By Heidi Resetarits
Little moments of connectivity in life — who you talk to, who you share with — can completely change your trajectory. A few years ago at a holiday work party, I met my friend and future mentor, Ann Tull. The party was dull, but our conversation sparked a little light in me that transformed my life.
Ann introduced me to Rotary, and eventually encouraged me to apply for an Ambassadorial Scholarship. I realized that working toward higher education and a future that revolved around Service Above Self was what I was looking for. A year later and I was on my way to the United Nations University for Peace in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica, as an Ambassadorial Scholar from Rotary District 5450.
Running for health
I loved studying for a Master of Arts in responsible management and sustainable economic development and meeting classmates who shared a similar vision. I built a network of friends who have become my global family. Two other Scholars and I put together a 5K Walk/Run for peace to promote health and fitness and to raise funds for PolioPlus and the local Red Cross. We also garnered national attention.
When I returned to the U.S., my life began to settle down — but I was still restless. I had new goals for serving and knew that Rotary would be a part of my plans. But I also knew I couldn’t yet afford to join. I had my own business as a marketing professional and was barely making ends meet. My sponsor Rotary club, Denver Mile High, offered me a pass and made me an honorary member, which meant I was welcome to attend anytime I wanted.
The members became my Rotary family, and I became involved with building connections in our community. I was invited to sit on the Ambassadorial Scholarship committee, helping to decide which applicants would be able to have the same gift that I’d had. Even though I wasn’t a Rotarian, I was invited to create the District 5450 Alumni Association and serve as its president. With the support of Ann, the district, other clubs, and Rotary, our group began to grow. Most of the members were not Rotarians, but shared a feeling of gratitude about how Rotary had profoundly changed their lives. The group reminds me of how Rotary connects people from all over the world.
We receive a lot of support from Rotary International. After a lot of thought, I decided my alumni association should complete the circle by giving back to Rotary. We held our first 5K to End Polio on 13 September 2014. With about 200 participants and tons of support from Rotarians and alumni from District 5450, we raised about $7,500 for the End Polio Now campaign, while promoting health and fitness.
I was asked many times, “Why not just join Rotary?” The truth was simple: I didn’t have the funds. Then, people began to promise sums of money to our fundraisers if I would finally join. When the amount reached $1,500, I bit the bullet and found the most affordable club in my area.
The spark that ignited my love for Rotary continues to grow. I cannot imagine my life without the incredible people who fanned the flame, and the three little words that altered my life: Service Above Self. What’s next in Rotary for me? The world is wide open. I am co-hosting a Facebook chat for all alumni to join on 2 October, during Rotary Alumni Reconnect Week, if you want to join in.
Adapted with permission from the Rotary District 5450 website.
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About the author: Heidi Resetarits is president of the District 5450 Alumni Association and a member of the Rotary Club of Denver Mile High since April. She is a former Rotary Scholar from District 5450 to Costa Rica.