Rotarian Reflection – Mark Smith

For me, Rotary has always been a part of my life. My grandpa became a Rotarian when he was a younger guy and my father was part of the Vincennes Indiana club (district 6580). I always saw all the good things they did around my small hometown. When I was 16, I had my first hands-on experience with Rotary when I attended RYLA which is a Rotary-sponsored youth leadership project.

After college, I became a member of the Evansville Indiana club (district 6580). My father was so excited that he drove up and made us take a very awkward staged photo (pictured below) so he could send my grandfather. This is when I started to fully understand the sheer impact Rotary has around the world. I personally got more involved by helping organize charity races or attending the President-Elect Training Seminar (PETS). From Evansville, I saw the effect the club can have on a city and with PETS learned how Rotary has an impact on a global scale.

I then moved to Chicago and obviously wanted to join the first Rotary club. Again, my father was extremely proud as Rotary One has an almost illustrious reputation in southern Indiana, and my grandfather would have been ecstatic. I found a home at Rotary One. Every week I get to see friends, hear about the amazing work in Chicago and around the world and enjoy the ULC coffee which I swear is the best in the country. You get to hear about Meals on Wheels, The Night Ministry, Make a Wish, etc. I’ve even gotten involved with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Schuler Scholars, and Chicago Engineers Foundation after hearing about them at Rotary. It’s also a place where you can network. Through Rotary I found a jeweler for my wife’s wedding ring, a real estate agent for buying a house and even a mentor who graduated from U of C Booth who helped me through the program.

Rotary has always been in my life, but every year that goes I learn more ways the organization has impacted the world in a positive way.

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