Rotary visionary visits Los Alamos

-A A +A
By Gabriel Vasquez

The Los Alamos Rotary Club has been successful in achieving its mission of service above self, with an emphasis on serving the local youth.

This is according to Tom Lindsay, Gov. of Rotary District 5520, who stopped by Los Alamos Thursday as part of his tour of clubs throughout New Mexico and West Texas.

“The Los Alamos club keeps a balance between local and international service,” said Lindsay, who began his term as district governor July 1. “Locally, they support projects for the youth with scholarships. They’re involved with youth exchange and RYLA.”

The Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) rewards youths age 15-18 who demonstrate strong leadership abilities and strong moral fiber. In total, 176 teens throughout New Mexico and West Texas receive a full scholarship every year as a perk to being recognized by Rotary.

Internationally, Los Alamos Rotarians have been involved with an ongoing water supply and sanitation project since 2002, by providing funding and manpower to help build new pipelines in impoverished villages in Guatemala.

“There’s a balance between local and international service,” Lindsay said. “The Los Alamos Club is certainly an example of that.”

Lindsay said Rotary’s main focus lay in a number of different areas: Literacy, water management, health and hunger, fellowship, and the eradication of polio.

Locally, each Rotary Club is tasked with finding unique ways to contribute to their community, while keeping in mind the motto “Service Above Self.”

Lindsay, who has been a Rotarian since 1979, said he was inspired to be involved in public service at an early age.

“When I was in high school, they took me to a Rotary meeting,” he said. “They gave me a $50 scholarship, which in 1967 was a lot of money. As a waiter in Las Cruces working my way through school, Rotarians always gave me bigger tips. They’ve always been concerned about youth. That was a big motivation for me. When I became a professional and got the opportunity to join Rotary, I did.”

Lindsay, who attended Deming High School and is an NMSU graduate, owns a real estate business in Deming and works as a speech language pathologist with Deming Public Schools.

He said his relationship with Rotary has spurred life-long personal growth and allowed him to have an edge in the business world.

“There has been a growth in my decision making,” he said. “Not necessarily the logic of it, but making sure that it’s the right thing to do. You mature as you go into your personal and professional life. Sometimes the right thing may be to make a decision that has more risk in it, which has to do with the people you’re serving or working for. That’s something that all businesses should ask: Is this the right thing?”

On his key chain, Lindsay keeps a set of questions referred to by Rotarians as “The Four Way Test,” a constant reminder to make the right choice when evaluating resolutions to everyday problems.

The questions are as follows:

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?

Lindsay said it was almost impossible to fail in any area of life if one first considers the answers to these questions before taking action.

He said he doesn’t mind devoting most his time to his new occupation, and considers it a privilege that he can serve the area he grew up in and serve as an advocate to local clubs.

“The first half of the year as district governor you travel and visit all the clubs, which is tough, because our district is geographically very large,” he said. “You devote three-fourths of your time to the occupation as far as active participation, and sometimes 100 percent of your mental time.”

The Rotary 5520 District covers a land area of some 280,000 square miles, and is bordered on the north by Colorado, on the south by Mexico, on the west by Arizona, and the east by Texas. Its origins are in El Paso, Texas, the 119th club, established in 1914. District 5520 now represents 61 clubs with more than 3,500 members and is still growing.

“This is an organization that is respected worldwide,” Lindsay said. “When you say ‘Rotary,’ people know that they provide great service. It’s more than just putting money into something; Rotarians are actually out there doing service. It’s not a political cause.”

Most recently, Lindsay has applied his experience as a speech therapist to partner with Rotarians in Mexico to help develop a program there for children with special education needs. He said as governor, he will also make it a priority to improve literacy rates around the state.

“I encourage everyone to talk to their children, young children in particular,” he said. “The more words a child has heard before they start kindergarten the better chance they have to learn to read. Literacy is one of the cornerstones of our society, in our world, and for learning and developing thought.”

More information on Lindsay and District 5520 is available at http://rotary5520.org.