Tracey Vavrek well into preparation for her year as District Governor

 

On July 1, the floodgates opened for Tracey Vavrek (RC of Grande Prairie After Five). That’s the day she stepped into the role of District Governor-Elect for Rotary District 5370.

Tracey had been busy as District Governor Nominee, but now her to-do list has grownTracey longer as she continues her preparations to succeed current DG Ingrid Neitsch, when the 2019-20 Rotary year begins on July 1, 2019.

“Once July 1 hit and my designation became District Governor-Elect, then there was a strong increase of communications from Rotary International and more responsibilities with Rotary International to complete certain tasks by certain times,” Tracey says.  “Also there were more responsibilities at the District level, including finalizing all of our training and planning for our conference.” 

The fall Leadership Assembly will be the first opportunity for Tracey to meet and work with the Rotarians who will serve as presidents of their clubs during 2019-20.

“We have scheduled things a little differently for this year,” she says. Rather than having all the Presidents-Elect come together at one location, this fall’s assembly will consist of two “pods.” The first will be held on Saturday, November 3, at the Delta South Hotel in Edmonton. 

Two weeks later, on November 17, another session will be held in Grande Prairie, at the Holiday Inn and Suites.

“We have chosen two locations because we have a very large geographical area for our District,” Tracey says.

While Presidents-Elect are expected to attend, both pods are open to all Rotarians.

“Our goal is to inspire our current Presidents-Elect, who will be taking on their role as of July 1, and also to inspire other current leaders or future leaders within their clubs. We are hoping with the two locations we will be making it easier for members to participate,” Tracey says.

In preparing for the Leadership Assembly, Tracey has been working closely with District trainer Donna Barrett (RC of Edmonton Sunrise), who says the purpose of this training is “to build a greater understanding of all that Rotary does across the District. We will be continuing the work done last year on building vibrant clubs.”

When planning for these days, Donna and her committee asked themselves, “How can people be inspired by the great things Rotary does?”

The answer is short, tightly facilitated sessions that will focus on youth services, Rotary’s partnerships with other organizations, membership, peace building and The Rotary Foundation.

One session will help participants, “understand what Rotary does to encourage youth leadership,” Donna says. “We will also showcase powerful ways the District is involved in projects, such as the Employment partnership with Inclusion Alberta.”

During another session, participants will look at membership trends. “This will be an opportunity to reflect on their clubs’ successes and challenges and learn from other clubs.”

Another area of focus for the day will be The Rotary Foundation. “This will be an opportunity for people to discover the power of TRF to support work of Rotarians.”

Donna emphasizes that all Rotarians are welcome to register for one of the pods. The cost is only $150, which includes breakfast and lunch. Presidents-Elect can attend for free.

Click here to register.

A second District Leadership Assembly for incoming club leaders and other Rotarians will be held next spring, on March 8 and 9, at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre in Edmonton.

RI preparation for DGEs takes two years

Preparing to become District Governor is a two-year process, which began for Tracey in 2017-18 as District Governor Nominee. She spent much of that year asking questions and listening to what past district governors and other Rotarians were saying.  

“I asked questions of past District Governors about what were their toughest lessons, what were their experiences, what could they share of their thoughts and ideas (for me) to consider going forward. I also asked many other people, not just past District Governors, what’s your dream for our District, what’s your dream for Rotary, what’s your dream for being a member?” Tracey says.

At the fall 2017 Zone Institute in Harford, Connecticut, she had the opportunity to meet and work with all her “classmates” from Zones 24 and 32, for the first time.

“As the District Governor Nominee, they take you through starting to understand what Rotary International is. They also push the District Governor Nominees to really dive deeper into the District level, so we have a basic understanding of our responsibilities at the District level, who’s involved, what the District committees do, and how does that align with Rotary International.”

A year later, Tracey and her classmates were together again, this time in Montreal, for what has now become the Zones 24 and 32 Conference. 

“The sessions I attended were specifically on what District Governors do throughout the Rotary year. We were provided with our District Governor workbook and tasked in advance to review it and bring all our questions. We went through all the responsibilities, from what we have to report to RI, what we need to complete for RI, what our responsibilities are, and how we are going to lead our Districts, how we are going to engage and inspire our clubs and our members.

The final stage of Tracey’s preparation will occur at the International Assembly, which will be held in January 2019 in San Diego.

“We will be meeting with all 550 District Governors-Elect from around the world and we will be working with our President-Elect, Mark Maloney,” Tracey says. “We will also be working with Mark on his vision for the future of Rotary.” 

Registration now open for 2019 District 5370 Conference

An important part of preparing for one’s year as District Governor is planning for the next District Conference, which will be held October 3 to 5, 2019, in Grande Prairie.

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 11.19.17 PM“We are calling our conference, ‘People of Action,’” Tracey says. “We are people of action and we are ready to make a difference.”

A different approach is being taken related to planning, including involving the “whole community” in hosting the conference.

“What I mean by a whole community is that all our clubs will be involved,” Tracey says. “There are five clubs in Grande Prairie, including our Rotaract club, which are participating in organizing the District conference. The Grande Prairie Rotary clubs are excited to roll out the red carpet and welcome everyone to our great community and this celebration of Rotary.”

Another unique feature of this conference is that the organizers are “inviting community citizens to participate and become part of it. We are also reaching out to former Rotarians, who we call our ‘roots of Rotary.’ We are saying, ‘come and celebrate this weekend and be part of the conference with us.’ ”

“We wanted to really reach out to them with a heartfelt invite to come and join us. Come be part of us this weekend. We are hoping to re-engage them.”

Register before November 30, 2018 to take advantage of the early-bird rate to save $50.

 

District Office now located in the Orange Hub

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District 5370 has a new home.

At the beginning of October, the District office moved to the Orange Hub, a building which previously housed the fine arts programs of MacEwan University.

The building at 10045 156 Street NW is now owned by the City of Edmonton, which describes it on its website as “a centre for non-profit groups that offer programs and services in the arts, recreation, wellness and learning.” 

The District Office is located in room 402.

Prior to the move, the District rented from the Boys and Girls Club, which will be moving its offices into the space vacated by the District.

Donna Nicoll (RC of Edmonton Northeast), who as the District’s administration chair co-ordinated the move, is pleased with the new office space.

“It is bright and clean,” she says. “The staff at the Orange Hub have been great to work with.”

Preparing for the move involved sorting through material accumulated over 10 years in the previous location.

“As with all moves, there was way more stuff in those cupboards than we ever expected there to be,” Donna says. “We purged and purged and purged.”

Donna arranged for the space to be painted and new carpet installed before furniture was moved in.

“We brought over a few things, such as the boardroom table and chairs,” Donna says. The District also purchased a few pieces of furniture, but benefited from the university’s decision to leave furniture in the space, which formerly was occupied by the dean’s office.

“This saved us thousands of dollars,” Donna says.

Office manager Rene Cavanagh, who is also a member of the Rotary Club of Edmonton, feels her new work space is “fabulous.”

She says, “I’m excited about being here. It’s a better working atmosphere. More professional.”

Rene believes there are many positives resulting from the move. Being in the Orange Hub will raise the profile of Rotary. “There seem to be some key non-profit groups here.”

She also will never find herself the only person working in the building, as was the case at times in the previous location. 

“I have been able to meet some of the other tenants in the building,” she says. Many of these people will be in the building every day.

Another advantage of being in the Orange Hub is that office is now accessible to all. An elevator is located just outside the District office.

It’s now easier to travel to the office, too. The building is on or near several city bus routes and eventually the west extension of the Valley LRT line will pass by the building.

There’s lots of parking, both for free on the street and paid in a parkade.

District Conference 2018 promises more than inspiring speakers

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UPDATE: SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS POSTED, CHRIS OFFER HAS REPLACED STEPHANIE WOLLARD AS THE SPEAKER AT THE SUPPORTING PEACE THROUGH THE ROTARY FOUNDATION DINNER ON THURSDAY EVENING. STEPHANIE WILL STILL SPEAK AT THE CONFERENCE AS SCHEDULED.

The District 5370 Conference will be more than just an opportunity to hear great speakers during plenary and breakout sessions.

The conference is also an opportunity to learn and connect with Rotarians from other clubs, October 18 to 20.

House of Friendship

Annie Muller (RC of Edmonton West) says that the House of Friendship, which will be set up in the foyer of Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre, between the registration desk and Hall D where main stage sessions will occur, will be “a place for Rotarians to meet.”

.In the centre of the House of Friendship, the MacEwan Rotaract club will erect a Shelterbox tent, as part of its efforts to raise funds to provide temporary shelter for families displaced by natural disasters or war.

There will be 12 additional displays highlighting programs supported by Rotary clubs and individual members, including Project Amigo, Literacy Without Borders, the Emmanuel Foundation, Inclusion Alberta, Well Spring Edmonton and others.

There will also be information about the 2019 District Conference, which will be held in Grande Prairie next fall, and an opportunity to purchase Rotary merchandise, such as clothing, pins and other items.

Annie says space in the House of Friendships was snapped up soon after it became available, earlier this year.

“The majority of displayers signed up quickly,” she says. “Every space was booked and paid for within about a month.”

Annie promises that the House of Friendship will be more than just displays.

“It will be a place for Rotarians to have a conversation, charge their phones and recharge themselves,” she says. “It’s a place where people can meet before or after sessions.”

Peace Dinner

An event being introduced at the conference for the first time is the Supporting Peace Through The Rotary Foundation Dinner, beginning at 5:30 on Thursday evening, October 18.

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Rotary Peace Fellow Stephanie Wollard will be featured speaker during the Supporting Peace Through The Rotary Foundation dinner on Thursday, October 18

There is a separate charge for this dinner, which is open to all Rotarians and guests, whether they are attending the conference or not. Tickets for the dinner cost $85.00, plus GST. Click here to purchase your tickets.The peace dinner is being held conjunction with the Paul Harris Society Dinner, which is traditionally held on the Thursday evening before the conference begins.

The featured speaker will be Stephanie Wollard, a Rotary Peace Fellow and a Rotarian from Australia. She is also speaking at the Conference on Saturday afternoon.

PHS Coordinator Carol Devereux (Rotary Club of Edmonton South) explains that the dinner, “is a way for society members to get together for fellowship and to be recognized for their ongoing contributions to the Foundation.”

The District 5370 Paul Harris Society consists of about 100 members, each of whom has committed to an annual donation of $US1,000 to TRF.

The introduction of a peace dinner fits with the District’s 2018-19 goal to become a Rotary Peacebuilder District.

Carol points to peace and conflict prevention/resolution as one of TRF’s areas of focus.

During 2017-18, Rotary International hosted six Peace Building Summits around the world, each of which focused on how one of the other areas of focus contributed to building more peaceful societies.

“A characteristic of a peaceful society is how it aligns with all the areas of focus for TRF,” Carol says.

“When clubs have projects related to any of these areas of focus, they are contributing to peace building,” she says. “If people are not struggling, they are less likely to be convinced to pick up a gun.”

The other areas of focus for TRF are disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

Governor’s Ball

The conference will wrap up Saturday evening with the Governor’s Ball, a celebration of Rotary including a great meal, followed by dancing to the music of an 18-piece orchestra.

The evening will have a 1920’s theme, which District Governor Ingrid Neitsch describes as “a shout out to the early glory years of Rotary, because it was in the 1920’s when things really got going.”

Your conference registration includes a ticket to the Governor’s Ball. Additional tickets are available for purchase for people who will not be attending the rest of the conference.

District Conference speakers who pursued their dreams will inspire Rotarians to follow their own

District conference MainEach of the speakers that Rotarians will hear from at the 2018 District 5370 Conference will underscore the event’s theme, Reach For Your Dream.

“All the speakers had dreams, which they pursued and which were fulfilled,” says District Governor Ingrid Neitsch.

“Listening to them will inspire us to follow our dreams.”

The conference takes place Thursday through Saturday, October 18 to 20, at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton. Click here to register.

Barb Stegemann, who will speak Saturday morning at 9:15, “had a dream to fulfil her friend’s dream and has done so,” Ingrid says.

Stegemann’s friend, Captain Trevor Greene, joined “the military to fight the oppression of women in Afghanistan,” according to a news release promoting the award-winning documentary Perfume Wars, which will be screened at 3:00 p.m. Saturday in Hall D.

The movie shows how, “Barb Stegemann is moved to take on her best friend’s mission after he is brutally axed in the head by the Taliban,” the news release says. “Stegemann works with Afghan famers who grow legal flower crops instead of the illegal heroin poppy—the Taliban’s chief income source—and creates an unlikely weapon for world peace. And it’s perfume.”

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Barb Stegemann will speak on Saturday morning at the District 5370 Conference

The opportunity to see this movie is included in your conference registration, which also includes all the keynote and breakout sessions, access to the House of Friendship, breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday, and the Governor’s Ball on Saturday evening.

A discounted first-time attendee rate of $375 is available for any Rotarian or non-Rotarian who has not attended a District Conference previously. Special rates are also available for Rotaractors, Interactors and exchange students.

Ingrid emphasizes that non-Rotarians are welcome to attend the conference. “It’s a great way to have non-Rotarians interact with Rotarians and learn about Rotary and the great work Rotarians do locally and around the world,” she says.

Tickets to attend the screening of Perfume Wars will be available at the door for $20 each to people who are not registered for the conference.

Current and former members of the military have been invited to attend at no charge, as guests of the District.

Captain Greene and his wife Debbie will be present for a question and answer session following the screening.

Another speaker, Stephanie Wollard, “fulfilled her dream to work with women of Nepal who were marginalized due to disabilities.”

This Rotary Peace Fellow and Rotarian from Australia  established a non-profit in 2008 to provide skills training and employment so these women can lead a life of independence.

The story of Seven Women is told in Wollard’s book, From Tin Shed to the United Nations.

Wollard, who spoke at the Rotary International Convention in Toronto in June, will also be the featured speaker at the Supporting Peace through The Rotary Foundation Dinner on Thursday evening.

The dream of Susan Morrice, who will speak at 11:15 on Friday, was to find oil in Belize, where no one had found oil previously.

“Oil executives told her not to waste her time,” Ingrid says, but she wasn’t deterred. “The first well they drilled struck oil.”

Other speakers include Marilyn Fitzgerald, Jeff Polovick, Mitty Chang, Douglas Jackson, Michael Angela Caruso, Jim Bell and Jennifer Jones.

Jones is a former vice-president of Rotary International, one of only three women ever to hold this position.

Information about all the speakers and the conference schedule is available on the conference website, where you can also go to register.

Ingrid believes that Rotarians who attend the conference will be inspired to follow their dreams.

“Through Rotary, we can all fulfil our hopes and dreams.”