Rotarians’ Community Poem

When I was a little girl in the Philippines, I would often see posters about The Four-Way Test, which is a test used by Rotarians as a moral code for personal and business relationships. Just as poetry is built on the idea of what it means to be human, The Four Way Test is driven by Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self.

The Rotary Club in the Philippines, established in 1919, was the first club to open doors to the Rotary in Asia. At the time, the Philippines was a U.S. territory. Rotary’s historic fight to end polio actually began with its first polio immunization project in Manila in 1979. In a way, Rotary’s community service and various ways of promoting goodwill and a better understanding of the world, is not unlike the work that many poets do. Rotary provides opportunities. Poetry offers possibilities. Both can inspire people to action.

In April and May 2022, I was invited by the Redwood Shores Rotary Club and Burlingame Rotary Club to do a presentation on poetry and community. My presentation included one of my favorite poetry activities which is curating a community poem using lines/phrases/words from various participants, inspired by a prompt (In this case, “Sunflowers are growing somewhere, like hope”).

Like Hope

By Rotarians Fritz Brauner, Michael Brownrigg, John Delaney, Joseph DiMaio, Cheryl A. Fama, Mike Heffernan, Michael Kimball, Jennifer Pence, Jim Shypertt, and Sheryl Young. Curated by San Mateo County Poet Laureate Aileen Cassinetto. (Prompt: “Sunflowers are growing somewhere, like hope…”)

Sunflowers are growing somewhere,

Like hope, like summer’s children.

More than ever, we need a little poetry in our lives,

hope for a future that is kinder, and a world where 

there is respect for science, 

respect for nature, 

respect for each other.

I hope we let history open our eyes and hearts, 

not close our minds and spirits to be better.

I hope for the status of poets during the ancient days of Persia. 

Also, the Greeks.

I hope to have a renewed appreciation for poetry.

I hope that someday everyone in the world will have access 

to the same resources.

I hope for a world where everyone reaches their full potential. 

I hope the adverbs don’t stay out late and miss their chance 

to shampoo the Mugwump.

I hope that we can elect honest politicians that act like true patriots.

I hope that we can remember to treat each other 

the way we would like to be treated.

I hope that all of us Rotarians might behave the Rotary 4-Way Test, 

ever true and fair, good-willed, beneficial.

I hope that one day soon the people of Ukraine 

will again live in peace and freedom.

I was told sunflowers are growing somewhere.

More than ever, we need this poetry in our lives.

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