Well, the meeting we’d all been waiting for – the official visit by our own District Governor, Sue Goldsen, went way too fast! And what a day it was. Governor Sue arrived early to meet with the board and then gave her quite emotional and heart-felt presentation to members at the regular meeting that followed. AG Mary did the honors so aptly of introducing Sue by telling the audience that her theme this year suits her perfectly – pursue your passions and lead with your heart – because that’s just what Sue does. Today, by the way, was the Goldsen’s wedding anniversary!
Sue began by saying that being here today was like “coming home”. This is the club where Rotary actually started for her and her hubby, Past District Governor (DG in 2008-09), Bruce, who was with her today. Sue said she is very humbled to serve as DG but excited to be able to serve alongside this year’s RI President, John Germ, from Tennessee.
She said that her Rotary story really includes all of us. The Goldsen’s moved here from the New York area in 1990. They met in college in Connecticut and moved here for business reasons and really didn’t know anyone. They lived in the Rolling Meadows subdivision and became friends with the Burgs. Bruce joined Rotary first and was sponsored by Rich McLaughlin, store manager of the JC Penny’s store in the mall at the time. But one of the closest Rotary friends initially, she said, was Bill Chase. She said he called them one day about a male student from Brazil (Adolfo) and asked if they would be interested in hosting him. They agreed and Sue said it was the best thing that ever happened to them and that their entire family “changed for the better”!!
Adolfo and their son, David, soon became best friends. Adolfo spent time and both Bruce and Sue’s house as well as at Bill’s during his high school years until he returned to his home in Brazil. He wasn’t there for long. He soon returned to attend and subsequently graduate from Eastern Michigan University while commuting from Adrian. He is now 41 years old, married with two beautiful children and live in Belleville.  They were married in the Goldsen’s backyard by Mark Murray.
“Had I not taken that phone call from Bill Chase, who knows what my life would be like today?” she said. Bill then called one more time with a favor and that was to attend the district conference in Chicago that year even though Sue was not yet a Rotarian! They ended up going. It was PDG Larry Wright’s conference. The district at the time had about 20 Exchange Students who attended the conference and Sue was impressed with the way they walked across the stage and represented so many countries around the world. She heard others talk about how excited they were about traveling overseas to serve others and Bill’s personal volunteer trips to Santarem, Brazil to do humanitarian work through RI. Everything she saw and heard inspired her while it “Rota-fied” her at the same time, she said! So, it was OUR fault, Sue said, that she became a Rotarian. It was about that same time that our club sought to sponsor a morning club and that’s when Sue officially joined this fine organization which accommodated her work schedule. She also became that club’s charter president!
Sue expressed her gratitude for the work our club has been doing. She challenged each of us to think about people we know who could also benefit from involvement in Rotary. They are people who are volunteering already at their church, school, even local library or someone we know who helps out at Art-A-Licious, she said. All we need to do is ask them, like-minded people, to join a tremendous club like ours to do the same thing! “They too are leaders like us who can exchange ideas and take action! They are already following their hearts and serving humanity.” There are so many opportunities to serve. They just simply need to be asked to join Rotary, Sue said.
She said that Youth Exchange as well as International Service happened to be her passion. She loves watching kids have opportunities they would not otherwise have without this kind of a program. She shared the story of her trip to Ghana with a team of 18-20 other Rotarians led by then DG Pete Dubin to help to rebuild a school there. Their son went with them. Prior to leaving, they were asked to be sure and bring their Polaroid camera with them. Sue said she’ll never forget taking pictures of the beautiful children and her amazement at seeing their reactions. She suddenly realized these children had NEVER seen pictures of themselves before.  They never ever knew what they looked like! It was truly gratifying for her, she said, to be able to gives these kids pictures of themselves.
So, she asked, “What is it that give you the Rotary Mo-Jo? What gets us excited about being a Rotarian?” She challenged us to answer these questions for ourselves. Perhaps it’s getting involved in our district since it wouldn’t exist without us. No act of kindness, for instance, goes unnoticed. That’s where the Random Acts of Kindness comes in, Sue said. She thanked AG Mary for spearheading the program at our club. Get in the habit of doing this and everyone will be better off as a result, she said. This program helps to promote Rotary. The district has a Facebook page devoted exclusively to this program, she said.
Sue mentioned the time she spent with our board before today’s meeting and how proud she was about all of the things we were doing, the positive energy we have and how we’re growing. “It really touched my heart. Thanks to each of you for all you’re doing in this community!”
Sue closed her presentation by announcing the special district events we will mention below.
(Let Yours Truly editorialize a moment if you would: I couldn’t be more fortunate than to be serving with Sue this year as president. She, Bruce and David ARE, indeed, family. She and Bruce have done and continue to do so much for Rotary. You WILL NOT find a more compassionate person that Sue Goldsen. Thanks for being there for me, this club and District 6400. You are a tremendous inspiration to us all!!)