Friday, June 16, 2017

What Does Rotary Mean To You? Felipe Vidal's Story

Felipe Vidal, IT extraordinaire and our club President for the 2017-2018 Rotary Year, shares his thoughts on what Rotary means to him!

Felipe describes himself as a "geek through and through", he comes at everything from a technical perspective, like finding out how the bits and pieces work and is a "Big Sky" thinker. He also describes himself as a person who isn't super social, but sociable. Felipe has been happily married for the past 23 years and is a father to three daughters!

Felipe Vidal is, without a doubt, a man of boundless energy and imagination, the 2017-2018 Rotary year should be an exciting one with him at the helm!

RCSM, "Felipe, who or what brought you to Rotary?"

Felipe, "That's an easy one, it was Asaad Masoud, Sail Boat Captain, I had chartered his boat and we got to talking about computers, one day, after I fixed his computer, Asaad said, 'Come visit me at Rotary!' And he kept inviting me back and back, until I became a member, 6 months later."

RCSM, "What inspired you to join? What kept you coming back and back?"

Felipe, "Rotary's mission, that was the core thing, because there was a reason to BE in Rotary, not just being a part of a club. And, I just found the club to be full of incredibly nice, self effacing people, who were serious, but didn't take themselves too seriously.

And it was basically really the first time I got this sense of belonging somewhere, even though I was the youngest person at the time, and I felt odd, because it was not my norm. But, it got me out of an uncomfortable place of just not socializing as much as I should, with a bunch of people who made me feel at home and that's why I'm here 11 years later."

RCSM, "What is your favorite Rotary memory?"

Felipe, after a pause,"That one is kind of hard...then again..."

RCSM, "Too many memories to choose from?"

Felipe, "It's not just that, I have a kind of relativistic memory which basically means I don't recall things with accuracy. I tend to be prompted, I remember things when other things happen. It's part of the reason I got into photography, it helps me remember.

I don't know, I guess it's more a feeling. I certainly feel like the first time I went out on these homeless ventures, it was memorable because it was an eye opener. I also appreciate learning about the fact of the concept of humanizing people, where that engagement creates an opportunity for people to get out of their situation, but it's mostly a feeling.

It's being in a place where I see people, like Gabriel, ( Gabriel De Armas Jr. a Past President and a moving, inspirational speaker) where I sit here... I had one of the moments right now! I felt like I'm so bloody grateful just to associate with someone like that! This place is like my drug, let's put it that way, I can't name any specific instance where I injected myself with Rotary, but every time I do something with it, I like, 'Wow! showing up was so worthwhile!' Even when it doesn't go great, because I was there, I supported my friends and they supported me, that's just the way I feel about these things. I keep trying to think of something specific, I bet if I flip my photos I would be prompted!"

RCSM, "What would you like to see Rotary do going forward?"

Felipe, "Well for our club at least, I really like to see us get more engaged in our area of service mostly in the city of South Miami. I want us become so well known that all the merchants and the members of the local government will come to us whenever they want to solve a problem in the community. Where they say, 'We're working on this, but Rotary is going to help us make it happen!'

We're a long way from that, but I firmly believe, that's what it's going to make our club valuable in our community. And, it's going to create, then, the ability for us to project elsewhere to other countries because the network we build in conjunction with the officials, merchants and all of that stuff, will create leverage to do bigger things than we can do today. That's what I look forward to in the next three or four years, just to get us to that point and I think that will be a game changer! Want 50 people in this club? That's how it's going to happen!

When those merchants say, 'Who are those Rotary guys? They did this, that and whatever, I should go join them!' We want a nice mix, the common guy, the merchants and the government people really working together, so it's not elitist and, I think that kind of diversity is what really makes us kick butt!"

RCSM, "Thank you Felipe!"

Interview by Jeff McNabb

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