How I became a Rotarian and Why I Still Am!

Beverly Gray

In 1992, I received a call from Dick May asking if I would be interested in going to a dinner meeting and learning about the Rotary Club. Without hesitation, I said yes.  I later learned that my name was given to the Membership Chair Dick by Bob George, a very dear friend.

The dinner was held at the Sturbridge Host Hotel, which was a different venue than the usual weekly meeting. Several other people had also been invited and while I knew a few, the others were new to me.

The President was Johnny Voyles, a charming Southern gentleman. The meal was lively and casual without any business being held.  I was invited back to a regular meeting. My thoughts at the time were that this could be very beneficial to my business.

At the next meeting, I found it both interesting and impressive. The other invitees that returned had similar values to mine and therefore very likeable. I have stayed in Rotary because of those values and the friends that I have made became important in my life. I quickly forgot about the connection of Rotary and my business and became involved in the business of the organization.

The primary business of Rotary is always helping to make life better locally as well as world wide.  The Club has brought a great deal of satisfaction and personal pleasure into my life.  I have since served on every committee and in every office locally.

I currently produce the bulletin which gives me a license to be informative and outrageous.  I also chair the Scholarship Committee and work with Jane and Phil to find the best young people that we can help with our dollars. There is so much to being a Rotarian and I am proud to be associated with this incredible group.

December 6th, 2012.

Klaus Hachfeld

I have lived many years in Germany, England, Scotland, and now in the USA, but home for my wife and me is here in Sturbridge.   I delight in the varied seasons, the New England lifestyle, the historical connections with the Old World, and the many hours of sunshine we can enjoy here.

By profession, I’m a laser physicist, and have practiced the science and art of laser design all of my career.  I tell people I’m retired now, but in common with many other retirees I fill my day with activity.

While my wife and I were raising our young family on the east coast of Scotland, we came to value highly the friendship of our immediate neighbor, a partner in a stockbroker firm, and also a Rotarian.  It became clear to me that he, his wife and family, all had strong Scottish accents, strong faith, and immense integrity.  We are still great friends despite now having lived on opposite sides of “the pond” for more than thirty years.

However, it was only after having lived some time in Sturbridge that I was invited to attend a Sturbridge Rotary Club meeting by John Larson, owner of a machine shop located in Sturbridge, and subsequently invited to join the club.  Despite having been a member now for 30 years I don’t consider myself to be “an old fart”, though confess that I continue to be very active in Rotary, having served as club president and Governor of our District of 54 Rotary clubs.

So what’s the attraction?  Is it purely conscience or something more that keeps me coming to the club?  Certainly I feel that I owe society something for having rescued me from war-torn Berlin as a kid, plucked out by a returning American airplane participating in the Berlin Airlift following World War II.  But it is more than that, it is the realization that Rotary is immense in its reach, able to connect with like-minded humanitarians across the world, and improve the lives of those we see as needing our help.

I hate that grossly overused word “Network”, yet confess that is exactly the way Rotarians connect across continents, person to person, working where the action is, but in a very human way.  As a life-long techie, I appreciate being connected in this way to the real issues that people face, whether dealing with poverty in New England or disease in Pakistan.

Just think what kind of organization can marshal the volunteers on the ground to deliver the cold vaccines to immunize 2 Billion children in the world against Polio and several other childhood diseases.  Together with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotarians have taken 28 years of consistent effort to eliminate Polio from all but 3 countries on this planet, with very few cases remaining.  That’s determination, that’s staying power, that’s success!

OK, fine, you say, but that’s Rotary’s flagship program.  Yes it is, but our club continues to help our own community here in Sturbridge, and has done significant humanitarian projects in Venezuela, Nigeria, Uganda, Peru and now in Kosovo.

Life is full of surprises; so is Rotary!  Time and again I have received assistance from Rotarians who knew how to get something done, when I couldn’t see it.  Perhaps I’m still sufficiently optimistic that we can make a difference to people’s quality of life if only we work together on it.  Happily, there are many Rotarians who feel and do the same.  That is why I’m still a Rotarian.

Just imagine what you can do!  Just imagine …….

December 7th, 2012