The popular terms “new normal” and “unprecedented” might now be clichés this far into the Covid-19 situation, but they are still relevant.  I certainly was not envisioning starting out my tenure as President of our Longwood Rotary Club through cyber meetings and potentially restrictive face to face meetings in the future.  But we will have to accept the “new normal” for quite a while.  This should not prevent us from continuing to serve our community in whatever ways possible, and to also help one another.  

My primary goal this year will continue to focus on our four key signature projects based on the community needs assessment conducted by our club in 2019-20; Education, Housing, Transportation and, One Service Community. 

I have in mind some additional initiatives for the year ahead.

-To talk in depth about our fund-raising efforts for the 2020-21 year. We plan on a gala for 2021, scheduled for March 13th, but we’ll also discuss other ways to increase funds in our foundation to help our community.   

-To ensure that our club members are feeling valued and that membership within the club is worthwhile and important for them to maintain.  We do not want to lose members who are beginning to disconnect for various reasons.  We cannot lose sight of those members who need our collective support and assistance as many still struggle with the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.

-To reflect and put into practice Rotary’s core values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  As a global network that strives to build a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change, Rotary values diversity and celebrates the contributions of people of all backgrounds, regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, color, abilities, religion, socioeconomic status, culture, sex sexual orientation or gender identity.  Longwood Rotary as a local entity of the global network, will need to focus on how we ensure that these core values are in the forefront of how we interact and function as a club.

In conclusion, I would like us all to reflect on the many people around us who have been celebrated as hero’s during the crisis we have all endured.  So many individuals who have served in capacities that have put them medically at risk but who have dedicated themselves to a service of helping others.  

I would like to end my remarks by reading a letter written by a young man to students at his mother’s high school during the Iraq war about his view on being called a hero.  His name was Corporal Stephen McGowan who served us all in Iraq until his death in Iraq on March 4, 2005.  

“Some people have taken to calling us heroes.  I personally don’t think I am a hero.  I have chosen this life.  What about the civilians who charged back into the burning Twin Towers?  Or the civilians who downed the plane and saved who knows how many lives?  These people were untrained and unprepared for their battle.  These people are heroes in my book.  I’m just an ordinary guy who took an extraordinary opportunity.  I appreciate your support and thank you for it, but I ask a favor of you as well.  Be heroic in your own lives.  Keep the United States of America something worth preserving and fighting for.  Go out and make your mark on life.  Make it beautiful and memorable.  Do great things with the gifts you have been given and be good to each other.  Earn these sacrifices we’ve made.  God bless you all.”  Corporal Stephen McGowan, former Recon Scout for the United States Army.

Dear friends, may these words stay with you as you continue to work through the “new normal” that has affected all our lives, appreciate and value the heroes in our lives and work collectively  to serve those in our community who need our support and assurance of hope.

Thank you once again for giving me this opportunity to serve as President of the Longwood Rotary Club for the 2020-21 year. To my fellow Rotarians who have enthusiastically agreed to serve on the Board of Directors and other key positions within our Club, my thanks and I look forward to working with you in making a difference in our community.


Vicki Gehrt

President 2020 - 2021

Longwood Rotary Club