As I viewed the continuing (3 months)Missouri River flood crop devastation west of Tarkio/Rock Port, listened to Rotary leaders speak about the damage to federal highway, bridge, and to railroad infrastructure, and then learn about the loss of jobs, plus loss of county and school revenue, I could only wonder “What have we done?”  That is, how could federal policy makers  justify the cost to farmers, the crop/food loss to consumers, the income loss to worker's families, the economic hardship to communities and the additional (unnecessary cost) of rebuilding expensive infrastructure.

But, for having made my District Governor’s “Official  Visit” to Tarkio and later to Rock Port, I would not have really understood the extent of this “man made” disaster.  Likewise, I would not have witnessed the resolve and courage of the Rotarians who live in and around these towns.  These are relatively small towns and small Rotary clubs but, oh, how great is their collective spirit! In spite of this flood caused hardship, they have shown the resolve to overcome despair and face their future with optimism. 

One, if not the best, example of this positive spirit is the successful High School Interact Club that is the pride of the Tarkio Rotary Club. These Interact club members attend every meeting of the club (at least two students per meeting). Club members have learned their names and made friends with these high school students. What a great “gift” it must be for a 14 to 18-year-old to have friends and mentors among these Rotary Club members.  No doubt students are seeing that it is possible to “come home again” after high school or college and have a good life.  These Interact students are the future Rotary Club members.

The positive spirit of these two Rotary clubs are repeated over and over in towns like Platte City, Bethany, Gallatin, and dozens of other clubs I have visited in July and August. Truly inspirational!

What have we (Rotarians) done? Over the years, we Rotarians have become the spirit of these towns, leading by example, as we serve our neighbors. Now during September, but highlighted on September 24, Rotarians from across Metro Kansas City, and all of Northern Missouri , will engage in service above self through Rotary Service Day. Remember to wear your Rotary themed shirts, hats, and pins to show your Rotary pride. My prayer is that every Rotarian will enjoy this day of service as we reach out to embrace humanity.