One of the benefits of joining a local Rotary club is the ability to build personal and professional relationships with others in your area. But to join an organization that will allow you to develop relationships throughout the world, is a whole new experience.
New Rotarians Bobby Barnes and Mike Weinold are doing just that…building relationships here and abroad. Later this month, these gentlemen will pack their bags and fly to Santiago, Dominican Republic for an experience that is sure to change their lives…a Rotary Service Project. District 7710 will once again send 40 Rotarians to this poor island nation to build latrines in some of the rural areas outside of Santiago. This year, they will be installing sanitation and filtration systems along with the latrines in the hopes of reducing the diseases in the area that result from poor sanitation and water.
How did they get to this point of traveling to a foreign country to serve? Bobby and Mike have each came to this point in their lives in unique fashion, and their stories make up the core of Rotary membership.
Mike Weinold first visited the Rotary Club of North Raleigh in January of last year and joined a month later. He was ‘looking for a civic club with a committed membership base and a welcoming feel”, he recounts of his joining this organization. After visiting several different club meetings, he felt most “at home” in this club and was impressed with the number of activities and programs with this club.
His first memorable experience with the club occurred at the Annual Installation dinner in June of that year where the new officers were installed at the club. “It was a different setting than the typical meeting and…it was also the first event my wife was able to attend”. He looks forward to participating in more Rotary events in 2014 to include the District Conference in Asheville and of course, the Dominican Republic trip.
“This club has become a part of what I do and who I am”, responded Mike when asked why he continues to be a part of this club, “I look forward to the Wednesday meetings…and I enjoy catching up with the other members”. He went on to explain that his activities within the club are “motivating” and it’s important to him that he can contribute now and in the future are important to him.
Currently, he serves as the Webmaster and newsletter editor, while also serving on the District 7710 PR Committee. The first task he took on at the club level was the Adopt-a-Highway coordinator. “He has done a wonderful job with the website, newsletter and the roadside cleanup projects since joining the club”, said President Steven Nelson, “I believe it is important to engage our new members and he is a prime example of a newer member who had become engaged in the club”.
Bobby Barnes first visited the club in September of 2013 and was inducted in October. He attended two meetings and a social before deciding to put in his application for membership. He immediately got involved by participating in the Fall roadside cleanup, prior to being inducted, and participated in the Stop Hunger Now food packing project in early November.
Bobby recently moved her from Greenville, SC in August and looked at Rotary as a “way to meet some new and very interesting people”, commented Bobby on his decision to investigate Rotary. “After having met several members and seeing the emphasis Rotary puts on humanitarianism and volunteerism, I decided Rotary was a very good fit”.
Though the impact on his business has been minimal in such a short period of time, he has met with several members on business matters. The personal level has been “fantastic”, having the chance to “meet members I most likely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise”.
To date, his most memorable Rotary experience was the Stop Hunger Now food packing at the NCST campus in November. “In two shifts, 100,000 meals were packed during the event”, commented Bobby, “it was amazing”. He does expect the trip to the Dominican Republic will be just a memorable for him.
He enjoys getting together for lunch on a weekly basis with the other members of the club, but is most “impressed with the level of car and concern Rotary, as an organization, has for others, both on a local and international level”, responded Bobby. As of yet, he has not held any official positions with the club, but looks forward to the opportunities to serve in the coming years. “Dr. Smallwood (current Director of International Service and Past President) has strongly suggested I consider the International Service chair”, commented Bobby.
“I look for some strong and powerful things from Bobby as he learns more about Rotary and how Rotary can be a powerful tool for positive change in the world”, commented President Nelson, “It is always the goal of the president to grow the club with new and dedicated members who join for service, not just business”.
They each took their own paths to North Raleigh, but each path came by way of our neighbors to the south, South Carolina. Mike moved here in February of 2012, where Bobby moved here in August 2013.
Mike is originally from Exeter, California and is a graduate of CSU Sacramento where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has always been an avid cyclist and began his competitive cycling in the junior ranks at 14. He spent the 1996 season racing in Europe. “It was an eye-opening experience the ultimately convinced me to return to college and quit fooling around”, recounts Mike, “Although, I did enjoy a final couple years of racing in the collegiate circuit”.
He spent the first 10 years of his career designing energy management systems for large facilities before moving into the software industry. He currently works for Itron, Inc., managing software development projects in the Meter Data Management line of products for utility companies. He does have a bit of entrepreneurial bug, as he has owned two small businesses and some commercial properties.
He has six children from a previous marriage, who live with their mother in South Carolina. He and his wife, Jennifer, enjoy playing tennis and cycling. They recently purchased a house in Shannon Woods in North Raleigh and “love the area”.
Bobby is originally from Simpsonville, SC and attended Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. He “caught the travel bug” after studying overseas while in college and working for American Airlines. This led him to volunteer for the Peace Corps where he lived in Zamiin-Uud, Mongolia from 2001-03. He taught English to students and teachers while he was there. Currently, he is the Country Head for ATC Solutions, a tax and accounting firm where he focuses on business development and operations.
He earned a Master’s degree in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), which is a part of the University of London. The focus on the degree was on international development, non-profit and charity work, a field he would like to transition into eventually.
He returned to Mongolia in 2007 to work for a corporate services company, but after “enduring my fair share of winters at -30C, I decided to return to South Carolina in 2011”, Bobby remembers.
His extended family is scattered throughout the south. He is currently singe, “although my mom has made it abundantly clear she fully expects grandchildren”, he informed us, “As an only child, it’s difficult to pass the buck on that one”.
“As president of this amazing club, I am pleased to have each of these gentlemen in this club”, said Nelson, “It is just a sign of the type of members and people who are drawn to Rotary and this club in particular”.