Friday Oct 3, 2014

Light Up Rotary

John Enger

District 5030 District Governor, 2014-2015 Rotary International

Introduced by: Wendi Fischer

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An update on Rotary International for 2014-2015 and Bellevue Breakfast Rotary.

About the Speaker

John Enger is a long tome West Seattle Rotarian who currently serves as an Assistant District Governor and District Conference Chair. He is presently District Governor for 2014-2015 for Rotary International, District 5030, covering 53 clubs in Greater King County.

"My mentors in the West Seattle club are it's 24 active past presidents and when my year as District Governor begins, there will be three past district governors including Gene Tonnemaker, Duane Ruud and Ann Liberato, the current District Governor, in our club," Enger said.

Enger is media professional, now retired, whose career with the Banana Pages directories and other media extends back for decades. He joined that company in 1971, becoming the ad manager in 1975. The company, owned by Doris Richards and Warren Lawless urged Enger to join the Rotary Club.

"Rotary has changed so much over the time I've been in it," Enger said," the biggest change was when they admitted women in 1987. The U.S. had been trying to do that for years but being an international organization there were many countries who still said no. West Seattle was very early on. Leslie Woodruff was our first female member."

The West Seattle Club has 70 members and to be a member you do not have be a business person. The Rotary club motto is "Service above self" since it is a service organization whose 1.2 million members worldwide in more than 34,000 clubs volunteer in countless community projects. For West Seattle the signature even every year is the Christmas Shopping Spree (it was held last week) benefitting under privileged children in our area. Enger said that the time required to participate in meetings and club projects is up to each member and that older perceptions about requirements should be updated. "It's really up to the individual. It's 90 minutes on Tuesdays for lunch and then projects we work on."

The cost to be in the club is under $600 annually but there is a local foundation the club asks members to support so the cost will be slightly higher.

Those funds support worldwide projects with half the money coming back to support local good works in this district. Rotary also provides high school scholarships and vocational work.

Through the Rotary Club Enger said that with 15 other members, "I've been able to go to Kenya where I spent 2 1/2 weeks working with the East African Center. That center is for the development of women. We started about a dozen years ago buying them 12 treadle sewing machines so that the women in the village could start an industry and have their day care with the kids right next door. We bought them an old YMCA Van five years ago that we sent to them. That turned into their ambulance and they've saved a lot of people. The year that we went we sent them a solar powered refrigerator to keep the meds cold in their clinic."

Enger sees that Rotary has the same challenges as other fraternal and service organizations. "It's being relevant to the new generation," he said. "They want to know what they can do and 'Is it relevant to me,' so that's a challenge (...) but the fact is that we have just as much to learn from them as they do from us."

To do that the club has the Rotary Youth Exchange, Interact (for high school students, Rotaract (for college students) and RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards).

Enger will become the District Governor in 2014, "So I've got 30 months of training and leadership skills they bring you up to. My position will be one of leadership in the district but also the administration and management side too.*

*Note the background on district Governor Enger is from the West Seattle Herald, written when he was first announced as the District Governor for 2014-15.