After the flurry of Facebook comments about my break up with the Rotary Club of Astoria, I feel like I need to share some final thoughts, especially regarding the question of “Is it Fair to All Concerned?”
First, although I can understand why my choice to leave the Astoria club so publicly could feel offensive to its members, I feel as though I tried to do so with goodwill in mind. It’s as though I’m breaking up with a boyfriend and I want him to learn so that he won’t break another girl’s heart. I really just want to break up, heal and move forward. Me sharing is how I heal, and I’m sorry if that has hurt anyone. Like any relationship, I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t care. I truly love Astoria, and it’s felt challenging to not feel engaged and in service to my community. I really do hope that once old wounds have healed, I’ll be welcome back and hopefully feel more at home than ever…although I guessing that may be a while gauging the current club culture.
I didn’t want to sound patronizing or name name, but I want to say that I really do appreciate how much the current President, Craig Hoppes has done for the club. Changing up the venue monthly has been a breath of fresh air, and it did give me something to look forward to, and I especially enjoyed when we met at the Armory (Fulio’s, circular tables made all the difference, and learning about an inspiring local project made for a great lunch. 🙂 (But the meeting did leave me wishing that the leaders of the Armory would join the Rotary club to help shift it into action). I’m glad to see that you adopted several of the suggestions that I gave when we met before your presidency began (Student and business of the month). I only wish that you would have given me just a little bit of credit (just so the other board members could have stop fearing the changes I proposed) and we could have continued to team up. Again, I’m sorry that my desire to begin a happy hour branch of the club to welcome new and more diverse members was so affronting. That wasn’t my intention. Again, I really do appreciate your leadership, and think that you will have a positive legacy in starting to shift the club’s culture. Believe me, I considered the possibility of waiting to transfer until July 1st just to save hurting your feelings. Again, I’m sorry and I hope you continue to stay engaged in the board.
Second, yesterday I was a welcomed guest at the Seaside Rotary Club. I was overwhelmed by how gracious and kind they were, and how the whole energy of the club could feel so different. The club prides themselves in having fun, which I believe is key to sustaining community service. While I would prefer to walk to club meetings and serve more locally, I was happy to meet several Astorians who choose to be Seaside members (because they work there). I also know that the Seaside is an active leader in service global service projects, and it was the humanitarian focus that first truly awed me about Rotary International, not just a business networking luncheon.
Lastly, I want to thank the District Governor, Tom Markos. I appreciate his advice and kindness in helping me navigate hard waters, and help welcome me to a new club. I imagine that he wishes I could have been more patient (there’s part of me that wishes I was more tenacious too, but I came to a point where I didn’t find it healthy to be in a toxic relationship). And no leader wants any club criticized nor a member suffer unnecessarily, so I’m sorry that you’ve been put in this awkward situation. I know you’re a smart man, and we’ll also learn from this experience and continue to find ways to shine our light in the world.
Sometimes the world may not feel fair, but it does feel more hopeful because of the good work of Rotary.
Thank you all fellow Rotarians for your service around the world.