I’m not sure who first coined the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun”, but here I find myself already 5 months into my term as your District Governor and it seems like it was only a week ago when I began my journey. As of the time of writing, this my 6th DG article, I have completed 44 out of 47 Rotary Club visits plus met up with the U of Calgary Rotaract Club. What an amazing experience it has been to have a conversation with so many great Rotarians and to learn about all of the things our clubs are doing to “make a difference” in their local communities and around the world. I want to personally thank all of the clubs for their kind hospitality and making me feel so welcome.

November was Foundation Month, a time each year when all Rotarians are asked to really think about all of the great things this organization has accomplished in its mission of “doing good in the world” over the past 100 years and to renew our financial commitment. As I mentioned last month, the Foundation has invested more than $3.0 billion US on life-changing sustainable projects. And to think it all started with a donation of $26.50 back in 1917! I again want to thank our Rotarians and their families and friends who have contributed to and will continue to support the Foundation whether it be through the Annual Fund, End Polio Campaign, the Endowment Fund or the 6 Areas of Focus.

Based on the survey results we have received, our Membership: Priority #1 workshop held back on November 18th was a success. We had close to 100 participants attend in one of our four centres, Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer representing 70% of the Clubs in our District. A big thanks go out to our Membership Attraction & Engagement Committee co-chaired by DGN Christine Rendell and IPDG Neil Berg, for organizing and delivering a first-class program. I know they are busy putting together the Membership Tool Kit which I feel confident will help all of our clubs with attracting new members, engaging those members and most importantly retaining them. Membership is our #1 internal priority!

December is Disease Prevention & Treatment month. Rotary and its partners have been working for over 30 years now to eradicate polio, a debilitating and deadly disease that once affected over 350,000 people every year. This year to date we’re looking at only 15 cases in three endemic countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. That’s a 40% reduction in the number of cases since last year! So, we really are very close, but since our end game is zero cases, we need to continue to support our countdown to history - the elimination of polio! Disease results in misery, pain and poverty for millions of people worldwide. Rotary believes that good health care is everyone’s right, yet we have 400 million people in the world who can’t afford or don’t have access to basic health care. Supported by the Rotary Foundation’s investment of $65 Mio. Rotarians have hundreds of health projects underway around the world at any given time. Besides polio, Rotarians are working diligently to combat diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and diabetes!

December also means Christmas and the holiday season is upon us. For many, it’s a happy time when families and friends come together to celebrate, renew acquaintances, make new friends, to give gifts and to be thankful for what we have. For others, it’s a sad and lonely time, so let’s think about the less fortunate and do our part to help others where and when we can. December is also a transition month, where on one hand we reflect on the year that just flew by and on the other hand we look ahead to what next year will bring.

From my Rotary family to your Rotary family I wish you a safe and happy holiday season, a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and peaceful year ahead as we continue our journey of Rotary: Making a Difference.


See you in the New Year!

Rick Istead

Rotary District Governor 2017-2018