Each year the Rotary Club of Longboat Key chooses a new president. This year, the gavel was passed to Jeff Driver. Having only joined a couple years ago, he's a relative newbie to the Rotary, but he had the "do-goodery" down long before. Driver sat down with the Longboat Observer to answer some question about the Rotary and his leadership plans over the next year.
When and why did you join Rotary?
"Over two years ago, Jack and Nancy Rozance, who we met through working with the Longboat Key Turtle Watch, suggested that my wife, Terri, and I consider membership with the Rotary Club of Longboat Key. Terri and I have had an ongoing intention to be involved in public and environmental health, wellness promotion, and service-oriented organizations. I was already familiar with Rotary International, and I have been involved in some of their key focus areas through my professional career and academic appointments, most recently at USF’s College of Public Health. The current Rotary Club of Longboat Key has a wonderful history of neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers uniting for “do-goodery” and creating positive change.
What is either your favorite or most rewarding act of volunteerism since joining?
Everything. When you give, you receive. So many great Rotary moments have already accumulated, including providing food and other resources to families in need, providing and reading books to children that they can then take home with them, working with other service groups such as Shelter Box and SmileTrain, and engaging with talented persons who visit with us as part of our exceptional guest speakers program. The speaker’s program features local town and county government officials and staff and persons working on important regional, national, and global initiatives. For example, response to the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable food and water sources, environmental conservation programs. scientific research programs regarding topics such as Alzheimer’s, space exploration, and the creation of sustainable green spaces, such as Robinson's Preserve in Manatee County.
What prompted your interest in the presidency?
Being inspired by past presidents and their exemplary commitment and contributions and being asked to serve in this role by my colleagues. It is a privilege to work with so many talented people.
What goals have you set for your term?
I have developed a strategic plan for 2022-23 that focuses on public wellness and environmental sustainability. We are exploring opportunities and activities in this regard such as health and fitness promotion, conservation efforts for Sarasota Bay and collaboration with other ongoing green initiatives, including “microforesting” methods which are efforts to bring flora and fauna into urban areas to combat climate change, and address other issues such as the prevention of non-point source run-off into waterways.
Our plan also emphasizes continuation of our previous successful initiates, for example Books for Kids and Literacy at Tuttle Elementary, support to the Children’s Guardian Fund, and groups such as Turning Points, hosting events such as the Longboat Key Hot Diggity Dog Parade on July 4, a November Veterans Day Event, and Adopt-a-Highway sponsorship on Gulf of Mexico Drive.
In addition, we are planning an exciting and educational Guest Speaker series and associated special events that focus on important local, regional, national, and global issues. Further, we intend to continue to collaborate with the town of Longboat Key, including our emergency responders, our local county governments, and other Rotary Clubs service organizations such as the LBK Paradise Center for Healthy Living, the Longboat Key Turtle Watch, our Chamber of Commerce and others.
Speak to a prospective member; why should they join?
Volunteering with Rotary and other organizations is an opportunity to help others and our planet, and in doing so, truly enrich your own life. If we are not giving, we are not fully living! Rotary also provides wonderful self-education opportunities, for example through our guest speaker’s program. We invite non-members, students, neighbors, and visitors to attend our meetings in person or via the web. Also, we enjoy having people participate in any of our projects. Just give it a try and see how the experience might inspire you.