By Yoshisaku Shimamura, past governor of District 2830 and a member of the Rotary Club of Goshogawara Evening, Aomori, Japan
It is always the young people who build our future. At the same time, we now live in an age where life expectancy can reach 100 years. Some say 80 can be the prime of one’s life. I envision a future where younger and older generations work together to promote the ideal of compassion and cooperation that we firmly believe in Rotary. Satellite clubs may be the best way to achieve that approach. This is our story.
On 18 September, the Rotary Club of Goshogawara Evening was chartered in northern Japan. I served as advisor and helped from the club’s inception. We initially started as a satellite of an existing Rotary club. This is where members of the satellite are also members of the parent club and have two types of membership at the same time.
We started with 11 members in the satellite. Among them were a former president and a secretary of a club that had been forced to dissolve. When I explained the satellite concept, they said “if we had known about this earlier, our club would not have had to dissolve.”
This former club president was an 80-year-old doctor who studied in the U.S. as an exchange student, sent by the Japanese Ministry of Education. They were both very excited about starting a new club with younger members. Daughters of past presidents of the parent club also joined. It initially looked like we would reach 20 members in no time, but after six months, we still did not have enough.
Then we decided to transfer six members from the parent club (and I was one of them). Two other members from a neighboring club and some new members also joined. At 24 members, the club finally chartered in September. We now have 26. After a discussion, the members decided to have two meetings per month. There is no admission fee and the annual membership fee is much lower than other traditional clubs in Japan.
In order to welcome younger members, we started a sponsoring program for younger members under the age of 35. We collect donations of 5,000 Japanese Yen (about $44) from the sponsor club so we can exempt younger members from having to pay the membership fees. So far, we have raised 70,000 Yen.
Our founder Paul Harris once said, “The story of Rotary will have to be written again and again.” I really think satellite clubs provide a unique solution and would like to see more clubs try it.
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