Posted by Mark Irvin on Jul 02, 2021
My journey into Rotary might surprise you.
On July 1, 1993, with Larry Kent as my sponsor, I became a member.  The amazing Don Shropshire was our Club President and his legendary bow ties, coupled with his flying across the room as Superman, remain engrained as wonderfully positive memories.
Those were the days when Rotary had tight classifications for membership; weighty attendance standards; fines for just about anything; a rowdy table; the 11:30 cocktail club;  everyone wore a Rotary pin daily, and we had close to 300 members.
Back then, everyone went to meetings dressed in a suit and tie, and in the summer, a sport coat.  Women members had been added a few years earlier and about a dozen were in the Club.  One, Katie Dusenberry, was even a Past President. 
Obviously, much has changed over the years.  I love a more relaxed Club and dress code, personally.  We have made progress on adding women members but at 28% of the total, not enough.
In 1989 when I initially inquired about joining Rotary, Past President Mike Anderson said : “I am not sure you are what we are looking for”.  That remark obviously did not deter me and has provided some great fodder over the years.
From 2003 – 05 I served on the Board of Directors with Bob Shaff and  Jim Murphy, who were our Club Presidents.  Over the years I have had the opportunity to chair many things but the Community Giving and the Program Committees were favorites.   I chaired them both on a few occasions.  Like everyone, I was involved in the Car Show.  Sitting on the Centennial Selection Committee provided the opportunity to see the best ideas from our non-profit community.  JTED was a unanimous decision and a great one to showcase the 100 years of service we have done in our community.
Overloaded in my role at Rio Nuevo I stepped down from Rotary for a few years in 2011/2012 rejoined in 2013 with David Lovitt as my sponsor.  Comically, I am his sponsor too.  We are the only two members in our Club with this distinction.
It is serendipitous that exactly 28 years  after I joined, I would have the honor of  serving as the Club’s 100th President.  The very thing that forced me to step away for 2 years would help kickoff downtown’s resurgence and our Club’s historic move back there.  What a way to celebrate our Centennial – a return from where we started. 
Our Centennial year will provide many opportunities for us to cherish our past, while setting our Club up for the next 100 years.  The buzz about our move downtown has already started.
Membership selected an incredible Board of Directors.  Our past leadership has set us up for success.  Past President Chuck Sawyer led a herculean effort in chairing both our Five-Year Strategic Plan and the Venue Committee while Past President Bob Logan led the charge with technology and our engagement with Switcher Studio.   Past President Jennifer Hoffman showed all of us how to deal with adversity and grow the Club at a time when most of our meetings were virtual. 
Nothing really happens without the guidance and hard work of our executive staff with Dorinna York and Kari Meger.  They are so key to every President and to the success of our Club and the Car Show.  They are a godsend. 
So, what is the plan for our 100th year?  Under Past President and Car Show Chair, Joni Condit, we are off to a great start.  The new 2021 Corvette Stingray that our pal Rob Draper at O’Rielly helped up secure really sets the stage.  The Centennial Committee, under the leadership of Past President and Committee Chair Jim Lubinski, is on a roll.  Together, they will lead the charge for our $250,000 funding commitment for Pima County JTED.  We all need to do our part.
With the five-year strategic plan as our guide, we will continue to focus on membership.  We agreed to grow the Club back to 300 members by 2025.  I might ask, why wait that long? 
The selection of the TCC as our new home has already opened up new opportunities for membership.  Five people went through the application process the first week after it was announced.   This will continue.  Every Rotarian bringing in a new member to our Club over the next year is a Centennial goal.
A concerted effort is being made to recruit more women, more ethnic diversity and more younger members.  Key Rotarians have stepped up to focus on these efforts.  We will have a dashboard at our weekly luncheons to show how we are doing in terms of our Club demographics, our recruitment and car show and to draw attention to those efforts.
The Program Committee is also off to a great start with so many amazing keynote speakers already booked that it is hard to focus on just one.  We will see more programs with music and will focus mostly on “Tucson Treasures”.  The TCC has an amazing chef and staff.  We will be well taken care of there.
We will have weekly history lessons.  We will have a new monthly series “Where are they now” that will bring back students we have helped.  Yes, wearing your pin will become vogue again.  So too will fines.
As the largest Club in the District, we will find ways to bring all the Clubs together, with “Rotary Night” at the TCC with both the Roadrunners and Sugar Skulls.  An event at the Fox Theatre featuring music. This will lead to more community service projects we can do together.   We will get silly too with “Bring your competitor to Rotary Day”. 
As you think about our Centennial year, I would ask every member to ponder three questions:
  • Why did you join?
  • Why do you stay?
  • What are you going to do to make it even better?
Thanks for the confidence.  Service above self.