My Rotary Journey


The timing was perfect when I was invited to join the Merced Sunrise Rotary.  I had recently retired from an administrative position at Merced College and had set several goals.  One goal fit perfectly with the invitation to join the Merced Sunrise Rotary, that was to 'do something in the community.'  I was inducted into the club in April 2013 and was immediately asked if I would be able to help in the efforts to establish the first Merced Field of Honor.  To be honest being a new member and tasked with some new responsibilities was a bit intimidating.  What were the rules of road, who are the current club members and what is their history with the organization and a number of other questions were on my mind.  Well it turned out that taking on some Field of Honor issues allowed me to serve the community, meet new people, work with individuals I was already familiar with, and I was able to ‘get to know’ many club members and their expectations for club efforts. 

I know I my desire to do something in the community is having an impact in the lives we strive to serve and while so doing we have a little fun along the way - you can't get much better than that!  I hope I have met some of the membership expectations through my contribution to club efforts and that the individuals we serve.  It is a journey that has many joys along the road, a jouney that I hope to continue for many years to come.

Yours in Rotary Service,

Mike Cuchna

My Rotarian Story


When I moved to Merced a few short years ago, I was just out of training and about to start my own surgical practice. My primary focus was on refining my skills and establishing myself as a competent clinician for my patients. As satisfying as my work is, I felt something was missing in my personal life. I was growing to appreciate everything Merced had to offer, but I didn't really feel like a true member of the community. Ever since college, I have moved every few years as different phases of my training came to a close. I always knew that my time in any location was finite; I felt like a visitor rather than a resident. A friend suggested that I consider joining the Merced Sunrise Rotary Club as an opportunity to invest myself in the community. That was by far one the best pieces of advice I have ever received in my life. I learned that the Sunrise Rotary Club is very active in not only contributing financially to many worthy causes in town that directly impact countless individuals, but the members themselves spend countless hours organizing and creating events that lift the spirit to new heights. I have had the honor of working on the Field of Honor this past year. I saw first hand how much a simple flag with their name and rank affected the veteran or first responder being honored. I was deeply touched when a family member lovingly attaches precious photos and mementos to honor a fallen hero or heroine. I saw how the community came out and walked among the flags in support of these unsung heroes, even if they did not have a personal connection to an honoree. While a grand scale event such as the Field of Honor deservedly stand out, I find the smaller events scattered throughout the year have truly cemented my commitment to this club and the community it serves. Whether it’s feeding the homeless or helping needy kids select much needed clothing and school supplies during the holidays, this club has helped me find a place in this community. My fellow members have welcomed me with such open arms that I feel fortunate they have become wonderful forever friends. While I look forward to even greater participation in the coming years (maybe expand my interest into the international efforts of Rotary International), for the first time in my adult life, I feel like I belong. Not just to a club, but a community. I am home.

Yours in Rotary Service,

Dortha Chu

Rotarian Stories

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