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Rotary event to recruit, teach community about group's mission

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The point of Rotary International is making a difference, not being recognized.

But efforts to reach more people usually require promotion of some sort, and reaching more people is exactly what the present and future presidents of Rotary District 7390 want to do.

So on Saturday, May 18, the service organization for businesspeople will hold a free open house for the public at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg, 1150 Camp Hill Bypass, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Many of the district's 47 clubs will be present with displays showing their good deeds here and abroad and providing information on how to get involved.

Dennis M. Zubler, whose term as Rotary district governor is ending, said Hurricane Sandy provided a good example. Zubler got in touch with a Rotary district governor in New Jersey a few days after the storm, then let the clubs here know that there was an opportunity.

"Within hours, I got an email from the president of the Carlisle club saying if no one else has offered to lead, we'll take the lead," Zubler said. "They reached out to all the clubs in the district, and about a week later there was the first tractor-trailer load of supplies going to Toms River, N.J. Rotarians there met the truck, unloaded it and developed a system to distribute supplies to those in need. About a week later the next truck went, and about a week later the third one. Then, about two weeks ago, two tractor-trailer loads of furniture went from Carlisle."

Closer to home, the Rotary Club of Harrisburg recently awarded more than $35,000 in project grants to six Harrisburg youth-focused organizations. Farther afield, Rotary assembles teams to provide eye care in Ecuador, hosts exchange students from Pakistan, stamps out polio and sponsors fellowships in peace studies.

The district will be celebrating its centennial during incoming governor Hector Richard Ortiz's tenure. Ortiz shares Zubler's desire to involve the whole community in Rotary, "especially Generation Y, because they're eager to serve and collaborate in the community but they don't find a way."

Membership in the district has been relatively flat recently but ticked up slightly at the end of last year, Zubler said.

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