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District Governor addresses Carmi Rotary

At Thursday’s meeting of the Carmi Rotary club, the Rotary District Governor was on hand for his first visit to the White County club.

Rotary district 6510 governor Tom Guebert of the Carlyle, Illinois club was on hand to share his vision for Rotary and his goals for the 2015-2016 Rotary year.

DG Tom told the club that he was born and raised on a dairy farm near Red Bud, Illinois. His first career was as a math teacher. During that seven year period, he also coached basketball, baseball and swimming. It was also during this time frame that he was asked to join his first Rotary club, an invitation he turned down.

Leaving the education field, Tom began a 38 year career in the insurance business, a career that had him moving to several Midwestern cities, before settling in Carlyle. He also joined his first club during this time, and a year or so later had his Rotary “moment”, that moment that defined to him, what Rotary is all about.

He told the club that he and his wife bought tickets and attended a concert that was a fundraiser for the Shriner’s Hospital. After the concert, the MC showed a short video of a 7 year old girl literally crawling across her front yard to get to her house. At the conclusion of the video, the MC introduced a now 8 year old girl – the same girl from the video, who practically ran across the stage. She took the mic and in her little 8 year old voice, thanked everyone for helping her. After the concert, Tom found the little girl and thanked her for being there. She took his hand and said, “Thank you for helping me, and you are going to keep helping children aren’t you?” At that moment, he knew what Rotary was and what it stood for.

A few years in to his Rotary career, Tom and his wife Barb allowed their daughter to be a Rotary exchange student to Brazil. He said she left as a typical 16 year old, and came back a 17 year old that was years older than her peers. He said she will say her hardest time was not the first few months in Brazil, but her first few months back in Carlyle, where she had such a broader understanding of what our country meant, and how lucky we were to be living here, than all of her friends.

Tom went on to talk about this year’s Rotary theme, which is “Be A Gift To The World”.

He helped explain that theme with a stanza from the poem, “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. He quoted the stanza that he says, to him, explains the entire poem.

“It matters not how much we own, the house the cars the cash.

What matters most is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.”

DG Tom encouraged the local Rotarians to brag a little about Rotary. He quoted St Louis Cardinal pitching legend Dizzy Dean, who said, “If you done it, it ain’t braggin.”

Tom finished his talk by explaining his pet project as district governor, which is the National Children’s Cancer Center in St. Louis. He explained that this is not a research organization, but rather an organization that helps families in need during the traumatic time of having a child with cancer.

To help this very worthwhile organization, the Rotary district is selling raffle tickets to “An Evening With the Cardinals”, which will be held in January. This has been a yearly event, and this year’s featured Cardinals will be Bob Gibson and Joe Torre. The winning raffle ticket winner will be able to attend the dinner with eleven friends, and spend time listening to priceless baseball stories from these two Cardinal legends. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased from any Carmi Rotarian.

Visiting assistant district governor Janice Alka from the Mt. Carmel club won the day’s 50/50 raffle but did not claim the cash prize.

The Carmi Rotary club meets every Thursday at noon at the First United Methodist Church in Carmi. Anyone wishing to learn more about this worldwide civic club is more than welcome to attend a meeting or speak with any Carmi Rotarian.

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