By Tyler Roebuck
WHITLEY COUNTY –“Be visionary.” That’s the message being spread by newly elected Rotary District 6540 Governor Lisa Waterman, of Churubusco.
“A big part of my message is to say, ‘Be very proud that you are a Rotarian, because we’re literally changing the world,’” she said. “If you took away what sorts of works every community has had done by their Rotary club, unequivocally their community will be less than it is today. Rotary has been making a difference.”
Waterman, who was recently elected to lead the 56-club district in northern Indiana, sees an identity crisis and wants to help address it during her year of leadership.
“Right now, we need to rebrand,” Waterman said. “A lot of people think that Rotary is a bunch of old white wealthy guys sitting around, and some clubs are like that because that’s been the community and they haven’t brought in younger members. That doesn’t describe a lot of clubs in the world or in our local communities here.”
As District Governor, when Waterman visits Rotary clubs, she joins the club in an End Polio Now Walk, a program she started with her governorship.
“This is something totally new to me and to the clubs. I am unaware of anyone else, or any other district or president, who is doing this,” she said.
When she visits, the club does a one mile walk.
“The polio walk is in honor of people who died because of polio, in honor of people who are carrying on now but also because we can,” she said. “We can walk because our parents were wise enough to give us the inoculation. It’s also to raise money, so you can make a check to the Rotary Foundation to say, ‘I want to give this to the polio eradication effort.’”
“More than anything, those walks are simply to raise awareness and simply because we can.”
To date, Waterman’s End Polio Now Walks, in combination with donations to the fund have raised $3,000. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching their money two for every one dollar raised, so the money raised in her campaign is up to $15,000.
Waterman is passionate about Rotary International’s focus on eradicating polio. The club’s campaign has been an ongoing focus since 1985, and has seen incredible success.
“What started out as over 350,000 cases a year is down to eight year to date,” she said.
While Rotary predicted there would only be four cases this year, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, four more unexpected cases arose in Nigeria, which had previously been free from the virus.