As we entered 2020, none of us could have imagined that we would witness, and be a part of, Toastmasters history. But when the COVID-19 global pandemic appeared, we were forced to change everything. What we once considered “normal” had left the building.
Each of us has had to step into the unknown. This has led to a series of historic firsts for our members and our organization. For the first time since World War II we had to cancel our in-person International Convention, and for the first time in history our Annual Business Meeting was conducted online. We began holding all meetings virtually. We learned we could travel around the world in a single day, visiting clubs without having to empty our bank accounts and experience jet lag!
These unprecedented changes are impressive, but to me the most impressive part has been the way you, our members, quickly responded to challenges and found opportunities to overcome them. I view challenges as opportunities in their rawest form. They enable us to view things differently … to try new things … to break free from the norm … and to experience change. You proved this to be true.
There has never been a time when we have been required to stay so far apart yet needed to be so close together.
As the challenges continued to roll in like waves on a stormy sea, you remained undeterred in your commitment to helping one another pursue individual goals. You found new ways of staying connected, becoming technology experts in using video-conferencing platforms. There has never been a time when we have been required to stay so far apart yet needed to be so close together, and you made it happen.
Despite the weight of the challenges posed by COVID-19, you remained unwavering in your commitment to the club, District, and Toastmasters International missions. You continued to uphold the organization’s four core values: integrity, respect, service, and excellence.
Your dedication, diligence, and ability to combat the hardship of this global pandemic prove that Toastmasters are unstoppable.
In the 2020–2021 Toastmasters year, it is highly likely we will again face unexpected adversities and will need to look for new opportunities to overcome them. Your actions have already shown that you’ve got this.
I look forward to working with and serving you during this program year and witnessing what we will achieve, as together we write the next chapter of Toastmasters history.
Richard E. Peck, DTM