Rotarians from Edmonton Strathcona provide gifts to women and children living in shelter at Christmas

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Rotarians from Edmonton Strathcona brought gifts for residents of the WINGS women’s shelter to their Christmas party

The decision by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona to make Women in Need Growing Stronger the beneficiary of its 2019 Christmas project flowed naturally from members’ discussions last year to define the focus of the club’s community service efforts. 

“Our emphasis is on women and children, so WINGS fits very nicely,” say Rotarian Audrey Martyn. “It looks like WINGS will be sticking around with us for a little while now.”

WINGS was established by the Sisters of Providence in 1986. According to its website, “At WINGS, we address the social, psychological and health issues affecting women and children, extending our programs inclusively to clients of all races, cultural and religious backgrounds.”

“It’s a two-stage housing project for women who are leaving domestic abuse,” Audrey says. “In their first-stage housing, they take people in who have just left situations of abuse. Most of the women come with children. They provide them with shelter for the first six months. They also provide counselling for the mothers and the children and they provide daycare services. 

“Then they have stage-two housing, which is after you have been there for six months. Then they place you in an apartment. Organizations and people donate things to help them furnish their apartments. The women are encouraged to go into education, because they need to find a job and move on with their life.

“They can be there for a couple of years before they are phased out. It depends on how successful they are and how much background and education they have.”

Each Christmas season, members of the Edmonton Strathcona club select a charity to support. “We have always done something with a charity that deals with homelessness or people in need in some way,” Audrey says. 

This year, the club prepared Christmas boxes for women and members purchased pyjamas for children at the centre. These were presented to WINGS director Rhonda Jansen, who made a presentation during the club’s Christmas party at University of Alberta Faculty Club.

Rotarians were asked to fill shoeboxes purchased at a dollar store with personal care items for the women. 

“We tell people to put in things like hand lotion, body lotion, lip gloss, deodorant, socks, mitts and small things, because it is only one little box. You need to get it in the box,” Audrey says.

This year, Rotarians also provided pyjamas for the approximately 100 children living at the shelter.

“People were told to wrap them in Christmas wrap and put boy or girl and the size on it,” Audrey says. “We had over 100 pyjamas and more than 60 boxes.”

Members brought the pyjamas to the Christmas party, after which Rotarians loaded them and the boxes into the WINGS director’s van.

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Rotarians from Edmonton Strathcona filled a trunk with gifts for women and children at WINGS

In addition to the support they provided at Christmas, members of the Edmonton Strathcona club have donated $5,000 for the daycare facility.

Also they collected clothing for the women. 

“A bunch of us who have a professional background asked if anyone wanted to donate clothing, especially for women who are looking for jobs,” Audrey says. “Many of us are retired or semi-retired, so we don’t need as many things in our closet, or they don’t fit anymore. We collected 12 large garbage bags full of clothing.” 

One member brought in 40 purses. 

“She didn’t want everyone to know, but by the time the evening was over, everyone in the room knew that she had shown up with 40 purses,” Audrey says. “We had a laugh about that. We were like, ‘How many?’”

The Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona meets on Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. at the Woodvale Facility and Golf Clubhouse, 4540-50 Street NW

Mark your calendar—upcoming Rotary events during 2020

Mark your calendar

As you plan for 2020, here are a few Rotary-related dates to keep in mind, including District 5370 and Rotary International events and a few significant club milestones. Keep an eye on the Announcements section of the biweekly District 5370 CONNECTIONS newsletter for additional information about these and other events as we get closer to these dates.

Note that announcements related to any upcoming club event that Rotarians from other clubs should know about are always welcome. Email a brief description and include a link to a website for more information on how to register or buy tickets, to communications@Rotary5370.org. We’ll tweet about your event and include it in future District 5370 CONNECTIONS newsletters.

PETS 2020: Planning Your Year 

Saturday, February 1

District 5370 will be hosting an exciting day of learning for Rotary and Rotaract Presidents-Elect and Assistant Governors in Edmonton, Grande Prairie and other locations across our District 5370.

Register in the location of your choice.

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Webinar for Rotary and Rotaract Presidents-Elect and Assistant Governors

Monday, March 9 (7-8:30 p.m.)

Watch District 5370 CONNECTIONS for more details.

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Edmonton Area Integrity Awards — Wednesday, March 18

Chateau Lacombe Hotel Ballroom, 10111 Bellamy Hill Rd., Edmonton

6 p.m. Doors open and cocktails

6:30 Buffet Supper

7-9 Presentation of Awards

Tickets:           $60.

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Spring Learning Assembly: Power of Team Leadership

Friday evening, March 20 and Saturday, March 21

Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre

11727 Kingsway NW,  Edmonton

Watch District 5370 CONNECTIONS for more details.

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The Rotary Foundation Grants Training (Webinar) 

As part of our district stewardship regarding use of The Rotary Foundation funds all clubs wishing to participate in District or Global Grants must have at least one club representative attend one of our training webinars.  There are five available times you can attend which should allow everyone the opportunity to be involved.  Webinar dates have been tentatively set as follows:

April 2nd, 7th, 15th & 22nd at 7:00 PM MT and April 11th at 9:00 AM MT.  

An invitation and further details will be forthcoming in early March.

Rotary Club of the Battlefords — 100th Anniversary Celebration 

Friday, April 24

Watch District 5370 CONNECTIONS for more details.

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Webinar for Rotary and Rotaract Presidents-Elect and Assistant Governors

Monday, May 4 (7-8:30 p.m.)

Watch District 5370 CONNECTIONS for more details.

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Rotary Club of Edmonton South — 70th Anniversary Celebration 

Thursday, May 21 or May 28 

(Date to be confirmed) 

Watch District 5370 CONNECTIONS for more details.

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Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.47.38 PM2020 Rotary International Convention

Honolulu, Hawaii

June 6 – 10

https://www.riconvention.org/en/honolulu/

Deadline for discounted registration is March 31, 2020

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Rotary Flyer Hawaii Convention 2020__V10

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Webinar for Rotary and Rotaract Presidents-Elect and Assistant Governors

Wednesday, June 17 (7-8:30 p.m.)

Watch District 5370 CONNECTIONS for more details.

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Rotary Club of Yellowknife 50th Anniversary

Saturday, June 20

The Rotary Club of Yellowknife was chartered on May 20, 1970. We are inviting all Rotarians to join us on Saturday, June 20 for a barbecue in Rotary Park. It is a festive long weekend in Yellowknife with a solstice festival on Main Street on June 19, a midnight golf tournament on June 21 and a fish fry and stage show on June 21 for Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

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Vision 2020 Logo w dateVision 2020 District Conference

September 17-19

DoubleTree by Hilton, Edmonton

A great lineup of speakers including Project Amigo alumna Valeria Guadalupe Ramírez Rojas, Rotary Global Grant Scholar Amy Smith, Canadian Olympian Beckie Scott, and Dr. Mark Joffe, a health-care leader with a lifelong passion for and interest in the prevention of infectious diseases, including polio.

Plus: The House of Friendship and “Project Fair,” where you can showcase your club projects, connect with fellow Rotarians, share ideas, learn, inspire and celebrate all our successes; and Rotary’s Got Talent on Friday evening, where you can become part of the entertainment. 

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Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park Association (WGIPPA) Assembly

September 18-20, 2020

East Glacier, Montana

www.watertonglacierpeacepark.org

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Zones 28 & 32 Symposia

(focusing on two of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals)

Life On Land – Anchorage, Alaska, November 19-21, 2020

Life Below Water – Hamilton, Bermuda, January 14-16, 2021

For more information, visit our Zone website and choose the symposium link under “Zone Conferences.”

Tracey Vavrek reflects on her first six months as District Governor

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.

0080_t.sedore-photography-aug2018-1.jpg“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.”

Screen Shot 2019-10-13 at 12.48.47 PMAnother 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.”

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 11.19.17 PMThe 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.

Screen Shot 2019-06-25 at 9.58.52 AMYvone 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.”