By Past RI President Frank Devlyn
Like many Rotarians, I’ve often reflected on the moments that made me feel proud to be a Rotarian. Usually a highly successful project will come to mind, one that enabled us to help one or even thousands of people live better lives, all because of one special project. I’ve also experienced inspired moments while participating in Rotary projects.
However, I have something to confess: I joined Rotary to take advantage of the networking opportunities it offered me because I felt they would benefit my businesses. It’s no secret that Rotary opens doors and provides access to influential business and community leaders, because many of them are Rotarians themselves or they have great respect for everything related to Rotary.
Today, after 42 years of Rotary service, I still remember, like it was yesterday, the moment I accepted the invitation to become a member of the Rotary Club of Ciudad de México. It gave me access to the leaders not only of my community but also the communities I visited while launching my family business in Mexico and around the world.
I also remember the first of many moments when I felt tremendously proud to be a Rotarian. During my first year, I took on the task of representing the Mexican Optometric Association in an attempt to have it recognized by the most prestigious international organization in our profession.
The World Council of Optometry was meeting in Amsterdam in 1971. I met with the council’s board of directors and learned of the bureaucratic process I would need to follow. On the same day, I paid my first visit to the Rotary Club of Amsterdam. I was invited to sit at the special table for visitors and, to my great surprise, three of the persons seated there with me were on the council and happened to be visiting Rotarians.
Thanks to the magic of Rotary, when these Rotarians realized that I too was a Rotarian and that I had all the paperwork required to secure the accreditation of our Mexican association, the bureaucratic red tape suddenly disappeared. In the blink of an eye everything was approved — and that was the first time I felt tremendously proud to be a member of Rotary.
Adapted from a My Rotary Moment speech delivered at the 2013 International Assembly.