Rotary guest speaker – Yass Valley Times Editor & Co-Director Jasmin Jones with Rotarian Membership Officer Alfred McArthy OAM, Lori Newling and Rotary Publication Coordinator Mark McRae

“YOU SHOULD JOIN ROTARY!” 

Yes, I’ll shout it from these pages or whisper it to you as a heartfelt observation next time we meet. If you hear it from me, it is the greatest compliment I can give you because I think so highly of both you and this organisation. 

Rotary is no different from other community-minded organisations right now. All need fresh membership blood to replenish the ranks and Rotary membership officer Alfred McArthy OAM is confidently beating the drum for candidates. 

Ask yourself ‘how can I serve my community and those less fortunate elsewhere in the world?” Joining organisations such as Rotary, Lions, SPIN, CWA, and Men’s Sheds would be an ideal vehicle to do so.

It was an honour to be invited as the guest speaker at Rotary’s monthly dinner on Tuesday to entertain and enlighten members of the birth of the Yass Valley Times, now four months old and starting to cut its teeth editorially.

I was there to talk about this paper, but as a journalist, I was also there to listen.

Members talked about their lives and their friendships founded through Rotary. An undercurrent of camaraderie buoyed the fundraising updates, fun games such as joker-poker, throwing coins in a jar for knowing quiz answers or song lyrics and toasting the incredible achievement as an international organisation which has rid the world of polio. I realised there are so many members of our community who would fit right in—people who should be Rotarians.

Sometimes the best speeches are the ones you plan and think about in your head but never actually write down. The brain is a funny thing, driven by ancient instincts most of the time if we dare to admit it. Adrenaline-filled to fight or flight- the mind has been honed to endlessly rehearse threats until a survival option is imagined. Modern life scenarios are given similar treatment even though, for example, a speech should not usually be cause for harm.

My brain was in “fight” mode for days in the lead up to last Tuesday’s dinner engagement at Yass Golf Club. In quiet moments (approximately three a day for an editor/mother of five and bathroom breaks don’t count!) and in all manner of places; the car, the walk to the chook yard and a moment of consciousness before sleep claimed me, my brain buzzed with information. What was my fear? When I faced it, I realised it was ‘not connecting with my audience.’ They were all my elders by many decades, and what did I really know about Rotarians? I knew they had their life together enough to turn up to a monthly meeting, to be involved in altruistic causes such as eradicating polio worldwide. I knew they give selflessly of their time to hold Australia Day breakfasts, sell raffle tickets to fund worthy local projects, coordinate community markets and create educational opportunities in Australia and overseas for our youth.

Tuesday arrived and my time was up. I had scribbled a speech starter- something about JK Rowling knowing her audience and wishing I had one of her characters, Hermione Granger’s time-turner charmed pendant to allow me to be in two places at once and achieve the level of preparation this group deserved from me. But as it turns out, looking your audience in the eye, telling your story from the heart without pretence is the best speech you can give. And what I took away was a message for you. 

If the drumbeat resonates-

find the time-

make a difference-

join Yass Rotary!

Jasmin Jones