By Bob Hermann–
“So what’s going on with all the time you’ve been spending in Rotary, Bob?” It’s kind of a righteous organization and not for our community, right? »
Me: Wow! This question is so irrelevant, but it’s just education that changes the perspective. The assumptions made are like the assumption that every LGBTQ person is a butt and flannel wearing uber-sexual clothing, or the opposite.
Personally, I cherish the diversity of the LGBTQ community, and likewise, I love the diversity of my Rotary Club. We are ~10% gay-identified, multiracial, and represent a cross-generational spectrum. My husband Dan and I have always felt welcome to participate in Club life at whatever level we choose. By the way, this article is mine and not a message from the Rotary Club of San Francisco. Thanks to San Francisco Bay Times for inviting me to tell this story.
Rotary is about service, service before self; helping others comes before our own needs. When I was growing up in New Jersey, the idea of service was all around me. My family had a wealth of experience in the cause of public safety: my grandfather served in the army in World War I, my great-uncle in the navy at Pearl Harbor, my father as a sailor in the Korean War , my second cousin in the army in the Kuwait war, and my little brother in the police. This service context is highlighted on Emergency Services Day (ESD). And that’s one of the reasons why I chose to host this event.
Before arriving at the ESD, let me explain to you what our club is.
The Rotary Club of San Francisco #2, founded just after the Great Earthquake, is the second oldest in the world out of 46,000 clubs. We have helped create many other Clubs, such as the Rotary Club of San Francisco Castro; played an instrumental role in the founding of the United Nations; and to this day have representation on this board. We have been the driving force in the world to eradicate poliomyelitis and we are almost there!
Our members are made up of diverse backgrounds encompassing business professionals and civic leaders. All of these people come together with a common mission, “to do good in our local communities and in the world”, and while doing this work, have fun and fellowship, and find friends along the way. We have a portfolio of approximately 20 projects per year that members work on together to help in many areas of San Francisco and the world beyond. One of my favorites is the Bike Build, where we build and donate dozens of bikes to underserved children.
There’s a lot more to say about the Rotary Club of San Francisco, but you can find out more on our website (https://sfrotary.com/). Better yet, come and attend an in-person meeting on Tuesdays at the Nikko Hotel. Ultimately, it is about building world peace through good works.
A significant aspect of working on ESD has been getting the inside story of the work done by our emergency service workers. I know a lot about my brother about his police work in Franklin Township, NJ, but it was surprising to see what duty is required by the Coast Guard, for example. From environmental issues such as chemical spills in our waterways, to drunken boaters, and heartbreaking moments that save a human life, these men and women face changing and complex challenges. And so, it is with all emergency services personnel. It was also great to hear about the cooperation between our different service groups. In an emergency, what could be more imperative than cooperation between services? Impressive!
At our annual ESD held since 1987, The Rotary Club of San Francisco will honor outstanding representatives of the public safety services we depend on every day: police, fire, sheriff, coast guard and, for 2022, our public health department with leaders who were on the battle lines fighting a global pandemic.
Rotarians and their guests will meet the award winners and their loved ones and hear their incredible stories of heroism and dedication told by the leaders of each department. It’s quite an emotional event that showcases the dedication of our goalies and their actions. ESD provides a public forum where Rotary and department leaders can thank and congratulate award winners, encouraged by members of the public.
The Recognition Luncheon honoring First Responders for their heroic deeds focuses on how our “Advocates” have transformed the quality of service provided to the community through innovation and dedication to organizational challenges. The winners will each receive several special thanks and acknowledgments.
You can participate in this wonderful program by registering here (https://tinyurl.com/4ysrcbbv) before March 2. Due to demand for tickets, there are no “appointments” available and, of course, vaccinations are mandatory. .
I had attended the last annual Emergency Services Luncheon as an attendee in the spring of 2019. I understood it to be a day to honor people for their work and service to the city and county of San Francisco . The program has become so much more for me now that I’m leading the event and conducting many interviews. I reflected on the many generations of heroes we have honored and my pride in our public servants grew. The 14-member team that put together this day of celebration was also a pleasure to work with. Our videographer Lawrence “Bud” Dillon deserves a special mention for the quality of his work.
One of my main activities was to collect the biographies of the winners and listen to their work as told by their colleagues and leaders who proposed the nomination. These positive and heartwarming stories often go unheard – not newsworthy! Instead, we are usually inundated with negative news. It was a refreshing experience for me to hear a different story and be moved by the emphasis on devotion to duty. I will not divulge the stories of harrowing rescues or the display of compassion; you will need to come to our ESD event on March 8 for this. But I guarantee it will give you a new perspective.
For me, when I think of my family members who have served in their respective service areas, I am impressed and grateful for what they have given to their city and their country, just as our honorees today have given so generously of themselves.
I am honored to be part of this event and to celebrate our rescue workers and this great city of San Francisco, a city of hope, cable cars, great culture, industry, parks and joy. Let’s all aim to work with each other to support our men and women on the front lines to make our great city of San Francisco shine.
Bob Hermann is the vice president of community service for the Rotary Club of San Francisco, which is the second oldest of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries around the world. He is co-chair, with Matt Madsen, of the annual 2022 Emergency Services Day luncheon. https://sfrotary.com/
Posted on February 24, 2022