Vision 2020: A virtual committee plans a terrestrial District Conference to be hosted by a virtual Rotary club

Vision 2020 Logo w dateWhat happened two weeks ago in a meeting room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Edmonton had never happened before and may never happen again.

A group of Rotarians who have been working toward for same goal for months, despite many having not met each other in person, came together for their first face-to-face meeting. 

Nearly a year after the committee planning the Vision 2020 District 5370 Conference was established, its members were all in the same room for the first time.

The Vision 2020 Conference will be held at the DoubleTree September 17-19, 2020. Register by Halloween to save $25 by taking advantage of the early-bird rate.

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 9.51.45 AMThe full registration is $425, but until October 31, you will only pay $400.

Thanks to sponsorship from the Edmonton Community Foundation, there is a reduced registration rate to Interact and Rotaract members.

Before their October 8 gathering, all of the committee’s monthly planning meetings had been online.

That is fitting because the Vision 2020 conference will be hosted by the Rotary E-club of Canada One, which conducts its weekly meetings on line, as the home club of the District 5370 Governor-elect.

For 2020-2021, Jim Ferguson will be the first e-club member anywhere in the Rotary world to serve as a District Governor, which means that Canada One will be the first e-club to host a district conference.

“I contacted Rotary International to ask if we are the first e-club to host a District conference,” say conference chair and Past District Governor Elly Contreras (E-club of Canada One). “They confirmed that we are.”

Unlike other recent District conferences, all of Vision 2020 will occur under one roof, with presentations, meals and entertainment scheduled for a banquet room only steps from the elevators that connect the meeting area with guest rooms.

The DoubleTree is offering a special conference rate to Rotarians, with a free upgrade for the first 20 people who book at the hotel.

The House of Friendship—rebranded as an “exhibition hall” for this conference—will be located directly across the foyer from the meeting room.

In addition to commercial displays, the exhibition hall will include a project fair. This will be an opportunity for Rotary, Interact and Rotaract clubs to showcase club projects, connect with fellow Rotarians, share ideas, learn, inspire and celebrate our successes. 

There will be a nominal fee of $50 per booth for Rotary clubs. Commercial displayers will pay $250.

PDG Judy Brown (E-Club of Canada One) is responsible for organizing the exhibition hall and project fair.

A booth application form is available on the Vision 2020 website. Inquiries can be sent to: Vision2020hof@gmail.com

Besides its virtual meetings, another difference in this conference’s approach to planning is the increased participation of Rotarians from other clubs in the conference committee. While the involvement of Rotarians from several clubs in conference planning is not unusual, the number of clubs represented this year is greater than in previous years. At least 12 clubs have members on the committee. 

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Members of the Vision 2020 Planning Committee at the 2019 People of Action District Conference in Grande Prairie. Left to right, conference chair PDG Elly Contreras (E-club of Canada One), Tammy Waugh (E-club), PDG Betty Screpnek (RC of Edmonton Glenora), Ramiro Contreras (E-club), Jocelyne Ferguson (RC of Athabasca) and DGE Jim Ferguson (E-club)

Including members of other clubs was not part of the initial plans, according to the committee chair.

“It just happened that way,” Elly says. “At the Changeover Event in June 2019, people came to Jim to offer to help. We have involved people from other clubs because many people want to be involved.”

Others, such as District Youth Chair Tamara Larson (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue) were invited to join the committee because of their expertise. 

“We needed someone for the youth committee. Rather than approach someone in our club, I approached Tamara.”

Elly sees benefits flowing from the involvement of Rotarians from across the District. 

“This may make this more of a District conference, than just a conference organized by a club for the District,” she says.

She also notes that the committee includes Past District Governors, who hosted previous District Conferences, and two future governors.

“Because Past District Governors have the experience, you don’t have to tell them what to do,” Elly says.

“This is also an opportunity to learn how it’s done. District Governor Nominee Donna Barrett (RC of Edmonton Sunrise) approached us, saying, ‘I have to do this next year, so I want to learn how it’s done.’ ”

Jocelyne Ferguson (RC of Athabasca) is leading the team that is planning social events, including a reception for Rotarians when they register Thursday evening, a Governor’s Ball on Saturday and a return of Rotary’s Got Talent after a 10-year absence from District conferences.

This could be your chance to highlight your vocal, instrumental, juggling or comedic talents. Learn how you can become part of Rotary’s Got Talent on the Vision 2020 website.

PDG Ross Tyson (RC of Edmonton Northeast) chairs the committee responsible for securing speakers for the conference, which will include:

  • Canadian Olympic gold medalist Beckie Scott, who now chairs the World Anti-Doping Agency. She will speak about integrity in sports and in life.
  • Dr. Chris Brauer, a highly regarded and sought-after world expert on the technologies of the future.
  • Rotarian Alan Mallory, who will speak of the extreme challenges he and his family endured while attempting to scale Mount Everest and how that experience has changed his life forever.
  • Amy Smith, who spent two years studying the social and cultural dynamics of development, at the University of Queensland in Australia, as a Rotary Global Grant Scholar.
  • Infectious disease expert Dr. Mark Joffe, who has studied the impact of the polio epidemic in Edmonton in the 1950s.
  • Norma Ascencio, a young woman who grew up in poverty with her family in the hills of Colima, Mexico, with little hope for a future until she was given an opportunity by Project Amigo to go to school. Through her ambition and hard work, she graduated as a lawyer.

 

Rotary City prepares to welcome Rotarians, October 3-5

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The 2019 People of Action District Conference, October 3-5, will be the result of a two-year community-wide effort, involving Rotarians from Grande Prairie’s four Rotary clubs and its Rotaract Club.

Click here to register now!

“We have been called ‘Rotary City’ here in Grande Prairie for many years, with us having so many clubs,” says conference co-chair Devon Potter (RC of Grande Prairie After Five).

Having so many Rotarians willing to help with the conference has been important says the other co-chair, Lola Wright, who is also a member of the Grande Prairie After Five club.

“We have lots of clubs here and lots of willing people and we really have tried to get committee members from all the clubs,” she says.

“We don’t really think of ourselves as so many different clubs. We meet at different times, because that’s what works for our work schedule or our personal life, but when we get to these things like the convention, we’re all just Rotarians. We really work together as a team and that’s how most of the Rotary projects in Grande Prairie work.”

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“We were fortunate to have members of the committee who had helped with the 2012 District Conference that was held here,” Devon says. “To have some of their knowledge and experience behind us was a driving force in leading Lola and me in the right direction in terms of what worked well with that conference and what didn’t.”

Lola became involved in the conference planning two years ago, when she was approached by then-District Governor Nominee Tracey Vavrek. “Of course, when they are in their planning stage, District Governors look for someone in their club to chair the conference, so Tracey asked. 

“I said I thought I could take that on, but it was a lot on my own, so we put our heads together and Tracey thought of Devon as a young, energetic gal. We asked Devon if she would co-chair and she agreed quickly, so that’s how we became a team.”

At the time she was approached, Devon was a member of both the Rotaract club and the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie After Five.

“I love working with people, I love organizing things, so that felt natural,” Devon says. “Then I asked Lola, ‘What does this entail?’ She said, ‘I have no clue, but we can figure it out together.’ That was good enough for me. I think we were up for a challenge and really balance each other well, in our personalities and how we look at different aspects of the conference.”

More than a Rotary conference

From the beginning, the conference was envisioned as more than a Rotary conference organized by members only from the District Governor’s club. It will be a community conference, with speakers and other activities that will appeal to both Rotarians and non-Rotarians.

“In Grande Prairie, we really come together, our Rotary clubs as well as many of our community partners, whether it’s business or individuals, who really have seen the impact of Rotary or wanted to personally get involved, but they just aren’t Rotarians themselves,” Devon says. 

“We didn’t want to say, ‘No, you’re not welcome to attend if you’re not a Rotarian,’ when truly they act in the Rotarian spirit. They just don’t have that name tag or that badge that shows that they are. We are all People of Action and we all deserve the chance to learn more and engage with one another and perhaps people who are not Rotarians (now) will want to be.”

Lola feels that the concept fits well with the 2019-2020 theme that “Rotary Connects the World.” 

“If that’s the motto for this year, and if we want to connect our community, then we need to have a community conference and be proud that it’s Rotary that is putting it on and creating an opportunity to connect with the whole community and with the whole District.” 

An opportunity to hear interesting speakers

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Former RI Vice President Dean Rohrs

Following that philosophy, this conference will include several speakers  whose messages will interest all attendees.

“I am really excited about the balance in speakers. We have a variety of Rotarians and non-Rotarians; happy stories, sad stories; good work in the community, some laughter, some personal growth,” Lola says. “We are quite proud that these are all Canadians, except for two. The rest are all Canadian speakers. We have really tried to keep that at the forefront. I think we have done well sourcing Canadians speakers.”

While she feels that people should attend just for the speakers, the conference will offer much more.

“People would think nothing of going to Edmonton or Calgary or Vancouver and paying good money to pay these kinds of speakers, where here they are getting a whole conference for that kind of price — a conference where the food is all included. We have an incredible band coming from Calgary for the District Governor’s Ball,” Lola says. “When they sign up, their days will be full. It’s good value for the ticket price.”

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Entrepreneur Mark Brand will speak at the 2019 District Conference

Devon says one speaker she is looking forward to hearing is Mark Brand. 

“He is a younger entrepreneur who came from nothing. He got to the lowest part of his life and decided he wanted to turn that around and he wanted to support others who had been in his position,” she says. 

“He wasn’t just trying to find a Band-Aid solution to homelessness and addiction and things like that. He really was trying to find a long-term solution. I am interested in what he has to say.”

Some of the other speakers lined up to speak at the Conference are Amanda Lindhout, who was abducted and held captive in Somalia for 460 days, Neil Pasricha, the best selling author of The Book of Awesome, and 2017-2018 Rotary International Vice President Dean Rohr (RC of Langley Central).

The complete list of speakers is available on the conference website.

An exciting House of Friendship

Another feature that’s prominent when Rotarians gather for conferences is the House of Friendship, and the Grande Prairie conference will be no exception.

With 14 of the 20 available booths already spoken for, Devon says, “the numbers are good and we have a range of diversity in those who are attending. A lot of the avenues of service are being represented. Different projects and groups are being represented. For the most part, it’s Rotary groups but there are some that aren’t Rotarian yet, but have projects that might coincide with Rotary,” she says. 

“We are hoping to have a youth table. We are going to have our Earlyact members as well as some of our younger community members at a table, displaying the work they are doing and selling items for charity. We are pretty excited to be able to offer that this year.”

Information about booking space in the House of Friendship is also available on the conference website.

Just over a month out from the conference, nearly 350 people have registered, which is more than half way to the total of 600 the conference committee predicts will attend. About 10 per cent of these are non-Rotarian community members.

The organizers are hoping that those who are intending to attend but haven’t registered yet, will do so soon.

“That will sure help the committee. Lots of people are saying they are going to register, but we are kind of a last-minute world for some reason. We know people are busy with vacations right now, but the sooner we know our numbers the better,” Lola says.

Special hotel rates, shuttles and a bus from Edmonton

Special conference rates at hotels in Grande Prairie will expire on September 19.

For those flying into Grande Prairie, there are shuttles to take them to their hotels. 

Shuttles have been arranged to transport participants between the hotels and the conference site at the TARA Centre, at Evergreen Park on the southern outskirts of the city.

When people register, they will be asked whether they need shuttle service from their hotel to the event centre, to help the committee with its planning. 

For Rotarians who would prefer to neither drive or fly to Grande Prairie, there will be bus transportation to and from Grande Prairie. The bus will leave Edmonton on Thursday morning, October 3, at 10:00 a.m., and return at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, October 6. 

The cost is $79.00, which includes refreshments and snacks both ways.

Contact Grant Schneider if you are interested. (780) 483-1083, Cell (780) 952-2673, grant@aligrawineandspirts.com.  

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Two Whitehorse clubs joined District 5370 on July 1

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In terms of geographic area, our District has always been one of the largest in the world. On July 1, it became even larger.

It now includes the Yukon, with two traditional clubs and, soon, a satellite club in Whitehorse.

District 5370 now connects People of Action across three provinces (B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan) and two territories (Northwest and Yukon).

Prior to this year, the Yukon clubs were part of District 5010, which consists of 38 clubs in Alaska.

While Whitehorse is geographically closer to communities in Alaska than it is to much of District 5370, attending events in District 5010 was inconvenient for Rotarians in the Yukon capital. 

“Travel from Whitehorse to Alaska is not easy,” says Ken Nash, president of the Rotary Club of Whitehorse Rendezvous. “There is not an airline that flies directly to places in Alaska, while we have good airline service to Alberta.”

The Rendezvous club has 18 members but will be growing to include a new 10-member satellite club in August.

Ian McKenzie, who is president of the 27-member Rotary Club of Whitehorse, explains in more detail, the challenge of attending events in Alaska.

“To get to Anchorage, if you’re flying, it means a flight from here to Vancouver, and from Vancouver to Seattle, and from Seattle back up to Anchorage.” 

On the other hand, “we can get on an airplane flight here and be in Edmonton in a couple of hours.”

Driving to Anchorage takes at least two days, Ian says. “If you have a two-day convention in Anchorage, you have four days of driving or a time-consuming flight, which would still be a day on either side.” 

Both presidents and other Whitehorse Rotarians say they will be taking advantage of the improved transportation opportunities to attend the 2019 District 5370 Conference in Grande Prairie, October 3-5.

“We have very good interest from members about coming to the District Conference,” Ken says. “At a meeting, we had a show of hands, and I think we are up to seven or eight. It may be even higher.”

Map of YukonDistrict Governor Tracey Vavrek says she is looking forward to welcoming Rotarians from the Yukon at the District Conference. “I am honoured that they will be joining us for our conference in October.”

She is also looking forward to her visit to the two clubs later in October.

“I am very excited to go and spend time in the Yukon, to get to know everyone. I have actually scheduled for us to be there for a full week so we will have the opportunity to see the projects they have done and sit down and share stories, to hear about their journeys. I hope to be the conduit to allow them to share their stories and journeys with us.”

The inconvenience of travel to Alaska was only one of the reasons that Whitehorse Rotarians wanted to become part of District 5370.

“The regulations for societies and organizations in the U.S. are different than what we do here in Canada,” Ian says. “Oftentimes, we were having to do things that were more complex than we would have needed to do in a Canadian setting.”

Another factor was the U.S. exchange rate.

“We found it that was not always that easy to always be dealing with exchange of funds from Canadian to U.S. dollars,” Ken says. “That is one of the issues we had for all the different events.”

For Ken, who once taught high school in Grande Prairie, there was one more reason to be part of our District.

“As a retired educator, personally I am very keen on services for students and programs for leadership for students. When I look at the youth programs of 5370, they are so much better suited to our youth. I’m excited about that,” he says

“From what little I know at this point, and I am certainly going to pursue it to find out more, I am looking forward to working in that area.”

Transferring from District 5010 to District 5370 was something Rotarians in Whitehorse had discussed for years before they took the initiative in 2018-2019 to move from talk to action.

“In terms of the re-districting, it was not necessary for both clubs to be on board for either club to put in an application to do that,” says Ian. “It so happened that the Rendezvous club was also interested taking that action, so it came together for both clubs at the same time.”

Says Ken: “I took on the job of laying out what re-districting would involve and I felt we should consider it as a process. What happened from there was that I shared it with the other club, and certainly with our club, and then over a period of time there was a number of opportunities to examine just what this would mean. Then finally, votes were taken. We did set the bar very high. We had to have over 75 per cent of the members support the move. We easily reached those levels of support.” 

“There was the vote held on May 15, which in our club was unanimous for the change,” says Ian, from the Whitehorse club. 

“[After Rotarians vote] the application goes through the District Governor to Rotary International and they make their decision, yes or no. Normally, the standard process takes up to two years, but there is a fast track if everyone is in agreement. Each District sends letters to the clubs in their respective Districts. There is a 30-day period, during which they can respond to that letter. As I understand, there were no objections raised, apart from a response of disappointment from folks in Alaska that we wouldn’t be part of their District any longer.” 

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The Rotary Club of Whitehorse meets on Friday at noon in the Westmark Hotel, and the Rendezvous club on Tuesday at 7:00 a.m. at the Yukon Inn.

After it receives its charter, the satellite club “won’t meet as often as we do. Their plan is to meet twice a month,” Ian says. “Probably [there will be] one meeting, which would be kind of a business meeting, and another meeting that would be a hands-on activity.”

Changeover Event: A time for reflection on the past year and visualizing the year to come

 

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PDG Ingrid Neitsch pins DG Tracey Vavrek during Changeover Event on June 27

For outgoing District Governor Ingrid Neitsch (RC of Edmonton West), the District Changeover held on June 27 was an opportunity to reflect on the previous 12 months and highlight the many achievements of 2018-2019.

For incoming District Governor Tracey Vavrek (RC of Grande Prairie After Five), it was a chance to set the agenda for the next Rotary year.

Before passing the title of District Governor to Tracey, Ingrid described her “fabulous adventure” to approximately 200 Rotarians from across the District who were in attendance at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre in Edmonton.

“It has been my honour and privilege to lead and represent this District,” she said. “Our theme was ‘Be the Inspiration!’ I set out to inspire our members, and our members inspired me! The commitment and passion that I witnessed first-hand is unforgettable.”

Of her visits to the 57 clubs in our District, she said, “I thoroughly enjoyed the many community tours and community events, some of which were unique.”

Ingrid recalled that a year earlier, at the June 2018 changeover event, she had presented her vision and plan for 2018-2019. “I explained our District planning process and the integrated Strategic Plan. I announced a new direction and initiative and outlined important goals I wanted our District to accomplish.”

Becoming a Peacebuilder District

IMG_7170The major goal for this past year was to be recognized as a Peacebuilder District by Rotary International, for which a donation of US$25,000 to support RI’s Peace Centres was a key criteria. The support for this initiative exceeded Ingrid’s expectations.

“I am absolutely thrilled by the support from our clubs, individuals and District. YES! We achieved Peacebuilder status — for TWO years!”

“Peace Centres provide an opportunity for individuals who have been sponsored and strenuously vetted by a Rotary District, to be chosen to attend a three-month peace certificate or a two-year master’s program in peace and conflict resolution, all paid for by Rotary.”

Menasha Nikhanj from Edmonton is currently enrolled in the three-month professional certificate program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Ingrid promises that achieving a Peacebuider District is just the beginning. “We will continue to develop peace building activities and sessions during this next year,” she says.

“As a result of our new collaborative work with our educational institutions, the University of Alberta and Concordia University hosted an open-to-the public peace building session which was well received. Another project is planned for next year.”

RI will also maintain its focus on peace building. “At the Peace Symposium in Hamburg (held in connection with 2019 RI Convention), senior Rotary leaders announced that steps are being taken to have Rotary become a world leader in peace building,” Ingrid said.

Goals set, goals achieved

Other 2018-2019 goals related to membership, creating awareness of The Rotary Foundation (TRF), enhancing Rotary’s public image, and celebrating our youth programs.

The year saw the establishment of several new clubs, including a new Interact Club at W.P. Wagner High School (sponsored by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona); the Rotaract Club of Concordia University (sponsored by Edmonton Northeast); a satellite club of the Rotary Club of Dawson Creek) in Chetwynd, B.C.; and the YEG Passport Club (sponsored by Edmonton Whyte Avenue).

In addition, two existing clubs in Whitehorse, YT became part of our District on July 1. 

Ingrid congratulated the TRF team, led by chair Wayne Kauffman (RC of Edmonton Riverview), for its efforts to create awareness of the foundation’s good work.

“All the funds donated support projects by our clubs around the world, in the form of grants.”

Related to public image, Ingrid noted that the District “created a communications plan to develop and improve our public image in our District and the community.”

In part, this was achieved through Ingrid’s posts to the District Facebook page, increased social media engagement, articles on the District blog, Rotary International District 5370 News and a District newsletter.

Inspire, our District newsletter, went to each District member, not just the presidents, so everyone received the same information at the same time,” she said.

“We made a concentrated effort to expand community awareness of Rotary.  Presentations were made to several community groups and we began a collaborative project with the University of Alberta, which will expand next Rotary year.

“We had significant coverage of Rotary stories in the capital region newspapers in print and online, and in community papers around the District.”

Shifting to youth programs, Ingrid said, “We have outstanding opportunities for our youth to participate in many activities, such as the RYLA, RYLE, RYPEN programs.

“We did a lot of work to ensure that our youth exchange program is directly aligned and compliant with Rotary International guidelines, with everyone involved with our youth programs having a mandatory security check.”

DG Tracey lays out her plans for 2019-2020

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Following Ingrid’s summary of 2018-2019, it was Tracey’s turn to reveal her vision for 2019-2020.

“It is an honour to stand before you as your governor for 2019-20. I am humbled to step into the shoes of Ingrid and others, and also appreciate the support of each of you through this Rotary journey,” she said.

Throughout her presentation, Tracey emphasized that the world needs Rotary and Rotarians.

“People identify Rotary for our service, our dedication to make change for others, and for our commitment to eradicate polio,” she said. 

“You have stepped up to make your communities a better place. You tackle problems and find solutions for tough issues. You explore ideas and share a vision to make life better for others. Your passion, drive and desire to make a difference inspires me,” she said.

“When people of all ages, cultures and demographics invest time and money into something, it is with organizations that do good in the world. People commit to a cause, not an organization.”

Rotary: 114 years-old and still strong

Tracey believes that there are reasons why Rotary continues to be relevant.

“Rotary is 114 years old and has stood the test of time due to its values, objectives and service, both locally and globally, plus for our dedication to eradicating polio.”

T1920EN_PMS-CShe noted that RI has adapted to changing times, which is in contrast to other organizations that have failed to do so. She cited Kodak as a company which resisted change and as result has lost the leadership position it once occupied.

“For Rotary to stay relevant, we at the club and District level must focus on our culture and adapting to the needs of our members,” Tracey said.

“Culture is how people feel when they are part of something that is important to them. Culture is created and is the base of moving from good to great. Culture is an environment of welcoming, inclusiveness, diversity; where people feel a sense of belonging, feel valued. And (it) is a place built on trust. We serve together in many ways with the common goal—to make a difference for others—and when we do this, we build relationships and connect with people of like interest.”

Tracey said that the 2019-2020 theme, “Rotary Connects the World,” means  that, “We share values and follow the four-way test, we collectively take action for a better world and we are doing this together,” she said.  

“Rotary provides us with the means and opportunities to connect with the world and each other. Rotary connects us to people who need our help, and through Rotary we are connected globally through countless projects and programs.”

People of Action together creating positive change

Tracey asked the Rotarians in the audience to image a world without Rotary: “Imagine what would happen to polio if we stopped now. Imagine the people who would go hungry in our own communities or around the world. Imagine the children who would not have the extra support to reach their dreams.  The children of today and of tomorrow need Rotary.

“RI has given us the tools to be successful and has provided flexibility to do things differently with meeting structure and attendance, and (it) encourages us to invite our families to be part of our journey.

“When you see the difference we have made for children, families and communities around the world by our commitment, we know we have changed lives. We have given others opportunities and most of all, we have given people hope. 

“And that’s Rotary. People of action who come together to make positive change in themselves and around the world.”  

Tracey concluded her presentation by encouraging Rotarians to register for the District 5370 People of Action Conference in Grande Prairie October 3-5, 2019.  

“This is your conference and a place to connect, grow and to be inspired.” 

Spring 2019 Leadership Assembly prepared incoming club leaders for the next Rotary year

This spring’s Leadership Assembly (March 8 and 9) was an opportunity to celebrate the successes of 2018-2019 and set the table for the next Rotary year, which begins on July 1.

Approximately 175 Rotarians attended this event, including District leaders and club presidents-elect and members of their leadership teams, including for the first time, the presidents-elect of Rotary Clubs of Whitehorse and Whitehorse Rendezvous. 

Effective July 1, these two Yukon clubs will become part of District 5370.

District Governor-Elect Tracey Vavrek used the assembly to introduce the 2019-2020 theme set by incoming Rotary International President Mark Maloney (RC of Decatur, Alabama): Rotary Connects the World.

Watch as Mark announces the theme to DGEs at the International Assembly in San Diego in January and read about the course he has mapped out for Rotary’s future in an interview in the March 2019 issue of The Rotarian.

“When you reflect on the theme, what comes to mind?” Tracey asked.

T1920EN_PMS-C“For me, it is that we share values and follow the Four-Way Test, we collectively take action for a better world, and we are doing this together,” she said.

“We connect with friends we would never otherwise have met. Rotary connects us to people who need our help and through Rotary we are connected globally through countless projects and programs.”

“The world needs Rotary. As you reflect on the unrest and challenges around the world, it is concerning. We know the work we do and our service do create peace within families, communities and around the world. By bringing fresh water to a community, we bring peace and economic wellbeing to the individuals living there.”

Tracey referred to being part of the Project Amigo work week in mid-February with past and future District Governors as “an example of how we connect with others. It’s life-changing—we are helping people reach their dreams.”

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DGE Tracey Vavrek introduced the 2019-2020 theme during Spring Leadership Assembly

She also asked participants in the assembly to imagine a world without Rotary. “Imagine what would happen with polio if we stopped now. Imagine the people who would go hungry in our own communities and around the world. Imagine the children who would not have extra support to reach their dreams. The children of today and of tomorrow need Rotary.”

Continue to grow Rotary

Tracey asked participants to think about how to grow Rotary.

“Membership is a critical topic,” she said, noting the importance of attracting younger people to Rotary. “Only five per cent of Rotary members are under the age of 40.”

“Few organizations span generations and professions and build personal connections the way Rotary does. We blend tradition with innovation and use trust and respect to close the generation gap.”

“Many of us have been able to get younger generations to visit a meeting or participate in a project but getting them to join our clubs has been more difficult,” Tracey said.

She stated that Rotary can offer younger people what they want. “They crave connections—a network of more experienced professionals, mentors with insight, with clout. They also crave experiences. They want to do good.” 

PDG and Zone Membership Coordinator Jim Adamson from Washington State (District 5060) followed up Tracey’s presentation by reminding participants of the importance of inviting the right people to join Rotary.

“None of us would have joined Rotary if someone hadn’t asked us. We need to ask them,” he said.

“We aren’t just looking for bodies. We are looking for quality people.”

DG Ingrid highlights 2018-2019 successes

Current DG Ingrid used her time on the stage to “share some highlights of our Rotary year to-date and emphasize the need to follow through on current plans.

“My District Governor journey has been amazing, engaging and rewarding—confirming the true value of Rotary and why we are doing this service work. I am immensely proud to be a Rotarian and the District Governor of this District.”

Ingrid’s favourite experiences so far this year?

“Absolutely, it has been visiting our clubs, engaging in our community projects, and connecting with our members.”

She has visited all 57 clubs, making repeat visits to some.

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DG Ingrid Neitsch highlighted successes during 2018-2019 during Spring Leadership Assembly

“Each area of our District is unique and the range of projects is astounding. Some clubs shine with their welcoming atmosphere and signature projects. Some clubs are passionate about international projects and concentrate on fundraising. Some clubs focus mainly on keeping current members engaged in fellowship and attracting new members. Some clubs have chosen to focus on aligning Rotary projects with peace-building activities. Some clubs collaborate, support other clubs’ projects and focus on hands-on projects.”

She emphasized that the culture and value base established in the club is what keeps members engaged.

Highlights Ingrid identified were:

“The District Conference 2018 was fabulous! Some clubs are still following-up with some of our amazing speakers. Thanks to all who participated as volunteers, conference committee members or attendees.”

She reminded her audience of the 2019 District Conference that will be held in Grande Prairie October 3-5.

A second highlight was the relocation of the District office to the Orange Hub in west Edmonton. “It’s a bright, cheerful space accessible to all, with security and maintenance in place.”

Ingrid also referred to the goals in the District strategic plan. “Many goals are completed, some are in progress and some are ongoing.”

She encouraged clubs to create their own plans. “To be change-makers, your club needs a plan of action.”

“One of the main goals this year is to reverse the declining membership trends these past several years. I mentioned that in every single one of my club visits. Every club was asked to retain the current membership and attract three new members,” she said.

“I want to regain the minus 110 members lost last year, plus make a net gain of 50 members by the end of June.”

She urged club leaders to “treat your membership list like a gift. Just because you haven’t seen someone for a while, do not take them off your list. Reach out. Find out what is happening in their world. They are Rotarians and at one time were passionate about Rotary.”

The District membership plan includes establishing new clubs, including the Passport club which is being formed in Edmonton. “We are launching a new Passport club for new and former Rotarians and plan to charter it before June 1.”

5370 reached goal to become a Peacebuilder District

IMG_8851A key District initiative for 2018-2019 was for the District to become a Peacebuilder District, which Ingrid announced during the District changeover event on June 11, 2018, and to sponsor a peace scholar.

“We achieved the peace scholar, as was announced at the District Conference. Out of 1,100 applicants from around the world, only 50 master’s and 30 certificate applicants were chosen, including our applicant, Menasha Nikhanji.

The goal of becoming a Peacebuilder District was also reached.

“We needed to donate $US 25,000 to the Rotary Peace Centres to receive Peacebuilder status within Rotary International. “We have had tremendous support. Clubs and individuals donated close to $24,000, which along with $20,000 in District Designated Funds brings us close to $50,000,” Ingrid says.

“We have reached the goal for this year and are very close to two years of support for the Peace Centres.”

Ingrid closed with words of encouragement for the rest of 2018-2019:  “Let’s finish strong! Keep the positive momentum going, finish blazing our trail and we will continue to flourish as we inspire each other as ‘Rotary Connects the World!’ ”

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 Conference 2018 promises more than inspiring speakers

District conference Main

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.