Assistant Governor, Marilyn Kremer, introduced our speaker today, District Governor, Rick Caron. Rick is chair of the Mathematics & Statistics Department at the University of Windsor. He has won a number of prestigious awards for his teaching and research and is listed in Who’s Who in Canada in 1997.
Rick spoke about what Rotary is and does and telling the audience that he bet that we each wear our Rotary pins everywhere we go which encourages people to ask us what that pin was we were wearing. He said he was curious as to what our individual response has been to the question: “What exactly is Rotary?” When we simply respond with “It’s a service organization”, how do we explain that? It’s a difficult question to answer, Rick said, because of all the things that Rotary does.
He mentioned the recent hurricane relief efforts. The clubs throughout the district, he said, contributed over $32,000 to that effort and what was amazing was that none of the clubs had even budgeted for that this year but they all knew it was the right thing to do! Rick said he wrote a letter to the district governor in the Houston area and got a letter back saying, “Wow. Thank you. What an amazing district you have”.
Rick also mentioned how happy he was to have been able to join the five clubs in the county for their World Polio Day lunch in Tecumseh last week. All of the photos that were taken around the district, he said, will be combined and shown at his District Conference next May at Mackinac Island.
Rick said he attended the International Assembly with RI President John Germ and spoke about the $1.2B raised by RI when Rick said “My heart just sunk. That’s a lot of money!” Then he said John continued and announced that Rotarians will continue to give $50 million a year for each of the next three years. But Rick knew, he said, that since Rotarians overachieve, they will give more and in a shorter period of time because that’s just who we are! “We’ve always done our part.” Then, to top it all off, he said, an organization like Rotary is able to get someone like Bill Gates to attend the International Convention and because he knows Rotary well, reaffirmed his commitment to Rotary by giving a match of 2 to 1 toward the effort to eradicate polio in the world! So, another $450M is on the table, he said. Representatives from numerous governments from all around the world attended the convention and announced what they would also be giving to the cause! “We will eradicate polio!”
Always wear your Rotary pin”, Rick said. Everyone I know knows that I’m a Rotarian. That’s how you build a network which are really powerful things. Rick told a story about a Youth Exchange student who had difficulty getting on a flight to her new home for the next year in a foreign country because she didn’t have the proper papers with her at the time but the pilot of that plane happened to be a Rotarian and told her he would make sure he got what she needed on his next flight and would make sure she got where she was going. “That’s the power of Rotary”, Rick said. “Be sure and share Rotary membership and opportunities with others”.
Rotary educates, he said, while pointing to our own Junior Rotarians in the audience today through the club’s scholarship program. Rotary, he said, was THE NUMBER 1 provider of scholarships in the world! Yet scholarships are only a fraction of what Rotary does in communities and around the world. We help eliminate malaria and polio, but more importantly, Rick said, Rotary builds partnerships and networks that get things done. “We are people of action who want to make a difference in the world.”  These things, he said, are the true definition of WHAT ROTARY DOES. When we say this to someone it leads to an opportunity to tell others HOW we take action and are able to have a casual conversation with people. Rick said that he tries to get to people’s heart first. RI, he said, has a four star rating in Cherry Navigator, and that’s why the Gate’s Foundation partners with us – “because they know our money goes to a good place.”
We are important leaders in this community as Rotarians. Rick used his interest in everything Star Trek to provide an analogy between those on the starship Enterprise and Rotarians. He said they were a diverse group of people all equally respected and contributing in a good way which is why Rick likes Star Trek. They all also did “Boldly Go”. He read a quote from a Star Trek movie: “We stagnate if we have no ambition, no desire to be more than what we are.”  
He concluded by sharing an important story about his daughter and her efforts to help build a learning center in Tanzania. Rick initially told her she was wasting her time but when he started to reflect on his own theme this year of “Boldly Go”, he soon came to realize that when he, himself, decided to help, get involved and change from becoming optimistic instead of pessimistic, the project could, indeed, become a reality and it did! When he changed his mind about what could be done, he saw the “possible” instead of the “impossible”.
Thanks Rick for your special visit and very meaningful presentation. We wish you the very best in your important role as our District Governor!