On June 27, now Past President Tricia turned the gavel and leadership of the club over to President Jack Graf.  President Jack's remarks to the club are included here.  If you missed this event, you will want to spend a minute or two reading the following remarks.  They outline our plans for this year and the future.  
 
Thank You and
 
I will be so much more grateful if you do that at the end of my presentation today.
 
It is a great gift that Columbus Rotary allows each incoming President to present 3 Paul Harris Fellowships at the Changing of the Guard. There have been no criteria given, no guidance offered and no pattern expected from the Club.  Therefore, I am able to follow my heart and my conscience with these presentations.
 
First, to my long suffering wife of many years who never receives the credit from ME that she deserves, who has over the years supported me through my involvement in civic and industry associations and without whom I could not function, I present Kay Marie Graf with today’s first and therefore the most meaningful Paul Harris Fellowship.
 
Second, to my daughter who without any coaching or prodding from anyone in the family including my Rotarian Father and after graduation from Denison and while beginning her teaching career at Hilliard Davidson undertook to coordinate a nascent Rotary InterACT High School Club. To me, that demonstrates her soul; so to Kate Graf Victor I present a Paul Harris Fellowship.

Third, for every Columbus Rotarian in this room and those who will be joining us during this term, I will reserve a Paul Harris Fellowship as an acknowledgement of exemplary performance in some endeavor or contest for something which the Club chooses to do in this year, JUST like we did in March Madness during President Tricia’s term. This third one’s for you.
 
 
I have invited several other guests to join us today.  My family is here,
My mother: Kay Graf
And yes both Kay’s have the middle name Marie, and they look so alike too
Our son: Andrew and his wife Amanda
Our daughter: Libby and her husband Eric O’Brien, who are both Columbus Rotarians.
Our friends: Kathy Thomsen from Ft Lauderdale Florida who during her career has raised millions in charitable donations and Andy Hyman formerly of Leeds England and now formerly from the EU. At Jim Bishops request- He has brought us servings of Brexit which is now the morning meal in England.
Some Fellow Rotarians from afar are also here:
                Chris Long at West Milton- Chris is a long time perfect attender while at the same time serving as an ED of an International trade association. It has been my privilege to work with Chris since the 90s.
                Tommy Roamer at Toledo- Tommy is known at the 400+ member Toledo Club as “Mr. Mayor” He lives about 9 miles into the state up north but is a Buckeye to the core. His house is our northern outlook post. Tommy:    O- H-    _ -_
 
Following that analogy, our new Rotary season starts now. Players from last year have been reviewed, 46 new recruits have been added, squads of committees have been put together, the continuing play book is updated, and the game starts now. There will inevitably be mid-course adjustments, but in the end we can win and we will win.
 
But what is the prize we are going to win. What makes this game so important that we will pull together to score those final winning points.Before answering that question lets first look at why we are here in Columbus Rotary and it’s probably not the JUST food!
 
  1. Is it Service above Self within our communities and really- abroad as well?  It is easy to answer “yes” to that reason for being a member. Let’s review this obvious choice:
We are in over 200 countries, have 34,999 other clubs, and have had more than 1.2 million members since the 90’s. This size gave us the audacity to undertake a project only attempted once before. We decided to eradicate Polio in our spare time while keeping our day jobs but always confident we could win. Down from 350,000 annual victims to just digits last year. During this Rotary term the goal is to have continuous weekly zeros on the tally board.
 
Think of all other things we do. We undertake to fund local projects that make our community a more peaceful place by numerous means through acknowledging achievement, promoting literacy, funding advancement in life’s journeys for numerous persons, mentoring young and old alike, sponsoring cultural exchange between us and them, helping other organizations that lack resources or strength for themselves. We teach Columbus students that life is better if you live by a better standard.
 
Rotary is the greatest non-profit, non- partisan, a-political, non-religious organization in the history of world.
 
Service above Self - If that is the answer to the question though, then you would think that outside this club door there would be a line of people back to route 315 clamoring to get in here. But, in fact, the only line is from the badge box to the check-in table.
 
Fact is that we lose our members and just replace them. At Rotary International over an 8-year period 1.2 million joined. Membership never increased. Therefore, every 8 years we lose ourselves. Our district turnover is 14% annually. Last year Columbus Rotary experienced a 1-member gain for every 3 new members joining.
 
  1. So, let’s look at factors OTHER than Service above Self that might answer the question and Why those statistics are disappointing?
What about the competition- is it the Kiwanis?  is it the Lyons? Is it the Sertoma Club? REALLY? We don’t even look for the same people in our community. We are a different breed.  We have business, professional, and community leaders in our midst. No- it’s not competing organizations.
 
When asking a guest to come to a Rotary meeting, an event or a project you find out who the competition is:
  1. I’d love to join you but my work is really busy, 2) My Kids have practice, 3) We are care giving, 4) I’m a deacon and we have so many things on the plate.
It seems then that our true competition therefore is LIFE itself and life is the fiercest competitor we can have.  If this is reality- that life is the real competitor- than we need to talk among ourselves to uncover what we do for our members who actually remain here.
 
 The answer seems to be remarkably simple- In order to turn the tide, we need to listen to ourselves and understand who we serve.  We need to talk in real terms that mean something to people. We may have lost our way by ONLY placing focus on Service above Self outside the Club. After all, in Rotary speak there are 6 avenues of service not just one. 
 
The people we serve first foremost and always are you the members. Every member of Columbus Rotary must be served as the first priority of the Club. You are the customers who vote twice yearly whether you are going to purchase us again by renewing your membership. You vote every week with your feet on whether you will show up at a meeting, an event or a project.
 
We must come to the realization that at the core it is what we provide to our members and its value to our members that is our essence. It is why we were created. Think of Paul Harris and the few others rotating the meetings among their business locations.  The secret to our growing strength is that we need to recognize how Columbus Rotary serves our Rotarians, that is- our customers and be able to express it. We need to help our current customer understand our value and then tell potential customers what’s in it for them. 
 
In my view Columbus Rotary provides priceless value that cannot be purchased in any store nor can membership in any other organization provide it. Here are but three of the reasons Columbus Rotary is an extraordinary value to its members. These I believe they are the core values that drive participation in Columbus Rotary,
 
First- Personal Growth- ordinary people put in an extraordinary circumstance every week. Each Monday we have a live TED like talk right here at the Boat House. But its better because you can actually ask questions and get immediate answers.  Better yet- a member has the opportunity to sit next to a person who can teach them something at no charge. It makes both Rotarians better. While wearing your pin- have you ever talked to a perfect stranger who was wearing theirs- Interesting conversation isn’t it! Your membership is an enabler not available elsewhere. This is a tool that is scalable by anyone and everyone in the club. Our foundation enables each to participate in our community. It is not just an investment account. It allows members to change their lives whether by wrapping Christmas presents for Colerain students, giving 3rd graders their first ever own book, mentoring veterans, altering cleft palates in faraway places and many more.  Participate in one and you will have grown.
 
This is a tool we rarely talk about but gives us the rarest of treasures. Every week we can change lives of our members by expression of friendship on Mondays and around the world as well.
 
Second-Professional Development-, that is- Vocational Service -as it’s called in Rotary speak. It is the lost avenue of service. At our founding the oldest of the 4 founders was only 37 years old. Rotary was set up to help people know how to do business right. Think about how we mentor veterans and we sponsor two Rotaract Clubs at the universities. We educate high schoolers at Enterprise Academy.  But really vocational service happens for Columbus Rotarians every week here on Monday noon. The Neophyte and the seasoned side by side freely sharing thoughts with each other.  We teach public speaking, project management, fund raising and the skills needed for success.
 
We can show we are Rotarians on our social media sites as a differentiator from others.  Vocational Service is what we do but we just don’t talk about it. Rather we need to tout it. Be a Rotarian for personal development.
 
Third- What it does for your family- With all our club activities we have the opportunity to instill in our family members a sense of what it takes to help continue a vibrant community.  Let your family know what you do by talking about it with them. You set the bar by your example and yes, you have a little help from your friends in this room. We are a 300 plus member team and we do something that matters every week. Let your family know about it and your demonstrated values will pass on to them.
 
Columbus Rotary is not just a service organization as is too often expressed.  Actually, being a service organization is remarkably crowed field and therefore not really very remarkable. No we are a membership organization that does service in the most unique and extraordinary way on earth.
We own that space by what we do for our members and allow them to express. Think of the farms of the outback which do not require any fences. You put a water well in the middle, sprinkle food around it and there is no need to wander off anywhere else. When we provide core value to our members first then service results will be achieved by stout numbers of our members. So in Columbus Rotary we will take care of our members first and they will take care of the community and the world.
 
Here we are in the unique position to mentor those in the ascension of their careers while at the same time help those who have recently finished theirs to find a new expression to make their lives vital whether personal, professional, or family and all three.
 
We have the opportunity in the coming year to change the conversation and explain to people why Columbus Rotary. Its ok to be a Rotarian for personal advancement as well as Service above Self or any of the other 4 avenues of service. Desire for Personal development is not a shellfish reason, it was at the very foundation of Rotary.  If we are successful then the line to get into Columbus Rotary will indeed be out the door all the way to 315.
 
A while ago we asked why are we playing the game this year? And how do we win?
 
The answer should be clear.
 
Each Columbus Rotarian playing for YOU. As a team we all win. And one of us, and it will be unanimously clear I am sure- just like LeBron James, will have earned the Most Valuable Player Award; that third Paul Harris Fellowship.
 
So what about a theme for the year… well:        EXPERIENCE COLUMBUS ROTARY-IT’S YOUR CLUB
 
Thank you and this meeting is adjourned.