As I prepare this message I reflect on all the Longwood Rotarians and their families who recently helped pack over 320 backpacks to give to deserving students in the Kennett area. We had children as young as nine (9) years old and women from the Friends Home who were a little bit older(!) all helping on this project. Two Rotarians stand out because the year before they were busy buying backpacks and collecting thousands of items to put in the backpacks. Thank you Jordan Gushurst and George Gower (a former President), you did an excellent job! These two individuals are reflective and represent many Longwood Rotarians who exemplify “Service Above Self.”
I initially joined Longwood Rotary for selfish reasons, to spend more time with my friends who were Rotarians. At first I was a surprised at the enthusiasm and perpetual happiness I witnessed every week at 7:00 in the morning. I wondered to myself, just how many cups of coffee had these folks drank?! It took me several months to get comfortable listening to dynamic speakers and hearing examples of Longwood Rotarians who put their actions where their mouths were demonstrating Service Above Self.
I admired and marveled at the anecdotes shared where members of our Rotary group raised money and were better serving our community. For numerous years Longwood Rotary has been making a difference, creating Operation Warm and replacing the playground equipment at Anson Nixon Park. We have renovated homes and given away a car so a family could drive to their doctor’s office for dialysis. I could list numerous other projects Longwood Rotary has played a part in but I do not want to sound conceited.
Gradually I started to get more involved and helped with different projects such as being a road Marshall for the Kennett Run and cleaning trails at Anson Nixon. I helped move office furniture for Camp Dream Catcher and donated underwear (new!) to a non-profit agency that collects them. In short, I am now one of them! I clap and woo-hoo every Thursday morning as excited and zealous as everyone else. Why not? It is hard not to get excited when you feel a sense of purpose and know what you are doing is making a difference in the lives of people in your community.
We can all benefit from a life shared with others who always strive to put service above self. At Longwood Rotary, we take these words quite literally and thoughtfully and as a result, the Kennett/Unionville area is a little better.
Do not believe me? Come and find out for yourself. I was reluctant but came around and I am so glad I did! I know you will not be disappointed. Giving to others, expecting nothing in return, is never disappointing.
Leonard J. Rivera
Longwood Rotary Club President, 2017-2018