By Bill Pollard, past governor of District 7600 and a member of the Rotary Club of Churchland – Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
In 1988 at the age of 25, I was invited by Tommy Adkins, a retired banker and neighbor of my parents, to a meeting of the Rotary Club of Petersburg, Virginia. I had just started my banking career in my hometown of Petersburg and I remember calling my mom, Joan Pollard, asking her about Rotary. I recall her telling me it was a service oriented club and that my mom and dad had friends in the club.
We discussed it for a few minutes and I told my mom I would go because it would help my career and Tommy was their neighbor. It wasn’t long before I joined the Petersburg Rotary Club and will always be grateful to Tommy for the positive impact he had on my professional and personal life by asking me to join.
A few years later, I asked mom to go to a Rotary meeting with me. She was the librarian at the local hospital (a position she still holds) and knew most of the members. She did not want to go, but it is hard telling your son no. After a few meetings, I asked her to join. She became a member of the Petersburg club in April 1992. Her grandfather was a member of the Rotary Club of Asheville, North Carolina. A year later, she was asked to be the editor of the club’s weekly club bulletin and 23 years later she is still publishing it every week.
I later moved to another town in the same Rotary district and joined another Rotary club. I served as governor for District 7600 (Central & Southeastern Virginia) in 2008-09, and my mom served as the district’s Family of Rotary chair as well as being the on-call babysitter for my daughter who was 7-years-old at the time. I also served as our district’s Rotary Foundation Chair. As I progressed in Rotary, my mom could see how it changed my life and she also became more involved in her club.
She was the only child in her neighborhood who did not get polio
In 2012-13, she was asked to help educate members about The Rotary Foundation and inspire support for its programs and activities, and served as chair of her club’s Rotary Foundation committee for the next two years. The second year, the club was a 100 percent sustaining club with per capita giving to the Annual Fund of $252. In 2015-16, the club’s per capita giving is over $300.
Rotary’s commitment to eradicating polio has a special place in my mom’s heart. When she was 8-years-old and living in Ashland, Kentucky, there was a polio epidemic in her neighborhood and her playmate at that time lost two brothers to polio in two days. Wanting to spare her of the dreadful disease, her parents asked their close friends in Altoona, Pennsylvania, if they could bring her there to spend several weeks until the neighborhood was free of polio. Mom recalled that she was the only child in her neighborhood who did not get polio. She says it is an honor for her to work with her club to raise money to help “End Polio Now.”
On 30 June, I visited the Petersburg Club to see my mom installed as club president for the 2016-17 Rotary year. I had tears in my eyes as my mom thanked me for asking her to join Rotary 24 years ago. In May 2017, the club will celebrate its 100th birthday. Past RI Vice President Anne L. Matthews will be the keynote speaker for the club’s centennial celebration. At the Presidents-Elect Training Seminar in Chesapeake, mom had the honor of meeting RI President John Germ. I know she is excited and proud to support President John with Rotary Serving Humanity, as well as celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Rotary Foundation. I’m proud to be her son and fellow Rotarian.