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7.6.17 – Luncheon Notes

SPOKES Notes written by Roger Morgenstern

Happy (Rotary) New Year!

With the Rotary year beginning July 1, it was time for our ceremonial Passing the Tiller and reflections from our excellent outgoing and incoming Club Presidents.

Outgoing President Michael Sytsma recalled seven years ago, when he attended his first Rotary meeting, as a guest. It was the holiday luncheon at the Amway Grand and he distinctly recalls “there was a warmth, a comfort, a familiarity, like a Thanksgiving dinner.”

Each week during his presidential year, Michael talked about “Rotary relevance,” and examples of Rotarians in community leadership. This week, he spoke of Rotary relevance in terms of the club’s accomplishments. He pointed to our STRIVE mentorship program and how the Rotary Golf Open raised $16,000 last summer. He also pointed to the club’s successes, “not only as a check-writing club but also an engaged club.” He said the Service Above Self dinner raised $53,000 this year and in three years has raised over $150,000. And the Service Above Selfie photo contest continues to grow, with  more than 700,000 social media impressions this year, helping spread the name of Rotary far and wide.

The Grand Rapids Rotary Foundation is certainly relevant, he said, with assets over $1 million and was able to award more than $50,000 in grants locally and internationally during the past year.

He said if there’s one disappointment, it’s the level of progress on the Club’s four-year goal of increasing membership to 250 people, but “we have more members today than we did 365 days ago.” Michael singled out members Carl VerBeek and Jackie Taylor as “machines at recruitment.”

He said he was pleased the Club could afford to send a member to Nicaragua to work up close on our water filter project as well as sending the incoming president to the International convention, which this year was in Atlanta.

Finally, Michael thanked his wife Kristen. “I wouldn’t be doing this without her shifting my life early in our marriage to those less fortunate.”

As his final act as President, Michael awarded the President’s Award to Neil Marchand for all his work to promote the Service Above Selfie contest and the Freshman Award for the hardest working new member to Christine Lindeman. Congrats to both!

 Our new President Renwick Brutus has some ironic things in common with outgoing President Michael. They first met 20 years ago as co-workers at Old Kent Bank and joined Rotary on the same day.

Renwick said he went to the International Convention with fellow Rotarian Phil Johnson, who addressed the club earlier this year about his new book “The Compassionate Conspiracy: A Field Guide to Changing the World.”  Renwick said that book will be a guide for the club in the coming year; “a path, a journey for changing our lives.”

Renwick was born in the South American country of Guyana and didn’t have running water until age 12. Given Rotary’s focus on clean water, he joked “As a child I knew I wanted to be a Rotarian, just maybe not in those terms.”

When he was first introduced to Rotary by Andy DeVries, “what impressed me the most was “the heart.”

Renwick said he wants to refer often to the Club’s strategic plan to move forward this year, making our club “relevant and attractive.”

He also returned to “HEART” to emphasize the benefits of Rotary: H for Hopeful; E for Empathetic; A for Attentive; R for Relaxed and T for Timeless.

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