Eighteen months ago, that scalawag Dan Ryan basically forced me to join a group of fifteen or so folks whom he had similarly drafted to help form a new Rotary Club. Ninety days later, 51 Kansas Citians became charter members of the Waldo Brookside Rotary Club. By virtue of my remarkable penmanship and typing speed, I became its Club Secretary for the charter year.
I had always heard that eighty-five percent of life is showing up. Apparently, that quote derives from advice to young writers by Woody Allen. Regardless, that’s what I’ve done week after week. I adored being club secretary since I also handled new membership, meaning that I got to greet each and every person who entered the Tap Room for our weekly meetings. I had just gone through an awful patch in my life’s journey, so having somewhere to go kept me rambling forward.
Rotary quickly became more than a needed distraction. As we learned about the tremendous impact of Rotarians around the world — nearly curing polio; combating hunger and poverty; building schools; cleaning water; bringing shoes to children who would otherwise walk barefoot — I realized that I had stumbled upon an organization in which I can actually join with others who share my passion.
Tonight, the Club which welcomed me and has grown eighty-strong as it enters toddlerhood, bestowed one of Rotary’s highest honors on me because of a member who did something special and selfless. Rotarians become Paul Harris Fellows when they donate $1,000.00 to the Rotary Foundation, or by earning enough Foundation points to qualify. My paltry monthly contribution would have gotten me to Paul Harris in four or five years. Because a member of my Club gave points to me which he had earned, I received that honor tonight.
I’ve redefined the old saying as a member of the Waldo Brookside Rotary Club. Watching this club adopt a street, gather Shoes for Orphan Souls, collect thousands of crayolas for the Crayon Initiative, and undertake countless other acts to better the world, I’ve come to realize that 85% of life is showing up, smiling, and asking, “What Can I Do to Help?”
The other fifteen percent is doing it week after week in a group of people whom I am proud, privileged, and honored to call “friend”.
It’s the evening of the twenty-first day of the thirty-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.