District Rotary governor speaks to local group

Published 8:05 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Danville Rotary

On Sept. 20, the governor of Rotary District 6710 visited Danville to provide motivation and guidance to the local club. Otha Ray Stearman served as president of the Greensburg Rotary Club in 2015-2016. Before that, he was VP at Lindsey Wilson College and partner at his wife’s CPA firm.

Email newsletter signup

Stearman told his audience there are three questions we need to ask ourselves, “How’s the world better because of your community? How’s your community better because of your club? And how is your club better because you’re sitting in here?”

He is an advocate of embracing change and recruiting young members, particularly women and children. Stearman sees a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change across the globe.

Stearman’s wife, Nancy, is also a Rotarian, as well as a grandmother to twins. When 5-year-old Ella Grace asked her grandmother, “Nana, can I join Rotary?” Nancy immediately said “yes!” To make that commitment real, the couple are starting an earlyAct project in their hometown of Greensburg, a school-wide service club for elementary students from ages 5 to 13, sponsored by a local Rotary club. Greensburg already has an Interact program with 37 students, for ages 12-18 who want to get involved in issues in their community they care about. 

Rotary supports Rotaract, a club for college-age youth, providing opportunity for young men and women to enhance the knowledge and skills that will assist them in personal development. The club also addresses the physical and social needs of their communities, and promotes better relations between all people worldwide through a framework of friendship.

The Stearmans are actively seeking clubs to start or grow their own Rotaract clubs, and see Danville’s Centre College as a natural.  The previously successful Centre College Rotaract club has not been active for a couple of years, but is currently a Danville club project for reactivation. 

Stearman’s philosophy is, “If you start young people out at 5 years old, I promise you they’ll be a Rotarian for life. We’ve got a 93-year-old Rotarian in our club that started at 18. After 75 years as a Rotarian, he still doesn’t miss a meeting.”

On the subject of recruiting members, Stearman is blunt. “If we don’t make Rotary a club that Millenniums find worth joining, Rotary will not survive!”

In his view, “Millenniums” are very busy and are not inclined to sit through lunch and listen to a speaker. They are also not likely to find time in the middle of a workday to add another demand to the list.  As a potential solution, Stearman mentioned a club that met in local non-profit companies to talk about their work environments, with Subway sandwiches for lunch.

In another instance a club got up at 2 a.m. to visit a UPS worldwide air hub in Louisville to learn how so much freight was transferred in so little time without errors.

Stearman’s focus for today’s presentation was, “Rotary Connects The World.” There are more than 33,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. The members of these autonomous clubs form a global network of 1.2 million business and professional leaders, all volunteering their time and talents to serve their communities and the world.

To help drive the worldwide scope of Rotary’s reach, Stearman has been able to arrange, for the very first time, the International Rotary president as a featured guest speaker at District 6710’s 2020 conference.  It is a unique opportunity for Kentucky— with 535 districts around the world, there’s no way any international president can go to every district conference.

In addition to the international president, the conference will hear Ray Keller, a motivational speaker who, in the past year, has traveled to Prague, Budapest, Johannesburg, Bangkok and Mumbai to speak to large conventions.  His talks have been professionally recorded and translated into several languages and distributed worldwide.