Janet W. Holland
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Janet W. Holland

Governor District 5790 - 1995-1996
Probably the earliest memories of my life were of Rotary. Of course, I didn't realize what Rotary was at the time. I remember going to a lot of meetings with my parents, where there were a lot of grown-ups, and a lot of the time I was told to behave myself Those memories stayed with me, because it was hard for me to be good! I was four years old when my father, W. Lee Woodward, was Rotary Governor of District 124 (now Districts 5750 and 5790) in Oklahoma. Those must have been the early years I remember. Whenever we traveled, the first thing my mother did was pull the Official Directory out from under the seat of the car where it always stayed. It was a challenge to see how many Rotary clubs my father could attend on each trip. We would speed up, slow down and go out of our way to make a meeting. I didn't realize we were different. I thought all families traveled that way.

As I was growing up, frequent visitors in our home were men who had been district governors about the same time as my father. Some of them served as RI directors, and one, J. Edd McLaughlin, was RI president in 1960-61. It seemed as though I had always been a Rotarian with so much of my life touched by Rotary. I didn't hesitate when I was asked to join and I was eager to become involved.

In 1989, I took Hugh Archer's theme "Enjoy Rotary" to heart by joining the international Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians. Those ISFR ski weeks introduced me to Rotarians beyond the district. Two years later, the fellowship decided that we needed to grow and get more Rotarians around the world involved in the ISFR. Because we own a hardware store, they decided that I must know marketing and public relations? so the task of publicity and membership fell to me. Imagine the excitement in our hardware store in rural Texas when I had phone calls from Rotarians in Turkey, New Zealand, and Italy, all in a single day! This was my introduction to the international part of Rotary international. From 1993-95, as president of the Skiing Fellowship, I was the first woman to head an international fellowship. That honor was overshadowed by the honor and pleasure of meeting with then RI President Bob Barth in his Evanston office. At that time I presented to him two official pins of the skiing fellowship making President and Mrs. Barth honorary members of ISFR.

I was surprised when Rotarians began to ask if I would agree to be nominated for district governor. My response was that Rotarians around the district probably didn't know me well enough. They convinced me that they all m. I had attended a district conference on crutches, a result of my first ski fellowship week. The conference was held on two floors of a resort with no elevator!

My location in the district might have been one of the reasons I was selected to be the nominee. District 5790, in North Central Texas, covers 28,000 square miles and has three major urban areas. The Fort Worth Metroplex area is on the extreme eastern edge of the district. Almost half of our 63 clubs (including the Rotary Club of Fort Worth, with 700 members ) and two-thirds of the 3700 Rotarians in the district are in this area. Wichita Falls is on the north edge. Abilene is in the southwest corner of the district. Because most of the Rotarians are in these three urban centers, the majority of the district governors come from these areas. My club is almost in the exact middle of the district and in a rural area. It had been ten years since a governor was selected from the rural middle of the district.

Jumping from running a hardware store, with all its nuts and bolts, plumbing supplies, paint, etc., to the international Assembly was going to another world. That week in Anaheim was an unbelievable experience. We made friends instantly, talked to and really got to know people from around the world, shared the common interest in Rotary, planned joint projects, and discussed new ideas in the breakout sessions. How can you explain to anyone who has not been there, what it means and how it changes your life? Having the opportunity to participate in that one week was worth all the work and time spent preparing for and being district governor. I would do it all again for that week's experience in Anaheim.

I had wondered how we, the women governors, would be received by the other governors, especially those from outside the USA. One of my fondest Anaheim memories was of a governor nominee from Thailand. He left no doubt in our minds how welcome we were. When I met him one day in the lobby, he was so disappointed that he hadn't brought his camera. He wanted his picture taken with one of the women nominees. The next day we saw each other at the same time and place in the lobby as though it were planned. He had his camera and he was very pleased to see me again. As we were posing for the picture, I looked up and saw another woman nominee getting out of the elevator, then another. By the time the picture was taken, he had two women nominees on each side of him. Four of us surrounding the Thai nominee! I've often wondered how many people have seen that picture. It was always

an honor to be asked to pose for a picture. Everywhere we went, people wanted pictures of the first women nominees and a chance to get to know us.

We had to forget the celebrity status when the time for classes continued. We became just another nominee in a group of about twenty nominees, learning more about Rotary through the discussion groups. These groups gave us additional opportunities to interact with each other and learn of Rotary activities in other regions. We realized how much Rotary varies from area to area. But, men or women, with all our differences, we're the same, because we are Rotarians.

Looking back at the year I spent preparing to be governor, it seems like a blur. At the time, I thought I was very well organized. I had told our daughter, Michele, and our son, Daniel, that they could marry any time they wanted, except from January, 1995 until July, 1996, when my time would be filled with preparing for and being governor. That was my mistake. I should never have mentioned marriage. Both of them, ages 29 and 27, decided to marry and their weddings would be during the first two months of my year as district governor. Our daughter was in a doctoral program in west Texas but wanted to marry in her home church and have the reception at home, so l did most of the work after she made the decisions about her wedding. RI President Herb Brown was stressing the importance of family, so l put my family first and didn't start my club visits until July 18th, three days after her wedding. Daniel's wedding was in August. Although I was not as involved, it was still a very busy time juggling the wedding activities with my Rotary responsibilities.

In addition to the week in Anaheim, some of my best memories of the year are of the club visits. During the second week of my visits, Arlington Sunrise Rotarians took me to see some of their club projects, including playground equipment they and the community had built when they were a very young club. When we returned to my hotel, I was speechless when I looked up and saw the marquee "Welcome Rotary District Governor Janet Holland". it suddenly struck me that I was IT! I really was "GOVERNOR." After a year and a half of preparation, the time had come.

Nothing in my training prepared me for the third week of the visits. That week, I would be in one of the least populated areas with small clubs and towns with one exception, Vernon. Since I hadn't heard from the first club and they hadn't returned my calls, I finally called an old time Rotarian in the club. He told me that they had disbanded. To learn of losing a 75 year old club during the third week of the club visits was very disheartening. But I told myself, "Chin up, Janet, and on to Vernon", a club of 55 men. The only thing they would talk about at the club assembly was how to get women members and not lose the members they had. Whatever we were discussing, women members came up again. In closing, I told them I would come I back to induct their first woman member. A month later they called me to come induct their first five women and also five men! It was raining very hard that first morning I was in Vernon. By the time I left town, it was pouring. As I crossed a stream, water was running over the bridge. Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw the highway department crews closing the bridge. Five minutes later and I would have had a five hour detour into Oklahoma to get back to my next stop, Crowell. Before it stopped, it had rained over 25 inches in the two days I was in the area.

In Crowell, I was staying with a couple, both Rotarians, twenty-four miles in the country. Just as we were leaving for the assembly, they learned that their club president had resigned that day and had already left town. By the time we got to town they had decided that she would serve a second term as president, in addition to being my governor's representative. The Rotarians in town had already made the same decision. The fourth club of the week continued the pattern. I hadn't heard about the arrangements so l started calling. After several calls, I learned that their president had left his job and moved away. Apparently he hadn't told anyone I was coming. The secretary said he would make reservations for my room but he couldn't remember the name of the motel and would call back. When he called, the motel was the same name as the town! Their new president of this 15 member club had been a Rotarian for only nine months, so the assembly became a mini PETs for all the members. After that week, I couldn't wait to see what else was in store for me during my visits. 
My husband, Mike, is a rancher and couldn't go with me on my club visits. He asked what I would do if my car broke down. My answer was that I had 3,700 Rotarians out there who were to take good care of me. During the fourth week, I needed their help. My car died as I was crossing a long bridge out in the country. I managed to coast to the end of the bridge and into a parking lot of a building under construction. There was not another building or car in sight for miles. I walked around the building looking for some workers and found a boat rental business and sales office in the back. They had a mechanic on duty who could fix my car but it would take a few days to get the parts. Through the help of the closest Rotary club, I soon had a rental car reserved and chauffeur service for the 30 miles between the boat business and my rental car. Later in the week, they arranged for the return transportation.

I kept wondering that if these were my first four weeks, what else could possibly I happen during the next nineteen weeks. There weren't too many more surprises, just I more great opportunities to get to know the Rotarians and outstanding service work ' they were doing. By December 19th, I had finished my visits and wished I could I start over to see what they had accomplished since I had been with each club. Fifty four nights away from home were made possible by an understanding husband, an excellent store manager, an efficient district secretary and his secretary, who loaned I me their office couch for mid-afternoon naps when I was exhausted, a cellular phone and a laptop computer.

As nominee, I was kidded about my being the "Queen Bee." After visiting each of those 61 clubs and two provisional clubs, which chartered by mid-year, I truly felt like a queen. Everywhere I went, I was treated like royalty and with the utmost respect. I think the smaller rural clubs were especially interested in my visit for they knew I understood their problems and situations. Perhaps having a woman governor encouraged some of the clubs to look at each district governor as an individual person with different interests. I think they tried to make my visit special and looked at the governor's visit in a new light because I am a woman. They were probably relieved that my husband didn't make the visits with me, so they didn't have to figure out how to entertain a male spouse of a governor. It wouldn't have been a problem for them, he would have enjoyed participating in all the Rotary meetings and activities.

I stepped into the role of governor in an already active and enthusiastic district. The outstanding leadership in our district during the previous years had established a strong foundation of service and programs, on which we were able to build. The past governors' help was always willingly given whenever I asked. We have been extremely involved in matching grants that has led to other international interests and projects. District Rotarians are now looking for projects as they travel. One Rotarian, while giving a banking seminar in Mongolia and visiting the new Rotary club, learned of their desire to start the first English language library in the country.

Upon his return, his club began collecting "Books for Mongolia." When others in the district learned of the project, they wanted to participate, so we adopted it as a district project. Of the 42,000 pounds of books collected, one of our provisional clubs contributed over 12,000 pounds of that total.

Another Rotarian called to say he would be attending the Russian Peace Forum in Anchorage and could he commit the district to anything reasonable. It takes trust in your fellow Rotarians to say, "Go ahead!" He also told me his club would be sponsoring the new Rotary Club of Chita, Russia. As a result of his attending the forum, a Russian teacher was sent to our district to study our teaching methods, especially English as a Second Language. It was so successful that a teacher from Chita will come this year, as well as a youth exchange student. Some Chita Rotarians will be visiting as well. Sometimes I felt as though my hardest job was just keeping up with everything the Rotarians were doing in the district and around the world. The growing interest in the international part of Rotary and in the Foundation was demonstrated by our doubling the goal we had set for annual giving.

With more and more people becoming interested in the Internet, our district made the decision to have a home page, including the newsletter each month, as a way to reach more Rotarians quicker with the districts news. When I finally learned how to find our home district page on the Internet, there was my picture as district governor. I suppose you could compare it to seeing your picture on the front page of a newspaper for the first time. We feel the page will be helpful in making contact with districts around the world who are interested in similar projects. We also think it will promote more interest in Rotary.

My year as district governor ended on a high note, when I served as chairman of the Texas Breakfast at the Calgary Convention. It was a time of celebration, meeting new friends, renewing friendships with Rotarians from around the world and making promises to meet again. There's no better way to end a once-in-a-lifetime experience than that.

July 1, 1996, arrived and the calendar told me the year as governor was over. Although most of our goals were met or surpassed, not all our projects were completed. Several international projects planned or initiated while I was governor will be completed during my successor's year. Our district's second reverse Matching Grant, a community garden in Fort Worth, has been approved with the Rotary Club of Hou Kuong, Macao, as our partner. We have discussed organization of a Rotary Community Corps to supervise it.

As a result of our outstanding Group Study Exchange with Bangladesh, we have applied for our first Carl Miller Discovery Grant to help the Rotary Club of Jalalabad, Sylhet, Bangladesh, in establishing the country's first rehabilitation hospital. We want to continue the friendships we made through the GSE program. Perhaps I was closer to them, not only because I was governor, but because the pastor from my church was our out-bound team leader.

From a contact made during the international institute in Anaheim while I was governor, we will be having our first Rotary Volunteers serving abroad during the spring of 1997. Two nursing instructors will be going to Madras, India, to teach advanced nursing for intensive Care and Surgery.

When my successor asked me to serve as District international Chairman, I was happy to agree. In addition to that position, he asked that I also oversee the Discovery and Volunteer Grants Committees. I'll be able to bring those unfinished projects to completion and maintain the international contacts I have made with Rotarians worldwide.

I'm sure all district governors see too late areas that needed more attention or action. This happened to me in the area of the Rotary Foundation Scholars Program. During our district's interviews, we were discussing the program. I realized that we were doing the best we could for orientation of two or three scholars, but I had heard about multi-district orientations that were much more effective than ours. The nine Rotary districts in Texas participate in Lone Star PETs and a statewide orientation for our Youth Exchange. Fellow Governor Bill Bechtol, and I felt very strongly that we, too, should have a statewide or zone-wide orientation for our Foundation scholars. After talking with him, I agreed to be chairman of the program with his help. Several discussions with PDGs Anne and Bill Robertson of Kentucky about their multi-district program helped us have a quality program. Bill generously furnished materials from their program, registration flyers, programs, evaluations, financial reports and other information. Ken Morgan of North Carolina also helped with ideas and encouragement. We're looking forward to having a representative from the Foundation with us for this first one. The orientation, to be held in January 1997, will have approximately twenty-five to thirty participants, half of them scholars. Alumni will be doing much of the orientation while the Rotarians will be exploring ways of improving the selection process and the role of sponsors, counselors and alumni in their districts. Eight of the twelve districts in Zone 26 and New Mexico from Zone 25 have registered for the program. This program, if it's as successful as I feel it will be, may be my most important and lasting contribution to Rotary international.

With the many ideas and plans that we weren't able to accomplish during one year, I can see why people agree to serve as governor a second time. I'll continue to be involved in many areas of Rotary service. It was an honor to be asked to make a presentation to the 1996 Spouses program at PETs, and 1996 Zones 25 & 26 Foundation Meeting. I will have spoken to clubs in two other districts, and will be a guest speaker at another district conference. In March, I'll be facing another real challenge, that of discussion leader at Lone Star PETs. These invitations may have come partly because I am a woman. Rotarians are looking for us, the first women governors, to be role models for all women and to encourage more involvement of Women and Rotary.

In Rotary, it doesn't matter whether we're men or women. As Rotarians, we're serving our fellow man, at home and abroad, and working for worldwide friendship and peace through Rotary. 
Janet is a past president (1992-1993) of the Rotary Club of Mineral Wells, Texas. A multiple Paul Harris Fellow and a Rotary Foundation Benefactor, she has maintained perfect attendance since becoming a Rotarian in 1988. As president of the International Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians (ISFR) from 1993-95, she was the first woman to serve as a chairman of an international fellowship. While she was governor of District 5790, she received the Presidentís Golden Century Citation. In 1997, she will represent Rotary International President Luis Giay at District 5300's conference and will be a guest speaker at District 5840's conference. Janet gave a presentation on District 5790 Foundation programs to the twenty-seven districts of Zones 25 and 26 and addressed the spouses at Lone Star PETs.

Since she served as District Governor in 1995-1996, Janet Holland has led a Carl P. Miller Discovery Team to Bangladesh. The Rotary Club of Jalalabad, Sylhet, Bangladesh, gave her a special commendation for the assistance she gave them in the planning and establishment of a rehabilitation center. Janet was the organizer and chairman of the first Multi-District Foundation Scholar Orientation for Zone 26, plus New Mexico, and will continue as chairman for 1998. She was counselor for her clubís Rotary Youth Exchange student from Bangladesh. She has also served District 5520 as the World Community Service Chairperson in 2001-2002, and is serving as Alumni Subcommittee Chairperson in 2002-2003. 

Until 1983, Janet was a full time wife, mother and homemaker. At that time, she and her husband Mike acquired Mineral Wells True Value Hardware and she is president of the company. Her Rotary classification is Hardware Retail. Mike and their son Daniel operate the family ranching business. Their daughter, Michele, is in the doctoral program in Restorative Ecology at the University of California at Davis. Mike and Janet have five grand-dogs, one grand-cat, and two grand-birds, but no grandchildren yet.

A native of Alva, Oklahoma, Janet Holland is a graduate of Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor Of Music in flute. During 1939-1940, her father, W. Lee Woodward served as Governor of District 124 (now Oklahoma Districts 5750 and 5770).

Janet has been active in the Mineral Wells area, helping in the organization and serving on the first boards of the Brazos Foundation (a philanthropic area foundation), the country club, and Frontiers Trails amphitheater project. She has given much of her time to area organizations, the schools and the First United Methodist Church. She is currently serving on the local water district board.

Pursuing her interest in archaeology, she has worked with two professional archaeological survey teams in the area. In addition to Rotary, her other interests are traveling, hunting, reading, walking and snow skiing.

PDG Janet is also responsible for Ambassadorial Scholar-Elect Training Seminar


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