The usual staid atmosphere of the Mount Airy Rotary Club was replaced by squeals of laughter Tuesday afternoon as members were invited to bring their spouses and children for a “family of Rotary” event.
Tuesday’s meeting featured speaker Patrick Eakes, the district governor of the 49 Triad-area Rotary Clubs.
The meeting had been billed as a family cookout and pool party, but threatening and cool weather brought the event inside, a move no one seemed to mind.
During his speech to the hundred or so members, Eakes said that while he takes what he does seriously, he doesn’t take himself seriously, and he applauded the club’s International President Gary C.K. Huang, who came up with this year’s theme: “Light up Rotary.”
“I think this is a fantastic theme,” Eakes said, noting the club’s mission of service to community. “What I think he had in mind was described by him in a speech like this: It is better to light a single candle than sit and curse the darkness.
“There are so many problems in the world and people needing help, while others sit there and do nothing and things stay dark. The Rotary way is to light a candle. If we all light candles we light up the world.”
Eakes said the theme “speaks to what we do as Rotarians.”
“We teach others,” he said. “We bring water to people who don’t have access to clean water. We clothe the naked and we light up the world.”
In his mind, Eakes said he believes there are three ways each member can light up Rotary.
“The first area is through service,” he said, looking over the crowd with a smile. “You all know about service. Here in Mount Airy you do an incredible job of service. The projects you undertake are wonderful things for the community.”
The second area is by digging deep and donating to the international Rotary Foundation.
“The foundation is the engine that allows Rotary to be international,” he said, noting the club’s efforts to stamp out polio and bring water to parched areas of Africa.
The third area of lighting up Rotary, Eakes said, is through the members themselves.
He said Mount Airy can be proud of its Rotary Club.
“The first thing I noticed when I walked into this room was the buzz of excitement,” he said. “That buzz can only come from people who truly care about each other and are very active in their community. It’s not present in all Rotary Clubs, and I’m here to tell you you have something truly special here. Don’t take it for granted.”
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-415-4698 or via Twitter @strangereporter.