Service Above Self

By Dr Jerry Agasar, Committee Chair of the Newtown Rotary club
Spring 2012 InGear

The 2010 Newtown Rotary Club Collection

The 2010 Newtown Rotary Club Collection

What a great marriage Pedals for Progress (P4P) and the Newtown Rotary Club has been. Our relationship started back in 2003 when the club was looking to do more service projects in the community, instead of just having fundraisers and donating the money to a particular group. We had become comfortable raising money and being generous with our allocations to various community organizations, but we wanted to become more active in service projects. Our president at the time received a flyer from a South Jersey club, which had run a successful bike collection and asked me to see what the club could do. Having been a 20-year veteran of Rotary, I had experience with other projects and knew that if I surrounded myself with a committed team and we created energy behind the project we should do okay. But I really had no idea what to expect.

For those who are not familiar with The Rotary Club, it is first an international service organization. Basically, we are local clubs that are connected globally. The motto of Rotary International is “Service Above Self.” It’s all about giving back to your community, locally and beyond.

The 2011 Newtown Rotary Club Collection

The 2011 Newtown Rotary Club Collection

In our first collection, we received 128 bicycles, which was great for the people in Central America who received them. But it was also a really positive experience for the Rotarians, creating an energy and nice buzz with our members. The P4P project inspired both young and more mature members and brought them together. Our members also connected to the area students from the Interact Club, the high school version of Rotary, from Council Rock High School North. They assisted young and not-so-young Rotarians in breaking down the bicycles to prepare them for shipment overseas.

After our initial success, I didn’t understand how we could go back the very next year in the same community and ask for more bike donations. During the second collection, we received 170 bicycles. The third and fourth years we collected over 300 bikes. P4P had to make two trips. It was amazing. Our club members were brought together in service, connecting to each other and the Interact students. But more importantly we helped many people internationally.

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