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President’s Award

By KD REEP | Photography by SARAH ODEN

Rotary District 6150 | Sydney Gilbert

For more than a century, the global network of Rotary has cultivated transformative change in communities. This commitment and vision is steadfast; Rotary District 6150 District Governor Sydney O’Quin Gilbert guarantees this worldwide organization continues to evolve to address the needs of our complicated world. “Rotary isn’t your grandfather’s club anymore,” she jests. “Today, Rotary is made up of people from all different backgrounds, genders, ages and interests. The one thing that we all have in common is a love of our communities; that is what makes us effective.”

Sydney should know. Her father, Roger O’Quin, participated in the North Little Rock Riverside Rotary Club. She realized at an early age the shared responsibility of members as an opportunity to unite + take action with more than 1 million people. When she joined Roger as a financial adviser in The O’Quin Group, she decided to become a Rotary member as well. “I wanted to get more involved because I wanted to share my blessings. I became passionate about the potential of Rotary to make positive change in the communities we share.”

Her participation in North Little Rock Riverside Rotary Club presented other leadership opportunities at Rotary District 6150. Comprised of more than 1,600 members across 36 clubs and 28 counties in Arkansas, District 6150 sets annual goals and objectives. Sydney travels the state communicating with and connecting members to this collective effort. This year, Arkansas Imagination Library and Rotary Foundation are top priorities. “Literacy is one of the issues Rotary is working to improve. While the Arkansas Imagination Library is in every county in Arkansas, there are counties that are struggling to enroll children. Those are the counties that need literacy services most,” she elaborates. “By partnering with that organization, District 6150 hopes to bring about more children with more books for better reading comprehension in our state.”

“The Rotary Foundation helps members to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace by improving health, providing quality education, improving the environment and alleviating poverty,” Sydney continues. “Of the money raised by Arkansas Rotarians, half comes back to benefit our communities.” This makes truly sustainable projects possible. Throughout the years the organization has addressed not only literacy, but also the welfare and economy for all Arkansans. Sydney believes every person has the ability to create positive change. “Ask yourself, ‘What can I give today?’ Then reach out to a Rotary member in your community so, together, you can find a way to serve.”

Inviting Arkansas

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