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.

 

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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Meet Rotarians from other clubs this fall, in Montreal or Edmonton

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If you missed the Rotary International Convention in Toronto in June but are looking to experience Rotary beyond the club level, here is some good news for you.

There will be two opportunities this fall to join gatherings of Rotarians from other clubs.

First, there is the Zones 24 and 32 Conference in Montreal, September 20 – 22. A month later, the District 5370 Conference will be held in Edmonton.

The zone conference is a first-time event. In the past, participation in zone institutes was pretty much limited to those in leadership roles at the district and zone level, but this year in Montreal will be different.

“This year’s committee decided they wanted to open it up to more people than just future, current and past District Governors and other district leaders,” says Laura Morie (RC of Westlock), who was District Governor in 2016-17.

There will still be a training component for District Governor nominees, District Governors-elect and current District Governors, which was an important reason for zone institutes in the past, but there will also be sessions that will appeal to all Rotarians.

“The conference will provide attendees with a macro view of Rotary, where they can see the global reach and positive potential of collaborating outside your own sphere,” Laura says.

“There will be breakout sessions related to membership, The Rotary Foundation and public image, and this year we have a focus on developing our youth and the programs we offer.”

Laura and District 5370 Youth Services Chair Tamara Larson (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue) have been invited to play a key role in the youth component of the conference.

“We are going to do the Rotaract portion. Our District has been fully involved in the youth programs for the last 10 years, since youth services became an avenue of service. We have had tremendous success. We actually have more Interact and Rotaract clubs in the District than we do Rotary clubs,” Laura says.

Scholarships available for youth participation in the Zone Conference

To encourage youth participant, District 5370 is offering 10 scholarships to support the attendance of young Rotary leaders, aged 18 to 25, to attend Rotary NOW. 

The scholarships include registration, accommodation and airfare.

Two additional scholarships are available for Rotarians aged 26 to 40 to attend the convention.

Ask your club president or youth services chair for additional information, which Tamara has sent to both. You can also contact Tamara directly (Larson.tamarac@gmail.com or 587-783-8880).

During two days of interactive sessions, youth participants will share thoughts on education and literacy, human rights, the environment, employment and social justice, through innovative working groups, inspirational speakers and service project opportunities.

On Friday, September 21, which is International Peace Day, the young Rotary leaders will have the opportunity to work with a Rotary Peace Fellow and to learn about Peace Fellowships, and Rotary Peace Centres.

The scholarship application process requires interested young people to write an essay, in which they describe their Rotary career path, including past and present roles and responsibilities along with future goals, and how attending the zone conference will support them in achieving their Rotary goals and objectives.

Applications for scholarships should be emailed to Tamara at youthawards5370@gmail.com by August 15.

In addition to encouraging young people to apply for District scholarships, Laura has another suggestion for clubs. “We would like different clubs to decide that, over and above the District initiative to get kids there, perhaps the club could see its way to sponsoring a dynamic young person who they feel has a Rotary career ahead of them,” she says. 

“The registration fee is $275. There are hostels, so accommodation is $120 and whatever the airfare is. Ballpark $1,000 per person. This might be a Rotaractor or a Rotarian in early career, who will be able to bring ideas back and take action.”

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District 5370 Conference October 18 – 21

The second opportunity to attend a multi-club event will be the District 5370 Conference, at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, October 18 – 21.

“Planning for the conference is actually coming along really well,” says conference chair Spencer Mueller (RC of Edmonton West). 

“Our committee has been working on putting the conference together for well over a year and a half. Now, we are at the stage of putting the final touches on things,” he says.

“We have an excellent venue in the Shaw Conference Centre. Our conference will be occurring at a wonderful time in the river valley and our speaker lineup is incredibly strong, featuring fantastic topics and speakers from all over the world.

The conference kicks off Thursday evening with a Peace Building dinner, which reflects the priority District Governor Ingrid Neitsch has placed on District 5370 becoming a Rotary Peacebuilding District. Additional details will be released shortly about the dinner, which is being held in conjunction with the annual Paul Harris Society dinner. There’s a separate registration fee for this event.

Both Friday and Saturday will include a full schedule of keynote speakers and breakout sessions.

“Now, the big focus is on getting people to continue to register,” says Spencer. “We realize that for many people things slow down and Rotary takes a bit of a lower priority during the summer months. We’re hoping for a strong response when people get back into routine after the September long weekend.”

The committee is offering a special reduced registration rate for those who have never attended a District conference. “We’re really trying to encourage both Rotarians and non-Rotarians to attend the conference. In our lineup there’s something for everybody. Our lineup of speakers is very strong, even in comparison to the Rotary International convention in Toronto,” Spencer says.

The registration fee includes access to the House of Friendship, breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday, and the Governor’s Ball on Saturday evening.

“The Governor’s Ball will have a 1920s theme. We have a wonderful live, large band, the Trocadero Orchestra, playing for the event. It’s going to be a great way to wrap up this Rotary Conference.”

Spencer encourages Rotarians to visit the conference website. “All the details and registration information are on that website and people can register right from there.