Like many young professionals, my early career was focused on career development and advancement. As my family grew, a new emphasis was added to my life. But I was still a work-a-holic.

Fast forward, I had a very successful 32-year career with a Fortune 500 company. We lived is the suburbs of Chicago and enjoyed the Bears and the Cubs.

I have a wonderful family. My wife, Barb, and I have been married 42 years. I have two adult children. My daughter teaches high school and middle school in Cairo, Egypt. My son and daughter-in-law live in Burbank and have wonderful careers. He’s data manager and she’s a radiologist.

Sounds perfect? Not quite. I had no involvement with my community: local or international.

When I retired, we decided to move to California to escape the cold weather and be closer to our children. (Our daughter lived in Las Vegas at the time, while our son was in North Hollywood.) I was at the dentist in Carlsbad for a routine checkup and he asked “Griff, what are you going to do with your time now that you’re retired?” I replied that I would like to get involved with my community. Little did I know that Tod Bowman, the dentist, was a Past President of the Rotary Club of Carlsbad.

Tod invited me to attend several meetings at the club and I found a warm, welcoming, fun group of people, men and women. They seemed very active in the local community and the motto “Service Above Self” resonated within the club. I thought I would give it a try.

I was quickly pulled into club activities that gave me the opportunity to use my skills and experience from my career and also to meet many like-minded leaders in the community. I found a network of people that loved to play golf as I did, and we began a weekly golf outing. My acquaintances soon became my friends.

My roles evolved in the club. Each change gave me the opportunity to become more involved and more engaged.

Local community? Check. International? I heard and read that Rotary has a global reach and is in over 130 countries. Interesting…but how did I fit into that picture?

I attended several Rotary District training seminars with presentations about the great work being done as a result of The Rotary Foundation Global Grants, including

· The eradication of Polio

· Clean water where there was none

· Healthcare for women and children

· Schools and supplies for orphans in Africa

· Surgeries for children with cleft palates in Mexico and Costa Rica

I quickly realized that my donations to The Rotary Foundation were being used to “do good” around the world.

Now I consider my Rotary Club not only my friends, but also my extended family. I am thankful that I can support not only my local community but people in need around the world.

That’s why I joined Rotary. And that’s why I stay.