[caption id="attachment_43862" align="alignright" width="198" caption="Rob Weinberg"][/caption]Check “Visit 200 Rotary clubs around the world” off Gordon Shurtleff’s bucket list.Okay, it’s not a big deal to non-Rotarians, but in his world -- 1.25 million global community leaders dedicated to service above self -- this is big stuff.The former owner of Liberty Staffing was proclaimed by former Mayor Sharon Wright for helping thousands find temp jobs, aiding dozens of community services, sitting on the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce board, and funding a scholarship at Sonoma State for women re-entering the workforce.“Over the decades I’ve pursued ideas for making our planet a better place through a volunteer organization my wife (and fellow Rotarian) Penny and I call home,” he says. Shurtleff was a Santa Rosa Rotarian for 24 years.To the uninformed, Rotary International appears as a bunch of middle-aged white guys who gather weekly for lunch. Primarily based on finding ways to give back to the community, Rotary actually maximizes member participation by networking and helping develop relationships.
[caption id="attachment_43863" align="alignleft" width="198" caption="Gordon Shurtleff"][/caption]While anyone considering Facebook as the ultimate in friendship might think the organization outdated, Mr. Shurtleff knows better. “Rotary is where the world turns for help in disease prevention, improving literacy, clean water, and training tomorrow’s leaders about world peace. We’re interested in ideas and don’t care about your politics, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation.”He continues; “Rotarians are some of my closest friends. It’s where community service can start at age 12. We help local families without money for the holidays. We build homes for people living in cardboard shacks. And we get seniors without transportation to medical appointments.”“Rotary’s efforts since 1985 has reduced polio worldwide from ruining 350,000 lives annually to just 2,000 cases each year.”“And we’re going to beat it soon!” Gordon says keenly, “I’m just proud that Penny and I are helping.”For Gordon, it is 2,100 meetings. 42 years of perfect attendance. Travel to 10 states and four countries. $45,000 in personal donations. Gordon’s been impacted as much as he’s participated.“You get out of Rotary what you put into it,” he says with a smile. This perhaps explains why he helps improve membership recruitment, fundraising, publicity, and visibility at every club he’s ever visited.“Gordon is probably the most energetic, excited Rotarian I’ve ever met. He eats, breathes, and lives Rotary in every imaginable way, energizing every room he walks into” says Will Haymaker, past-president of the Santa Rosa Rotary Club.Haymaker’s words are echoed by Shurtleff’s other former Santa Rosa lunch buddies. “Three words describe him: generous, enthusiastic, and authentic,” says Sam Saunders. Adds Steve Olson, “His generosity, knowledge and enthusiasm for everything Rotary has infected thousands with the true spirit of community service. Gordon’s the first guy in line to volunteer money, time, and encourage participation on projects of every size.”“His enthusiasm for Rotary is nothing short of spectacular” comments Yale Abrams.Rotarians are expected to make up meetings missed at their regular clubs and to visit other clubs when traveling. This extensive networking opportunity is widely considered a major benefit of belonging to an international service group like Rotary.Even among the most active, though, Gordon is a rare bird.Additionally, while it’s largely unknown to outsiders, one of the more colorful traditions of many Rotary clubs is the exchange with visitors of small banners – each customized to suit the personality of the club it represents.And because of Gordon’s longevity and dedication to Rotary, he’s become the repository of the banners from the 200+ clubs he’s attended.Not coincidentally, the Shurtleffs’ La Jolla home bears an overwhelming resemblance to the Museum of American History.Complementing flags, historical newspapers, campaign buttons, and autographed photos are an antique (child-sized) car sporting the Coca-Cola logo and picture frames featuring Marilyn Monroe’s famous Playboy photo shoot. They even have a coming attraction poster for an Elvis tour and an authentic Fifties diner set up in their den, with everything in place but the girl on roller skates.“Gordon is a true Rotarian with a heart of gold,” says Siranoush Tokatlian, whose Burbank club was his 200th stop. “With his red jacket, big grin, generous nature, and penchant for always encouraging people, Gordon is a hard guy to miss,” observes longtime friend Susan Zachensky-Walthall. Adds Olson “If I had to pick an ambassador for Rotary, Gordie would be my choice.”Asked what comes next, Gordon responds “Well, I just got back from the Tustin/Santa Ana Club after a visit to LA. They’re a great Rotary Club. And it struck me that 250 is a nice round number…”Look for Gordon Shurtleff to appear soon at a Rotary club near you....Rob Weinberg is with The MarketBuilding Team in Rancho Bernardo, 858-673-9960, firstname.lastname@example.org.