It’s official. I’ve been pinned! This past week I joined the Saco Bay Rotary Club as their newest and youngest member.
In case you don’t know, Rotary is an international service organization that brings together business and professional leaders to build goodwill, provide community service and empower members to reach the highest level of ethical standards in their personal lives and vocations.
There are more than 34,000 clubs and 1.2 million members across the country and around the world. Since 1979, Rotary International has also worked to eradicate polio. By 2012, only three countries were plagued with this virus that is down from a whopping 125 countries in 1988.
Rotary has always had a special place in my life, having grown up in a Rotarian family. This is where I credit my passion for public service. Both of my parents were president and secretary of their Rotary Club when I was younger. I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old, but every week I attended meetings and helped out on service projects, including Operation Christmas Child, packing boxes of resources for service men and women fighting overseas, organizing pancake breakfasts for local charities, and even attending the Rotary International Conference, shaking hands with its president, Richard King.
Several thank yous go out to people who have supported me throughout the years in gearing up for this moment in joining the organization. Sen. Linda Valentino and her husband Curt Scamman for getting me involved in Rotary and to Israel Collins, John and Pam Gallo, Chris Jacques, Dru Laduke, Ted Gauthier, Greg Cloutier and Dennis Robillard to name a few. From helping build a Young School playground with fellow Rotarians, working the phones during their annual TV auction, reading to Jameson School students as part of Read Across America with Nancy Lee Kelley, and participating in their Walk for Peace, I feel like I’ve been a member all this time and now I’m coming home.
Rotary’s mission of “Service Above Self” is more than just an organizational catch phrase to me, it’s a lifestyle. I live it every day and hope that more adopt it as their mantra. Our community, state, nation and world would be a better place for it.
Justin Chenette is serving his second term as state representative for Saco District 15. Outside the Legislature, he is owner of Chenette Media LLC, a multimedia public relations company, and is the president/CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Follow updates at www.justinchenette.com, Facebook.com/JustinChenette, and Twitter.com/ JustinChenette.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco