Joe Ruskey wants Rotarians to tell the story of Rotary, of how the international organization is esteemed worldwide and makes a difference in so many lives.
“Every single day, the thing I tell clubs to do, you’re doing,” he said to the Waunakee Rotary Club at its Sept. 21 meeting. “You’re giving updates of fundraisers; you’re giving updates of who you give money to and why.”
Joe is the Rotary District 6250 Governor. He noted that in the past 10 years, the club has recruited 1.2 million member; unfortunately, it has lot that many members over the same span. Some say they feel the club isn’t relevant, Joe said.
“We know that’s not true; we’re simply not engaging them,” he added.
Rotary is the oldest and the largest of service groups and is represented in about 200 different counties. Rotary sits on the highest council at the United Nations and is respected around the world. Rotary has written a conflict resolution curriculum that is used in six universities worldwide.
In 1985, a Rotarian said the United States has a cure for polio and can stop it worldwide. At that time, there were 350,000 cases.  Today there are only 10, Joe said.
In 2003, Bill and Melinda Gates gave a $100 million matching grant, and Rotary International exceeded the match. When it went up to $1.5 billion, Rotary rose to that challenge, too and has just $300 million left to raise.
Joe said Rotary is one of MSNBC’s top three charities, with nearly all of its funds raised going to projects.
He got involved in Rotary when he moved from Chicago to Prairie du Chien to take care of his father. He had owned an IT business and was considering opening an office in Prairie du Chien. When he asked who to talk to about it, he was told to attend a Rotary meeting.
Joe said he wondered how the old men who watered the flowers around the town would help in this regard.
“I had no clue what Rotary did,” he said.
But when he went to the meeting, he sat next to the mayor and talked to city council members and businessmen.
Joe later became club president, and reluctantly attended the PET meeting for president elects.
“It really opened my eyes to what Rotary was,” he said. “I didn’t know there were water project around the world.”
He encouraged other members to serve as club president.
“It was the best year of I ever had,” he said, adding it was a valuable education.
Joe then served as assistant governor and worked on a project to provide bathrooms in one country so post adolescent girls could go to school. That project eventually garnered $2 million dollars to not only install bathrooms but provide clean water.
“Rotary is about making a difference,” Joe said. “Every single one of you is making a difference.”
Joe encouraged the club to attend the TriCon Convention at Wisconsin Dells with the three Wisconsin districts attending May 3-6.
Other news:
–Marcus and Laura Helber of the Philippines attended on a friendship exchange. They are raising funds to provide electricity to a school there.
–The club has raised $550 toward hurricane relief for a $1,000 match from the foundation, President Jim Kattner said.
–Ken Pesik said the club sold $900 worth of wine and about $25,000 worth of beer during the weekend’s Wauktoberfest, along with $550 in Kettle Corn. Tips of $1,800 will go toward hurricane relief. He and Jim thanked everyone for their help.  
Guests: Curt LeCaptain, guest of Tom Kennedy.
Visiting Rotarians: Markus and Nora Helber, Antique, Philippines.  
Birthdays: Sept. 30, John Cullen; Oct. 1, Tasha Chambers.
Anniversaries: Sept. 28, Peggy and Bob Acker-Farber; Sept. 29, Alan and Marie Langeteig; Oct. 1, Sara and Paul Whitley.
Greeters: Sept. 28, Alan Langeteig and Drew Lawrence; Oct. 5, David May and Mark McFarland; Oct. 12, James Meyer and Danny Miller.