Oct 5, 2009

My fellow Rotarians:

There are many service organizations in the world today, but none so old or so successful as Rotary. There are many reasons for that, and Vocational Service is one of them. This year, I wish you to place a special emphasis on Vocational Service, which is sometimes the forgotten Avenue of Service in Rotary.

High ethical standards in business and personal life are still as important today as they were in 1905. Indeed, many of the problems our world is facing today have been caused by the failure to observe such standards in business affairs.

Vocational Service, in Rotary, means that we are committed to honest business and unassailable ethics, and that we are equally committed to using our vocational skills and advantages to help others. The idea is simple enough – but it is unique to Rotary.

Many service organizations are open to anyone who wishes to join. That has never been the case in Rotary. Rotarians only seek out as members those who are qualified – those who have the character, the ability, and the resolve to make a real contribution to their club.

I have long believed that the bedrock of Rotary is our commitment to ethical behavior. It has been putting what’s right above what’s convenient – and Service Above Self – that has made Rotary different from the rest. That is why we must always remember that whatever we do, we are each the public face of Rotary. We are each the standard-bearers of our organization. What one member does, for good or for ill, reflects on all of us.

So much of what we’ve achieved as an organization has come about because of the trust the world has in Rotary and in Rotarians. That trust has been a major part of our success in polio eradication – the fact that we are known in every community, and known to be people of goodwill and good hearts.

If we wish to see our organization grow and prosper, we must keep Vocational Service front and center in our minds and actions. We must seek out skilled and determined men and women of character. We must do what is right, even when it is inconvenient. And we must always, always, put Service Above Self.

John Kenny
President, Rotary International

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