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

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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.”

Rotary clubs receive District awards for “Making a Difference” during 2017-18

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2017-18 District Governor presents the Governor’s Award to Dave Cook, president of the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie-Swan City

Last year, clubs across our Rotary District really took the 2017-18 Rotary International theme—Making a Difference—to heart. Some of those worthwhile projects were celebrated with District awards, which were presented during the Changeover event in June.

“We know that there are many clubs with outstanding projects and programs, but unfortunately they did not submit descriptions of what they are doing, so we didn’t know about them. They might have been eligible for these awards,” says District Administration Chair Donna Nicoll.

In her role, Donna (RC of Edmonton Northeast) is responsible for gathering submissions from the clubs and assembling a committee to choose the award winners. Last year’s committee included Donna, 2017-18 District Governor Frank Reitz (RC of Fort McMurray), a past District Governor, and two members of the District board.

The award winners included projects that provided needy children with warm clothes, encouraged tree planting in Grande Prairie, delivered fire trucks to Mexico, and promoted Rotary to the community.

In addition, then-District Governor Frank bestowed the title of Rotarian of the Year on Tamara Larson (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue), to recognize her contributions as the District’s Youth Services Chair.

“While all members of the District board showed commitment to Rotary, Tamara’s passion for youth services really stood out,” says Frank. “She built on the work of those who went before her to make our youth services programs even stronger than she found them. 

“Tamara’s ongoing relationship with students and their parents ensures their safety and best interests remain the prime focus in the delivery of Rotary’s youth programs,” Frank says. “She works with Rotary clubs to ensure support and safety is in place to make sure the experience of students, host families and clubs are positive for all concerned.”

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2017-18 DG Frank with Rotarian of the Year Tamara Larson

A big part of Tamara’s mandate was to bring youth services practices into compliance with Rotary International requirements.

“Over the last couple of years, these changes needed to be implemented. Tamara took this on and persisted, despite some resistance to the changes,” says Frank. “I don’t know if anyone else would have had the same determination.”

Tamara and Past District Governor Laura Morie (RC of Westlock) will be co-ordinating the Rotoract component of the Zones 24 and 32 Conference in Montreal September 20-22.

Best reflection of the annual RI theme

The Governor’s Award was presented to the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie-Swan City. This annual award is given to the club whose activities best reflect the RI yearly theme, which in 2017-18 was Making a Difference. 

Last year, the 119 Swan City Rotarians made a difference in all Rotary’s avenues of service, motivating more than 1,200 Rotarians and non-Rotarians to provide nearly 10,000 hours of volunteer service to continue their support of existing projects and programs.

The club also donated more than $CA 450,000 to programs, provided in-kind support worth nearly $900,000 and gave nearly $US 20,000 (more than $CA 25,000) to The Rotary Foundation.

Here are some of the ways these Rotarians made a difference in 2017-18:

  • Supported a facility to house young girls in Ethiopia so that they can continue their studies, graduate from high school and go on to post-secondary education.
  • Assisted several Cambodian villages with initiatives to provide clean water, sanitary latrines, medical supplies, teachers and educational materials.
  • Partnered with the Salvation Army for a food bank drive, which collected 41 tons of food in just one day
  • Served dinners once a week to 40-100 people (including both Indigenous and non-Indigenous families) at the Friendship Centre
  • Collected 2,000 toys (worth about $45,000) for the Big Toy Box program, which were distributed through 16 different organizations to children who might not have otherwise received Christmas gifts 
  • served tea and dessert to seniors during Seniors Week 

Gilbert Paterson Awards for three avenues of service

The Swan City club also received Gilbert Paterson Awards for two projects that were included in their Governors Award submission.

The Gilbert Paterson Awards are presented to clubs whose projects, activities or events best reflect one of three avenues of service: community, international and youth. 

The Youth Award, which was new for 2017-18, was presented to the Rotary Club of Edmonton West.

Gilbert Paterson, for whom the awards are named, was a Lethbridge educator, who served as governor for District 5360 in 1959-60, long before the District was divided and District 5370 was created. 

The Community Services Award recognized the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie-Swan City for its longtime partnership with the Landscape Alberta Nursery Trades Association, the province of Alberta, the city of Grande Prairie and local forestry product companies, to promote the importance of forests and the environment, and encourage celebration of Arbour Day.

Over the years, this program has resulted in the planting of 12 groves of trees, all of which are native to the Grande Prairie area. In addition, Rotarians and foresters visit Grade 1 classrooms to teach children about trees and the environment. During these visits, each student is given a tree and is shown how to plant it.

Beginning with just one used school bus in 2002, the Highway to Mexico program, for which the Swan City club received the International Service Award, has delivered more than $18 million worth of buses, fire trucks, ambulances, and medical and firefighting equipment to Mazatlan and the Mexican state of Sinalao. 

Over the years, the Swan City club has developed partnerships with other Rotary clubs, both in Canada and in Mexico. Several cities, towns and municipalities between Red Deer and Fort McMurray have donated surplus vehicles. After the donated vehicles are restored, Rotarians drive them the 5,000 kilometres to Mexico.

The Rotary Club of Edmonton West became the first winner of the Gilbert Paterson Youth Award for its Santa Clothes program. One hundred children identified as “in need” by Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers Big Sisters were able to go on a shopping spree at the Old Navy store in West Edmonton Mall for warm winter coats and other clothing.

Each child received a $400 gift card, half of which was donated by Old Navy and the balance by the Edmonton West club and other sponsors. While at the mall, the children had lunch and visited some of the more popular attractions before being bused home.

Dawson Creek Sunrise wins PR and Marketing Award

Dawson CreekThe Rotary Club of Dawson Creek Sunrise received the District Public Relations and Marketing Award for its extensive marketing campaign. The award is given to the “club or group of clubs producing the best publicity brochure or marketing event/tool during the year.” 

The campaign was three-pronged, including weekly advertising in the local newspaper, developing a club brochure and a very active Facebook page, which averages about 1,000 views per week providing information about club activities and partner events.

The club brochure is shared at all public events and displayed by Rotarians in their businesses.

 Donna plans to distribute information about the 2018-19 awards to club presidents in November and request submissions by May. This year’s awards will be announced at the District changeover event at the end of June 2019.

“We know clubs are doing wonderful things,” Donna says. “We hope they will write these projects up and submit them for consideration.”

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