Tag Archives: New Members

Rotary New Member Coffee BINGO!

Jason Beren, with the assistance of Mary Gaffney-Ward of The Madison Club, organized an enjoyable coffee for new members at The Madison Club on Tuesday morning, March 6. About 25 new and longer-term Rotarians gathered for a tasty breakfast buffet, followed by “Rotary Bingo” devised by Jason. Everyone received a bingo card with mysterious clues to the identities of those who attended and proceeded to write in the names that fit the clues.

Roger Phelps and Sarah Dunn-Carpenter

Steve Musser, Mary Helen Becker, Melanie Ramey and Roger Phelps

Did you know that a member of our club spent 3 months in the Sahara at a camel market?

Do you know which fellow Rotarian went to an Edgewood High School prom with the late comedian Chris Farley?

Mary Kaminski and Rico Goedjen

Or who played on a “Final Four” soccer team at the University of Chicago?

Who was arrested in North Carolina during a Civil Rights Protest?

Ralph Cagle and Tim Hausmann

Who went hunting with Sam Walton of Walmart?

One Rotarian had just participated in the Birkebeiner, and another was in an Ironman Triathlon.

John Thompson and TJ Blitz

A good time was had by all, and new friends were discovered among a very fascinating group of Rotarians.

–Submitted by Mary Helen Becker; Photos by Michael Engelberger

Our thanks to Deb Raupp who pitched the idea of bingo and provided Jason assistance in bringing this event together.

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.

First days on the job

After my first day at the podium and 14 days on the job, my first thought is that I’m sorry you all missed my experimental blog post on another platform where I reflected on the last board meeting at which Dave presided and his term.  I have far more appreciation today than I did even a month ago for Dave’s legacy in terms of leadership, planning and a very steady hand on the wheel.  It’s not a simple task or a light one and Dave made it look easy.  As I started to demonstrate today, I will do my best to make it look extremely difficult.  Thank you Dave.

Learning to blog after crafting a certain style on Facebook (i.e. brief) causes me to be a bit more reflective in this format.  There are many things in the holding pen to write about but my primary reflection on today’s meeting is how well it captured my priorities as president.

*Engagement at the weekly meeting:  My goal is for us to leave with more energy than we came with.  There are many other ways to put that but whether it’s fun or intellectual engagement, I want you to leave with that feeling.  I unleashed the “departure greeters,” a title that needs improvement (“thanks for coming” greeters) on you without warning and apparently that needs some explanation next week but all it’s to the end of that goal.  Let me know how you’re doing. Please.

My objectives for engagement extend far beyond the weekly meeting and are an extension of Dave’s work — and that of many, many others — but the weekly meeting is my core focus under this header for today.

*Membership recruitment and retention:  Before today’s meeting, I attended the Membership Committee meeting.  Welcoming seven new members and getting to meet them in person today was very exciting.  Find them.  Befriend them.  But the bigger picture is that this is the lifeblood of our club.  I could give you a lot of numbers but in the end the numbers are about our success and commitment as members to believe so much in what we are doing that we invite colleagues to join us — and keep them.  Ok, but it also fundamentally affects our bottom line, our spirit, and try fooling around on LinkedIn, it is most fascinating.

*Annual fund:  I am most sorrowful that Stu was not at today’s meeting as we would have gained a nice donation to the Foundation. Susan Schmitz will chair the committee this year, and we are committed to a diverse campaign that builds the Foundation’s coffers.  I went to my first Foundation board meeting yesterday and the quality of the management of our funds, in terms of both giving and growing, is excellent.  The more you know, the more you will be inspired to give.  Or perhaps you shall be fined.

*Rotary Youth Exchange:  We enjoyed having an inbound and outbound student at the club today, both, ironically from/to Germany.  We are hosting a get-together on 7/21 (next Wed) before the meeting to talk about the easy ways we can all help this program and connect us with these great students.  Laura Davis and a small group of dedicated Rotarians have managed this program and we have the vision of expanding involvement to everything from taking a student to a Mallards game (“take me out to the ballgame”) to hosting.  Come if you can, email if you can’t.

*Planning and succession: This largely deals with eliminating the roast; however, I have made room for (1) charging Paul Riehemann with leading an ad hoc committee to create a new five year strategic plan, as the current one expires in April and (2) engaging with Paul (who is President Elect), Pat, and our committee chairs in conversations about how to ensure continuity of leadership while fostering change.  There will surely be more posts about that in the future.  We will also carry forward this year the legacy work of Bob Sorge’s strategic planning team (and the plan) and Dave’s leadership — with a lot of help from Derrick and others — to create a one year annual plan linked to the strategic plan.

While I share with you these priorities, I also know that I harbor — ok that’s a lie, have set sail to — a series of other things I Really Care About. You can’t make 126 or whatever appointments and not get engaged in the work of every committee.  I have fallen in love with the work of every one of them.  But I trust all of you to go forth and make Rotary, so I will focus as I’ve outlined above until I stray into your camp, camps I’ve camped in before (ethics symposium), or where the camp counselor has tackled the Wed meal with me (e.g. Laura Peck and Centennial committee).  Etc.

While there is so much that is exciting and attractive to work on, the great news is that you all make it happen while I look for the switch on the mic.

Yours in service above self, Juli