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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Low membership, language are challenges for Rotary

Rotary International District 2750 Gov. Takamoto Sakuma, third right, receives a Rotary Club of Saipan banner from the club's officials during a meeting at the Hyatt Regency Saipan on Tuesday. Also in photo are, from left to right, Rotary Club of Saipan secretary Richard Cody, vice president Laila Boyer, president Pete Shilling, translator Sonomi Sasayama, and assistant district governor Michael Perrin. (Clarissa V. David) Besides geographical distance, low membership and language barrier serve as the biggest challenges for Rotary Clubs within Rotary International District 2750, according to district governor Takamoto Sakuma.

Sakuma, accompanied by assistant district governor Michael Perrin and translator Sonomi Sasayama, arrived on island Tuesday for an official visit with the Rotary Club of Saipan.

Sakuma, who joined the Rotary Club of Tokyo-Meguro in 1977, said in his remarks at Tuesday’s meeting at the Hyatt Regency Saipan that even Rotary Clubs in Japan decreased its number of members from 130,000 to 90,000, a 30-percent reduction.

The low numbers have been noted by Rotary International, he added.

Sakuma, who runs a plastic molding company in Meguro, underscored the importance of increasing club membership, which is why the district considers it one of its goals for 2012-2013.

“Please do your best to meet the challenge of increasing our membership,” he told Rotarians, adding that a club’s membership helps strengthen the group and gives it vitality.

Because District 2750 consists of Rotary Clubs in half of Tokyo, Guam, Saipan, and Federated States of Micronesia, language also becomes a barrier as it poses a challenge in the flow of information from the district down to member clubs, said Sakuma.

Sakuma said he was “very impressed” with the Rotary Club of Saipan upon discovering that the organization is very active in the community.

Another main goal for the district, Sakuma said, is to encourage more support for the Rotary Foundation, saying it is vital in meeting the foundation’s goals, including the eradication of polio. He said that there are two ways to support the Rotary Foundation: through service activities or direct donation.

During the meeting, Sakuma also shared a recorded message from Rotary International president Sakuji Tanaka, who emphasized the 2012-2013 theme, “Peace Through Service.”

Tanaka said that while peace has many meaning, it is understood by many and Rotary Clubs help people achieve it through their community activities that provide healthcare, food, and education, among others.

“Rotary helps us build peace by reducing the case of conflict and building bridges in relationships,” he said.

Tanaka challenged Rotarians to focus their energy on the peace thrust, saying that prevention and resolution of conflicts can be done through services that promote education, economic, and community development.

He pointed out that the success of each club depends on its members.

“Now is the time for all of you to plan your growth. Choose goals that are ambitious. Commit to Rotary goals and service,” added Tanaka.

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