As I prepared to lead our club this year, I considered who we are as Rotarians and who we are as an organization.

The obvious is that we are a worldwide organization of 1.2 million individuals. You see our Rotary wheel in virtually any town you go to in the US. Usually on a sign as you enter the town or on the side of a restaurant where the local club meets. You occasionally see the Wheel on a billboard or you see the wheel pinned to someone’s lapel. Rotarians meet weekly for breakfast, lunch or dinner where they visit, conduct club business and listen to a speaker.

So who are we? Are we a club of people who just enjoy eating together and listening to a speaker of the day? No, although that’s part of who we are, it’s not what I believe brings us back week after week.

We are different from any other organization in the world. We are not here solely because we enjoy each other’s company. Or because we enjoy the dining experience. Or because we want to hear a speaker.

We are here because we want to make a difference.

We are here because we are people of action.

We are here because we understand the value of leading the charge to make our world a better place.

We are here because we want to get things done.

We understand the value of setting aside our own political or cultural ideologies in order to leave the door open for collaboration with NGO’s, local and world governments, and other organizations to create and implement life-changing solutions for our fellow man, woman and child.

We understand that our individual differences provide a broader spectrum of understanding, allowing us to have a greater, far reaching impact.

We understand that to truly see change in our world, we need to band together, roll up our sleeves and get a little dirty.

I’m proud to be a Rotarian and understand that it’s what we do that will cause us to be remembered, not the label we carry with us.

I’m proud to be a member of the Rotary Club of Portland because we can look out on our city and see how we’ve made lives better here.

I’m proud to be a member of the Rotary Club of Portland because, although we can’t see if from here, we know we’ve made a difference in our world through our generous gifts (and for some, time, travel and sacrifice) to Rotary International, creating a safer, healthier, more economically vibrant international community.

I don’t need to go into the specifics of what we do here, because you already know. Because you are already engaged and active in making a difference.

Let me just conclude by saying “Thank You” for this opportunity to serve alongside you as your president this coming year. I look forward to continuing to move our club forward this year, getting the message out about who we are, drawing like-minded individuals into our clan, and continuing to be a people of action.

Steve Watts