Our speaker and most distinguished visiting Rotarians on this day were our District 5330 Governor Melanie Rice from the Rotary Club of Norco who was accompanied by her husband Larry Rice from the Rotary Club of Lake Elsinore.
 
Melanie Rice was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, graduated with a Masters from CSUF, taught high school English at Sunny Hills High School, was an Assistant Principal at Rubidoux High School and Principal at Rialto Junior High School.  Looking for a different challenge, Melanie opened a State Farm Insurance Agency in 1985 which she currently manages.
 
In 1987 Melanie was invited to join Rotary as the first women member in a local Rotary club (that shall go nameless).  Unfortunately for Rotary, prior to her attending, the member who had invited her to their meeting had to rescind the invitation due to “threats from the other club members”!  It wasn’t until 2002 that Melanie finally reconsidered joining Rotary and did so at the Rotary Club of Norco where she is a past president and current member.  And now, she indicated with a smile, she is the District Governor of that same Club that was too short sighted to have allowed her entry 37 years ago! 
 
Having attended 29 District Governor’s visits to the Rotary Club of La Quinta I can share with you all that this was a truly different DG presentation.  In the past each DG would extoll the virtues of Rotary, share Rotary’s accomplishments, encourage contributions to the Foundation and share the need (and sometimes recruitment techniques) for new members.  Melanie’s approach was refreshingly different.  It was much more personal.  Melanie shared with us that she is a colon cancer survivor of 30 years and that she still suffers from certain ailments that do not allow her to participate in international programs and projects that require travelling outside of the United States.  She stated, “That because of this I never really felt like a real Rotarian, like the ones who could travel to India and personally deliver the polio vaccine to children”.  She shared with us about her work with Olive Crest, the Galilee Center in Mecca, CA. and the virtues of having a Rotary heart… which she defines as, “someone who wants to give”.  Melanie gave several examples of how there were a few people that came into her life and in doing so allowed her the opportunity to lead a better life.  She called these people angels.  This inspired her and continues to inspire her to help others less fortunate to lead a better life… for her to be their angel whenever possible.  What she didn’t have to say was that Rotary gives all of us the opportunity each and every day to be someone’s angel whether it is in our own backyard or several thousand miles away in another country.  Rotary is our vehicle that allows us to make a difference in our world and in the lives of others.
 
Thank you District Governor Melanie for your continued Service above Self and for leading by example.  You are an inspiration to us all.
 
Also, joining our 10 visiting Rotarians from Sweden were three local Rotarians, Ladd Seeking from the Colton Rotary Club (who was doing all the driving), Mary Towne from the Yucca Valley/High Desert Rotary Club (the hosting club in the High Desert) and Derek Moore from the E-Club World Peace Rotary Club (designated Friendship Exchange tour guide).