November 2018:
Meaningful programs are essential for robust membership.  While compelling videos and other promotional material may help promote the concept of Rotary, nothing can substitute for meaningful projects: Rotary’s clout in the international stage comes in large part because of our International programs such as End Polio Now project, not sleek commercials.  We need to take that message to heart at our Club and District level too.
But Clubs don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  Rotary International has set up and runs great, irresistible programs which have stood the test of time.  Such programs include the Youth Exchange Scholarship Program (YESP), Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), Vocational Training Team (VTT), and Friendship Exchange Program, for example.  Other programs such as Peace Fellowship Awards are, of course, relatively recent but highly popular and impactful in multiple ways.
Each of these programs takes a LOT of time and effort by a lot of committed people, to succeed.  Each program is - and realistically speaking, can be - undertaken only by the District due to the scale, time, scope, and detailed know-how.  For example, the YESP - probably the most involved undertaking by any District - takes sustained commitment and effort.  There's no better long-term program to open up new vistas for, and advance the prospects of, High School students.  Over 9,000 students participate in it internationally every year.  So also, RYLA, while a little less involved, is still a very demanding responsibility.  Organizing, planning, coordinating, and implementing a program that would be a hit with teenagers - who rave about it for years to come - takes a David DelMonte commitment.  Friendship Exchange, which enables Rotarians to establish personal relationships across oceans and develop a deeper understanding of another culture, is yet another example.
Each such Program is of tremendous attraction to different, and sometimes surprising, segments of the population.  For example, Judy Root, a member of the YESP Committee in Ohio, never had any kids, so she became a host mom instead. She and her husband have hosted 22 inbound students, whom they consider their children. Thanks to YESP, they have such children and grandchildren all over the world, and have attended weddings and family functions in different countries. Their Turkish daughter, Sema, ended up coming back to college in the U.S.., where she met, and subsequently married, an American boy.  She joined Rotary and became Inbound Chair for YESP; she’s now having her first baby (another grandchild for Judy and Steve!).  Judy has many stories like this, and it all started with a Rotarian that moved to her town and told her to start the YESP program in her Club. Now, Judy is known as the "Host Family Coach" for that District!  So in addition to outgoing students excited by the prospect of spending time (or even schooling) abroad with peers, even those involved in hosting - the inbound host parents, volunteers organizing events, and indeed, everyone involved, could find the Program irresistible and become committed Rotarians:  the membership incentive.
So too with RYLA. Teenagers find it exciting and form strong bond with their peers, in addition to developing leadership skills while having fun.  Our RYLA enables all Clubs to send 10th grade students with leadership potential to a 3-day, fully supervised, Leadership Weekend held at Alpine, NJ Boy Scout Camp on March 22, 23 & 24, 2019.  RYLARIANS have life changing experiences and positive memories that will be carried for a lifetime. In fact, returning RYLA alumni are the biggest promoters of RYLA!  Teachers, parents and everyone interested in youth development - in addition to the 10th graders themselves - find this compelling:  the membership incentive.
Likewise with Friendship Exchange.  The opportunity to visit a foreign land, and see that culture through the eyes of a local, is invaluable.  You don’t stay in hotels and see the place through the antiseptic lenses prepared for commercial tourists: Stay with real people there in their real homes!  The locals guide you about what’s best about their place, and what would be worthwhile for you to experience.  No language issues, no logistical issues, save a bundle in hotel expenses, even initiate worthwhile international projects!  And form personal relationship across the globe!  Very attractive:  the membership incentive.
The District Leadership Team has spent a lot of time and resources in bringing these opportunities to you and your Club.  Avail of them, promote them, and increase your membership!
Rtn. Krishnan Chittur
District Governor 
District 7230
(Westchester, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Bermuda)
Read the full November 2018 District Newsletter