Posted by DG Hadi Mortada
Another year comes upon us and we are heading into the unknown. Luckily, our Rotary Family in our District has handled it quite well. We are still visible, and we are lending a hand to our communities locally and internationally.
I am proud to be part of this family. Our District has shown unity and determination to get through these difficult times. Past District Governor Gerry Lambert has paved the way for us, and I vow to continue the great work that we started. I am happy that PDG Gerry & I worked together in past months, so we continue serving Rotary and our community to the best of our abilities. 
I am also glad that our Area Governors have continued supporting their clubs to make a smooth transition. I am also confident that our new club presidents will do wonderful work and continue to be visible in their communities. I plan to start my virtual visits to clubs soon. It is also in my plans to visit clubs in person as soon as restrictions are lifted, and we can travel and be in social gatherings as health officials suggest.
What can we do to strengthen our presence in our communities? In some clubs, we have noticed that some members aren't renewing their memberships. Please reach out to them and ask them why. Is it financial? If that is the case, talk to them one on one and work with them so they can stay with your club. Some clubs across our zone have reduced their dues to younger members or retirees who are on a fixed income.
Also, remember during this time we are not meeting in person, therefore, we not spending money on meals. Meals prove to be the highest expense in Rotary. Consider donating these funds to your local community’s food banks or anywhere your Community Service committee sees appropriate.
During this challenging time of COVID-19 many of us were impacted by this pandemic. Many of us have shifted to online meetings and work remotely to comply with our local and national health authorities’ recommendations. Unfortunately, visits to Rotary & Rotaract Clubs and club events have been cancelled this year. I stand by The Rotary International Board of Directors decision to suspend all travels until the end of the calendar year. Having said that, my club visits will be planned to be virtual. I asked our Area Governors to start talking to their clubs to arrange for my official visits. I plan on resuming my in-person club visits in the new year based on our local health officials’ recommendations and large group gathering is recommended.
I would like to congratulate PDG Nabil Oudeh for receiving the Donald MacRae Zone 28 Peace award. I would also want to congratulate PDG Katie Burke for receiving the Rotary Foundation Service Above Self Award.
I am glad to share with you that The Rotary Foundation Trustees and Rotary International Board of Directors have both unanimously approved adding a new area of focus: supporting the environment the Seventh area of Focus is in addition to our peacebuilding and conflict prevention; disease prevention and treatment; water, sanitation, and hygiene; maternal and child health; basic education and literacy; and community economic development. I am pleased to share with you that on July 1, 2020, the Rotaractors are now fully recognized as a rotary membership type, this elevated status is revolutionary and a long time coming.
In the meantime, please stay well, stay healthy, and practice safe distancing.
Again, Happy New Rotary year and see you soon. We are Better Together and don’t forget to have fun. Rotary Opens Opportunities.