Remarks by 2017-18 Rotary Club of Eau Claire President
June 26, 2017?
(Editor’s Note: After being inducted as our Club President at our Annual Recognition & Installation Celebration, Wes Escondo thanked outgoing president Hannah Walsh and then looked forward to our 2017-18 Rotary year.)
In my preparation for today’s speech I was reminded of a quote from one of our generation’s greatest philosophers when he said, “I want my world to be fun.” Now what I believe Justin Bieber meant was that achievement is best served with a tall glass of excitement. This past year we saw an increase in volunteer and social opportunities that I believe brought many of us closer… from the Easter Egg Hunt to the Grand Evening on the Bridge to a birthday party for our exchange student of the year – Daphne. You gave us an alternative lens to know one another outside of the normalcy of the country club. For that I’m thankful. I’m grateful for your work in making my transition smooth and for spurring decisions that bear in mind the presidencies of those to come after you. I believe you to have served the title of Rotary Club of Eau Claire President with class, enthusiasm and pride. So I invite you to join me to accept a token of our appreciation for a job well done. Thank you for your service to the Rotary Club of Eau Claire.
For the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to answer a question that has been posed to be multiple times and that question is “are you ready for your Presidency?” Whether the question was asked at PETS, from a club that I was visiting or from one of our own amazing Eau Claire Noon Rotarians, the answer became clearer and clearer each time I was asked. The answer is YES!
I am not only ready, more importantly I am humbled, honored and I am touched that three years ago someone thought well enough about me to ask me to take on the Vice President role starting in the 2015-2016 year.
I remember feeling genuinely and wholeheartedly excited to be asked, I believe it was Jerry Kuehl doing the asking. I was about two years in as a Rotarian and I was feeling like “wow these people really like me or they’re really good pretenders! Either way I was good with it, if you don’t judge – I won’t judge.”
And just when Jerry had me, he so kindly told me about the buy 1 get 3 free deal! If you buy/commit to the Vice President role, then you get a President-Elect term, a Presidency and a Past President term! Wow! Now I’m not great at math but 1 carry to the 2... a 4 year commitment? I can’t even commit to lunch on a daily basis, how the heck was I going to commit to a 4 year progression through the Rotary Board!
It all happened so fast and I swear if I hadn’t answered so quickly I believe Jerry was ready to launch a full blown “If you act now you’ll also get a set of Ginsu knives and the Ron Popeil “Set it and Forget it” Rotisserie Oven.” Now don’t get me wrong, I was still really excited but my initial “Thanks Jerry” turned more into a “Thanks Jerry.”
But that was short lived, because what the past two years gave me was the time to formulate the answer to the question, “are you ready for your Presidency?”
The answer is still YES, but why it is a “yes” is of importance to me and how I approach this next year. This club currently has 41 members which serve as 41 reasons to give this club the best of me. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know all of you and there is not one member of this club that does not elevate the title of Rotarian. I am not only a better Rotarian for having known all of you, but undoubtedly I am a better person that looks forward to elevating your experience and pride as a Rotarian.
In the short time that I have been a Rotarian, I have learned so much from each of you. A few examples...
- The importance of engaging a community and not merely existing in one as exemplified by Bob McCoy
- That pride of family must be equally communicated along with professional attainment as shown by Sara Antonson
- That good tequila should never be served through ice as to risk the quality of said tequila would be tragic, as established by Dr. Bill Klish
- And hundreds more that define the concept of fellowship that exists within our club
The 2017-2018 year is one that holds immense potential for us to grow as a club. The theme this year is “Rotary: Making a Difference” something our club truly has experience in and a good reminder of the service above self that differentiates us from others.
We will indeed continue to make a difference for our community, for our club and for each other. This year will also give us the opportunity to learn more about our service as Rotarians outside of weekly meetings and lunch at the country club. In a sense, I want us to see the full view of opportunities that make Rotary so special.
I also look forward to bringing greater focus on the development of funds to ensure that projects of interest are not just completed, but are impactful to the recipients.
I’m honored to serve and will do so with 41 very specific reasons to fuel my efforts. Thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to the year to come. Thank you.