Becoming a Rotary Peacebuilder District during 2018-19 tops list of goals for Incoming District Governor

 

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2018-19 DG Ingrid Neitsch describes her Peacebuilding District goal during the Changeover Event on June 11

During of her year as District Governor, Ingrid Neitsch (RC of Edmonton West) hopes to see our District designated as a Peacebuilder District by Rotary International.

“One of my most important goals that inspires me is to establish a new incentive and direction in our District to become a recognized Rotary Peacebuilder District by March 31, 2019,” Ingrid told 120 Rotarians who attended the District Changeover Event on June 11, at the Chateau Louis Hotel and Convention Centre in Edmonton.

“One of Rotary International’s objectives pertains to peace and conflict resolution. This resonates with me and I believe that Rotarians have the infrastructure, the influence and the capabilities to lead the world in peace building initiatives,” she said.

Becoming a Peacebuilder District requires a minimum donation of US$25,000 to support Rotary Peace Centers, which are located at universities in six different countries, including Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, where John Lamming, the most recent Rotary Peace Fellow from District 5370, completed a professional development certificate in 2013.

Another Rotary Peace Fellowship application endorsed by District 5370 is awaiting approval by The Rotary Foundation.

TRF also recently supported two other students with Rotary Global Grant Scholarships. Meghan Casey completed a master’s degree in human rights and international migration at the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies, and Amy Smith is currently studying at the University of Queensland, in Australia, towards a master’s degree in development practices.

Ingrid will officially become District Governor on July 1, succeeding Frank Reitz (RC of Fort McMurray) who had an opportunity on June 11 to reflect on the past year.

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Frank Reitz reflects on his year as District Governor during June 11 Changeover Event

He compared the last three years, which included two years preparing to step into the role as District Governor, to being on a roller-coaster.

“It has been an awesome ride,” he said. “It’s a long way up there. Then you get to the top of the roller-coaster and it seems that two and a half seconds later, you’re at the bottom and some guy says, ‘It’s over. Get out!’

“Throughout the year, I was reminded that we must change to remain relevant, but our values as Rotarians will never change. We are people of action,” Frank said.

While the number of Rotarians in District 5370 didn’t increase over the past year, Frank pointed to improved member retention as a measure of success. He also noted the growth of youth programs, concluding that, “We are meeting the needs of the youth.”

As they travelled throughout the District, Frank and his spouse, Barbara, learned about the programs and projects of the 57 clubs they visited. “These are impressive and relevant to their communities,” he said.

He noted that support for The Rotary Foundation is strong within the District. All clubs supported the Foundation and donations from District 5370 Rotarians are the second highest in the zone, on a per-capita basis. Nearly all clubs also contributed to Polio Plus.

In her presentation, Ingrid suggested that peace building may become as relevant to young Rotarians as eradicating polio was to previous generations of Rotarians. 

“Many [younger members] do not even know what polio represented, nor the fact that Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eliminating this disease globally,” she said. “However, these millennials are bombarded each day with news of turmoil and unrest across the world. We need to focus on peace building.”

In addition to sharing her peace building message during her travels throughout the District, Ingrid will also talk about other goals related to membership, the Foundation and Rotary’s public image, which are included in the District’s Strategic Plan. 

“Rotary is facing a membership challenge around the world, but particularly in North America. Our own District has seen a steady, overall decline in the last several years,” she said.

“I believe we can reverse that trend. We have neighbouring districts in our zone that have seen steady growth in the last five years. So can we!”

She described The Rotary Foundation as “the backbone of all the grants that fund our many projects,” noting the efforts of Foundation chair Wayne Kaufman (RC of Edmonton Riverview) and his committee to raise awareness about the importance and impact of Foundation giving.

“Our plan is to continue the club visits to educate members about the Foundation and to share success stories of successful Rotary grants throughout the year, so that members and the public are more aware of the work of the Foundation,” she said.

Shifting her focus to Rotary’s public image, Ingrid said, “We need a strong communication plan, to raise awareness in our community about the amazing work of Rotary Clubs. This is particularly relevant in the urban corridor, where there are many service clubs vying for attention and support.”

The strategic plan also expresses commitments to support the District’s youth programs and to prepare club officers to lead their clubs.

Ingrid described her final two goals as, “both connected to fun. We plan to incorporate the arts into Rotary events and to celebrate Rotary and life balance.

“The arts add the colour and texture to our lives, whether it is beautiful music, an intriguing theatre performance, or a stunning visual masterpiece. We have many talented individuals in our clubs, and I want to promote and support the arts in our Rotary events,” she said.

“As for celebrating, as I visit each club, I plan to acknowledge and share with our membership the important work Rotarians do each day across our District, as positive change-makers in our communities.”

She concluded with a brief preview of the District Conference, including the attendance of two women who have become leaders of Rotary worldwide. 

“Rotary International has had only three female vice-presidents in its 113-year history, including current vice-president Dean Rohrs and former vice-president Jennifer Jones. Both are confirmed for our conference.”

Ingrid also promised an 18-piece orchestra for the 1920’s themed Governor’s Ball, “that pays homage to the era of Rotary’s founder Paul Harris and his boys of Chicago and the early glory days of Rotary.”

Ingrid will begin her visits to all 57 clubs by mid-July.

“I am looking forward to visiting all the clubs in our District to see first-hand all the important work that makes an impact in our communities. We have so many talented and experienced individuals in our District, who possess vast knowledge and skills in leading companies, excelling in their professions and providing leadership in their own communities.

“I am confident that our District is ready to be a leader in the areas of peace and conflict resolution in the Rotary world, adapting new ideas for membership engagement and attraction, and continuing to have positive impact in our communities!”

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Global Grant Scholarships are another way that Rotary works to achieve peace and world understanding

Australia On Globe With Flag

In just a few days, Amy Smith will leave Edmonton’s winter behind for the near perfect climate of Australia’s Gold Coast, but it’s not the surfing that is drawing her to Brisbane.

She is going to Australia to begin a two-year program at the University of Queensland, which will lead to a masters of development practices. The opportunity to continue her studies was made possible by a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship.

These scholarships are an example of how contributions to The Rotary Foundation support Rotary’s efforts to achieve peace and world understanding.

“Without this support from Rotary, I would have been unable to continue my studies,” says Amy, who already has a bachelor of arts in political science and native studies and a certificate in Aboriginal governance and partnerships from the University of Alberta.

As a result of her studies, Amy expects to learn, “practical skills to do international development projects. The program will give me tools to work with communities and analyze their needs.”

Amy has a long history of service, beginning in 2009 when she was one of a group of Calmar (Alberta) high school students who went to Belize. When they returned, their principal—himself a Rotarian—encouraged the students to form an Interact club. Amy was the founding president.

Since then, “Rotary has just been such a big part of my life,” Amy says. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Rotary. They believed in me.”

While a university student, Amy joined the University of Alberta Rotaract club, serving as its president during her final year. After graduation, she joined the Rotaract club of Edmonton.

As an Interactor and Rotaractor, Amy attended several District conferences and the 2010 RI Convention in Montreal, participated in a Rotary fellowship exchange to India and Adventures in Citizenship in Ottawa, and participated in and helped organize service projects to India, Belize and Costa Rica.

Last month, Amy helped organize and co-facilitated an Indigenous Awareness Session for Rotarians.

Scholarships supported by donations to The Rotary Foundation 

Dean Wood (RC of Edmonton Riverview), who chairs the scholarship subcommittee of the District’s Foundation Committee, emphasizes that the Global Grant Scholarship is one way in which Rotary works towards achieving its fourth object: “The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace.”

Information about Global Grant and District Grant Scholarships is available on the District website.

“The fundamental goal of the Global Grant Scholarships is to develop a core of people who will have capacity to provide leadership in peace and understanding,” Dean says.

“Over the years, there have been a substantial number of people who have been able to continue their studies as a result of receiving Global Grant Scholarships,” Dean says. “Each has develop of people around the world who are committed to the values of Rotary.”

There are three sources of funds for Global Grant Scholarships, the largest of which is the Rotary Foundation.

“These scholarships demonstrate the value of the contributions of individual Rotarians to the Foundation,” Dean says. “The dollars they contribute lead to these young people having these great opportunities to further the goals of Rotary.”

Other money for Amy’s scholarship came from the Nisku-Leduc Rotary clubs (the sponsor Rotary clubs) and several partner clubs (Edmonton Riverview, Westlock, Edmonton Whyte Avenue, St. Albert Saint City, Jasper and Brisbane High-Rise in Australia). The money contributed by individual clubs was then matched by the District.

Previous Global Grant Scholar learned about plight of those escaping danger and trauma

While several clubs supported Amy’s scholarship, the Rotary Club of Whitecourt was the only club to help fund a previous Global Grant Scholarship, which enabled Meghan Casey to continue her studies after graduating from the University of Victoria.

Meghan, who grew up in Whitecourt, studied at the University of Kent’s Brussels School for International Studies from 2015 to 2017. The focus of her master’s program was human right’s laws and international migration.

In an article published in Beyond Borders, the newsletter for Zones 24 and 32, Meghan wrote that during her studies she became interested in the plight of “vulnerable people [who] are forced from their homes and subjected to extreme danger and trauma in hopes of finding security.”

Both in the article and in a presentation she made during the District Conference held in

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Former Global Grant Scholar Meghan Casey speaks at the District 5370 Conference in Fort McMurray in September 2017

Fort McMurray in September, Meghan described spending several weeks in the fall of 2016 as a volunteer in the unofficial refugee camp in northern France known as “The Jungle,” that sprang up in 2015 during the European migrant crisis.

“At the time, it hosted some 10,000 people, many of whom were unaccompanied minors. Camp conditions were horrific. People lived in flimsy tents pitched in an old asbestos dumping site,” Meghan wrote.

“The French government refused to provide aid, and the organizations operating in the area struggled to provide for the growing population. In November, the French government executed an uncoordinated attempt to dismantle the camp. Some 1,000 children went missing, many of whom are suspected to have fallen in with human traffickers.”

Based on her volunteer experience in The Jungle, Meghan decided to approach her studies from a different angle when she returned to Brussels for the final year of her master’s program.

“I wanted to address the increasing gap between official policies on paper and what actually happens on the ground,” she wrote. “I researched the implications of a particular EU policy for migrants and asylum seekers transiting through Turkey to the Greek islands. I spoke with Greek lawyers and other volunteers operating in the camps to assess how the agreement with Turkey had been implemented.”

While writing her thesis, Meghan worked as a trainee at the European Parliament.

“Contributing to the legislative process was fulfilling, because it allowed me to put into practice the theoretical knowledge I had acquired during my studies. I was learning about the decision-making process from the top-down. I had seen how certain policies affected vulnerable populations, and now I was learning what factors influenced those decisions.”

Meghan appreciates the support she received from the Rotary Clubs of Whitecourt and Houthalen Midden-Limburg in Belgium, the District 5370 Foundation Committee and The Rotary Foundation, which allowed her to complete her studies.

“I have been able to challenge my own understanding of global human movement by attending various courses, training sessions and conferences. Learning from experts in the field, including NGO personnel and academics, was an incredible experience that allowed me to re-conceptualize how I view the topic of migration in Europe and North America. Rotary’s support has allowed me to advocate for a more positive portrayal of migrants in politics and the media, which ultimately affects how they are welcomed in their new communities.

“Without the support of my community, local and district Rotary clubs, I would not have had the opportunity to engage in so many diverse and challenging opportunities, which have ultimately shaped me into the person I am today and will be in the future. Thank you, Rotary Foundation!”

You can help provide opportunities for other young people to further their studies related to peace and understanding with the support of Global Grant Scholarships when you donate to The Rotary Foundation.

The Rotary Foundation: Rotarians advancing world understanding, goodwill, and peace

District 5370 Rotary Foundation chair Wayne Kauffman (RC of Edmonton Riverview) has experienced first-hand how donations from Rotarians to the Rotary Foundation can make a difference.

In 2007, he witnessed the installation of a water system that continues to deliver safe drinking water to 85 homes in a village in northern Ecuador.

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Rotary Foundation chair Wayne Kauffman speaks to members of the Rotary Club of Edmonton South

With money from the Rotary clubs of Edmonton South, Grande Prairie and Edmonton Riverview, along with grants from the Alberta Wildrose Foundation and the Rotary Foundation (a total of $72,000), a 4.2-kilometre pipeline was laid to bring water from the source, 1,500 metres above a chlorination station in the village.

Every family in the village participated in the project by digging a section of the trench for the pipeline. They continue to contribute to the system’s upkeep, based on each family’s consumption.

“As a Rotarian, I take a lot of pride that clean water still flows in that community and kids are not getting sick from drinking the water,” Wayne said during a recent presentation, one of more than 30 that he and grant subcommittee chair Wayne McCutcheon (RC of St. Albert) have made to Rotary clubs since 2015.

Wayne Kauffman: “We can do more!”

For Kauffman, there’s a simple theme to these presentations: “We can do more!”

By more, he means that more Rotarians can donate to The Rotary Foundation and those who already support it can increase their contributions, which in turn will mean that more money will be available to support local and international projects.

TRFlogoDuring the 2016-17 Rotary year, Rotarians in District 5370 contributed $341,504 to the annual fund, which exceeded the District’s 2016-17 goal by 133 per cent. This translates to an average of $156.15 from each Rotarian in District 5370.

But only about half the Rotarians in District 5370 contributed to the foundation, a figure Kauffman would like to see increase. He wants to help Rotarians “understand why it’s so important that we all give to The Rotary Foundation.”

He points to the fourth object of Rotary International: “The advancement of world understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.”

“How do we do it?” he asks, before answering his own question. The Rotary Foundation, the purpose of which is to “enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.”

He is disappointed that there are clubs within the District from which no donations were received last year.

On the other hand, there are clubs where 100 per cent of the members donate to the foundation and where, on average, Rotarians are donating hundreds of dollars. The top clubs, based on per capita donations during 2016-17, were:

Edmonton South ($478.43)

Fairview ($365.57)

Whitecourt ($362.08)

Wayne McCutcheon’s role is to “help you spend money”

While Wayne Kauffman focuses on raising funds for the Rotary Foundation, Wayne McCutcheon looks at the foundation from a different perspective. “My role is to help you spend money,” he says. “I’m available to help clubs apply for grants.”

After three years, half the money donated to the annual fund is returned to the District to support local and small international projects. For 2017-18, $101,000 was available for District grants (half of the $202,000 donated to the foundation from District 5370 in 2014-15).

Grants of $3,500 each were awarded to 41 clubs this year, to help fund projects. These funds were combined with funds raised by the clubs themselves, and in some cases, grants from the federal and provincial governments to implement projects.

The window to apply for 2018-19 District grants opens following the Spring Leadership Training (April 6 and 7). The deadline for applying is May 31, 2018.

The application form is available on the District website.

PresCitation#1_ TRFYou can donate to The Rotary Foundation Canada by cheque or online. Click here to donate online or send your cheque to:

The Rotary Foundation Canada
c/o 911600,
PO Box 4090 Stn A
Toronto, Ontario M5W 0E9

Contact information:

Wayne Kauffman, Foundation Committee Chair (780) 464-6043 wkauffman@shaw.ca

Wayne McCutcheon, Chair District/Global Grants

(780) 850-0698 wsm@shaw.ca

 

Register today for the 2018 Rotary International Convention in Toronto, June 24-27, 2018. Registration fee increases after December 15, 2017.

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More than 20 years of service to Ethiopia recognized with a major Rotary award

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Leo Seguin, the 2017 recipient of the Donald MacRae Peace Award, stands between PDG Betty Screpnek and DG Frank Reitz

Leo Seguin (RC of Westlock) is the 2017 recipient of the Donald MacRae Peace Award (Zones 24 & 32), recognizing his commitment of more than 20 years to the people of Ethiopia.

Past District 5370 Governor Betty Screpnek, who currently serves as a director of The Rotary Foundation Canada, presented the award during the Fort McMurray District Conference. She noted that it was learning of a famine in that nation that led Leo to become involved in Ethiopia.

“When the famine attacked Ethiopia in the late 80s, this Rotarian could not stand by when he and his neighbors’ ‘bounty’ was abundant,” Betty said. “He went into action and grain drives with the Canadian Grain Banks filled some 20 grain cars to feed Ethiopia.”

The Donald MacRae Peace Award is an annual award presented by Rotary Zones 24 & 32 to recognize and honour an individual or organization for outstanding achievement consistent with the ideals of Rotary as expressed by the Fourth Object of Rotary:

“The advancement of International understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional people united in the ideal of service”

A former president of the Westlock Rotary Club, Leo has lead several international projects in Ethiopia. He travels to Africa frequently to listen to the people and gain firsthand knowledge of the projects, to be sure the funds we raise are well-spent.

His next visit is scheduled for January 2018.

IMG_4180In 2004, Leo was instrumental in establishing the Rainbow for the Future, a NGO headquartered in Westlock.

Information on the Rainbow for the Future website explains that it “is a Canadian development agency dedicated to the organization and integration of sustainable development efforts in Ethiopia. We are committed to helping the poor help themselves, and those we help in Ethiopia are truly the poorest of the poor.”

The agency supports “irrigation-based development projects as a means to improve food security, allowing communities to become autonomous and independent. When household income is stabilized and food security is established, the focus can then turn to education, healthcare, and long-term sustainability in a number of areas. These include education—particularly the education of girls and women— access to healthcare services and medical facilities, and income-generation programs, especially for women.”

Since its inception, Rainbow for the Future has raised $10 million, 95 per cent of which directly supports projects in Ethiopia, many of which have been accomplished in partnership with other Rotary clubs and agencies. Volunteers pay their own expenses related to participation in projects.

The award commemorates the contribution of Halifax Rotarian Donald MacRae, who in a speech to the International Convention in Kansas City in June 1918 proposed that Rotary become an agent for the promotion of goodwill and peace among nations—the first time that this vision of Rotary was expressed publicly.

In 1921, as chair of Rotary’s Constitution and By-laws Committee, MacRae had an opportunity to incorporate this vision into the constitution of Rotary. He presented a resolution to the International Convention in Edinburgh, Scotland that amended the constitution by adding the fourth Object of Rotary. This Fourth Object became the engine that drives Rotary’s International service: indeed, it has become the watchword of the Rotary Foundation.

“Reflecting the vision created by MacRae, the award focuses on advancing international goodwill, understanding and peace through peacemaking efforts or humanitarian activity of international significance. Peace can only happen by drilling those wells to provide potable water, education, disease prevention and feeding the hungry. That is the Rotary way of creating peace and I think we have it right,” Betty said.

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Three awards presented to recognize club achievements

District Governor Frank Reitz presented three awards during the Fort McMurray District Conference to acknowledge outstanding achievements of Rotary clubs during 2016-2017:

Membership AwardRotary Club of Barrhead – This award is for the largest percentage increase in membership (31 per cent) from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

The Rotary Foundation AwardAnnual fund – Rotary Club of Edmonton South – This award is presented to the club that has the highest annual per capita contributions ($478.43) to The Rotary Foundation.

Polio Plus Award – Rotary Club of Dawson Creek Sunrise – This award is presented annually to the club that has the highest per capita contributions to Polio Plus. The 41 members raised a total of $49,956 towards the eradication of polio.

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