Recently, I was presented with the Paul Harris Fellow from the Elk River Rotary Club. I am honored to receive this prestigious award and to join the ranks of the outstanding Rotarians and community members who have received this award before me, which include some of my fellow Rotarians, as well as President Jimmy Carter, Mother Teresa and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
I’m often asked, “What is Rotary?” I struggle a bit to answer this question because I truly believe that Rotary is something different to each member. If you visit the Rotary International website, you will see these words: “We are neighbors, community leaders, and global citizens uniting for the common good. With you, we can accomplish even more.” I agree that this is a decent overview of what a Rotarian is, but to me, it is so much more.
I joined the Elk River Rotary in February of 2010 on a whim. I really had no idea what the organization was or who was involved but felt that it would be a good connection for Minnesota School of Business-Elk River and for the position I held at the time.
I was really amazed from the start at the group of people that I met, the camaraderie, and the pride and dedication that was evident from each member in the group. They were extremely welcoming and excited to have me join their Rotary family. I learned quickly that Rotary shares similar goals to MSB and Globe University’s “We Care” mission and vision. It made it clear that my participation in this organization was meant to be.
Not long after I joined, I became more involved in the club by assisting with the planning of the annual Taste of Elk River, the main fundraising event, and the annual golf tournament. Within a year, I was asked to join the Board of Directors and became co-chair of the Taste event. I was absolutely honored to accept such an important role. It was a good feeling to be recognized as a contributing member of this amazing group.
My involvement in Elk River Rotary has been closely linked to the positions that I have held at the Elk River campus. As service learning coordinator, I was fortunate to meet community members who have represented companies and nonprofit organizations in need of support and volunteers. It helped me to connect instructors and students who were looking for meaningful service and applied learning projects.
As community manager, I have been able to promote all of the great things that we do at MSB as well as network with hiring managers, guest and graduation speakers, and program advisory council members. These connections have been invaluable.
Since joining Rotary, our group has experienced some highs and some lows. We have grown our Taste event each year since it began to raise funds to benefit local programs and organizations (STRIVE, CAER Food Shelf, Handke Stadium, etc.)
We have unfortunately lost some important members over the past four years. Our group has also suffered and celebrated with our good friend, Alan Sakry, when he experienced a massive, life-threatening stroke and yet has battled back and is on a continuous path to a miraculous recovery. What has been incredible through it all is the love and compassion that each person has shown for each other.
The Paul Harris Fellow, named for the founder of Rotary International, is presented to Rotarians and community members that exemplify the mission of Rotary, which is, in a nutshell, “service above self.” As a civic organization, that is exactly what Rotary and each Rotarian does. The overarching mission of Rotary International is to eradicate polio and local chapters typically focus on local projects that benefit each community. This clearly fits in well with the mission and vision that MSB and Globe share.
I am proud of this honor as well as my membership and position in Rotary. I look forward to continuing their mission and spreading their good word in the local community and beyond.