Posted on May 05, 2020
While events and activities have been postponed, our Service Above Self has not.  The Spirit of Rotary is alive and well.  This pandemic has provided Rotary, with the opportunity to pivot, to becoming a more relevant organization.  Now is the time to be calm, resilient and resolute.  To paraphrase my fellow Classmate Governor - in this darkness of COVID-19, Rotarians will trim their wicks, so their lights do not go dim, but rather become bright beacons of light on a hilltop.
The good news in all this, is that we can derive some satisfaction at being able to be there, right beside those who needed us.  Thanks to the $25,000 Emergency Grant we received from The Rotary Foundation, to which we added some of our own donations, and finally, with the approval of more than three-fourths of the District’s Clubs, we are now able to fully fund all 24 COVID-19 projects, that Clubs put forward to the District.  It is you, who achieved this – you went to the front lines, you got the food, you delivered it to the lonely senior, you got the PPEs and helped protect your doctors and nurses.
I have been amazed at the projects that you, our District Rotarians, have been engaging in.  Only some are highlighted on the District Corner page, of the District website – from the Ambulance disinfecting fogger, to providing meals for the elderly, to providing immediate help for laid-off restaurant workers, to  donating masks for First Responders. 
Sadly, during this pandemic, our Rotary Family lost 4 of our Rotarians.  We were able to bid farewell to three of them - Isabel Cavanagh (President, Yorktown Club, David Schildwachter (Past President, Yonkers-East Yonkers Club and Assistant Governor), Edward Hicks (Past President, Bronx Club). through a virtual memorial, which was viewed over 1,100 times.  Thanks to our District Public Image Chair, Amir Asadi, for organizing this tribute.  We share with the families of the departed, in the celebration of the lives of these distinguished and beloved Rotarians.
A truly amazing thing has happened in the wake of the rapid spread of COVID-19.  During the last week of March, seeds were sown, to recruit a global team of a million or more citizen volunteers, to receive free online healthcare training. This volunteer force will join local civic leaders and healthcare workers in the fight against the virus. Rotarians have the opportunity to lead the recruitment of the first million volunteers, to reduce suffering and save lives through participating in "Volunteer Surge". Our District was a pioneering partner in this effort, which includes Amazon, Yale School of Public Health, Linked-In, ADP. GoFundMe, and the Global Impact Group. You can still sign up for this opportunity to be of Service.
We don’t know how long the present conditions will continue.  We don’t know what our new normal will be.  Now is the time to be proactive and innovative, so our beacons of light on the hilltop aren’t extinguished.  Use E-Club Meeting platforms to keep members connected and engaged, plan an event in your community, that promotes health, safety, and how to stay connected with family and friends, through various social media platforms. Reach out to at least three people each day, in your sphere of influence, who you haven't spoken with in decades, and ‘CONNECT’ with them. This ‘CONNECT’ is consistent with our theme for this Rotary year, “Rotary Connects the World.”  This CONNECT will show care, concern, and compassion. Keep our beacon of light burning bright so that we can show others the meaning of Rotary. During times like these, Rotarians have always been on the 'frontier of change'.  Rest assured, this pandemic will be our time of change, to show others the meaning of Rotary.
The District has stepped into the virtual world in a spontaneous and effective way.  During this stay-at-home time, both physical and mental health are of considerable importance.  Join AG Nadine Homann, as she introduces guests every Monday at 6 pm, featuring motivational themes – be it mental well-being or dancing away to salsa or Bhangra.  On a more practical note, join DGE Mary Shackleton and Assistant Zone Coordinator Cecily Smith every other Thursday, at 5 pm, as they bring in experts, to guide you, in our Pathfinder Series.  These events are open to all, but you need to register, to get the Meeting login information.
This month, Clubs will choose, via online voting, the District’s Delegate to the Council on Legislation and a member of the Nominating Committee for RI Director, alongwith their respective alternates.
And finally, our postponed District Assembly will be convened via Zoom on Saturday, 30 May.  At this gathering we will conduct unfinished Annual District business – the Report on the State of the District,  the Reports of the District Secretary, and the District Treasurer.  Mark your calendars and join us.
-DG Mahbub