“There is nothing at all separating us from the people we help,” he said. “We are all the same.”
One time in the Philippines Tanaka and his wife were asked to help pass out soup at a school Rotary built for the street children there.
“Suddenly, the street was full of hungry children,” he said. “Their hands reached out for the soup.”
The small soup bowls were the size of coffee cups. Soon all of the soup was gone. One boy licked every bit of soup out of the cup.
Tanaka said the boy wanted more soup, needed more soup, but it was gone.
“Through our Rotary Foundation, we all have the power to do what I wanted to do that day — call the boy back” and feed him.
Tanaka said we can feed the world — together.
Rotary is a humanitarian network that tackles hunger, poverty, and the need for education at home and abroad through a network of empowering giving that helps people be a part of the solution in many cases.
Friday night, Tanaka and Rotary International President-elect Ron Burton were both in Norman, both at the foundation dinner. It was a rare and special event.
“We don’t travel together,” Burton said during his introduction of his friend, Tanaka. He said the President and President-elect would normally only be together at an international event. The two have known each other for years, however, and have served together on boards and event committees.
“This guy only talks when he has something to say,” Burton said of Tanaka. “When he does talk, you’d better listen. This is a gentleman dedicated to peace.”
Burton will take the presidential reins in July. His 2013-14 slogan will be, “Engage Rotary, Change Lives.”