When Tommie Buscemi is asked why she became a member of the global service organization Rotary International, the Kingwood, Texas, resident responds: “I wanted to make our world a better place.” Then she adds: “Along the way, Rotary made me a better person.”
Buscemi is not alone. Making the world a better place is a driving force for the 1.4 million members of Rotary. In Houston, and in communities around the globe, club members identify local needs and address them by volunteering their time, talents, and resources to create lasting, sustainable change. In the process, members find they, too, are transformed.
“Joining Rotary was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life,” Buscemi, a member of the Rotary Club of Kingwood, says.
She and her fellow Rotary members of District 5890, in the greater Houston area, will get the chance to spread that message of lasting change in the coming months as they host the 2022 Rotary International Convention on June 4-8 in Houston. At the convention, attendees from around the world will participate in learning sessions, form connections that broaden their worldviews, and share their passion for service with one another and the larger community.
For Stacy Brevard, of Cypress, Texas, Rotary is all about service and connection.
“Rotary brings members and partner organizations together for volunteer service projects that strengthen communities – building connections and friendship that make a real difference in the communities served,” she says.
Brevard is a member of the Rotary Club of Cypress-Fairbanks, which has an upcoming food packing project with a local hunger-relief organization. More than 50 people from multiple Houston-area Rotary clubs will come together to pack food that will be sent to feed families in need internationally.
“This is one example of serving others and building friendships while connecting with others globally to help alleviate poverty and hunger,” she says.
“Rotary should be a verb, not a noun,” Buscemi says. “We’re people of action who want to serve and connect to make a difference.”
Rotary makes a difference through its areas of focus: promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; growing local economies; and protecting the environment.
In the Houston area, Rotary members engage in projects such as providing home repairs for seniors so they can maintain their independence and age safely in their homes and supporting health fairs, so school children get a solid start to the school year.
Then there’s Rotary’s awe-inspiring and tireless international work over the last three decades to help eradicate polio and protect the world’s children from a paralyzing disease.
“Rotary’s service projects are magical as they always connect others globally and locally,” Brevard says. “They are the bridge that connects friendships while making a difference in the community.”
With more than 40,000 Rotary and Rotaract clubs around the world – and more than 60 Rotary and Rotaract clubs in the Houston area – Rotary also provides members with opportunities to strengthen their career and leadership skills. Planning meetings and events, working together with other clubs and districts, and speaking in public are ways Rotary members can develop their professional abilities, Buscemi, co-owner of a maritime transportation firm, says.
“You make a living by what you do, but you make a life by what you give, and Rotary empowers you to use your profession to make a positive impact both locally and globally,” she says. “The leadership skills I’ve gained in Rotary have helped me in my career, so if you’re someone who wants to learn new skills that will make you a stronger and better leader, then join Rotary.”
To learn more about Rotary, visit RotaryinHouston.org