So what does our Rotary Club do? January was Rotary Awareness month. Does the Rotary Club of Hamilton do more than meet once a week, hear a great speaker, have lunch and try to sell tickets to Spring Uncorked? It seems that Rotary does so many good things but no one knows what, especially Rotarians.
If you talk to any Past President of our Rotary Club, they are filled with stories of past projects and initiatives from their year as President. They are the first ones to say they were overwhelmed with what our Rotary Club does each year. Often quietly, a small committee meets and uses the funds raised by events like Spring Uncorked to make a difference in the world. The world can and does include an inner city Code Red Neighbourhood or a small Village in Liberia.
It is easy for a large Rotary Club like ours, no not make a big deal about what we do, which leads to the misbelief that we are no doing anything, after all it is Service Above Self? The times are changing, more competition from other causes, service clubs and worthwhile causes strain our membership, volunteer time and our financial resources. It is time that as Rotarians we get informed of what we do and the benefits it is making, it is time we share the good work we do with others. It is the only way we can maintain to be relevant, to grow our membership, to raise funds and host special events that create the revenue needed to help so many. We each need to know and believe in what we as the Rotary Club of Hamilton are doing.
In the last few months alone our Rotary Club has engaged local youth at McMaster University in a speed mentoring event. These young people had the opportunity to meet and network with Rotarians and learn about different vocations and career opportunities.
Each day after school over 100 children and youth participate in a free after school program at Pinky Lewis Recreation Centre. The WAVE After School Program offers 2 ½ hours of free activity based programming for inner city children. The Computer lab is a great opportunity to do homework or work on a resume, or just to have some fun while learning. This is a safe place for positive engagement of children & youth.
In December we hosted 700 children at Cathy Wever School for the annual Christmas Celebration. For many of these children, this is there only Christmas Celebration, for some it was their first experience at eating turkey and cranberries. Each child received a scarf, and on cold days, you will see many of these children at school with them wrapped around their necks.
The Rotary Club of Hamilton through the World Community Services Committee contributed $2000.00 to ABC’s and Rice towards the creation of the “Full Belly Farm”. The school feeds the children each day and the farm allows for fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, there are chickens and a fish farm. The fish farm has done so well, that ABC’s and Rice is able to take fish to the market to trade, allowing the children to include much needed protein in their diets.
Sometime individual Rotarians take a very hands on approach. One of our Rotarians works with a small group of children giving them the opportunity to try and learn curling. Each week a small group of children walk to Victoria Curling Club and learn new skills, enjoy the sport of curling.
Literacy is a huge focus for our Rotary Club. The weekly speaker receives a certificate that indicates a donation has been made in their name to the Rick Broadfoot Memorial Book Cart at Cathy Wever School. Rick was a president elect in our Rotary Club when he passed away. His family donated money to our Rotary Club to do a literacy project. A book cart was purchased with the donation and through the speaker gift fund, the cart is filled with books. Children can purchase books for 0.25 to create their own library at home. Often teachers use the book cart as a reward system.
Each summer we operate a 5 week Summer Literacy camp. Close to 2000 children from across Hamilton have the opportunity to attend this free literacy camp. Each day, children and their parents are greeted by a Rotarian of the Day, here is a great way volunteer a see Rotary in action.
We have Rotarians who spend 1 hour a week reading to students who need some extra help, and we opened a Little Free Library at Cathy Wever School. This outdoor library encourages a book swap. Take a book, leave a book. We have noticed that the children and families love books and have started to create their own home libraries with the books.
Then there are the committees who do all the planning and work so many of our projects can happen. The Rotary Board provides great leadership. Programming who lines up speakers, membership which help identify potential members. It is amazing that the busiest people share so much of themselves.
So you can see that the Rotary Club of Hamilton is active and does so much in our world. There is so much more to tell, the Telling Tales Festival, the Adopt-a-Park clean-up at Jackie Washington Rotary Park, the work of our Donations Advisory Committee and our work on eradicating the Polio Virus worldwide.
To be able to this each day and continue to do the good work that our Rotary Club does we need to do fundraising. We have our fundraising committees such as Rotary Fall Classic and Spring Uncorked that without their success, we know we cannot do all that we do.
Hamilton’s first and largest Rotary Club, with almost a century of putting the Rotary motto of “Service above Self” in practice, has created a way for the club’s good works to be supported in perpetuity.
Of the 12 local clubs, the Rotary Club of Hamilton has become the first to launch an endowment fund with Hamilton Community Foundation. There are two options for making a gift to the Rotary Forever Fund: as an immediate donation from a living donor, or as a bequest identified in a person’s will. All gifts are pooled and invested. The capital is left untouched and only the investment income is disbursed to support Rotary projects and initiatives, as decided by the Rotary Board
There are so many opportunities to support Rotary, committees, events, our weekly meetings to just name a few. We make a difference to children and their families in our local and international community. It is more than just lunch and a speaker!