My name is Damien Walker. I am the President of Salisbury City Rotaract Club for the year 2018/19, Rotary Be The Inspiration.
I am going to start off by providing some background about me and what Rotaract means to me.
I am 22 years old and currently, in the last few months of my Bachelor of Education, I major in Food & Textile Technologies and Religious Education. I joined Rotaract at the beginning of my degree, I was young and not really sure of my ability or who I was. I can say I was definitely eager I tried to beat out Past President Chris Mark for the role of Charter president.
It was through Rotaract that I discovered myself, broaden my personal outlook and developing into the person standing here with you today. Almost a shadow of the person who started 5 years back. I can, as a result, I now value experience in roles and value hard work more than ever.
An important connection that I made a couple years back through my RYLA experience and through rotary was that I am in charge of defining my own life. I can be my authentic self and live my truth and I know that this was important for me to then be able to help people. It is through rotary that I have gained an appreciation for diversity and for difference and acceptance of all people. I am passionate about people understanding themselves and those around them. I stand here as a teacher, volunteer, friend, a Christian and an out and proud gay man. I love education and believe in the creation of successful young people through life skills education.
Now you know some of who I am – let’s see what me and my fantastic members are going to look to achieve this year.
Salisbury City Rotaract Club has experienced rapid positive change in the last few years, a result of strong leaders and dedicated members. Changes that mean we have a willing member base who are excited to make change and develop themselves, BUT work is still to be completed to ensure the club’s survival.
Our challenge this year issued by Rotary International President Barry Rassin is to…
“BE THE INSPIRATION”.
We are asked to be the inspiration for positive transformational impact, leading with courage, passion, creativity, optimism, accountability and transparency. Coming as we are and giving what we can.
We are to do this by:
- Living by our Rotary motto of “service above self”.
- Actioning with our words and deeds to create lasting change.
- Making Rotary and Rotaract Stronger.
This year we are called to be the inspiration and Salisbury City Rotaract will Be Inspired by our Diversity and Promote Acceptance.
Why are we doing this?
Questions such as ‘where do I fit in society?’ are common for our young people growing up and are questions that can cause great stress and anxiety. It is seen also that our society doesn’t always value diversity or difference, with individuals required to fit into neat little boxes. Society is in fact and it is my strongest belief, that we strengthened by diversity and can do more when people from all backgrounds come together. Society needs to grow in acceptance of the many diversities out there, Rotary needs to continue to open its doors and has the potential to be a true leader in this regard.
Salisbury City Rotaract Club is one club with one vision, called to action and to develop and lead within our community. Our members, ‘come as they are and give what they can’. Our club is diverse in culture, in nationality, in age, in professions, in our ability, in gender and in sexuality.
Our members like the local City of Salisbury area are diverse in many ways, and this is a highly valued aspect within our club. Our diversity has been one of our biggest strengths since formation, with members bringing their own unique perspectives.
So, I mentioned that we have been called to “Be The Inspiration” and create a wave of change. Salisbury City Rotaract will this year, use its diversity to inspire and will further explore just what’s behind it. We will look to promote the term acceptance of diversity, increase the diversity of our club and raise awareness within society. We will specifically look at, support and raise awareness of three diverse groups, ones that aren’t always so visible or noticeable, but also ones that are needed within our club.
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual+ (LBGTQIA+) Community
We have outlined some intentions for this. At the end of the year we will have:
- Fundraises to enable income for the running of our successful year.
- Completed 2 projects surrounding our focus groups. Raising money, awareness and completing hands-on volunteering.
- We would have connected with diverse groups of people through our community interaction.
- Understood and inspired each other, through our sharing of diversities and stories. Bring back our behind the badge.
- Worked together to strengthen our club culture in a positive and empowering way.
- Increased diverse representation within our membership. We will have increased our membership by 7-10 people.
- We will sponsor 1 RYLA Awardee.
- Engaged in 4 professional development topics that relate to diversity and broadened our knowledge. Topics like What is the LGBT Community?, What is a disability?, Inclusion, How to cook and how to vote.
- Successfully supported, collaborated and engaged with the Group 4 Rotary Clubs and the Rotaract Clubs within District 9500.
- Engage with wider community at all stages of our events and projects.
You can see we have set the bar high and have a lot to work out and present to you and our community in the coming year. We know it won’t be easy by I can tell you It is made easy by the people that support.
Our Club has elected the following people to board roles. Can I ask each to come forward and receive their badge of office. Please hold your applause until the end.
- Vice President, Bruce Chapman
- Treasurer & Immediate Past President, Joshua Lay
- Secretary, Jordan Fisher
- Group 4 Representative, Emily Harman
- District Club Representative, Maddison Kennewell
- Board Member, Alexandra Wood
- Member Coordinator, PP Christopher Mark
I look forward to working with each of them and our club members throughout this year.
So Here is to the experience and the inspiration that the following Rotary Year will be. I leave at this point with the fact the Salisbury City Rotaract believes in the power of all people to live and to contribute to our community: whether they are black, brown, male, female, gay, straight, queer, trans, atheist, immigrant, we want you and we’ll respect you.
I look forward to working with all of you for the good of our club, district, community and the world.
As we start our journey, I myself offer some inspiration. It is something I choose to live my life by: ‘’It’s my life, I am defining myself & not accepting anyone else’s definition;’’. This is something that I hope whilst we are being inspired by diversity and acceptance in our club, we can learn to accept ourselves which is fundamentally key before we can help, accept or support anyone else. Thank you!