2014 Rotary Convention ends with the passing of the torch

RI President-elect Gary C.K. Huang, accompanied by his wife, Corinna, shares his membership goals with the audience at the closing plenary of the 2014 Rotary Convention in Sydney, Australia.
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Alyce Henson

RI President Ron Burton put the final touches on the 2014 Rotary Convention in Sydney by reminding a packed Allphones Arena why they joined Rotary.

"Being a Rotarian isn't about our own achievements, it isn't about our own careers, it really isn't about us at all. It's about the people we help," said Burton. "At the end of the day, the only thing that matters in Rotary is how much better the world becomes because Rotary is in it."

The four-day event, which drew to a close on 4 June, attracted more than 18,000 attendees from 153 countries. Burton encouraged convention goers to return to their clubs ready to do more to improve the lives of others.

"Together, we can dream big and we can achieve. We can change whole communities for the better, not for a day but for a lifetime," he said.

Rotary changes lives by improving literacy, making water cleaner, bringing better health care to mothers and children, and eradicating polio worldwide, Burton said. But he warned that complacency could set Rotary back.

"That's why it isn't enough for any of us to just go through the motions, to show up at our clubs, to do just the minimum needed and no more," he added. "And it's why each of us has to remember, every hour of every day, what a responsibility we have."

Huang sets goal of increasing membership

Members of Burton's Rotary Club of Norman, Oklahoma, United States, and RI President-elect Gary C.K. Huang's club of Taipei, Taiwan, took the stage to exchange club banners, a tradition that unofficially marks a changing of the guard.

Huang will become Rotary International president on 1 July. During his term in office, he has set a goal of growing Rotary's membership to 1.3 million. Huang told the audience that increasing and sustaining membership will help Rotary achieve its goals. He shared a story about a small Taiwanese club that had only six members. But after asking their wives to join, the club grew to 29 members in three years because the spouses asked their friends to become members as well.

"I want to remind everyone that sometimes getting a new member is as easy as asking," said Huang, whose wife, Corinna, became a member in July. "It made perfect sense. She was a great match for Rotary. Corinna enjoyed it so much that our three children joined Rotary as well. They have been around Rotary their whole lives. They did not need to be convinced. It was a natural step for them," said Huang.

Huang, whose presidential theme for 2014-15 is Light Up Rotary, also encouraged members to conduct Rotary Days throughout the year to help the community become more familiar with Rotary's work.

"It can be a day to educate your community about polio, it can be a service project, or a celebration. Just make sure to invite the public, your families, and friends," he said. "Show your community what you do, both locally and internationally. Make sure your community knows that Rotary is there, that Rotary is active, Rotary is fun, and it is doing good work."

Huang gave attendees three words to guide them this year: hand, head, and heart. "Use your hand to help, use your head to make sure you are helping in the right place, and use your heart to make it sincere. Without your heart, nothing else matters."

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4-Jun-2014
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