Posted by Joel Keefer
Pictured L-R; President-Elect Cheri Krull, Area Governor Irene Strychalski, District Governor Melisa Schrock and President Katie Geise
 
A typical District Governor's speech was not going to happen today! That was one of the first things current (and very energetic) District Governor Melisa Schrock made clear at our meeting this afternoon. We were delighted to have her visit, and were blessed with a rousing presentation. 
 
Melisa was introduced by Irene Strychalski, who is our Area Governor and from the Fredonia area. 
 
First and foremost, Melisa made sure to say that our club is doing amazing things.
 
Melisa has taken several mission trips for Rotary; to Guatemala, Haiti, and to Africa (Sierra Leone). Her trip to Sierra Leone was what she spoke on primarily this day.
 
Back in 2013, Melisa's Rotary Club donated $5,000 for a water well in a village in Sierra Leone. She, along with another member of the club, went to the village to see where the work would be done. Melisa was very excited to go, but what she witnessed when she arrived was hard to describe. In fact, her first thoughts when she landed were that they would not be able to make any sort of difference in this place.
 
Sierra Leone was impoverished, dirty, hot, and "gross". That's what Melisa thought when she arrived. And the fact that she would be there for 20 days only made matters worse. She was miserable, angry, and had a very bad attitude about the whole thing. 
 
As part of the trip, Melisa and her fellow club member brought along water filters. They went into villages with a questionnaire to find out who needed clean water the most. Many of the villages they visited had no schools, which was also very sad. And in most cases the water source for the village was nearly 2 miles away, and was used for drinking water, bathing, and etc. 
 
Then, Melisa and her group rolled into a village with a different "vibe". They had water at the school, and had 2 schools in fact. Kids at the school had access to the water, along with food and education. And that also led to more children surviving past the age of 5 in this village. The whole experience opened Melisa's eyes, and a new attitude fell upon her.
 
In a village where they demonstrated the water filters they had brought along, Melisa also witnessed an older woman take the first sip of clean water, and that too opened her eyes further and made her realize that Rotary is Making A Difference!
 
The importance of water is boundless, and after visiting Sierra Leone again 3 years later, Melisa was assured of that. 
 
Melisa wrapped up her presentation by asking us to ask ourselves Why we are Rotarians. Everyone has a different reason for being in Rotary, and How we do Rotary. We also need to teach others Why we are members as well. 
 
Rotary is a business, Melisa said, and as such, we need to market ourselves and let groups know we can help. Rotary is our product as well as membership too. And what folks like the Troxell's are doing around the world is also something we need to highlight.
 
A lot has changed since Rotary began, and the next generation of Rotarians is looking for engagement, and we need to encourage them to continually think of Why they are a Rotarian. 
 
In closing, Melisa quoted an African proverb regarding all of our efforts: "Little Drops of Water Make a Great Ocean". 
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