By Antoinette Tuscano, Rotary International staff
As manager of Rotary International’s social media channels, I’ve heard from Rotary members who say they don’t have a good story to tell about their club. But everyone has a story to tell. And I’ve heard some good ones from Rotarians.
You might look at a ramp outside of a house, and just see a wooden ramp. I see a lot of heart – as well as a way to help attract members and donations to a Rotary club. That’s because of a story told to me by Roy Gandy, of the Rotary Club of Madison, Georgia, USA, about a day that made a difference in his life and his community.
About 15 years ago, Roy was delivering an air conditioner on a sticky 100 degree Fahrenheit day to a polio survivor in a wheelchair. He saw how the man got to his truck. He left his wheelchair on the porch, dropped to his lawn, and dragged himself to his driveway. Without a ramp and access to his wheelchair, it was his only option.
Roy decided to take action and help. He didn’t know how to build wheelchair ramps and it took him a while to figure it out, but he did. He soon realized there were many other people in his community who needed ramps. So with his Rotary club, he began building ramps.
The local newspaper wrote a story about it, and other people from the community offered to help. Over time, they built hundreds of ramps, and they got to be experts. Something else happened along the way, too. Not only did people in the community want to build ramps, but some of them wanted to join Roy’s Rotary club as well. They became community builders.
I still remember stories I was told 20 years ago as a newspaper reporter. Some stories stick with you and you never forget them. These stories can move people to action, they can inspire people to get involved with Rotary, or donate to your club project. They can inspire a journalist to write an account in the local media.
Recently, National Public Radio’s StoryCorps gave a presentation to regional coordinators. StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews with nearly 92,000 participants. They classify compelling stories into three categories.
- Stories of challenge – You’re faced with a series of difficulties to overcome.
- Stories of connection – You come into contact with someone and you’re changed as a result.
- Stories of ingenuity – You’re faced with a problem and find a new and ingenious way of solving it.
Your story is a piece of who you are. If you speak from the heart, you can tap into your innate ability to tell a story. Here are a few ways you can put that skill to good use.