District 6440 Governor Suzanne Gibson

By Suzanne Gibson, governor of District 6440 (northern Illinois, USA)

For many of us, our Rotary family is an important part of our lives. These friendships connect us to our communities and the world and provide avenues of soul-enriching service.

These uncertain times caused by the coronavirus pandemic challenge us to be innovative and adaptable. In District 6440 (Illinois), all our clubs have canceled in-person meetings, following the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the need for social distancing. But that does not mean we have to give up on regular fellowship opportunities. Several of our clubs have already met this week virtually using Zoom.

To make it easier for more of our clubs to meet online, we are underwriting the cost of a Zoom Pro license ($120 for the first year with the Rotary discount) to each club. We are holding two Introduction to Zoom sessions to help members became familiar with the online meeting platform. And we are encouraging every club to create a Virtual Meeting Coordinator, someone with good technical skills, who can be enthused about virtual meetings and have a desire to help members of the club become proficient at it. (Clubs will be required to appoint this position to take advantage of our offer to underwrite a Zoom account.)

The Virtual Meeting Coordinator will serve these functions:

  • Establish their club’s Zoom Pro account
  • Coordinate Zoom training for their club
  • Coordinate scheduling their Zoom license for use by club committees and other needs
  • Serve as the club meeting technical host to manage aspects like connectivity and screen sharing
  • Interface with the district’s Virtual Meeting Team to learn about best practices and receive advance training

Finally, we are holding optional Zoom meetings for our presidents and presidents-elect to give them an opportunity to ask questions, seek advice, and share action plans.

Rotarians are resourceful people who use their talents to lead in their communities. We hope that our example will give guidance to other districts in maintaining Rotary fellowship and service in these trying times. Indeed, many districts have already adopted guidelines for their clubs.

Our best wishes are with Rotarians everywhere as we collectively rise to this challenge and show why we are People of Action.