The Rotary Foundation: Rotarians advancing world understanding, goodwill, and peace

District 5370 Rotary Foundation chair Wayne Kauffman (RC of Edmonton Riverview) has experienced first-hand how donations from Rotarians to the Rotary Foundation can make a difference.

In 2007, he witnessed the installation of a water system that continues to deliver safe drinking water to 85 homes in a village in northern Ecuador.


Rotary Foundation chair Wayne Kauffman speaks to members of the Rotary Club of Edmonton South

With money from the Rotary clubs of Edmonton South, Grande Prairie and Edmonton Riverview, along with grants from the Alberta Wildrose Foundation and the Rotary Foundation (a total of $72,000), a 4.2-kilometre pipeline was laid to bring water from the source, 1,500 metres above a chlorination station in the village.

Every family in the village participated in the project by digging a section of the trench for the pipeline. They continue to contribute to the system’s upkeep, based on each family’s consumption.

“As a Rotarian, I take a lot of pride that clean water still flows in that community and kids are not getting sick from drinking the water,” Wayne said during a recent presentation, one of more than 30 that he and grant subcommittee chair Wayne McCutcheon (RC of St. Albert) have made to Rotary clubs since 2015.

Wayne Kauffman: “We can do more!”

For Kauffman, there’s a simple theme to these presentations: “We can do more!”

By more, he means that more Rotarians can donate to The Rotary Foundation and those who already support it can increase their contributions, which in turn will mean that more money will be available to support local and international projects.

TRFlogoDuring the 2016-17 Rotary year, Rotarians in District 5370 contributed $341,504 to the annual fund, which exceeded the District’s 2016-17 goal by 133 per cent. This translates to an average of $156.15 from each Rotarian in District 5370.

But only about half the Rotarians in District 5370 contributed to the foundation, a figure Kauffman would like to see increase. He wants to help Rotarians “understand why it’s so important that we all give to The Rotary Foundation.”

He points to the fourth object of Rotary International: “The advancement of world understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.”

“How do we do it?” he asks, before answering his own question. The Rotary Foundation, the purpose of which is to “enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.”

He is disappointed that there are clubs within the District from which no donations were received last year.

On the other hand, there are clubs where 100 per cent of the members donate to the foundation and where, on average, Rotarians are donating hundreds of dollars. The top clubs, based on per capita donations during 2016-17, were:

Edmonton South ($478.43)

Fairview ($365.57)

Whitecourt ($362.08)

Wayne McCutcheon’s role is to “help you spend money”

While Wayne Kauffman focuses on raising funds for the Rotary Foundation, Wayne McCutcheon looks at the foundation from a different perspective. “My role is to help you spend money,” he says. “I’m available to help clubs apply for grants.”

After three years, half the money donated to the annual fund is returned to the District to support local and small international projects. For 2017-18, $101,000 was available for District grants (half of the $202,000 donated to the foundation from District 5370 in 2014-15).

Grants of $3,500 each were awarded to 41 clubs this year, to help fund projects. These funds were combined with funds raised by the clubs themselves, and in some cases, grants from the federal and provincial governments to implement projects.

The window to apply for 2018-19 District grants opens following the Spring Leadership Training (April 6 and 7). The deadline for applying is May 31, 2018.

The application form is available on the District website.

PresCitation#1_ TRFYou can donate to The Rotary Foundation Canada by cheque or online. Click here to donate online or send your cheque to:

The Rotary Foundation Canada
c/o 911600,
PO Box 4090 Stn A
Toronto, Ontario M5W 0E9

Contact information:

Wayne Kauffman, Foundation Committee Chair (780) 464-6043

Wayne McCutcheon, Chair District/Global Grants

(780) 850-0698


Register today for the 2018 Rotary International Convention in Toronto, June 24-27, 2018. Registration fee increases after December 15, 2017.




Half-day Indigenous awareness session will help you take a step toward reconciliation

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Amy Smith (Rotaract Club of Edmonton) believes that the journey to reconciliation begins with understanding the culture and history of Canada’s Indigenous people.

With this in mind, Amy has arranged for a half-day Indigenous Awareness Session on Saturday, Dec. 16, from 9:00 a.m. to noon, which is being sponsored by the Rotaract Club of Edmonton and the District 5370 Rotary Aboriginal Program. Amy and spiritual guide Heather Poitras will facilitate the session, which is available to Rotarians at no cost.

This session be held at the District office, 16030 104 Ave., in Edmonton.

Click here to register.

“People want to learn more about Indigenous culture, but aren’t sure where to begin,” Amy says. “This will be a safe setting in which to learn.”

Participants will gain insight and understanding on how Indigenous people view Canada’s history, including colonization and its effects, treaties, and the sensitive topic of residential schools. This will also be an opportunity to learn a little about Indigenous culture and to enjoy some bannock and tea.

The Rotary Aboriginal Program is a District 5370 initiative that strives to build partnerships with Indigenous people, with the goal of Rotary clubs connecting with the Indigenous community.

On its website, the program states that its purpose “is to raise awareness about the realities of Aboriginal people in our Rotary district and to support Aboriginal groups, Rotary clubs and agencies to build capacity with respect to issues and Aboriginal communities.”

“Before Rotarians begin to do projects with Indigenous people, it’s important to understand their cultural and protocols,” Amy says.

Knowledgeable Facilitators

Heather and Amy hosted a similar session with Amy’s team at Health Canada, where she works in the human resources department, to eliminate employment barriers for members of the Indigenous community.

Amy is a Métis woman who has a degree in political science and native studies from the University of Alberta. In 2018, she will begin a master’s degree at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia on a Rotary scholarship.

Heather, who has a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies from the University of Alberta, has worked for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for over 23 years.  During this time she has accomplished many things in the efforts to enhance Indigenous awareness.  She has been involved with National Aboriginal Day since it was declared in 1996.

She was also instrumental in the establishment of an Indigenous Cultural Centre in Canada Place, serving as the spiritual lodge keeper for more than 15 years.  She has served as a executive member for Indigenous staff both for INAC and the entire federal public service.

Amy says that Heather’s work has impacted the lives of thousands of people and has had a “huge influence for Indigenous staff at Canada Place.”

Heather is proud of both her Metis and First Nation culture and is honoured to share it with others.  Her extensive cultural knowledge and experience is based on the medicine wheel teachings, which is a tool designed to benefit all nations.  She will take you on a spiritual journey, giving you gifts to help you on your own personal and professional paths.

“In a sharing circle, we are all equal,” Heather says. “Most importantly we all have a voice and the ability to share our knowledge and experience.”

Amy hopes participants will be open to seeing Canada from a new perspective, even if it may make them uncomfortable at times. But she emphasizes that this learning will occur within the safe environment of a sharing circle.

“People should feel they can share without fear and they will have the opportunity to ask questions. We really want people to ask questions.”

If you want to learn more about Indigenous history and culture, you should register soon, as several of the 40 places have already been spoken for.


Register today for the 2018 Rotary International Convention in Toronto, June 24-27, 2018. Registration fee increases after December 15, 2017.


Leadership will be the theme of the District 5370’s Fall Assembly

climbing team silhouette

District 5370 Learning and Development chair Donna Barrett (RC of Edmonton Sunrise) promises that when you leave the Fall Leadership Assembly you will have tools you can begin to use immediately, both in your club leadership role and professionally.

The assembly will be held at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre, 11727 Kingsway, in Edmonton, beginning Friday evening, Nov. 3, and continuing Saturday, Nov. 4.

“Leadership is important in Rotary, but what participants will learn will also be beneficial beyond Rotary,” Donna says. “What they learn can be applied anywhere—in their club and in their professions.”

The target audience for the assembly is current club leaders and those aspiring to leadership roles in the future. There will be sessions specifically geared to presidents and presidents-elect, secretaries, treasurers, Foundation, youth and membership chairs, but most of these sessions are open to all Rotarians.

Click here to register for the assembly. Call the Chateau Louis (780-452-7770) to book your room. Let them know you are attending Rotary’s Fall Leadership Assembly to get the great Rotary rate.

Donna says that both current club leaders and future leaders should attend. “Presidents will learn skills to help them in their current roles,” she said.

Donna emphasizes that presidents-elect are expected to attend as part of their preparation for the 2018-19 Rotary year. “It’s critical for presidents-elect to begin the process of getting ready for their important role. This weekend’s program will provide detailed guidance, so they will ready to start in their new role on July 1.

“President and presidents-elect can work as a team to plan for 2018-19 so that they can build on what the club is already doing.”

Presidents-elect and other club leaders will be invited to another learning event in the spring, on April 6 and 7, when the emphasis will be on preparing for the next Rotary year.

“The fall session will focus generally on leadership and the timelines that presidents-elect need to know for their planning,” Donna says. “In the spring, we will go more in-depth, so planning can be complete by the beginning of July. There will be an opportunity to learn from people who have done the role and to network with other presidents-elect.”

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Steve Linkenbrink (RC of Bellevue Breakfast) is a co-presenter for the Priority #1 Plus workshop

A highlight of the fall assembly will be Saturday morning’s Priority #1 Plus workshop. “This informative workshop is focused on strengthening your club’s culture in a systematic way,” Donna says.

She knows of what she speaks. Donna and District Governor-Elect Ingrid Neitsch (RC of Edmonton West) both travelled to Winnipeg to experience this program first-hand before bringing it to District 5370.

“We wanted to experience it before bringing it here,” Donna says. “I thought it was outstanding. So practical.”

Steve Linkenbrink and Wendi Fischer will lead the workshop. Both are members of the Bellevue (WA) Breakfast Rotary Club. Steve is a Past District Governor for District 5030 (Seattle area) and currently serves as the Zone 25/26 membership chair. Wendi is membership chair for District 5030.

Donna says they will lead participants “through a dynamic process to assess club culture and learn practical ways to strengthen and enhance the club experience for all members.”

Wendi Fischer

Wendi Fischer (RC of Bellevue Breakfast) is a co-presenter for the Priority #1 Plus workshop

Rotary International is supporting their attendance at the assembly, reflecting the organization’s commitment to strengthen membership by strengthening the club experience. The Priority #1 Plus program is based on research by RI to discover why people join Rotary and why they continue to be Rotarians.

Donna says, “There is so much information that you could spend a year implementing these strategies. These are not ideas that will disappear as soon as you leave the workshop.”

During Priority #1 Plus, participants will be introduced to simple tools they can adopt to immediately improve the Rotary brand experience to attract and retain members. Much of this information will be included in the workbook participants will receive. Afterwards, it will become a reference they can consult when they use these techniques with members of their club.

The weekend will begin Friday evening with a mix-and-mingle networking reception, which replaces the dinner held in previous years.

“We felt that this format would provide better opportunities to network before the speaker takes the stage. There can be more free flow of conversation than over dinner,” Donna says, but she adds that there will be “sufficient food, so it will be like a dinner.”

Friday evening’s speaker is PDG Mark Starratt (District 5360), who will share his insights into the important role Rotarians play as community and global leaders.

Saturday afternoon will be dedicated to role-specific sessions for presidents and presidents-elect, The Rotary Foundation (open to all), secretaries, treasurers, Youth Services (open to all), membership (open to all) and technology (open to all).

During the closing plenary session, Lisa Grotkowski and PDG Chris Offer will share inspirational stories on Leadership for Peace.

Click here to register for the Fall Leadership Assembly. Then pick up the phone, dial 780-452-7770 and tell the nice people at the Chateau Louis you need a room because you are attending Rotary’s Fall Leadership Assembly. They have a great rate just for Rotarians.

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Register for the 2018 District Conference before November 4, 2017 to save $75.                   

More than 20 years of service to Ethiopia recognized with a major Rotary award


Leo Seguin, the 2017 recipient of the Donald MacRae Peace Award, stands between PDG Betty Screpnek and DG Frank Reitz

Leo Seguin (RC of Westlock) is the 2017 recipient of the Donald MacRae Peace Award (Zones 24 & 32), recognizing his commitment of more than 20 years to the people of Ethiopia.

Past District 5370 Governor Betty Screpnek, who currently serves as a director of The Rotary Foundation Canada, presented the award during the Fort McMurray District Conference. She noted that it was learning of a famine in that nation that led Leo to become involved in Ethiopia.

“When the famine attacked Ethiopia in the late 80s, this Rotarian could not stand by when he and his neighbors’ ‘bounty’ was abundant,” Betty said. “He went into action and grain drives with the Canadian Grain Banks filled some 20 grain cars to feed Ethiopia.”

The Donald MacRae Peace Award is an annual award presented by Rotary Zones 24 & 32 to recognize and honour an individual or organization for outstanding achievement consistent with the ideals of Rotary as expressed by the Fourth Object of Rotary:

“The advancement of International understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional people united in the ideal of service”

A former president of the Westlock Rotary Club, Leo has lead several international projects in Ethiopia. He travels to Africa frequently to listen to the people and gain firsthand knowledge of the projects, to be sure the funds we raise are well-spent.

His next visit is scheduled for January 2018.

IMG_4180In 2004, Leo was instrumental in establishing the Rainbow for the Future, a NGO headquartered in Westlock.

Information on the Rainbow for the Future website explains that it “is a Canadian development agency dedicated to the organization and integration of sustainable development efforts in Ethiopia. We are committed to helping the poor help themselves, and those we help in Ethiopia are truly the poorest of the poor.”

The agency supports “irrigation-based development projects as a means to improve food security, allowing communities to become autonomous and independent. When household income is stabilized and food security is established, the focus can then turn to education, healthcare, and long-term sustainability in a number of areas. These include education—particularly the education of girls and women— access to healthcare services and medical facilities, and income-generation programs, especially for women.”

Since its inception, Rainbow for the Future has raised $10 million, 95 per cent of which directly supports projects in Ethiopia, many of which have been accomplished in partnership with other Rotary clubs and agencies. Volunteers pay their own expenses related to participation in projects.

The award commemorates the contribution of Halifax Rotarian Donald MacRae, who in a speech to the International Convention in Kansas City in June 1918 proposed that Rotary become an agent for the promotion of goodwill and peace among nations—the first time that this vision of Rotary was expressed publicly.

In 1921, as chair of Rotary’s Constitution and By-laws Committee, MacRae had an opportunity to incorporate this vision into the constitution of Rotary. He presented a resolution to the International Convention in Edinburgh, Scotland that amended the constitution by adding the fourth Object of Rotary. This Fourth Object became the engine that drives Rotary’s International service: indeed, it has become the watchword of the Rotary Foundation.

“Reflecting the vision created by MacRae, the award focuses on advancing international goodwill, understanding and peace through peacemaking efforts or humanitarian activity of international significance. Peace can only happen by drilling those wells to provide potable water, education, disease prevention and feeding the hungry. That is the Rotary way of creating peace and I think we have it right,” Betty said.


Three awards presented to recognize club achievements

District Governor Frank Reitz presented three awards during the Fort McMurray District Conference to acknowledge outstanding achievements of Rotary clubs during 2016-2017:

Membership AwardRotary Club of Barrhead – This award is for the largest percentage increase in membership (31 per cent) from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

The Rotary Foundation AwardAnnual fund – Rotary Club of Edmonton South – This award is presented to the club that has the highest annual per capita contributions ($478.43) to The Rotary Foundation.

Polio Plus Award – Rotary Club of Dawson Creek Sunrise – This award is presented annually to the club that has the highest per capita contributions to Polio Plus. The 41 members raised a total of $49,956 towards the eradication of polio.

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RI president’s rep and others praise District Conference as “inspirational” and a “wonderful experience”

District Conference Banner

MC Brent Collingwood (RC of Edmonton Riverview) opened the 2017 District Conference held September 29 and 30 in Fort McMurray by asking the 250 Rotarians in attendance: “Why do we come to a District Conference?”

By the beginning of the second day, each of his four reasons had been achieved.

  1. We come to reconnect with fellow Rotarians we may not have seen for a while and to bond with new Rotarians, because Rotary is about forming friendships and professional connections.
  2. We come to learn from others, whether in the House of Friendship or from some of the Rotary projects you’ll hear about from the stage.
  3. We come to hear amazing speakers telling their personal stories of courage—because no challenge is too big for us.
  4. We come wanting to learn, and we leave wanting to do, because Rotary is about taking action to create lasting change.

Other attendees concurred with Brent’s assessment that the conference fulfilled its promise of an opportunity to reconnect, learn and listen to amazing speakers.

Mary Drader (RC of Drayton Valley) said she “enjoyed this conference immensely. I found the speakers to be very inspirational.”

Fran Milberg (RC of Thomasville, GA) also gave the conference and District high marks. “There’s nothing I haven’t liked, except maybe there was a little too much food. Otherwise, it has been a wonderful experience. I met friendly, wonderful people and I have been very comfortable with them.”

Fran, who is a past District Governor for District 6900, which includes about one-third of the state of Georgia, including the city of Atlanta, attended as a representative of Rotary International President Ian Riseley.

“I’m very impressed with the District and what they do—their service projects and their Foundation giving,” she said. “I’m just so impressed with this community and District for how they’ve come together after the crisis that occurred in this town.”

Fran was also impressed by the lineup of speakers, which included David Dotson, who spoke about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Chris and Kathryn Linford, who work with veterans suffering from PTSD and their families, former Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen, and 2010 Olympian and Amazing Race Canada host Jon Montgomery.

Fran was one of those who took Montgomery up on his invitation to hold the gold medal he won in skeleton. “I just loved touching that gold medal today and wearing it around my neck. I never realized that the gold medal was so heavy. I really enjoyed that and his presentation.”

Erwin Winwarkentin, a non-Rotarian from Vermilion, attending with his wife, felt that the order in which the speakers were scheduled was a factor in the success of the conference. “The idea of having the speakers in the sequence they were in was critical to the goal of communicating what they wanted to communicate. Having Jon at the end was critical to the whole thing. Having him in the beginning wouldn’t have made sense.”

Did you attend the Fort McMurray District Conference? What did you think? Add your impressions in the comment section below.

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2018 District Conference: Save the date . . . and save money by registering early

With the Fort McMurray District Conference a success, Rotarians can begin to look forward to next year’s conference. District Governor Elect Ingrid Neitsch (RC of Edmonton West) and her team have already set the day, booked the venue and lined up several speakers.

The conference will be held at Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre, October 18 – 20, 2018.

To learn more about what’s in store next fall for you, visit the conference website, which went live as the Fort McMurray conference ended. Register by November 4 to save $75.

Rotarians encourage literacy among preschoolers in Fort McMurray region

Father Reading A Book To Children

The Rotary Club of Fort McMurray has positioned itself as a champion of literacy in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray and several small, mainly First Nations communities.

The literacy program, which is offered in partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, provides books to children from birth to age five, at no cost to the family.

“We thought the program would have an impact,” says Rotarian Julianne North Bourque, who has co-ordinated the program since its inception in October 2010. “If we can encourage children to read from an early age, they will go further in their education.”

According to its website, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library has mailed more than 70 million books to children from newborns to age five since it was established by the award-winning country music star in 1995.

In a 2016 article, Forbes magazine wrote that despite her many awards, “the moniker she’s most proud to answer to might be the one she’s least known for: ‘the Book Lady.’”

The program was inspired by Parton’s father, Robert, who never learned to read or write. The Forbes article quotes the singer: “I started my Imagination Library in honor of my dad. He didn’t live long enough to see it do well, but it’s a wonderful program that I take a lot of pride in.”

Learn more at the District conference

Rotarians who attend the District conference in Fort McMurray, September 28 to 30 will have an opportunity to learn more about the Imagination Library. Julianne says there will be a display in the House of Friendship.

In addition, David Dotson, the president of the Dollywood Foundation, will be speaking at the conference.

As well mailing children books monthly, the library sends parents suggested ways to encourage their children to read.

One tip Julianne feels is important is that fathers read to their children. “Children, particularly boys, who don’t see their father read are less likely to become readers.”

Initially, the program targeted children in rural communities outside Fort McMurray, where the club has not been particularly involved in projects due to the remoteness of some of the communities.

A challenge that the club had to overcome was the suspicions of community members about outsiders initiating a program for their community. Some though it might be “like a record or book club—free at first, but then they would have to pay,” Julianne says.

Another reason they started in the rural communities is that it was easier to obtain funding for programs there. The plan was to eventually include children living in Fort McMurray, but the club “didn’t want to start until we had funds in place for five years.”

Funding from Syncrude allowed program to expand

This happened in 2012, when Syncrude Canada—having heard about the success of the program—signed on as the major sponsor. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and other companies operating in the region also provide financial support.

There are currently 2,346 children who receive a book each month. Another 2,795 have “graduated” from the program on their fifth birthday.

The books are packaged in Tennessee and trucked to Canada to be distributed by mail to children whose parents have signed them up for the program.

Parents learn about the program from information that the club has placed throughout the community at drop-in centres for young children, at the library and at daycares. “We also promote it at special events and with brochures. There is a great website that parents can look at and where they can sign up their children.” Julianne says.

Julianne is one of two Canadians who were invited to be part of the committee, which chooses books for the Imagination Library. She says that the books are selected with care. “They are good quality books which are age appropriate. They include concepts to which children should be exposed,” she says.

Feedback from parents and teachers has been positive. “The parents love it. Their kids love it. They love being read to,” she says.

“Teachers tell us it makes a difference when children who have been exposed to books arrive at school. Kids who have been read to at home are more successful.”

The Forbes article says that “repeated studies by the foundation have shown that Parton’s efforts are helping to develop children’s vocabularies and early-school readiness.”

Collingwood testimonial

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St. Albert Rotarians “paddling” their way towards the club’s Foundation goal


Who says that raising funds for the Rotary Foundation needs to be tedious? Certainly not Ann Ramsden, the Rotary Foundation director for the Rotary Club of St. Albert, who is using gamification to generate excitement around the annual request for donations.

Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation” (source: Merriam Webster).

At the club’s August 18 meeting, Ann unfurled a map showing the route for a year-long virtual canoe journey from Rotary Park in downtown St. Albert to the Sturgeon Valley Golf and Country Club, where St. Albert Rotarians gather every Friday morning.


Rotarian Ann Ramsden points to the figures representing members of the Rotary Club of St. Albert who she hopes will board the virtual canoe, which she hopes will carry the club to its TRF goal.

Along the way, Rotarians will pause at well-known St. Albert sites to celebrate achieving quarterly fundraising targets. In June, the journey will end successfully when Rotarians meet the Foundation goal set by the club’s executive: to raise US$16,000 for the Rotary Foundation, with the participation of all members.

“We don’t want anyone left standing in Rotary Park,” Ann says, inviting everyone to join her on the journey.

When everyone has stepped into the canoe, the club will have achieved the second part of its Rotary Foundation goal— “Every Rotarian Every Year.” This initiative of Rotary International challenges all Rotarians to support the Rotary Foundation every year.

Ann feels this approach is a more effective way to encourage donations than “just standing up and talking about it.”

Based on her experience with fundraising for the non-profit organization for which she works, Ann believes it’s important that members are “able to see progress towards the goals in a way that is fun and meaningful.”

Wayne Kauffman (Edmonton Riverview), the Rotary Foundation director for District 5370, applauds the St. Albert club’s initiative to support the Rotary Foundation.

“It is through initiatives such as that of the St. Albert club that the Rotary Foundation will be able to continue its work. It is vital that clubs continue to support the Foundation, which enables Rotarians to carry out projects locally and around the world. District 5370 is very active in many countries, such as Belize, Uganda, Guatemala, Honduras and Ecuador.”

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He notes that 54 per cent of Rotarians in District 5370 gave to the Foundation in 2016-2017, and is hoping to see more participation during this Rotary year.

“I’m asking that the 46 per cent who didn’t give last year consider giving to the Foundation in 2017-2018. It’s important that Rotarians look to making our Rotary Foundation their charity of choice.”

You can donate to TRF Canada online. To learn more about donating to TRF, contact members of the District’s annual fund subcommittee, Hal Quillian (Edmonton Strathcona), or Vicky Grabb (St. Albert)


What’s happening in your club? Has it or individual Rotarians found fun ways to provide funds to the Rotary Foundation? Perhaps you are planning a special event in support of the Foundation. Share what’s happening in your club by leaving a comment below or emailing