By Rowan McClean

Sam Pennisi joined Rotary Essendon North when it was chartered in 1976. Despite having a young family and working in real estate, he still found time to attend meetings, escaping the stress of 80-hour weeks. He inherited his high work ethic from his father who “just could not retire” and even though he is now in his 80s, is still working three days a week.

With a strong community mindset and being a past member of the Jaycees, Sam felt that Rotary would be good for him both personally and professionally. The Club had attracted members from various businesses around the area, many of whom were in their 30s and early 40s. Since then, the big change for the club has been the ageing of its members.

Sam believes that young people today use the long hours associated with work, having a young family and financial commitments as reasons they can’t join Rotary:  “We had all of that,” he recalled. “During the year I became the second Club President, there was an addition to our own young family. Even so, there was still a commitment to help the local community.”

The inclusion of women was another change readily adopted by the club, and Sam feels that perhaps Rotary should look to recruit groups of people with similar interests, and age groups.

Sam has also seen how Rotary has relaxed formality. It used to be that only one classification discipline could be represented in membership, and, you had to be invited to join!

Projects of the club have included Christmas tree sales and sausage sizzles and together with other local Rotary clubs, they have introduced a successful Men’s Shed as well as holding an Australia Day breakfast.

Sam is an avid reader who admits to being reluctant to lend his books to friends. Biographies, sporting books and international politics are his key fields of interest.

Given we all strive for balance in our lives, it’s wonderful to see that Sam seems to have really achieved it.