Rotary Club of Madison Wisonsin

Within moments of the conclusion of our meeting Wednesday, Gail Selk was talking with our speaker, Laura Heisler, about  joining the club.  During lunch, Laura asked me — a question I suspect is familiar to many — “do you REALLY come EVERY week?”

Well, now that I’m president, yes, pretty much. But I went on to explain to her how for me it was a process of discovery and self-reinforcement. In the beginning, most Wednesdays, it was hard to imagine I could make the time, but I often did largely because I said I’d do something and I put it on my calendar.  Gradually over time, I recognized that I always left the meeting feeling better than when I came — more energy, more enthusiasm, more vigor to go back to my office and swing the bat at whatever ball crossed the plate.

So I shared that observation with Laura.  She seemed intrigued.  Does the weekly meeting do that for you? I am curious. Will Laura join? We shall see.

I opened the meeting Wednesday with our membership numbers.  Our current membership is 496.  When the annual comparison happened last spring, our total was 523 (making us the 5th largest club in that moment in time).  You can see the difference.  Fortunately, President Dave got the board to look at membership rolling monthly totals, so we are accustomed to looking at trends and averages, and overall, we remain strong but challenged by a down fluctuation.  (Virginia Bartelt is at the helm of the membership committee FYI and we are all honorary members. I’m an actual member, as I welcome the chance to be very hands on in this area).

Our strength in membership is due to people like Gail whose wheels are always turning, discovering the Rotarian in our midst, and to people like you blog readers who remain active club members.

But membership is not just by the numbers.  It’s the quality of our individual and collective experiences and accomplishments.  A recent highlight for me was when in the orientation new member Paul Karch mentioned he was reading the history of the Rotary Club of Madison book and noted the misspelling of “Wisconsin” on the sign on the cover. (See it here: AR-M355U_20100721_090429). This bit of esoterica got me to pick up the book again and fall fascinated into the story of the founding of our club.

Every week, it’s moments like that that have kept me coming back.  What keeps you coming back?  And in fairness, what keeps you from coming?  How do you describe the club and value of membership to people you know who are prospective members?


p.s. Props to Matt Goetzke who sponsored not one, but two, members this month.  He was stuck in the one-lane from Milwaukee to Madison Wednesday or would have adjourned us by ringing the bell in recognition of the importance of sponsorship.

4 responses to “Rotary Club of Madison Wisonsin

  1. Question; Where does “Props” come from? Used in your post instead of Kudos. never seen it before!

    Below is an e-mail I sent to a friend who visited our meeting recently, not with me, but then asked about why I’m a member. My response pretty much says it all.

    “Rotary is so much more about fellowship and service than business networking for me. Inevitably as one builds trust with one’s peers that can lead to business, but it is not my focus.

    Rotary is first and foremost a service club and I do believe that members get the most from it when they view it that way. The business benefits are real but they are not the driver, and when people are overt in pursuing business ahead of service and fellowship it often offends. You’re a smart and successful woman you understand that!

    I envision Rotary gradually becoming my primary source for friends, social and service involvement, advice and counsel. Essentially I belong to a group of 500 good hearted neighbors who are willing to engage with me simply because I am a Rotarian. Do we all share interests in common? No. But we have enough overlap that there is always a good conversation, no matter whom I sit with or volunteer along side.

    Today I made my lunch then left the house without it. Instead of having a sub delivered I went to West-Towne/Middleton Rotary Club and had lunch with their members, a handful of whom I know through my work. I had fun, was immediately treated as an insider and shared a good healthy, low-cost meal instead of spending about the same to eat alone while working. The break from my task and the companionship made a great interlude in my day. That to me is a profound value of an organization such as Rotary. To be able to visit any club, anytime, anywhere you happen to be is huge. As you travel so much on business, you could meet Rotarians all over the country and strengthen your connections in those communities. You have a great intro… I’m in town visiting my client ABC Co., and decided to visit, etc. You need never be alone in the world when you’re a Rotarian!”

    • @Jacqui: From

      Props is short for “propers” as in, “proper respect”
      On 13 Dec 2001, Joe M**** answered the question on Deja News. Here is how it is explained:

      Props, short for Propers, -Don’t forget that the entire word “propers” is used in the song “Respect”, written by Otis Redding and most famously recorded by Aretha Franklin in 1967. At least, I think it is (“all I’m askin’ in return honey is to give me my propers when I get home”)-

  2. Prez J, well done. Especially enjoyed Jerry Thain’s thoughtful review of women’s history last week. BTW, reading the club’s history you’ll note that John McKenna was one of our founding members. Mark Schmitz of ZD Studios (and Madison College alum) is his great-grandson, I believe. See you in a couple of weeks. Bob

  3. I appreciate your thoughts on how attending the weekly meetings provides you with a needed lift…that is the joy of fellowship. While most labels carry an element of exclusivity…”Rotarian” is inclusive…we leave all other labels at the door and share values which becomes the common ground that binds us together in joyful, fullfilling service.

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