By Craig Gillis
As we transition from one memorable Rotary year in the life of District 5020….and eagerly anticipate another exciting chapter in our Rotary story led by an enthusiastic, wise, and dedicated District Governor Maureen Fritz-Roberts and 91 eager and enthusiastic presidents and over 4600 club members ….I want to take a moment to share three of the many thoughts I take with me from this meaningful year in my life as a Rotarian:  Family, Service, Gratitude.
Family:   I have truly ‘lived’ this year as a ‘family’ member of Rotary—supported, welcomed, encouraged.   Wherever I have been I have felt included and valued---- warmly welcomed by members of our Rotary clubs.   I urge you to visit other clubs and to experience that camaraderie.   Wear your Rotary pin whenever you can because it signals to others that you are part of the Rotary family.   I thank my wife, Gerry, for allowing me to be absent from home so much of this year and for supporting me in more ways than I could ever truly articulate.   I also thank my home club Campbell River Daybreak….and the Rotary Club of Campbell River who have made me so proud to call Campbell River home.  They have inspired and cheered me on…. providing such a strong and nurturing foundation.
Service:   The longer I am a Rotarian the more deeply I understand ‘Service Above Self’.   It is what unites us in our clubs, in our district, and with others throughout the world.   In my travels I felt so connected to each Rotary logo I saw prominently displayed because it represented a project that has improved the quality of life in a community locally or globally.   The Rotary brand is our universal signature ----demonstrating by example that we are ‘People of Action’.   Our contributions to the Annual Fund and Polio Plus give us the strength and resources to continue to wage our battle with polio and the vulnerability of our larger world.  Whether a valued community endeavor or an international projected serving one of six areas of focus our imprint is a sustainable one.   It is the stories behind the projects that are often as rich as the projects themselves----all testimonials to Rotary’s profound commitment to service.  Continue to share those stories. 
Gratitude:  As Rotarians we are all members of that family of 1.23 million Rotarians in the world who are blessed with opportunity and privilege.   It is important at times to pause to acknowledge our deep sense of gratitude for what we have and express our appreciation to those who have contributed to our lives…. those who have helped us become who we are—our fellow Rotarians and community members.     I spoke this year of the ‘Shoebox of Life’, that repository for some of the items of appreciation we receive from time to time.   I urge you as a Rotarian to take time to fill others shoeboxes of life…. a word of acknowledgment, a phone call, a note….it is the heart we bring to our service that is so often remembered as a trademark of Rotary. 
Thank you to RI President Barry Rassin for his gift of a theme this year----‘Be the Inspiration’…and for the opportunity to experience your examples of inspired leadership and generosity wherever I travelled in Rotary District 5020.   Family, Service, Gratitude.   Thank you for choosing Rotary!   Your Rotary heart will continue to enrich lives.