On the journey back to normal, last Thursday we took the baby step of holding our first in person meeting since March 12th.  Following COVID-19 safety protocols, a small but hearty band of masked Rotarians gathered under the outdoor pavilion at Van Horne Park during an absolutely beautiful summer morning.   Later in the day, it would become unbearably hot and humid but at 7:30AM it was quite delightful. 
Dr DeCicco went above and beyond the greeter duties by checking people’s temperature as they arrived.  There was small talk before the meeting.  We discussed some of the issues facing the club.  We did happy dollars.  Josh Turner brought donuts.  Josh Turner ate donuts.  All those attending agreed that they felt that the setting was safe as the pavilion is large enough to provide adequate social distancing for a group of our size.

However, I know some of you are still reluctant to resume in-person meeting and, as such, we are going to try and hold a hybrid meeting of sorts.  We will again meet at Van Horne Park but will also attempt to patch people in via Zoom.  I’m not sure how well it’s going to work but I really want to make every effort to keep every member included.
It goes without saying that this year is going to be full of challenges.  Although the pandemic has receded here in our area, it is by no means gone and there is a significant chance of it flaring back up again.  I’m not sure when we’ll be able to resume indoor meetings but we will make the best of it in the meantime.  I’ve asked our Speakers Chair, Cory Wingerter, to start lining up speakers for our meetings with the caveat that we can’t really do PowerPoint type presentations outside.  If any of you have any potential speakers (or are a potential speaker about a topic), please let Cory know.
Another challenge will be fundraising.  Our giving budget (the money we give to charities) is set by a formula based on the money we raised in the prior Run With Rotary.  Last year we were able to donate just under $55,000 which is very impressive for a club of our size.  This year’s Run With Rotary was cancelled.  This year’s 4-H Fair Funnel Cake sales is cancelled.  And now, the Montgomery FunFest which we were scheduled to run for the first time this Fall has also been cancelled. 
We did raise some money selling 50/50 tickets for the Run With Rotary but we are far short of the money needed.  We hope to be able to bridge some of this shortfall from our club’s Foundation account but need to be mindful that there is no guarantee that life will be back to normal next year so we have to tread carefully.  In the next few weeks, I will be scheduling a brainstorming session via Zoom to think about some other ways we can raise money this year (e.g. maybe some other form of Funnel Cakes sales or an outdoor pancake breakfast or a Cornhole Tournament or something else entirely).   Let’s get creative!
And yet another challenge is increasing membership. Although Zoom was useful in keeping the club together, it really isn’t very conducive to recruiting new members.  An acting teacher of mine used to say “Every day you get a little bit better or a little bit worse”.  Staying at the status quo does not make us better so please make a concerted effort to bring in some dynamic community minded people who want to get involved and make a difference.  One potential silver lining of the pandemic was that it shifted some people from primarily working from an office to working from home.  So maybe that person you asked a while ago to check out Rotary who couldn’t do it because of their commuting time may now be interested.
Although I tend to be a traditionalist and thus like the phrase “Service Above Self”, I find myself warming  to the newer phrase used in the Rotary global ad campaign “People of Action”.  At some point, we will get back to normal but as People of Action we can’t just sit around and wait for it to happen.  We must use our ingenuity and efforts to make things happen.
Rotarically Yours,
Zoltan Nagy
Rotary Club of Montgomery/Rocky Hill (NJ)