President Carol Smith's Speech -


First, I want to say that I am deeply honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve as President for the Rotary Club of Bakersfield Twilight.  The Club that can and will "do great things together."  I know that I have very large, large shoes to fill, both figuratively and literally, coming on (pardon the pun) the heels of Past President Cecil Martin.  He has done a remarkable job this first year - as President.  Thank you again, Cecil.  You are so appreciated!! 


My first encounter with Rotary was when my late husband, Greg, was asked by his long-time friend, Bill Jones, to become a Rotarian with the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club in 1987.  He held several offices in the club and in 1993-1994 served as its President.  In May of 1993 we had the privilege of attending the Rotary International Convention in Melbourne, Australia.  If I hadn't been hooked on Rotary before that time, I certainly was by the time we left Australia.  Opening and closing ceremonies at RI Conventions are memorable, to say the least.  The speaker that I remember the most from that convention was then Rotary International President Cliff Dockterman. I'm sure many of you have heard him speak.what an inspiration!


After Greg's sudden passing on New Year's Day in 1998, Rotarians from the Breakfast Club supported me and my family in so many ways.  The first Rotarian from the Breakfast Club to stop by to pay his respects and to see how I was doing, and how he or the club could help, was Jerry Starr.  The Rotarians from the Breakfast Club made sure that my family and I had plenty of food and we were well cared for. even to providing the caterer for the reception after Greg's service. 


At Charter night in February of that year, the Club bestowed a Paul Harris Fellow in Greg's name and presented it to me that evening.  What an honor!  Later that year I became an Honorary Rotarian - which means I could attend Club meetings and other functions, if I so desired.  And I so desired and I did..and I always felt very welcomed.  In 1999, Paul Cooper sponsored me as a Rotarian into the Breakfast Club.  It has been stated that you may not remember who was the International President or even the President of your club the year when you joined.but the one person you will remember, even in years to come, is the person who sponsored you.  In 2004, I began a five year stint as secretary.  The position of secretary lets you meet and greet members (even with big hugs) when they come in the door for the weekly meetings, plus it allows you to become very familiar with the inner workings of Rotary and especially your own Club. 


At the beginning of 2009, I was approached by several members of the Breakfast Club indicating that Bakersfield was in need of an evening club - either for dinner or light hors d'oeuvres - plus throw in some drinking - and we have a Club - and wanted to know if I would be willing to come join them.  I jumped at the chance to become a "Charter Member" of a new club.  How exciting!!  On May 15, 2009 the Twilight Club was chartered by Rotary International and on Saturday night, June 6th, we celebrated along with other Rotarians and District Governors, our first Charter night.  Thus, the Rotary Club of Bakersfield Twilight began and was established. 


In most cases - as Presidents of Rotary Clubs - we only get one chance to "do it right."  In addition, the Presidents prayer is - "Oh, Lord, don't let it fall apart in my year." And trust me; I have said that prayer more than once already.  In fact, about five times on my way here this evening. 


At many of our training sessions to become President of a Rotary Club, we were told, encouraged and instructed - that it was okay to beg, borrow and even steal ideas from any source we can to help make our year a success or get our point across.    So, the theme for my thoughts that I will be expressing to you this evening "has been stolen."  And I am not ashamed of that or even sorry about it!


Most of you have seen the movie "Love Story" or at least have heard the "line" from that movie spoken by Ryan O'Neill - "Love means never having to say you're sorry."  This statement resonated with me at 3:30 a.m. one morning about three months ago.  So I have taken the license, liberty and the encouragement from training at President Elect Training Seminar (lovingly referred to as PETS) to make that statement relevant to Rotary.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we believe and promote the statements in the "Four Way Test." (Please read along with me) First...Is it the truth?  Second.Is it fair to all concerned? Third...Will it build good will and better friendships? And Fourth...Will it be beneficial to all concerned?


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we promote the Object of Rotary.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that because of the self-less giving of time and money from Rotarians around the world (and with very, very large donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - which Rotarians have been challenged to match dollar for dollar) we are realizing that the dreaded disease of POLIO has almost been eradicated off the face of the Earth.  The theme for this year is "End Polio Now"!  Tonight we will learn even more how Rotary reaches out when there is a need (through the ShelterBox Program); and the list goes on, and on..


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we proudly wear the Rotary pin that symbolizes a service organization that is over 105 years old.  And to think, it all started with four business men in Chicago, led by Paul Harris.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we are honored to be a Paul Harris Fellow.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we gave up a Saturday morning to sleep in - to instead roll out of bed at O'Dark 30 to prepare and serve the homeless population a pancake breakfast, put a roof on a Habitat for Humanity home, or pick up trash on a portion of a highway.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we stood out in front of a store for a couple of hours during the Christmas Holidays and were bell ringers for the Salvation Army.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we can't take on a responsibility for the Club, because we have already said, "Yes - I'll be happy to do anything you ask me to do."


            (And my favorite)) - As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that thanks to the Duarte Club in California (who started the movement - even to the point of defying Rotary International) - over 23 years ago, women were "allowed" by Rotary International to join Rotary.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we attended a Rotary International Convention where we met fellow Rotarians from all over the world, who share the same enthusiasm and commitment to Rotary and its principles and practices.  In the past six years I have had the privilege of attending five of the International Conventions.  I highly recommend it! The experience will certainly get you motivated!!   It is truly amazing what Rotary does all over the world to help those in need.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" when we walk right up to total strangers and strike up a conversation - why?  Because they are wearing a Rotary pin and there is this instant bond and we feel a kindred spirit.  I remember vividly doing just that in the VolcanicNational Park in Hawaii.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we reached out to other fellow Rotarians when they were hurting or in need of encouragement and support.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we've cried together - and we've laughed together.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we are truly Rotarians.not that we just belong to a Rotary Club and attend weekly meetings.


            As Rotarians we never have to say "we're sorry" that we not only believe in, but also practice the Rotary International Theme - "Service Above Self."


The business of Rotary is "serious."  But doing the business of Rotary should be "fun"!


As Rotarians..Let us go forward this year "having fun" -

"Building Communities and Bridging Continents."