On Wednesday, April 15th, 2020, The Orem Rotary Club hosted U. S. Senator from Utah, Mitt Romney, for their weekly luncheon.
Rotary International is “a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.” More than 35,000+ Rotary International clubs globally work together to: 1) Promote peace; 2) Fight disease; 3) Provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; 4) Save mothers and children; 5) Support education; and 6) Grow local economies.
Orem Rotary is one such club, located in northern Utah. With a long history of community outreach, service, and humanitarian efforts, Orem Rotary is a staple of community engagement in the area. Orem Rotary also assists in the efforts of Utah Valley University Rotaract, a partner in this event. “Rotaract clubs bring together people ages 18-30 to exchange ideas with leaders in the community, develop leadership and professional skills, and have fun through service. In communities worldwide, Rotary and Rotaract members work side by side to take action through service”. Utah Valley University Rotaract extended the invitation to Senator Romney, as well as planned the logistics of the meeting. Senator Romney was happy to accept UVU Rotaract’s invitation to speak at the Orem Rotary club’s weekly luncheon.
Due to the current environment, social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the luncheon was held virtually, and Senator Romney participated via Zoom call, as did the other club members. He expressed his appreciation and excitement for the opportunity to gather with Rotarians from across Utah county. Rotarians from the Orem club, Provo club, Lehi club, as well as others attended the virtual luncheon. Clark Merkley, Orem Rotary Club President, moderated the event.
After receiving the floor, Senator Romney began to address various concerns regarding the current pandemic, a topic that many of the attending Rotarians expressed interest in. Among many things, Senator Romney expressed his appreciation for the efforts shown by the public through enduring the pandemic, “I know people are really suffering. But people are hunkering down and facing it with as positive of an attitude as they possibly can”.
Senator Romney continued his comments by addressing the critical role of NGOs during this time of crisis. Senator Romney commented that the ability of organizations, such as Rotary, to quickly identify those in need, organize, and provide the necessary relief was something that government could not compete with. He congratulated Rotary for its effectiveness in global service, especially in the local communities.
With the current pandemic taking its toll on the local economies, Senator Romney discussed the urgent need for communities to reach out to local businesses and business owners who may be feeling afraid and isolated. He urged those with business experience to share advice on how to weather these conditions with those who are struggling. Senator Romney also took the time to explain some of the government programs that have begun as a result of the pandemic. Rotarians joining the event asked follow-up questions regarding this topic.
In closing, Senator Romney left a simple message to the Rotarians. The message was for everyone to strive to aid those in their immediate surroundings. With so many people becoming overwhelmed with the expansive, global concerns resulting from the pandemic, many are losing heart. To this Senator Romney encouraged those attending that, if everyone would place their efforts on those things that are close to them, then it would make a difference.
Orem Rotary and Utah Valley University Rotaract were grateful for the time that Senator Romney gave. As an organization that seeks to draw humanity closer, Rotary is always looking for opportunities to work with government leaders for the betterment of our communities. Utah Valley University Rotaract was also grateful for the kindness and speed to which Senator Romney’s senate office accepted the speaking invitation.
Kyle Warren, President, UVU Rotaract