as you embrace your family members, your Rotary family, your community and the world through Rotary service. My Christmas wish is for peace on earth and good will toward all humanity.