Hank Alkema presented an inspiring message to all of us yesterday.  For me personally, I wish I had heard his message years ago because it may have changed how I went about my membership in the Stanwood Camano Rotary Club over these past 15 years.  As a charter member of the club, I spent the first 13 years of my membership simply being a member.  There is nothing wrong with that, but there is so much more that I was missing by not taking the next step - being a leader.  Finally a couple years ago, I was asked if I would be Vice President. Reluctantly I agreed. It was then that I was told that if I were Vice President, the following year I would be President Elect, and the following year I would be President.  Did I really want to make that commitment? I really wasn't sure. After careful thought, I said that I would and so the process began that led me to today. 

As Hank was giving his message, I thought back to all of the members who have come and gone.  Lots of members and lots of Past Presidents; many of them, following their tenure as President decided to leave the club for one reason or another. Most of them moved to another area or changed careers so the reasons were legitimate. I miss them all because they made significant contributions to the club and helped shape it into what it is today.  But we still have many great leaders of our past that are still active members of the club and I try to draw on their experience whenever I can. 

So what can we all do?  For one, we can all listen to each other. We have a group of members who have a long history of Rotary and they have much to offer the group. Second, don't be afraid to share your ideas. New members are sometimes reluctant to give their opinions or make suggestions for fear that they will not be well received. Don't be afraid to say what you have to say. And third, get involved. Be a leader. And that doesn't always come about by being an officer. You can chair a committee, or even serve on a committee. Participate in a project where you can become an active participant in the club. With each act of participation you will gain confidence in your ability and demonstrate to the group that you are ready to take a leadership role. And then when someone comes up to you and asks if you will be Vice President, you wont hesitate like me and question if you want to make the commitment. Instead you would raise your hand like Hank did and say "Count me in. If Jim can do it, I can do it".