Irwin Rotary President Shares Blessings

Article excerpt

Two things almost kept Bill Merchant from getting involved with the Rotary Club of Norwin.

An attorney, Merchant wasn't sure he'd have the time to devote to the club and he didn't know if he could make a weekly meeting.

His friend David Balmert persisted in encouraging Merchant to get involved.

"I turned him down several times," said Merchant, who lives just outside Irwin in Hempfield Township. "He was so persistent and kept asking."

So Merchant finally joined the group in 2002, and he's never regretted that decision.

"I had known about the good work of Rotary and the good service they did," said Merchant, who was also devoted to other service organizations, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg. Most recently he has been co-chairing the Bishop's Strategic Planning Committee.

Five years into his commitment with Rotary, Merchant is leading the group as its president.

In his installation remarks, Merchant expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve as president and offered his vision for leading the club with respect, humility and optimism.

"Rotary is an avenue for business and professional people to come together, enjoy fellowship and do good by getting outside of themselves and serving," Merchant said.

Merchant said this year's international theme "Rotary Shares" fits well with his vision.

"I think it's so appropriate for the focus I want to emphasize for Rotary," said Merchant, adding he plans to highlight generosity and service, which he said are two long-standing traditions in the Norwin Rotary.

"Our goal is to add love," he said.

Merchant describes his fellow Rotarians as "people who have been blessed with lots of gifts who understand that a life fulfilled isn't keeping those gifts to yourself, it's sharing them."

"What's really beautiful is you can share it with the world," Merchant said.

Examples of this include the work members of Rotary have done to support the following projects:

= They arranged and helped finance a poison control center in the Ukraine.

= They arranged the transfer of a heart catheterization lab used at St. Francis Hospital and sent it to the Ukraine.

= They collected and sent hundreds of stuffed animals to poverty- stricken children in India through the "Gift a Smile" program. They joined with the Rotary Club of Rajkot Midtown, India, and Federal Express to donate and ship stuffed animals to the children. …