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Rotarians share training, camaraderie
Six from here take part in state event
Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee and his wife, Binota, center, meet with with South Forsyth Rotarians Joanne Tolleson and Renee Welch, and Forsyth County Rotarian George Pirkle. - photo by For the Forsyth County News


Several Forsyth County Rotarians recently gathered with about 500 of their peers from across Georgia.

The six representatives from four Forsyth clubs took part in the 2011 Peach State President-Elect and President-Nominee Training Seminar, or PETS, from March 19-20 in Atlanta.

George Pirkle, who will become president-elect of the Rotary Club of Forsyth County in July, said the weekend included a number of training opportunities, covering a wide range of topics.

Among them: Service projects; club achievement; succession of leadership; technology and public relations; and ways to support the Rotary Foundation.

“I’m really glad I went,” Pirkle said. “I think the things I learned will make a huge difference.”

Robert Funk, who will become president of the Johns Creek Rotary Club in July, said he also enjoyed the seminars.

“The training was really good. The presenters were all very experienced,” Funk said. “There was a lot of experience and history there.

“The vast majority of the sessions gave you information like you knew nothing about Rotary, so there was a lot of background.”

Funk said he most enjoyed the sessions that provided a chance to share with all other president-elects of clubs from around the state.

“You got to hear what a lot of other clubs were going through and a lot of the programs and fundraisers and things they’ve tried,” Funk said. “It was like having a roundtable of executives giving you advice.”

He said all the Forsyth clubs had opportunities to work together, which he also found valuable.

“That helps us to build camaraderie together,” he said. “You get a lot more of that by being away from the typical business day with each other.”

Funk said the groups decided to begin a document that could be shared electronically with contact information of speakers.

“That’s one of things we sometimes struggle with is finding speakers for our meetings,” Funk said. “With this, we can see who other clubs had so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”

A highlight of the weekend for Pirkle was hearing from the president of Rotary International, Kaylan Banerjee, who introduced Rotary’s theme for 2011-12 — “Reach Within to Embrace Humanity.”

Banerjee, who is from Vapi, India, encouraged Rotarians “to start by reaching within to find the strength and love that we have, and then bringing that strength and love outward to share with others.”

In a statement, Banerjee noted that “nobody else is going to do it for us.”

“If we want there to be kindness in the world, we have to put it there,” he said.

Pirkle said Banerjee, who is the first Rotary International president to visit Atlanta in several years, was a pleasure to meet.

“He told some funny, funny stories, and just seemed like such a nice person,” Pirkle said.

The other local Rotarians who attended the weekend seminar were Joanne Tolleson and Renee Welch, both of the South Forsyth club; Scott Mason of the North Forsyth 400 club; and Taylor Rice, also of the Rotary Club of Forsyth County.