Last year after the covid 19 pandemic shut down our in-person club meetings, many of us felt the immediate loss of personal connections with our Rotarian friends. Suddenly, our lives changed as stay-at-home orders kept us apart. We were afraid to go outside and spent precious time disinfecting our living spaces. Some members or their significant others caught the virus, leading to periods of fear and illness. Other members lost jobs or fought to keep businesses running. Past President Rick Gibson regretfully had to cancel the alumni weekend events that had taken so much planning. Under his thoughtful leadership, though, members agreed that we needed to focus on maintaining our relationships and caring for each other. Most people responded to our club status survey by volunteering to help anyone in need, demonstrating that service above self is part of who we are and why we joined Rotary. We sent caring Rotarian cards for those who had losses or illnesses and recognized special celebrations in El Rodeo. We also held business exchanges to acknowledge each other, do business together, and share resources for economic support. This was followed by a series of service projects that Rotarians magically created in the midst of the pandemic to keep our spirit of service alive. We even prepared and distributed thousands of hygiene kits for unhoused Los Angeles neighbors as part of a joint project with the First 5 Rotary Clubs with incredible support from our members.
I have personally grown closer to many LA5 Rotarians during this year of the pandemic than ever before. I was at home and took advantage of all opportunities to meet virtually, participate in events, and join committees. I’m so glad I did! When I went through a difficult time last summer, I felt cared about by the club with many thoughtful members offering support. I have genuinely been inspired by the outstanding leadership, incredible investments of time and energy, and amazing talent of the good people I’ve gotten to know. Membership in LA5 has enriched my world and I am grateful!
My current mission is to send as many virtual hugs as possible, along with giving out real ones when we meet in person (no one can have too many hugs!). Please help me by sharing tidbits regarding special events, celebrations, and announcements and I will make sure to send virtual hugs through El Rodeo (don’t worry, this is gossip for a good purpose!). Birthday wishes are coming with animated online cards for each of you on your special day! And, of course, part of my mission is to make sure that each member is surrounded with love and care when they are experiencing challenges or losses- so remember that CARES cards will keep coming whenever we become aware of members who are in the midst of difficult life events. Finally, help me recognize and appreciate Rotarians for being special, like John Langfitt who immediately joined the Cares Committee last year, helped us design activities, and made a lot of outreach care calls. Also Charisse Lara who seems to really know what’s going on with fellow Rotarians and has often helped me find out who might use a little extra attention. If you see some kindness or extra special Rotarian support, let me know and we can shine a light of appreciation!
By the way, I just learned how to send emojis in bursts via texting, so please know that I’m sending flowers and love across your screens from my heart to yours!