Rotarian Proud

Donna Loewen

July 2, 2019

I am proud to be the first member new President, Danita Grant, tapped to provide my “Rotary Proud Moment”.    She asked that this shared message be kept to a minute and I will do my best to comply, though, like most of us, I could speak extensively about my Rotary impressions.

Nearly thirty years ago, when I was a young professional working at Loras College, local Pastor Ken Bickel invited me to be his guest at a Key City Rotary Club meeting.  I felt welcomed (especially by several female members), was impressed with the program, and elected to join this club. I noted that the women were very active and I know now that they were “pioneers”.  I suspended my membership for several years during which I lived in Iowa City to dedicate time earning my Ph.D. and subsequently welcomed our adopted daughter into our family. During those years the Key City Club was not generating new members and when it eventually dissolved all members were invited to affiliate with this club.  Again, the presence of active/involved women, fun-loving and welcoming members, and quality programs impressed me. Under former president Joey Taylor we made a commitment to continued growth, especially increasing the number of females in our club. I want to be part of a club that welcomes diversity and provides opportunities for all to contribute their time and talents to impact our community and world.  I am proud to be part of an organization that is focused on improvement, attends to the need of others (reference eradication of polio worldwide, helping to bring clean water where it is not yet available, and supporting student exchanges). I have especially enjoyed my involvement with our Rotary Youth Exchange, and providing support as a counselor for Ivana this past year.

I am proud to be a Rotarian.  

John Stewart

I’m especially proud of Rotary’s commitment to globalization and an international perspective.  This is evident not only in everything we read about the success of Rotary’s effort to end polio worldwide but also in the stories in The Rotarian that each of us receives every month.  We read there about what clubs are doing in India, Southeast Asia, Australia-New Zealand, Europe, and Africa.  And we get to see “Service above self” being applied worldwide.

I came to Dubuque in 2001, and I was initially impressed by several things I discovered about this town.  One was the number of adults who volunteer their time to kid-focused activities. There are very well-developed baseball and soccer programs, Scout troops in many different parts of the community, church youth groups, a Boys and Girls club, and dozens of nonprofits dedicated to supporting young people.  And all of them are staffed by adults giving back to their community. I hadn’t experienced this in the neighborhood where we came from in Seattle.

I was also impressed by the number of people I talked with who had been born and raised in Dubuque, went away for college, got married, and when they had kids, moved back to Dubuque to raise them.  I even met two couples who moved back into the house where they grew up! This is another impressive fact that speaks to the city’s high quality of life.

A third thing I noticed was the number of “All American City” awards won by the city.  No city in the country has been honored this way as often as Dubuque. I also appreciated learning that there are almost 600 nonprofits operating here, all staffed mainly by volunteers doing good work.  There’s a lot to love and be proud of in Dubuque.

At the same time, I learned about another side of the city.  I came here to serve as Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Dubuque, and part of my job was to diversify the faculty.  I recruited and attracted a senior Psychology professor who had over 25 years’ experience as a therapist, professor, and researcher, most recently at a campus of the U. of Maryland.  Two weeks after he moved here, he came into my office and asked me, “What kind of town did you bring me to??” In response to my baffled look, he continued, “I hadn’t been here ten days when I was called the n-word on the street.  That doesn’t happen in a normal 21st-century city!”  I was shocked.

Soon after, I heard about the meeting between IBM executives and the mayor and other city leaders where IBM told the city that many members of their very diverse workforce had reported incidents of discrimination in businesses, financial institutions, and real estate.  IBM had just brought 1200 jobs to the city. Their message to city leadership was simple: “If you don’t get your act together, we’re out of here!”

Over the next 18 months, I also experienced 3 meetings attended by diverse professionals, one in Dubuque, one in Cedar Rapids, and one in Iowa City, at which an African American professional—a different person each time--commented during the decision-making, “People who look like me have been told in no uncertain terms that we aren’t welcome in Dubuque.  That’s why my family and I stay away from there.”

And the capstone for me was when one of my African American friends, a young professional who had lived about 15 years in Dubuque, reflectively asked me after a pause in one of our conversations, “John, why do white people hate us so much?”  “Why do white people hate us so much?”

It’s clear that the world is gaining the benefit of Rotary’s international focus quite a bit better than is our own hometown.  We’ve done a pretty good job with gender diversity in our club—although I have heard one or two older male members pine for “the good old days.”  But we haven’t done so well with other kinds of diversity, especially with people of color, disabled, and LGBTQ people. I wonder what we need to do to get better?

One-piece we can think about as we mobilize a New Member committee is the effect of our club requirement that you can’t be a member until someone already in Rotary recommends you.  Under most circumstances, this is a recipe for homophily—building a club full of members that look and sound just like today’s members. As I said, the all-male version of our club has overcome this recipe in the past by increasing our gender diversity.  It may be time for us to think about how to expand our success into these other areas of difference.

Rotary International’s global perspective helpfully requires each of us to develop cultural humility, the recognition that our own cultural beliefs and expectations are not the only legitimate ones, that what we think is “normal” is not everybody’s cup of tea.  It also encourages us to approach people who look different from us with genuine curiosity, an effort to expand our horizons, to create a group that does more than just “what we’ve always done.” I’m proud of this perspective, and I hope we can live into it not only in our support of the school project in Guatemala and our global scholars in Brazil, Spain, and England.  I hope we can apply this distinctive feature to our own community, so the city we love can fully enter the 21st century and be as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as the best modern cities.

Scott Goins

When Danita asked me to do Rotary Proud, I was trying to think about what aspect of Rotary I should talk about. It hit me last week when I was at the Chamber’s State of Education luncheon. There was a fair amount of Rotarians at the event, and some of us were talking after the luncheon. The only thing that was mentioned was Rotary. Not any of the other organizations or groups that we were involved in, just Rotary.
I was fortunate to have Michael Armstrong invite me to Rotary over ten years ago. He was very enthusiastic and said it was a great way to meet people in the community. I have met many fantastic Rotarians, both current & former members, some I would have never met outside of the club. I appreciate the diverse backgrounds & professions represented in the club – business, education, non-profit, or public sector. You never know who will be sitting at your table each week.
I value the connections I have made in the club. One reason I value those connections is I know there is a good chance they will be utilizing the Four-Way Test. I believe the Four-Way Test is just as relevant today as it ever has been. It is good to know there are still people that hold themselves to higher standards - both in their personal & business lives.
Just like last week at the Chamber event, I appreciate the sense of pride when I encounter fellow Rotarians. These are only a few reasons why I am proud to call myself a Rotarian.

Ellen Dettmer

I have been a member of the Rotary Club of Dubuque for nearly three years, and in that time, I have gone full force in immersing myself in this club. As the youngest member (I’m pretty sure) of this club, I know that I’ve had to somewhat prove myself as someone willing to take on responsibility and demonstrate why this club is essential to me. And also be an ambassador for the younger generation. 

I have chosen to be in Rotary and to be a Board member because of its dedication and commitment to service. I grew up in a small town, Ryan, IA, which has a population of 400 people. I grew up surrounded by generosity and kindness. It was emphasized to me from a very early age to understand how fortunate I am and how important it is to give back. It’s a unique thing, to grow up in a town that small. Whenever someone had an illness, an accident, or fell on hard times, the entire town would come together. That’s something that I grew up thinking was normal, but now understand that it is pretty rare indeed. 
The Rotary club is the closest thing I have found to that same feeling, that same camaraderie I felt growing up in Ryan. I feel like we’re our small town in a way. We have our leaders, we have the structure of our meetings, we have our traditions, and we have our values. I found myself aligning with Rotary’s values, especially the Four-Way test. It’s a great feeling, being able to go into a meeting every week and know that I will find kindness and friendship. Through being involved with the Board, the Grand Opera House wine and beer sales, and other volunteer opportunities, I have found a great community within the Rotary Club. And that’s why I’m proud to be a Rotarian. 

Elizbeth McKinstry

Hello, I am Elizabeth McKinstry. Fun Fact: I grew up in a small town with a Nuclear Power Plant built on a fault line. There have been a few times, over the years, Exelon would notify the community in the paper that there had been a leak, but all was well. My father used to tell me that my head got bigger every time there was a leak.

I went to public school, then a private school, and then I was homeschooled 5th grade to finish. I graduated with the Hallstrom Home School Co-op. During my homeschooling, I developed a love of languages and history and communities. I took 4 years of Latin, 3 years of Chinese, 2 years of German, and a year of Swedish. It was through the community of the co-op that I was able to learn about these languages and cultures. There were retired teachers, stay at home fathers or mothers with doctorates in many subjects and they were able to share that wealth of knowledge with us. 

I learned to appreciate the concept of community, even more, when there were volunteer opportunities. I was blessed to serve special needs children at an equine therapy location, to be a tutor for the younger children in our community, and worked with multiple churches and organizations to help with food drives, supply runs, and making sure that those around me had the basic needs in life. Once I transferred to Clarke University, I was contacted by AMERICORPS: Partners in Learning to be a reading tutor during the school year and a library volunteer for the summer reading program. I have been with them for two years now and I have one more term left that I can serve. 

It is through Clarke that I have also been able to share my passion for helping others and strengthening communities with other students. I have been able to inform other students of the opportunities around them to help others and to be aware of the suffering around them. Together we have been able to connect with those suffering of all ages and backgrounds, this is how I want students to remember community: Encouraging each other to work and suffer together to make their communities stronger and flourishing. Not just for the present, but also for the future. One cannot simply lift someone out of suffering. One must provide the ladder of care and possibility so they may work to climb the ladder themselves. I feel that through the Dubuque Rotary Club I will be able to continue in the pursuit of this passion with others who share these ideals and better the Dubuque Community. 

Erin Dragotto

Thank you. I wanted to talk about my proud Rotary moment in conjunction with our speaker from Women Lead Change, because of the importance I place on Rotary for women and me around the world. Today, in 2019, it seems almost outrageous that we should even be talking about women in Rotary as being anything particularly special. After all, women are commonplace today as officers of companies—many of which they also own—provosts, deans, department heads, presidents of universities, and presidents of countries. They are physicians, lawyers, hospital administrators, principals and superintendents, realtors, government officials, senators, house of representative members, governors, Supreme Court justices, military officers, and ministers.
There are few if any, organizations or institutions today that don’t enjoy women at the forefront, making things happen—and men grateful that they are doing so. It is interesting that the first Constitution of the Chicago Club #1, adopted on January 1906, makes no reference to gender—only to persons.
And between 1911 and 1917 there were two all-female Rotary clubs—one in Minneapolis and one in Duluth, Minnesota. But that trend did not continue.

The trend certainly wasn’t in effect in 1964 when the Rotary Council on Legislation’s agenda contained an enactment proposed by the now Sri Lanka Rotary club, to permit the admission of women—which the delegates voted to be withdrawn along with two other proposals to allow women honorary membership.
It also wasn’t the case in 1977, when the Rotary Club of Duarte, California admitted women as members in violation of the Rotary International Constitution. And, because of this violation, the club’s membership in Rotary International was terminated.

It wasn’t the case in 1980 when the Rotary Board of Directors and Rotary clubs in India, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States proposed enactment to remove from the Rotary constitutions and bylaws all references to members as “male persons.” It wasn’t even the case in 1986, in a lawsuit filed by the Duarte club to the California Superior Court, which ruled to uphold gender-based qualifications for membership in California Rotary clubs. However, eventually, the die was cast later in 1986, when the California Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision, preventing the enforcement of that provision in California.

The California Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and it was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally, on May 4, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Rotary clubs may not exclude women from membership on the basis of gender. In 1989, in its first meeting after the 1987 Supreme Court decision, Rotary International officially voted to eliminate the requirement that memberships in Rotary clubs be limited to men, and women were finally welcomed into Rotary clubs around the world.

I am proud to say, that our club anticipated the court decision of 1987 and was ready to move with a list of female members…and I am proud to be one of them. I think it is particularly apt that at a time when men around the globe have been “outed” for their egregious behavior towards women, that we recognize that there were men in Rotary who had been fighting for the rights of women since the mid-1960s. Change, as we all know, is not easy. And there isn’t a woman in this room who hasn’t felt, at some time, discriminated against because she was a woman.

Our club admitted women as a result of Rotary International changing its rules and I’d like to think the men were ready for us. I think it was because the men in our community were already experiencing the competence and the joy that women had been bringing to the workplace for years—and they knew we would do the same for Rotary. In my experience, and I believe I speak for the many women in our clubs, the men in Rotary have been gracious, uplifting, and willing collaborators.

In fact, the seamless exchange of ideas and collaboration between men and women is a key ingredient of our Rotary clubs today. In 2014, (27 years after my mother's own induction into the Rotary Club in Manhattan, KS) I was inducted into this club in Dubuque, Iowa. Two years ago I was made a Paul Harris Fellow per Steve Giesz. Thank you, Steve! We’ve come a long way. Today, there are over 200,000 women in Rotary working to make a difference, and that number is climbing. The history lesson I think we should learn from this is that whether we are a family, a club, a city, a

state, a nation, or an entire world, when the issue involves people, the exclusion is never the answer. In fact, it’s inclusion rather than exclusion that is the only viable way to utilize the talents of all of our people and to pave the best most productive way forward.

Paul Hemmer

As I recall it was about 1996 when I was invited to join Rotary by Jim Schilling. At that time he was my attorney at our newly constructed radio station, 97.3 KGRR-FM. He thought my exposure to area leaders would be helpful for my new business. And, of course, it was.
A few years later I was elected to the Executive Board and, with President Steve Domeyer, developed a plan to get our "knife and fork" club off our collective butts and involved in a project to raise a significant amount of money for the Americas River Project.
One of the guiding forces behind the development of the Dubuque Historical Society’s “America’s River” project was fellow Rotarian, Wayne Norman. He had encouraged Rotary to lead the way for civic organizations by making a healthy pledge.
Wayne was a mentor to me, and the man who had talked me into writing both of my successful musicals GET THE LEAD OUT, and JOE SENT ME. 
I remember standing in front of the membership in the Riverview Room at the Julien to inform them that the board had pledged $50,000 to this venture and we were going to raise the money by staging an event called Swingfest. 
It would be a one-day outdoor music festival featuring one of the new jump/swing bands that were becoming popular on the pop music charts and an older traditional swing band. Rotary would line up sponsors, sell admission tickets, beer, and soft drinks, and contract with food vendors.
We planned to stage the Saturday evening event behind the old Star Brewery – the area that is now the Alliant Amphitheater. At the time it was little more than grass and gravel.  We organized committees, and dozens of Rotarians became involved in doing all the things necessary to make it happen.
Then, just six weeks before the event, the brewery manager, Ron McCarl,  called and informed me they were shutting down and the location was not available.
I had recently opened Duke’s Place, a jazz club, in Plaza 20, now the home of Jumpers. So I called the owner of Plaza 20, Sally Kahle and asked if Rotary could close off the parking lot, surround it with portable fencing, and hold our event there. We used the Duke’s Place liquor license to allow us to sell beer. Within just one week, we had contacted all the other leaseholders in the area and received permission. We were ready to “swing.”
A large crew of volunteers assembled that Saturday at 10 is to set up tents, tables, chairs and a ticket station. We hung signs advertising the support of sponsors, and by 5 pm, the crowds started to arrive.
The music was excellent. To encourage young families, we opened the event with “The Caboose” – a middle school group directed by Deb Stevens. Then, Ken Kilian’s Classic Big Band, followed by The Rhythm Rockets from Chicago.
Young and old danced. Cash flow was terrific, and when midnight rolled around, we were all both exhausted and exhilarated by the results.
Dubuque's Rotary Club staged four more Swingfest events. When attendance wained, we jumped up a few decades and created five years of Rotary Rock & Soul Reunions on the River featuring Motown, Blues, and good-time rock bands.
Rotarians worked together for a common cause and created great friendships. In the ten years of those significant outdoor events, we never once suffered a rain-out. And more than $100,000 was raised for the community.
The Truth is - Swingfest and Rock n’ Soul were great fun.
They were welcoming and Fair to all concerned.
They built Goodwill and Better Friendship.
And, were Beneficial to the community.
It was ten years of fun within the bonds of Rotary friendship. I’ll never forget it. 

Glenn Lichti

A poem by Ramindranath Tagor:          
I slept and dreamt that life was joy;                                                          
I awoke and saw that life was service;                                                                                  
I acted and behold; service was joy!
This reminds me of so many Rotarian moments.  The best is when we partner with other organizations so that we can have a bigger impact than we could be acting alone.          
We raise money for SuperShot Saturday.  It is enough money that we could take several children to Grand River Medical and pay for their immunizations.  However, Rotarians partnering with and working with the VNA and Finley Hospital, are able to help 10 times as many parents immunize their children. 
My most joyful moment was carrying one twin while her father carried the other.  This father was loving and caring for his family and very grateful for the partnership with Rotary, Finley and the VNA.                          
We raised money for the Working Boys Center in Quito Ecuador.  We could have helped buy 1 machine tool for them.  By partnering with other Rotary Clubs and with District and Rotary International we were able to provide 7 times as much money and truly transform their machine shop.  
My most joyful moment was the look on Tim Moothart’s face when he talked about how we are transforming people’s lives.          
I get to take part in a Food Distribution with many of our food-insecure neighbors.  There are typically 4-6 Rotarians among the people serving.  There are also about 4-6 of the food insecure people serving while being served.  In addition to volunteer hours, this club invested $1,000 in this service to our community.  That could have purchased about 800 pounds of food at the grocery store.  However, by partnering with Riverbend Food Bank, it bought 8,000 pounds of food. 
My most joyful moment was having the opportunity to be in the sanctuary with over 100 people we were able to serve – talking with them and eating breakfast with them as we prepared to share this food with them.           
Now I have one clarification to make.  NONE of these programs work if we act like benefactors and expect praise in return.  They only work if we are working together and partnering with the people we are supporting.  And most importantly do it with love and respect.   

Charlie Green

February 11, 2020

Before I get to my Rotary Proud Moment, I’d like to mention some impacts Rotary had on me long before I became a Rotarian.
I was raised in a small town in upstate NY in an age when free-range parenting was the norm.  In the 50’s, when I was probably 7 or 8 and home from school on summer vacation, a neighbor friend and I decided that, after lunch, we’d ride our bicycles into town and back.  Certain that such a feat was worthy of a reward, I plotted to mooch to some small change from my father for (he was a soft touch) to spend at the downtown Sweet Shop.
I was at the table at noon sharp waiting for my dad to arrive for his lunch hour.  12:05 no dad. 12:10 no dad.  Finally, I asked my mom when he’d be home.  She gave me the official exasperated mother look and said, “Don’t you remember - your father has Rotary every Tuesday!”  Well I didn’t remember, but from then on I did, and as you can plainly see, the first impact Rotary had on my young life was to screw me out of an ice cream cone.
However, my hometown Rotary club more than made up for it years later.  In the early 70’s, I headed to Alaska to work as a surveyor on the construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline.  Much to my mother’s unending and frequently voiced chagrin, I didn’t come home from Alaska to visit for nearly 3 years. 
When I finally did come home, my dad thought that Rotary would be interested in hearing about Alaska and the pipeline.  So, from the mid 70’s up until he died in 1992, I would often be a luncheon speaker when I was in town.  The club acknowledged its speakers with a preprinted 8x11 certificate of thanks, filled in with your name and signed and dated by the club secretary.  Fortunately, in those early years, I hung on to them.
After the pipeline was built, I got interested in a mining career and enrolled at the University of Alaska Mining Engineering School but was dismayed to find that I’d have to take a speech class.  I went to my dean who said that I could file a petition for a waiver but added that “no one, but no one, ever gets out of speech class at UAF.” However, I figured that I had 2 things going for me.  First, I had a handful of Rotary speaker certificates, and, second, that if I got out of speech class, I was going to take thermodynamics.  Much to my dean’s astonishment, the waiver was granted.
Much later, upon realizing that the University had a large Rotary club, I suspected the success of my petition may well have been due to a sympathetic Rotarian or two on the committee.   Alternatively, they may have simply concluded that anyone who voluntarily took thermodynamics as an elective should not in any way be encouraged to do public speaking.
Eventually, in the mid 90’s, I followed in my father’s footsteps and joined Rotary.  Much like Dubuque, the Fairbanks Rotary club has well over 100 members, holds a variety of fundraisers, supports foreign exchange students, and funds numerous community organizations and projects.  (Just as an aside, I’ll mention that while Dubuque Rotary built a gazebo on the banks of the Mississippi – something that has no moving parts, Fairbanks Rotarians chose to build a clock tower for their river-front park.   As far as I know, no one pesters Dubuque Rotary about fixing the gazebo, but, to this day, I expect the Fairbanks club is bedeviled trying to find someone to repair that damned clock.)
Like all local service clubs, we Rotarians take pride in everything we have done for communities.  However, what I find especially intriguing is what the family of International Rotary clubs has accomplished through our Foundation.  I find it remarkable that mostly working men and women in Rotary clubs sprinkled around the globe could play such a disproportionate role in eliminating a disease like polio.  And, despite the billions in foreign aid spent by governments and organizations over decades, Rotary Clubs today are funding and undertaking projects that address the most basic and the most fundamental of human needs, such as digging wells to provide villagers with clean drinking water.   I am immensely proud to have contributed to these efforts. 
As a final note, my grandfather was also a Rotarian, though he died before I began attending luncheons.  It wasn’t until I became a Rotarian myself that I finally understood something that had always puzzled me.  At my grandfather’s house – on the wall just outside his office - hung a framed embroidery which I presume had been stitched by my always down-to-earth grandmother.   The design was of a wheel, which, only in adulthood, did I realize was meant to represent the Rotary logo.  It had banners above and below that read,
“Blessed are those who run in circles, for they shall be known as big wheels.”   That’ll be two bucks: Pocket change for a room full of big wheels.