McKENZIE (November 5) — Jerome Bannister, District 6760 Rotary Governor, made his official visit to the McKenzie Rotary Club Tuesday. Bannister, a member of the Franklin Breakfast Club, encouraged the Rotarians to live up to this year’s Rotary International theme of Rotary: Making a Difference.
Bannister explained that being part of Rotary is not necessarily about whom a person is but more about what the individual does as a Rotarian. Rotary is going through changes; new clubs are sprouting up with new ideas. The newer clubs are meeting less often and in a more social evening setting. Evening clubs are attracting younger members which present rejuvenation to Rotary.
Attracting new members and increasing membership is a challenge faced by all Rotary Clubs. Bannister stated it is necessary to think outside of the box when attracting members. The possibility of a graduated dues system can attract younger members, and inviting prospective members to help with a service project may be more enticing to an individual rather than sitting through a regular meeting.
In the role of district governor, Bannister explained the goals set before each club by Rotary International and District 6760. This includes club giving to the Rotary Foundation, produce one member to the Paul Harris Society (pledging $1,000 a year to the Foundation), each Rotarian planting a tree in regards to environmental conservation, and 75% clubs of District 6760 achieving a Presidential Citation from Rotarian International.
During his presentation, Bannister presented Gleason Rotary President and Assistant Governor Designate Jason Martin with a certificate and pin representing his recent accomplishment as a Paul Harris Fellow. Martin also serves on the McKenzie City Council representing Ward II.
For three decades, Rotary has led the charge in the eradication of polio. When Rotary International began its work, there were 40 documented cases an hour. Twenty years later, it was down to 40 cases a year. With over $1.6 billion raised in the eradication effects, 12 cases have been documented in 2017 and are centralized in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In hopes of putting an end to polio, Rotary International committed to raising $50 million per year over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Gates Foundation. The commitment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation totals $450 million for polio eradication activities, including immunization and surveillance over the next three years.
Bannister informed club members of the benevolence of the Rotary Foundation. Money given to the Foundation goes to activities like the eradication of polio, global grants and district grants at the local level. Due to Rotary International’s low operating costs, every dollar donated to the Foundation goes towards Rotary projects.
Bannister concluded the meeting with his personal anecdote on joining Rotary. Although a Rotarian since 1999, joining Rotary almost never happened. He had asked acquaintances about Rotary and learned of the groups deeds, but was never asked to join.
His wife, Candida approached her boss about Jerome joining his Rotary club, and the journey began but was nearly short lived. Although a member of a club, he did not feel a part of the group. On the verge of leaving, he was approached by the club president in helping on a committee.
From there Bannister became a Paul Harris Fellow and later society member, club president in 2007, assistant governor in 2009, and district governor in 2017. Bannister closed with people join Rotary for various reasons but it is important to make the Rotarian feel as though he or she belongs.