Why I Volunteer: Rotary International

By Marc C. Shaffer

The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do:

Is it the TRUTH?

Is it FAIR to all concerned?


Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Being a member of Rotary has given me so much, both personally and professionally. I wanted to share my experience to give you an idea of how the clubs operate. If you have an interest in joining Rotary, I’d be happy to help you get plugged in.

Rotary is an international organization where neighbors, friends and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and act to create lasting change. These clubs meet across the world and you can almost always find a local group to join. I am a member of the Overland Park South Rotary Club. We meet at Deer Creek Golf Club near 130th and Metcalf every Wednesday at 7:30am (breakfast included!)

Rotary was founded by Paul Harris in an effort to help network and connect in the community. I can attribute many business connections and clients to Rotary so I’m happy that it has contributed to my success, which, in turn, allows me more flexibility to give back financially to the causes the organization serves.

Why I Joined Rotary

Rotary WheelIn an effort to learn about the community in which I live and work, I decided to join my local Rotary Club. My mentor and now business partner was a member of the Leawood Rotary Club, and I knew I wanted to grow outside of his network. I visited other area Clubs and found the perfect fit for me in OP South.

Did you know there are 14 Rotary Clubs in Johnson County, all with unique members and cultures?

Even though OP South was a morning club, they still had HIGH energy. I noticed that many members had developed personal friendships and regularly met outside of Club meetings for socials or help growing their business. I may have started out as the only person in the room in my 20’s, but I was confident that the energy and culture of this club would attract more young professionals and I can confirm it has done just that.

Exposure to Charities and Volunteer Opportunities

When I first joined Rotary, I had limited exposure to local and international charities and volunteer opportunities. Rotary was a great way for me to get exposure to those in my community and learn more about them from their leaders who regularly came to speak at our meetings. My Club specifically chooses to benefit children’s charities and I now serve to help a few of these charities outside of my Rotary involvement.

Leadership Development

Jazz RunRotary continually helps me grow personally and professionally. I often say that Rotary paved the way for my leadership development. In the Overland Park South Rotary Club, the members are very enthusiastic about younger members who want to volunteer and give back. As a new member, I was a “yes man,” never turning down a request to help in various roles within the Club and volunteer for our events. This mentality helped me get out of my comfort zone, become more comfortable in various situations, develop better friendships AND gave me more exposure to each facet of our Club and its community reach.

Within a year of membership, I was asked to serve on the sponsorship committee for the Jazz in the Woods event in Corporate Woods. I helped the Chair of the event raise money to not only put on the event, with a budget over $200,000, but to also net money for our children’s charity beneficiaries. This paved the way to me chairing the event the following year to help net over $60,000 for these charities:

  • Fox 4 Love Fund
  • Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center
  • Operation Breakthrough

My involvement in Jazz in the Woods led me to serve on the Board which better taught me how to work with groups of people on a common cause. In 2011 I was asked to serve as Club President. This allowed me to learn to work with people with different talents and skills and made me realize how important it is to make sure everyone is in the “right seat on the bus” to make sure that the “bus goes to where it is supposed to.” Everyone doesn’t always get along, but the role of the President is to direct the efforts in the same direction to get things accomplished for our members and our community.

International Travel

RINCRotary has allowed me to travel internationally. Fortunately, our Club pays for the President to attend the Rotary International Conference the May leading into Presidency. I was lucky to spend a week in Lisbon, Portugal with 25,000 Rotarians from all over the world. Rotary is a big deal in other countries! Many conference attendees wore Rotary clothing from head to toe.

I was amazed to find that Rotary in other countries wasn’t for everyone; it was reserved for the highest leaders and/or dignitaries. Unfortunately, this often meant that other international Rotarians were not young. It was at the conference that I learned about the international efforts of Rotary. They are currently trying to eradicate polio with a focus on providing clean water around the world when the disease is gone. I suspect that Rotary International will win the Nobel Peace Prize once this goal has been met.

Friends Across the World

Rotary has provided me with friends all over. Not only are there approximately 100 members in the Overland Park South Club but I’ve also met members in other area Clubs and in other parts of the country and the world.

In October of 2016, I traveled to the Rotary Leadership Institute in Salt Lake City to learn how other young Rotarians are growing their membership and their impact in the community. The Overland Park South Rotary Club is a part of District 5710 so I’ve traveled to training events for Club leadership in Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan and Salina. When I bought in as an owner for my business, I had several friends in different professions to help me with all the things I should be considering. Their life experience has really helped me over the years and I look forward to giving my experience back to future members.

Just Plain Fun

Rotary Presidency RoastRotarians can get a job DONE, but we’re not always serious. One of my favorite Club memories/traditions is when the Pledge Class roasts the outgoing President when the leadership turns over for the new year. After serving my year as President, the members had no issue making fun of my past dating history and commitment issues during my roast. Our Sergeant of Arms tells a joke every week to get our meetings started, we laugh and enjoy each other’s’ company during our events, and we plan socials for a variety of preferences…including ordering a party bus to attend the Ugly Sweater Party that benefits Operation Breakthrough. Being a part of this group is just plain fun.

Interested in learning more?

If you would like to receive a weekly invite to attend a Rotary meeting, please email me your request at [email protected]

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Published for the blog on August 2, 2018 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.