"It's the most wonderful time of the year …"
Sing the phrase of that great old song and people think of Christmas.
I love Christmas but I honestly get more excited when the Brazil Rotary Club passes out scholarships at $1,000 each, as we did this year.
I also love it when we can write checks for hundreds of dollars to support local people who have one item on their agenda: To serve others.
But those checks can only be written because of the generosity that goes into the annual 4th of July Celebration. If it wasn't for the folks who buy the ride tickets and buy tickets for the prizes, we would have nothing to give away the rest of the year.
Let me assure you, every dime you give your kids to spend at the carnival, every dollar you spend on the raffle, goes right back into the community. Our community, because we are your neighbors. We live here, too.
This past year I have had the privilege of serving as the Rotary president.
It really is a privilege because of the dedication and hard work of our team of Rotarians, or as a new Rotarian called them, "my Rotary family."
When the carnival operator pulls out after the 4th of July, when the big Rotary sign comes down from the front of the shelter that serves as "Rotary Headquarters" in the park, when T.J. Sneddon has unplugged the P.A. microphone for the last time this year, I will get a little sentimental.
When I drive through Forest Park any time of the year, it all comes back to me, all the emotion, all the joys, all the nagging thoughts about what we could have done a little better. It means a lot.
Oh, sure, we will be tired. Some Rotarians work a little harder than the rest of us, but we all contribute so kids have that extra $1,000 when they go to college, so elementary school kids can have a real, old-fashioned paper dictionary instead of tzking turns looking up words at dictionary.com on their school computers; so various non-profit organziations can have a few hundred dollars to pay for some expense not in their budget. So, Clay County can be a little better off than if the carnival didn't come to town for the 4th of July.
I read last night that one of the tests we should give ourselves is the bucket test. That is, how do we want to be remembered when we're gone?
When it's all said and done and my family is going on about their business without me, I hope I'm remembered for helping to make this world a little better place than when I came into it.
To me, that's the best part of Rotary and why I look forward to the 4th of July in Brazil's Forest Park every year.