By Tim Ryan

Today marked an extraordinary day at the Rotary Club of Newport News as we kicked off the new Rotary year, etching another milestone in our illustrious journey since 1916. As we gathered under the banner of Rotary 23-24, uniting and taking action to create lasting change, it was an opportune moment to celebrate our collective achievements and look forward to a future blooming with possibility.

Our meeting held the added weight of history and was graced by the presence of District Governor Rudy Garcia, who Assistant Governor Davetta Rinehart kindly introduced. Rudy conducted the installation of our new board of directors and our newest president, Deloris Thomas. This pivotal event marked a changing of the guard and reinforced our commitment to shared values and camaraderie. Furthermore, the installation of Deloris held historical significance as she is the first African American president in our club’s storied history.

Deloris’ inaugural address was nothing short of inspirational. She thanked our immediate past president Tim Ryan for his remarkable work in enhancing the club’s public image, harnessing the power of technology, and steering the club through an eventful year. She also acknowledged the countless members who have previously taken the mantle of leadership, applauding their commitment to the club and Rotary International.

During her address, Deloris shed light on the diverse and inclusive journey the club has embarked on. With the average age of our members at 58 and the club’s average age at 60, diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just buzzwords but a pressing mandate for our club, mainly as we work towards mirroring the rich tapestry that is the city of Newport News.

Emphasizing our commitment to a better future, Deloris outlined the goals for her tenure as president, including membership expansion and strategic plan implementation. One significant goal highlighted was leveraging modern technological tools for seamless event payments, indicating a shift towards digital convenience.

Among other worthy causes, she also brought attention to the prevalent food desert in our city, pledging to collaborate with organizations like the Food Bank and Thrive to alleviate hunger. Our club will also reserve the fourth Tuesday of every month for service or social events, fostering a sense of togetherness and fun among members.

As we navigate the challenges ahead, we do so with clear leadership and guidance. From Terri Ryan leading membership initiatives to Laura Colvin helming service projects, we have a solid team ready to amplify our impact.

In the spirit of our new beginning, Deloris extended a heartfelt invitation for more members to join service and Rotary Foundation committees. Indeed, our year’s success will hinge on every member’s involvement.

In closing, Deloris reiterated her commitment to engagement and transparency, emphasizing that a vibrant, action-oriented club is built not just on service but on the bonds of community and camaraderie. In her words, “Let’s create hope in Newport News.”

With the dawn of this new Rotary year, we’re not just celebrating a change in leadership; we’re celebrating progress, embracing possibilities, and reaffirming our commitment to creating lasting change. Here’s to a year of triumphs, innovation, and shared success.

Congratulations to Deloris and the new Board of Directors!