EAGLE COUNTY — Elizabeth Keay took office in July as the new president of Vail Rotary Club, following Rich Segal.
In 2015, Vail Rotary will celebrate the milestone of its 45th year of community involvement in the Vail Valley. When asked about the challenges for her year-long term as president, Keay said that she wants to increase member involvement in both local and international Rotary projects and to increase membership.
“Commitment to service is the heart of Rotary,” Keay said. “I want to find out the interests of all of our members so that we can initiate projects that will ignite their enthusiasm and generate commitment.”
Keay joined Vail Rotary Club in 2007 soon after she became a full-time resident of Vail. She had been a summer resident since 1992 and gradually “over the years the summers got longer and longer.” She is passionate about education and for several years has directed the Vail Rotary’s Dictionary Distribution program. Through this program, a worldwide project of Rotary International, dictionaries are given to all third graders in the Vail Valley.
‘Enthusiastic and Eager’
“Distributing the dictionaries is a great pleasure,” Keay said. “When we arrive, the decibels increase measurably and the children are extremely enthusiastic and eager.”
Sometimes people question the value of a printed dictionary in the Internet age, but Keay said that the students are all thrilled to have their own book to take home.
“The enthusiasm continues,” she said, recalling that recently she met a foreign exchange student who still treasures the dictionary she received as a child. The dictionaries are published especially for Rotary and contain many illustrations as well as word definitions. Each dictionary is personalized with the child’s name and on the frontal page there is a label with “The Rotary Four Way Test”: “Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
As part of the presentation ceremony the Rotary, volunteers recite this pledge with the students, as all Rotary clubs do at the beginning of their meetings.
“Then, we ask them to look up the word ‘beneficial’ and there is always a race to see whose hand will go up first,” Keay said.
Keay also participates in the Rotary Scholarship program, helping to select the high school seniors who are awarded Rotary scholarships. Service to the community is one of the requirements for the applicants, and Keay noted that recent applicants have been outstanding.
“In terms of motivation, contribution, eagerness and enthusiasm, the high quality of the student applicants is amazing,” Keay said. “The decisions are always difficult.”
This year the Vail and Edwards Rotary clubs awarded scholarships to 21 high school seniors.
Keay has travelled twice to Rotary International Conventions, to New Orleans and to Lisbon, Portugal. Being in the presence of 40,000 Rotarians dazzled and inspired her with a renewed sense of awe for the accomplishments of Rotary clubs worldwide.
“What one person could not consider alone, Rotary clubs can do by working together,” she said.
“What one person could not consider alone, Rotary clubs can do by working together.”
President of Vail Rotary Club