A Rotary Thanksgiving
By Tom Sturiale
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a refrain exchanged among millions of Americans on this truly all-American holiday. The tradition began with the pilgrims at the end of their second year in Plymouth abd continued sporadically and unofficially for the next 240 years until Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November 1863 as a national holiday. He was urged by Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of a women’s magazine, who had strived for more 25 years to have Thanksgiving declared a national holiday. Even then, it had to be declared each and every year and continued in that manner until President Franklin Roosevelt finally declared it a permanent national holiday in 1941. 
Of course, we know why the pilgrims were thankful. The half that survived that first terrible winter were thankful to be alive and thankful for the invaluable help of the Wampanoag, who taught them how to survive. 
What do we have to be thankful for? In the 395 years since the first Thanksgiving, we have even more to be thankful for. Our country has been blessed with incredible bounty and wealth. Our free institutions and our democratic form of government insure our continued growth and development. Millions have been lifted out of poverty, our health has improved and our life expectancy continues to expand. Individually, many of us have stories of incredible good fortune, whether in terms of family, health, wealth, happiness and general well-being. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!  We have so much to be thankful for.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for millions of Americans. There continues to be so many of our fellow Americans who are down and out - the downtrodden, the sick, the elderly, the needy, the hungry, the homeless and so many more. There are millions who are out of work and in need of help. Rotarians throughout our district and country provide support through our efforts at food pantries and hundreds of other worthwhile community projects. 
But is it enough? Can we do more? These are questions in my mind when I hear of the reluctance, the difficulty and the inability of many Rotary clubs to add more members.  Sure, membership is a tough job. But it should be at the top of our club agendas despite the difficulties. Yes, there are issues regarding dues, fees, meals, venues, attracting a more diverse group, retaining members, fundraisers and more. But isn’t that what we are supposed to be good at - identifying problems and solving them? More members will allow us to increase our fundraising, develop new projects and provide more support for many of the needy in our communities. Let’s quit talking about it and get on with the job.
As Rotarians in this time of thanksgiving and during the oncoming holiday season, we should reflect on our collective good fortune and resolve to do more to help our fellow citizens. Growing our clubs with good Rotarians will help us accomplish that.
Please let me know any ideas, comments and stories about Membership you would like to share. E-mail me at tsturiale36@gmail.com.
Tom Sturiale is vice chair of District 7910's Membership Committee.
Here are the Membership Corner articles that were posted during October: