Ron D. Burton


President 2013-14

October 2013

In Rotary, October is the month we set aside to remind ourselves of our second Avenue of Service: vocational service. While some Rotarians call this the "forgotten" area of service, I would disagree: In fact, vocational service is the avenue through which we serve so often, we don't always recognize it as service.

Vocational service has its roots in the second object of Rotary, which encourages all Rotarians to hold high ethical standards in our business affairs and our professions, to recognize all useful occupations as worthy of respect, and to dignify work as an opportunity to serve society.

In short, the idea of vocational service is that our jobs, in themselves, are a way of serving society. Whether we are serving customers, teaching students, or treating patients, whether we're involved in commerce, research, the media, or any one of countless other fields – we take pride in doing our work with competence and integrity. Every occupation fills a need, and by doing our work well, we are contributing to our communities and our society.

The role of vocational service in the club is important, even if it isn't always prominent. By maintaining high standards individually, we earn a reputation that we share collectively. By valuing all occupations equally and by maintaining a classification system in our clubs, we ensure that our clubs reflect our communities – and can serve them well. A Rotary club of all lawyers wouldn't be capable of nearly as much as one that also had teachers, engineers, business owners, and dentists; in Rotary, our diversity is our strength. That diversity is an advantage not only to our service but to our members: It gives us all a valuable way to find the connections and opportunities that help us in our own careers.

That aspect of membership is as old as Rotary. Paul Harris himself wrote often of the business advantages of Rotary membership, believing, as I do, that being a Rotarian means a person holds a certain set of values that will make him or her a good person to do business with. Today, with the world more connected than ever, Rotary membership is an honor that we should be proud to share.