A Recap of Mid-Year Luncheon Program
By:  Nancy Hawes, District Treasurer, South Portland-Cape Elizabeth RC
The 127 District 7780 Rotarians and guests who registered for the Mid-Year Luncheon on January 21 were treated to the magic of hearing not just one but two leaders of the district’s initiatives tackling urgent issues of our day: substance use disorder and mental health. First up was District Governor-Elect Bob MacKenzie from the Kennebunk club and second was Kiley Wilkens-O’Brien of the SPCE club who chairs our mental health action group.
Bob spearheads our district’s Recovery Initiative. He reported on the International Assembly (training for District Governors-Elect) in Orlando which he had just attended. He offered a couple stories that confirmed for him the truth of next year’s theme: “The Magic of Rotary.” The “punchline” of one of the stories involved his being handed a Rotary magazine at random in one of the group exercises and discovering that it was the May 2019 issue which featured a story about our own district’s recovery efforts!!
Kiley Wilkens-O’Brien was our keynote speaker.  She chairs the district’s brand new chapter of RAGMHI (how’s that for an acronym – it stands for Rotary Action Group Mental Health Initiative). She spoke about mental health and made it very personal by speaking about her own mental health challenges as a teenager. One of the keys to her emerging from those challenges and recognizing her own self-worth was the president of a Rotary club in her hometown (in District 7790) encouraging her to apply to be a peace scholar. (It wasn’t feasible because Kiley had already planned an international exchange for herself through her college.) That encouragement began Kiley’s love of Rotary.
Our new RAGMHI chapter is called the Well-Wishers (playing on the connection to our Rotary roots and with the imagery and folklore behind wishing wells). Per Kiley, “the act of well-wishing grounds us in the notion that every human being has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Wishing well provides a way for anyone to help others.”  If you are interested in becoming involved in this initiative, you are invited to sign up or just ask questions at http://www.tinyurl.com/RotaryWellWishers.