New Orleans convention inspires, entertains
Top: Ed Futa makes his farewell remarks at the closing plenary session of the 2011 RI Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Bottom: The Irvin Mayfield Septet performs during the third plenary, part of the diverse musical entertainment offered during the entire convention. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska-Lee
As Rotarians said goodbye to New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, and another successful RI Convention, two leaders who have had a lasting impact on the organization also said farewell.
Ed Futa, of the Rotary Club of East Honolulu, Hawaii, addressed his last convention as general secretary, a position he's held for 11 years.
“I will go back to my first Rotary job, which was and still is the most important job in all of Rotary: the job of being a Rotarian," said Futa, who retires 30 June.
"I’ve had the honor and the satisfaction of being a part of so many of Rotary’s accomplishments: Future Vision, our strategic plan, and our transformation from a valuable -- but sometimes undervalued -- community service organization into a key player in the world of international health and development," Futa said. "PolioPlus has put us in this new position.”
John Hewko, the incoming general secretary, addressed the fourth plenary session and will take office 1 July.
RI President Ray Klinginsmith said the highlights of his term have included providing regional assistance for districts and clubs through the new Rotary coordinators and Rotary public image coordinators, developing a more productive relationship with Rotarian Action Groups, moving toward a more uniform size for Rotary districts, and improving the process for selecting and training district governors.
"This year has been a good year for Rotary," he said. "There has never been a more exciting time to be Rotarians, as we approach the end of polio. Our community service projects around the world are estimated to provide local investments of about US$1 billion every year, and our youth and young adult programs are the best in the world. And our Rotary Foundation continues to gain strength."
More than 18,500 members of the family of Rotary, representing 151 countries and geographical areas, took part in the 2011 convention, where they were asked to redouble their efforts to eradicate polio and embrace humanity by thinking of new ways to take on today’s challenges.
RI President-elect Kalyan Banerjee outlined his plans for the coming year and explained the three emphases -- family, continuity, and change -- that should guide Rotarians as they work to support the 2011-12 RI theme, Reach Within to Embrace Humanity. Read the story.
Bill Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told Rotarians that eradicating polio was his foundation’s top priority. Rotarians must intensify their efforts to wipe the deadly disease off the earth, he said. Watch the video.
Kathie G. Short, of the Rotary Club of Pass Christian, Mississippi, and Kathleen Koch, a former Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar, revisited the devastation of Hurricane Katrina during a panel discussion. Michael McQueen, founder of the Nexgen Group, said Generation Y has much to offer Rotary. Read an interview with McQueen.
The family of Rotary put Service Above Self in New Orleans, working on projects to help rebuild areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They helped build a house, finish and furnish a 1,400-square-foot library and reading room at the New Orleans Mission, and painted homes. Watch the videos.
Convention attendees were entertained by some of the city's best musicians, including Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and bandleader Irvin Mayfield and trumpeter and singer Kermit Ruffins. They also saw performances by one of Klinginsmith’s favorite artists, songwriter Michael Martin Murphey.
Before the convention, about 350 Rotaractors voted on resolutions that will be considered by the RI Board during the first Rotaract Council, modeled after Rotary’s Council on Legislation.
The Rotaract Club of Istanbul-Galatasaray, Turkey, was recognized as the Outstanding Rotaract Project international winner. The club’s Integration Through Employment project provided skills training for those with disabilities. Read more.
During the fourth World Water Summit, also held before the convention, the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group announced a partnership to bring 5 million gallons of clean water, along with sanitation and hygiene education, to 30 schools in Malawi and Tanzania.
Rotarians enjoyed the House of Friendship and Host Organization Committee events during the week, including the Sounds of the South Concert and an evening at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.