July 1 – the start of a new adventure in a new Rotary year! Bonnie and I hit the road early to get up to Thunder Bay, Ontario in time to draw the winning ticket for the Fort William Rotary annual house lottery. This is an awesome fundraiser the Fort William club has done for the past 30 years. In that time they’ve given back more than $5 million to the community. Awesome! Visits to the Port Arthur, Lakehead, Fort William and Nipigon Rotary clubs showed us the huge generosity and commitment they have for serving their communities and humanity.
In 2017 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Foundation. In 1917 Arch Klumpf started the Rotary Foundation with a $26.50 donation. To celebrate this anniversary our RI President, John Germ, has made it a goal that every Rotarian donate at least $26.50 to The Rotary Foundation this Rotary year. As you plan this Rotary year please remember The Rotary Foundation and how it helps us leverage our resources to do good in the world.
One of the goals for this year is to work together with our Native American and First Nation communities to find areas in which we can help them improve their lives. Many of our clubs are located close to reservation lands and many of our communities have a significant native population. If you are looking for a community project please consider one that will include our natives. Throughout the year project ideas and contacts will be posted on the district website under “Partnering Opportunities.”
What better way is there to teach leadership principles and ethics than RYLA? About the time you read this the 2016 RYLA will be almost over. About 200 young men and women will have made many new friends and learned and practiced principles of leadership and how to live by the 4-way test. When you start thinking of students for the 2017 RYLA please consider finding Native American and First Nation youth for this great opportunity.
At the top of the to-do’s list  this year is to get a uniform Youth Protection Policy in place that will be acceptable to Canada, the US and Youth Exchange. A task force is working on this now and should have recommendations shortly. It is imperative that we have a strong youth protection policy to protect not only our youth but also our volunteers working with the youth. Meanwhile, all clubs should have a youth protection policy in place and will be asked to document that they do. The default policy is the current district policy and can be found on the district website. Clubs can develop their own policy if they want  using the district policy as their minimum standard.
As the new Rotary year begins we have several new changes to adapt to. A change to our district committee structure was adopted at the district meeting that should facilitate easier and better communication through the district. Many district bylaw changes were required so clubs should review their bylaws and assure they are compatible with those of the District. Rotary International has approved changes in attendance requirements, club meeting requirements, types of memberships and other issues that affect our members. As usual the new Rotary year means a change in district leadership. Deb Warner moves to Governor-elect and will be working directly with the Assistant Governors and District Trainer. Blaine Johnson is our new Governor Nominee and will work directly with the Communications Committee (Scott Soderberg chair), Youth Services Committee (Rozanne Casey chair) and Service Avenues Committee (Chair open). The Membership Committee (Don Cavalier chair) and Foundation Committee (Keith Brokke chair) will work directly with the Governor. If any of you are interested in some district work we have a place!
I look forward to seeing and visiting with all of you over the course of the year.  We have a great district because YOU make it that way. I thank you.    Herb