Williams, who presides over 55 clubs in northern Alabama, said he would like the group’s agenda for the next year to include an emphasis on the “M and M’s” of Rotary — membership and means.
Williams said one way in which Rotary’s members are distinctive from those of other service clubs is that they are as diverse as the community in which they are based.
“That is extremely important because that says that not only can you get people in who think about the problems of the community and internationally in a different light, but it also means that you have the different experiences and educations that can be brought to bear on these problems and maybe identify problems that you haven’t thought about,” he said.
Williams encouraged local Rotarians to share information about the club more frequently with their friends and coworkers and always give visitors a warm welcome during each week’s meeting.
Williams added that contributions to the Rotary Foundation’s three funds give members the means to accomplish their goals.
“Name me any other organization in which 100 percent of what you give goes to projects. None of it goes to overhead or pays salaries,” he said.
Williams said donations to the Foundation’s Annual Fund are put into a trust for three years. At the end of that time, half of the money is used for global grants and the other half is sent back to the district from which it came.
Local clubs then have the opportunity to apply for a grant through their district to help fund a variety of projects.
Rotary International also oversees a PolioPlus Fund, which has received several multi-million dollar donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in recent years.
“When we started the eradication program for polio, there were 5,000 cases a day worldwide. The last official report I saw a few days ago, we were down to 127 cases this year,” Williams said.
Williams added that in recent years, there have been four polio-endemic countries in the world — India, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. However, the World Health Organization removed India from the list in February because the nation had gone more than a year without any reported cases of polio.
With the help of Rotarians from around the world, more than 160 million children in India were vaccinated last year during National Immunization Day.
“We are this close to eradicating polio. We’ve got to stay with it until it’s gone,” Williams said.
Williams also encouraged local Rotarians to continue supporting the youth in their area Interact Club, both by inviting the students to come to meetings and collaborating with them on projects.
“If you can get to those young people and show them the Rotary way of service above self, they will truly know that it is more blessed to give than to receive. You have developed a new Rotarian possibly, but more importantly, you have developed a new citizen,” Williams said.