Six months into the role and after having visited all 60 clubs, District Governor Tracey Vavrek is feeling proud to be part of Rotary District 5370.
“I am honoured to represent District 5370, especially after what we’ve experienced in our travels, seeing the impact that members are making,” Tracey says.
Reaching all 60 clubs required Tracey and Vince to drive 32,000 km in their Toyota Highlander, nicked named Amelia Kind Heart. There were also flights to visit the two clubs in Whitehorse, which became part of our District on July 1, 2019.
“We’ve had the opportunity to meet close to 2,000 individuals,” Tracey says. “All our members have such a beautiful spirit of family, connectedness, friendship and feeling they can to do so much for others.”
Tracey found that no matter their size, Rotary clubs across the District are making a difference in their communities.
“We have clubs with maybe 20 or 25 members and they are the strength of the community,” she says. “They’re on the ground, working really hard together and partnering with a variety of organizations and municipalities to help ensure the communities they live in are extremely strong and have what’s needed.”
Apart from club visits, there have been other highlights. Topping the list has been the opportunity to induct new Rotarians.
“At many clubs, we have inducted new members into the Rotary family. It has been very humbling to see their excitement, their energy and their passion and to know that they are there to make a difference for others,” Tracey says.
Tracey encourages Rotarians to invite others to join Rotary, “because the world and our communities need more Rotary and we need more members to help us do more.”
Another highlight was the Pints for Polio initiative to raise funds to help eradicate polio.
“I’m extremely proud of our members’ dedication to our Pints for Polio initiative. The majority, if not all, clubs have done something in support of ending polio.” Tracey says.
“We know the importance of a hard push right now, so this extra work that our clubs are doing has been absolutely tremendous.”
The People of Action District Conference, held in Grande Prairie in October, was successful both financially and in terms of the enthusiasm of participants.
With 560 registrations, including 135 first-time attendees, it was the District’s largest conference ever. “Following the conference, many Rotarians spoke to us about different things that they grabbed from the conference that they were utilizing themselves and within their clubs.”
The next District Conference, Vision 2020, will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Edmonton, September 17-19, 2020. Click here for more information and to register.
For this year, there have been a number of changes to how the District board operates.
The Services portfolio has been divided into two positions, one focused on community service and the other on international service.
“Having two different directors allows the board to have equal opportunity to reflect on our support for international projects and the amazing work clubs do within their communities,” Tracey says. “It gives us double the capacity to do tremendous service work locally, as well as internationally.”
Alexis Ksiazkiewicz (RC of Edmonton) is the Community Services Director and Al Pierog (RC of Edmonton South), the director for International Services.
“They’re a conduit to our Rotary clubs,” Tracey says. “They are knowledge centres and they are advocates. They can support clubs to partner, to work together. It could be funding. It could be travel. It could be service together.”
Another recent change was to invite Yvone Joubert (Grant MacEwan Rotaract Club) to join the board as a non-voting young leader representative.
“One of the things that was really important to me through all of my training was continuing to have a voice, and not just a voice but the expertise, the thoughts, the wisdom, the perspective of our young leaders,” Tracey says.
Yvone was one of 65 Rotaractors from around the world invited to join District Governors-Elect during their training at the Rotary International Assembly held in San Diego in January 2019.
“This highlighted to me even more the importance to be inclusive as a District. We should reflect diversity at the board table,” Tracey says. “Having Yvone there gives us another perspective.”
Another change was the creation of a Finance Committee, led by treasurer Maureen Liviniuk (RC of Edmonton Mayfield).
This committee will “facilitate transparency, accountability, financial controls, compliance and best practices to meet Rotary International’s Code of Policies and ensure proper stewardship of our District resources,” Tracey says.
Of course, no year would be complete for a District Governor without a few challenges, which for Tracey has meant dealing with a number of resignations.
In the fall, Director of Administrative Services Donna Nichol (RC of Edmonton Northeast) and Youth Director Tamara Larson (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue) resigned.
These resignations have provided an opportunity to step back and look at what is required.
“We’re in the midst of looking at what the future looks like for our District and what are the right positions to have in place to support the District.
“We asking, ‘What are these pieces of the admin that are really important to go forward? What do we need for the future?’ Same for the youth services. ‘What’s best for our District to ensure that we continue all the great work that has been started?’
“In the interim, we’ve got some good people that are providing support and resources to all the different aspects of these portfolios, while we are very focused on ensuring that when we go forward, it’s going to be with even stronger portfolios.”
The other resignation was that of office manager Rene Cavanagh after more than 11 years in the role. She left to become the community and volunteer engagement co-ordinator for Habitat for Humanity.
“We recognize the work that Rene has contributed to us. She helped us form what we are today,” Tracey says. “Rene was very instrumental in helping to build our District from all levels.”
Recruitment to fill this position began in December and Tracey expects to have hired a new office manager early in 2020.
As the second half of her term as District Governor begins, Tracey looks forward to revisiting and working with some clubs and to being with three clubs as they celebrate significant anniversaries.
“We look forward to helping the Rotary Club of The Battlefords celebrate their 100th anniversary,” Tracey says. “We also have the Rotary Club of Yellowknife that’s going to be celebrating their 50th anniversary and the Rotary Club of Edmonton South will be celebrating their 70th anniversary.”
Another highlight of 2020 will be the Integrity Awards ceremony, to be hosted by the Edmonton-area clubs on March 18.
“We’re very excited to join and participate and to recognize the individuals at that event.”
Even though there is much still to look forward to, the lasting memories for Tracey will be the club visits.
“We have experienced some tremendous culture in all of the clubs. The clubs are very strong. We see the friendship. We see the caring. We see the drive and each club has its own identity. Each club has developed their own culture to be strong, to be exciting,” Tracey says.
“That has been a really tremendous experience, to see the variety, to see the different ways that people support each other, but to also see the ways that they come together and are very dedicated to service. That was new for me; to understand how unique each club was.
“It has really helped me appreciate even more the work and the impact of what a Rotary club really represents.”