August Will Pay For November

Title:  August Will Pay for November
By:  Aaron S. Van Allen
        Immediate Past President
        Rotary Club of Lynchburg-Morning – Lynchburg, VA
            We’ve all heard the same phrase from a parent, grandparents, boss, or elder close to us throughout life:  “you’re a member of the worst generation this country has ever seen.”  Whether you were listening to the “scandalous” music of Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash – or simply texting on your cell phone – we’ve all, at some point, worn the badge of “Worst Generation Member.”  While possibly a formality, or hyperbolic language, I’ll address my generation:  Millennials.
            Whatever your feelings toward Millennials, allow me the opportunity to offer one piece of advice pertinent to members of my generation:  we will pay, and good money at that, for an experience.  Past generations have paid for tangible items:  the white picket fence, the car, etc.  Not to say Millennials aren’t attracted to those items, but we want to experience life for intangible items.  We want to experience the engaging conversation of someone from another nation, going to a concert where you lose your voice, or tubing down the James River with your favorite adult beverage and getting sunburned to the point you mirror a lobster.  While these are quant examples, Millennials will trade the Audi A5 for the busted Toyota Forerunner if tales of sleeping in the truck next to the beach follow for years to come.  With that being said, what does this have to do with Rotary?
            August is Membership month with Rotary International – and with it comes the time to recruit Millennials looking for a home to serve their fellow men and women.  Furthermore – and you guessed it - they want to experience life with people sharing their same values of service.  Millennials recognize we live in a collective community forming a symbiotic circle; what impacts me directly impacts you.  Millennials don’t know about the opportunity of serving those for whom they deeply care – and that opportunity is Rotary.  Why?  Because we’ve been told we’re members of the worst generation in history – with our “FacePage” and cell phones.  Why would anyone be motivated to join a civic organization looking to serve society when society is demonizing their generation – of which Millennials have no control of that generational membership I might add?
            Once Millennials are exposed to the graciousness, humility, and kindness of Rotarians in the world – once they feel part of a family willing to stand up and take responsibility for those less fortunate in society and around the world – then they will most certainly pay for that experience.  Most importantly, they will pay to leave that legacy of service to future generations.  Recruit Millennials willing to engage themselves in the community and I guarantee the month of August will pay for November:  Foundation month.  Will August directly pay for November in one year, two years, or ten years?  Maybe not.  However, I guarantee that before that Rotarian leaves this earth, they will have left something for the Rotary Foundation allowing future generations to experience the same organization and serve they experienced:  Rotary.