Recruiting new members and creating new clubs are key to meeting our 
2018-2019 membership goal

group  people  shape  graphWhen asked about District 5370 membership numbers, the District membership committee chair responds with just two words: “Extremely volatile!”

“These numbers have gone up and down, from up 20 to down 20, in a period of six weeks,” says Jeff Reynolds (RC of Edmonton Glenora).

“In terms of the long-term trend we are declining, but we have some opportunities to grow,” he says.

District Governor Ingrid Neitsch has set a membership target of 2,080 by the end of her term on June 30—an increase of 60 members from where we were on July 1, 2018.

As of March 20, there were 2,016 Rotarians in the District.

Achieving this membership target can happen in three ways—by retaining current Rotarians, by attracting new members to existing clubs, and by establishing new clubs where none exist or that are structured differently than existing ones.

To assist clubs in their efforts to grow their membership, Jeff recently recorded a webinar for membership chairs, presidents and other Rotarians who understand the importance of maintaining and increasing our numbers.

Edmonton Strathcona is one of the clubs to have increased its membership in 2018-2019

During the webinar, Jeff highlights what membership chair Dr. Ellen Weber has done to attract new Rotarians to her club, Edmonton Strathcona. As of the end of January, it  had increased by six members. 

 “What (members of the Edmonton Strathcona Club) have been doing is focusing on truly authentic engagement with their members,” Jeff says. “It’s been done one-on-one, by asking:

  • What things do you really value?
  • What do you enjoy about the Rotary club?
  • What things do you want to get praise for?
  • What do you wonder about?

“There has to be a value proposition in Rotary. It has to be worth their while. There has to be an opportunity for them to contribute in a meaningful way—for them to be heard, felt and appreciated.”

Ellen regularly blogs about what’s working in Edmonton Strathcona.

Other clubs that have led the way in growing members so far in 2018-2019 are the Rotary Clubs of Dawson Creek (+9), Dawson Creek Sunrise (+4) and Edmonton West (+7).

“We are going to look closely at what these clubs are doing,” Jeff says. “What is their secret sauce?”

In addition to efforts to retain current members and grow existing clubs, initiatives are in place to charter new clubs.

Passport club will offer opportunity to serve without weekly meetings

Furthest along toward being chartered is a “passport” club in Edmonton, which is being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Whyte Avenue.

In the February issue of INSPIRE, the District’s newsletter, DG Ingrid described a passport club as “a club offering members opportunities to make a difference locally and globally in a way that fits within their time, talents, finances and lifestyle, with fewer meetings but multiple service opportunities, social gatherings, affordable dues and access to Rotary activities and resources.”

Members of passport clubs are full Rotary members, paying membership dues to Rotary International and the District, but without weekly meeting costs, and enjoying the same privileges and rights as Rotarians in traditional clubs.

Area Governor Marilyn Mucha (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue), who is leading this initiative, says that nearly 35 people have expressed interest in this club structure.

“The flexible and affordable format is appealing to former Rotarians,” Marilyn says. “Almost 60 per cent (of the prospective members) are past Rotarians from clubs in the Edmonton area and another 30 per cent are non-Rotarians.” There are also a few current Rotarians who have expressed interest in the passport model.

The provisional club has had two meetings, so far. 

“We heard many positive comments from those in attendance like, ‘this is definitely easier for me to afford,” and ‘I can make this work with my busy schedule,’ as well as ‘I missed the friendships that I made in Rotary,’” Marilyn says.

“Many shared stories of their past service projects,” she says. “The buzz is spreading and we are getting past Rotarians reaching out to family and work colleagues (asking them) to consider joining them.”

It is anticipated the club will have monthly meetings, of which only four will be business meetings. Remaining meetings will be social events or for working on service projects. There will minimum expectations in terms of volunteer hours each year.

“Members will have a ‘passport’ to work on service projects and fundraisers with any club in our District, or the globe,” Marilyn says.

Once 20 or more people commit to join the new club, it will be ready to be chartered. 

“We anticipate that the club will reach charter strength before the end of this Rotary year,” Marilyn says. “A charter committee will be struck to start the process of leveraging available bylaws from other passport clubs in North America.”

They also hope to learn from the experiences of other passport clubs.

“We reached out to a number of the existing and newly chartered passport clubs in the U.S. and Canada to arrange a gathering while we are attending the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, this June,” Marilyn says. “Both Markus Muhs and I will be there to learn how these clubs are succeeding and what challenges they overcame.”

She encourages Rotarians to spread the word about the passport clubs. “If you know of members of your club that have left for a variety of reasons, let them know about what the passport club is all about. Perhaps this club model will appeal to them and we will see them inspired to become ‘People of Action’ again.”

Information about the next passport club meeting will be posted on the District’s Facebook page.

Other potential new clubs include a passport club for the Municipal District of Greenview in northwest Alberta, which includes the communities of Valleyview, Fox Creek and Grande Cache, and more traditional clubs in St. Paul and Bonneyville, in northeast Alberta.

Spring Leadership Assembly will prepare club leaders for 2019-2020 and beyond

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 2.02.20 PMThe District 5370 Spring Leadership Assembly offers something for every Rotarian, whether you are in an official leadership role or not.

District Learning and Development Chair Donna Barrett (RC of Edmonton Sunrise) hopes that each club will send several delegates to the assembly, which will be held Friday evening and Saturday, March 7 and 8 at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre, 11727 Kingsway, in Edmonton.

“It’s called the ‘leadership’ assembly, but we believe every Rotarian is a leader,” Donna says.

As an incentive for clubs to send more people, five Rotarians can attend for the price of four. The registration fee for individuals is $215, which means that the special five-for-four price works out to about $170 per person. There is no charge for presidents-elect to attend.

Your registration fee includes a light dinner on Friday evening, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, as well as all the plenary and breakout sessions.

Click here to register.

Donna feels that the greatest benefit of attending the Spring Leadership Assembly is that club leaders have time to plan with other Rotarians for the 2019-2020 Rotary Year.

“Many of the issues and areas we are going to focus on will be about what matters across Rotary, so understanding how the culture of your club has an impact on membership in your club is important,” Donna says.

“This is something that needs to involve those beyond the people with designated positions. Everyone contributes to creating vibrant clubs and through this session I think everyone will see how they can play a role in enhancing their club and Rotary.”

“We hope presidents-elect and other members will use this session to make plans that can be implemented in their club, and that these plans will be formed enough that they can go back and share with their club and be ready to implement them within a short time frame.”

There will be breakout sessions Saturday afternoon for presidents-elect and others who have specific leadership positions in the clubs, including secretaries, treasurers, TRF chairs, membership chairs, public image chairs, youth services chairs, and club services chairs.

There will also be a session for new Rotarians. “This year, we are doing something to engage and support new Rotarians. We’re having a session called ‘A Taste of Rotary.’ ” Donna says. “It will help new Rotarians learn about how they can become engaged at their club level and get involved in all the great things Rotary is doing in the District and around the world.”

Another session will be of particular interest to Rotarians interested in service projects within their own communities.

“We have added a new session focused on community service,” Donna says. “We will share some really strong projects and ways clubs have enhanced the impact they have on their communities.”

In addition to the role-specific sessions Saturday afternoon, there will general sessions Friday evening and Saturday morning.

“We are going to continue to build on the theme started last year, that the strength of Rotary lies in its members,” Donna says.

“Jim Adamson (PDG District 5060) will build on what we did last year about membership and the relationship between membership and strong clubs.

“On Saturday morning, we want to highlight the work Rotary does related to polio eradication. We are so close, but we’re not there yet,” Donna says. “We really need to keep this focus going, so that we do achieve this goal. It’s possible, but it still needs our continued focus.” 

Assembly participants are encouraged to bring devices with which they can connect to online learning resources.

“The District and Rotary International has developed new learning resources that can be accessed online and we want to be sure that club members are familiar with these resources,” Donna says.

Participants should make sure they are registered in Clubrunner and at Rotary.org prior to attending.

Three students who served in District 5370 Interact clubs receive scholarships worth $100K each

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Three students from our District will win scholarships from the Loran Scholar Foundation that will fund four years of their undergrad programs due in part to their involvement in Interact.

“Being part of Interact positively impacted their LORAN scholarship applications,” says Tamara Larson (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue), who is the District 5370 Youth Services chair. “The skills and experience they gained as part of our youth programs and Interact have opened doors for these dynamic young ladies.”

The LORAN scholarships are “the largest undergrad scholarships in Canada,” Tamara says.

Each scholarship is worth $100,000 and can be used at any public university or college in Canada. It consists of annual stipends, a matching tuition waiver, summer internship funding, annual retreats and scholar gatherings, and mentoring over the four years of study.

The 34 scholarship winners from across Canada were chosen from more than 5,000 applicants, 518 of whom reached the semi-finals for interviews. Eighty-eight students were invited to Toronto last February for a conference and more interviews.

The three students from our District who emerged victorious from that process come from St. Albert, Fort St. John and Edmonton.

Roisin Cahill, who graduated from École Secondaire Sainte Marguerite d’Youville in St. Albert, is pursuing a bachelor of arts at the University of British Columbia. She was a charter member and president of the Interact club at her high school and was a member of the student council, too.

Vivian Mak also attends UBC, where she is studying for a bachelor of commerce. Vivian attended Edmonton’s Old Scona Academic High School,  where she was a member of the Interact club and mentored students entering high school. She also served on the city youth council. 

Jessica Telizyn was a charter member of Interact at North Peace Secondary School in Fort St. John, and has led teams of students on local and international service projects. She was selected to attend  the Massachusetts Institute of Technology high school entrepreneur program and created three agricultural technology products. She is studying neuroscience at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Scholarship winners are selected on the basis of academic performance (a minimum average of 85 per cent is required), character, service and the promise of leadership.

“Youth programs in Rotary provide opportunities for young Rotarians to gain many valuable, life-changing skills: leadership, public speaking, project management, mentorship and so much more,” Tamara says. “Vivian, Roisin and Jessica were able to take part in our leadership camps and were also charter members of their respective Interact clubs, as well as taking on significant leadership roles in Rotary.

“We are very proud that they have been successful in their post-secondary education endeavors and been awarded LORAN scholarships. We are very proud of these three young ladies as they pursue their dreams!”

Rotary District 5370 Charitable Foundation raises, distributes $1M in Fort McMurray wildfire relief

The flames have long been extinguished and much of the area devastated by the May 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire—dubbed “The Beast” by former regional fire chief Darby Allen—has been rebuilt, but the emotional impact will take longer to heal, particularly the sense of loss felt by the community’s youngest residents.

As a result of the generosity of Rotarians and others, there is a tool available to help the children of the Wood Buffalo region come to grips with what they experienced.

newfoundland dogA grant of $75,000 from the Rotary District 5370 Charitable Foundation allowed Some Other Solutions to contract with local filmmaker Michael Mankowski to create an animated film that will be used with children in Fort McMurray and made available to other communities that have experienced similar disasters.

SOS, the mandate of which is focused on suicide prevention, was one of nearly 20 agencies and groups to receive grants from the $1,000,000 in donations received for the Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund.

The film injects the actual words of the fire’s survivors into a world inhabited by the animals of the boreal forest.

“We hope that by juxtaposing these very humanistic, emotionally weighty stories with the light-heartedness of an animated animal world, we can create a compelling and cathartic experience for our audience,” Mankowski says.

Within days of the fire, which destroyed parts of Fort McMurray and forced a month-long evacuation of the more than 80,000 residents from the community, the Rotary District 5370 Charitable Foundation began to solicit funds for its Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund. 

“Within a matter of months, nearly one million dollars had been received,” says Past District Governor and  former Charitable Foundation president Julius Buski (RC of St. Albert-Saint City). “Donations ranged from single digits to $100,000 from one donor. Rotary clubs from across Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and even the United Kingdom contributed over $125,000. The balance came from caring and concerned individuals.”

The Foundation is a separate entity from Rotary District 5370 and is recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency as a charitable foundation. It is governed by a board of directors elected annually by Foundation members, all of whom are Rotarians.  There is no paid staff.

Its mission is to assist clubs in the district to raise funds for their projects.

Five years before the Fort McMurray fire, the foundation raised and distributed funds following the Slave Lake wildfire.  Julius says this was a “valuable experience,” which prepared the foundation to deal with the much larger 2016 fire.

Another grant of $60,000 was awarded to the Centre of Hope, which executive director image001Amanda Holloway says, “provides programs for people experiencing various stages of homelessness.”

She says, “the fire put an incredible strain on the community and non-profit agencies to meet the needs of people.” 

Following the fire, the agency saw an increase in the number of people it was serving. “About 25 per cent of the people we serve are new to homelessness,” Holloway says. “It’s incredibly important that we are there to deal with people who are new to homelessness.”

The agency offers homeless people a safe place to go, where they have access to laundry facilities, showers and snacks. Staff works with clients to overcome barriers that prevent them from moving from homelessness to more permanent accommodation.

The support of the Charitable Foundation was acknowledged at the provincial level, when then-District Governor Frank Reitz, Foundation Treasurer Kathy Strobl (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue) and PDG Laura Morie (RC of Westlock) were introduced to members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

Issuing a call for donations was only the first step for the Charitable Foundation.

“While donations flowed in quickly, making disbursement from the fund was a much longer process,” Julius says. “The Red Cross and other agencies provided necessary immediate relief. Many residents did not experience personal loss, but others needed to deal with insurance companies, rebuilding homes and emotional stress and grief.

“Once the situation was stabilized, the Rotary District 5370 Charitable Foundation began considering how the funds in the Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund could best be utilized,” he says.

The Foundation established a local allocation advisory committee, chaired by Fort McMurray Rotarian Bryan Lutes, to identify the most critical needs. Other Rotarians on the committee— Susan Bottern, Jennifer Bludd, Rob Denis and Kyle Warren—came from the two Rotary clubs in Fort McMurray; DG Frank Reitz also provided advice.

The committee solicited applications from groups eligible to receive funds from the Foundation under Canada Revenue Agency’s rules. After reviewing applications, the local committee made recommendations to the Foundation board, which made the final decisions related to grants.

On February 28, 2018, the Foundation and the Fort McMurray Rotary clubs hosted a “Million Dollar Dinner” for grant recipients, the mayor and council of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and MLA Tany Yao to celebrate the hope that grants from the Fort McMurray Wildfire Relief Fund provided the community.

Recipient organizations made short presentations, highlighting how the funds would be used.

In addition to SOS and the Centre for Hope, other grant recipients included:

Stepping Stones Youth Services ($68,860) – Outreach worker for youth at risk

Ecole St. Paul ($10,000) – Replacement of destroyed library books

Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta ($10,000) – Mental health mentoring

Wood Buffalo Child and Youth Advocacy Centre ($40,000) – Child and youth advocacy/mental health

Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo—Welcome Centre ($86,160) –  Interpretation and translation unit

Fort McMurray Public School District ($75,000) – School-based mental health therapist

Northern Lights Health Centre ($100,000) – Infant-care resuscitation and warming units

Wood Buffalo Educare Society ($37,126) – Lost hearing aids and supplies

Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo Society ($60,000) – Warehouse space rent and volunteer support

STEM Wood Buffalo Charitable Projeclit ($72,000) – After-school and summer learning programs

Fort McMurray Catholic School District ($9,000) – Resources for out-of-school care programs

Anzac Family Community Support Society ($5,500) – Community support services

A second set of grants were distributed in June 2018 to: 

Canadian Mental Health Association – Alberta NE Region ($45,000)

Fort McMurray Public School District #2833 ($50,000)

Fort McMurray Society of the Friends of Music ($5,625)

 Hub Family Resource Centre ($31,500)

Fort McMurray Catholic Board of Education ($34,377)

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo ($75,000)

Northern Lights Health Foundation ($43,500)  

 “We were touched by the generosity of Rotary clubs and individuals, and their contributions to the Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund,” says past Foundation chair Julius Buski. “It’s heartening to see such an outpouring of care and concern in a time of crisis.”

Edmonton Rotarian marches in the Rose Parade

on the parade routeFor some, watching the Rose Parade, hosted by Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses, is a New Year’s Day tradition. Carol Devereux, the president of the Rotary Club of Edmonton South, is one of those people.

“I love that parade,” she says. “I have watched it for years and years. It’s a New Year’s Day thing to do.”

But this year, Carol was unable to watch the parade because she was part of Rotary International’s entry in it.

While for most of us, Tuesday morning, January 1 was an opportunity to sleep in, Carol was meeting other Rotarians at 4:45 a.m., in the parking lot of a Pasadena, Calif., grocery store. From there, they were transported to the staging area for the 130th Rose Parade, which was scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.

“We had to get to the staging area before the streets were closed to traffic,” Carol says. 

Carol’s journey to Pasadena began at the 2017 Rotary International convention in Atlanta, where she met two Rotarians who were members of the RI float committee.

“I met with one of them again in Toronto (during the 2018 RI convention) and we talked about how I could get involved. I wanted to learn about what happens behind the scenes and get involved in decorating the float,” she says.

Not only was she able to help decorate the float, she was also invited to be an “out walker.” Those are the people who walk beside the float.

“Walking beside the float was so much fun, because people watching the parade were so engaged,” Carol says.

An estimated 750,000 watched the parade as it passed by the bleachers set up along the parade route.

Click here for a short video of the float in the parade.

There has been a RI float in the parade for nearly 40 years.

The float committee begins to prepare for the parade almost as soon as the previous year’s parade ends. Once the parade theme is established, the Rotarians look at how to combine that theme with the RI annual theme.

As Rotary International provides no financial support, the float committee must find donations to cover the cost, which for 2019 was approximately $150,000.

The theme for this year’s float was “Service Rocks.” Its design was based on Crocodile Rocks, a song by Elton John, which was reflected in the float and the costumes worn by the out walkers and people riding on the float.

waiting to roll with barry and esther

Carol Devereux (right) waits with RI president Barry Raasin and his wife Esther for the parade to begin

As had his predecessors in previous years, RI President Barry Rassin (RC of East Nassau, Bahamas) and his wife, Esther, rode on the float. 

Others invited to ride on the float included the president of the Rotary Club of Paradise, Calif., who lost both his home and business in the Camp Wildfire, and the Rotarian who owns the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks, Calf., which was the scene of a mass shooting in November 2018.

Because they are considered an extension to the float, parade participants were required to be there in costume when the floats were judged on Monday, December 31.

The judging occurred in the large warehouse where several floats were being assembled, a process which began on Boxing Day. Interactors, Rotaractors and Rotarians worked in shifts to complete the float. 

Once the judging was complete, a driver and a spotter spent eight hours moving the float to the staging area.

When Carol and other Rotarians arrived at the staging area, the floats were lined up in the order in which they would travel over the five-mile parade route, which took about two hours to complete. 

The marching bands and equestrian groups gathered on side streets, prepared to take their place as the floats passed by. 

Back in Edmonton a few days later, Carol remained enthused about the experience.

“It was so much fun. It was just amazing to see behind the scenes of the construction of the floats and decorating them,” she says.

“It was great meeting a whole bunch of new people. Whenever you are around a group of Rotarians, there’s sure to be lots of laughter and fun.” 

TRF Global Grants fund water and sanitation projects in Africa and South America proposed by District 5370 clubs

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© Rotary International/Alyce Henson

Global Grants from The Rotary Foundation that were recently awarded to the Rotary Clubs of Wainwright and Spruce Grove mean that students at a school in northern Ghana and residents of a community in rural Ecuador will soon have access to clean drinking water.

The Rotary Club of Wainwright’s project, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Tamale, Ghana, will result in “the installation of a system for harvesting rainwater from the roof of the existing building at La’angum Primary School (in Ghana), during the rainy season and storing it for later use,” says George Bunz, the club’s Foundation chair.

The Rotary Club of Revelstoke, BC is also contributing money to this project.

Meanwhile, Rotarians from Spruce Grove have partnered with the Rotary Club of Bahia de Caraquez to construct a municipal water system in Santa Teresa, Ecuador. The Rotary Club of Reno, Nevada is implementing a similar project in the adjacent community of Las Mercedes.

When completed, the new water systems in Ecuador will serve about 800 residents of the two villages, under the management of an elected water board.

“Prior to the 2016, the community got its water from a hand-drilled well, but this was destroyed by that year’s earthquake,” says Brad Mastaler, president-elect of the Spruce Grove club.

How Global Grants work

Global Grants are made possible by donations to TRF by Rotarians from around the world.

In addition to money from TRF’s World Fund, funding for these projects comes from other sources, including from the participating clubs and from the District  Foundation committee (District Designated Funds).

The amount of money available to our District Foundation committee for District Designated Funds is determined by how much Rotarians from our District contribute to TRF. Half of what was donated by Rotarians in our District three years earlier is returned to the committee, to be used for District grants to clubs and to support Global Grant applications.

Global Grants fund projects in the six areas of focus for TRF: disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, economic and community development, and peace and conflict prevention/resolution.

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For more information on how Global Grants work, check out TRF’s Guide to Global Grants. In addition, you can consult the District 5370 Foundation grants sub-committee chair, Wayne McCutcheon (RC of St. Albert), at wsm@shaw.ca or District Foundation chair Wayne Kauffman (RC of Edmonton Riverview), at wkauffman@shaw.ca.

Support future TRF Global and District Grants by donating to TRF Canada. Donate before the end of December to receive a receipt you can use when filing your 2018 tax return.

Wainwright project will bring clean drinking water, improved toilets and biogas for school in Ghana

The school being supported by the Wainwright Rotary Club is located in Bumboazio, in northern Ghana, a region that is much less developed than in the south. Families there earn their living by farming small plots of land to produce corn, beans, peanuts and millet.

Because drilling water wells has proved unsuccessful, the school is “dependent on water carried by children from a creek, which is some distance away,” George Bunz says.

The installation of storage tanks will be a very important component of the project, as most water will be collected during the rainy season and stored for later use.

Each classroom will have a filter system, to ensure access to clean water.

As part of the project, an existing four-seat toilet will be upgraded and a new four-seat toilet built, along with a solar pump to utilize grey water to flush the toilets.   A bio-digester will convert waste to biofuel to be used in the kitchen to prepare lunchtime meals for the 300 students who attend the school.

“The biogas will make a big difference,” George says. “Currently meals are prepared on stoves that burn wood, which women and children have to carry to the school. The project will relieve the women of this task so they have time for other work and will improve the environment by eliminating the smoke from burning wood.”

Funding for this project (in US dollars):

Rotary Club of Wainwright $14,250

District 5370 DDF $14,250

TRF World Fund $21,375

Total:$49,875

Projects will bring clean water to 800 residents of villages in rural Ecuador

Construction of the water system in Santa Teresa will begin after the end of the rainy season in March.

The project involves drilling and encasing a water well, creating storage and water treatment facilities, laying distribution lines to each residence, and installing water meters.

Rotary will sign memorandums of agreement with Ecuador’s federal and municipal governments, which will provide paid staff to operate the system.

The long-term sustainability of the project will be ensured by the establishment of an elected water board, whose members will be trained to operate the system.

A public education component will teach adults about water conservation and how to avoid contamination. Teachers will be trained to take a similar message into their classrooms.

Funding for this project (in US dollars):

Rotary Club of Spruce Grove $9,375

Districts 5370 & 4400 DDF $8,860

Government of Alberta $7,750

TRF World Fund $17,423

Total$43,408

Rotarians from both Wainwright and Spruce Grove plan to visit their projects during construction.

Edmonton Rotarian revives and donates old ambulances to to Belize, Mexico and Africa

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Ambulances waiting to be refurbished by Alberta Honda

Some people collect coins. Others fill albums with postage stamps from around the world. But not Roman Bayrock (RC of Edmonton Riverview). He collects ambulances.

So far, he has obtained 11 of these life-saving vehicles, after they have been retired by Alberta Health Services. 

Once these ambulances are refurbished, they are designated for developing countries where the need for them is great.

Assisting people in this fashion gives Roman “a rush. It’s like winning the lottery. I feel great helping people,” he says.

Roman, who describes himself as “a bit of an opportunist, with a talent for bargain hunting,” purchased his first ambulance by chance, when he discovered it listed for sale on an auction site. 

“I figured that not too many people would be interested,” he recalls. “I wondered how cheaply I could buy it.”

 But first, he contacted the Belize Emergency Response Team.

“I called BERT and asked, ‘If I could find you an ambulance cheap, would you be interested?’ They were.”

That first ambulance was shipped to Belize in 2016.

Since then, two more ambulance have gone to Belize. One went to the village of Dangriga, in the Southern Health Region, and the other to Southern Emergency Service, which was started in the Southern Health Region by a former Spruce Grove resident.

This last ambulance was delivered to Belize with the assistance of the US Air Force, through the Denton Program, which is jointly administered by several US government departments and agencies.

“The Denton program offers shipment of ‘humanitarian assistance’ in the form of utility trucks, fire trucks, ambulances, etc., to locations in North American at virtually no charge when space is available,” Roman says.

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Sandra and Roman Bayrock 

At the end of August, Roman and his wife Sandra, who is also a member of Edmonton Riverview, drove the ambulance to the Malstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. There the ambulance was loaded onto a C-5 Hercules transport for the flight to Belize.

Prior to departing for Montana, Roman held a media event at Alberta Honda in Edmonton, which stores and refurbishes the ambulances.

“Without Alberta Honda, we would not have a space to store these ambulances and no source for parts, tires and batteries,” Roman says.

Once Alberta Honda has refurbished the remaining ambulances, they will be shipped to other developing countries. Four will go to Belize, two to Africa and two to Mexico, as part of the Highway to Mexico program organized by the Rotary Club of  Grande Prairie-Swan City.

This convoy of ambulances, fire trucks and other vehicles will depart for Mazatlan on March 29. Members of the Edson Rotary Club, which is paying to refurbish this vehicle, will drive one ambulance on the two-week journey. Roman and Sandra will drive the second.

Two ambulances will be going to Southern Emergency Services Belize, two to the Believe in Belize Charity in Pacencia, and one each to Faith Prestige Hospital in Ghana and to Arms Across Africa for use in Uganda.

The organizations receiving ambulances are responsible for all costs associated with refurbishing and transportation of the vehicles.

Before the Riverview club releases vehicles to other groups, the potential recipients are required to complete a questionnaire developed by Dean Wood, the club’s International Services director. 

“The purpose of the questionnaire was to get the organizations to make a series of commitments and demonstrate they have the capacity to operate and maintain the vehicle to ensure they will provide a quality and sustainable service,” Dean says.

“We asked them to commit to provide services to all residents of the areas, without regard to their ability to pay,” he says. “We believe that making the service available to all reflects a core Rotary value.”

Finally, each organization was asked to demonstrate a partnership with a local Rotary club.