#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Patricia Dimeck

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“I am a part of all that I have met”.  Alfred Lord Tennyson

I joined Rotary in 2006 with great excitement in my heart because, having been a volunteer all my life for our church and community I had not claimed one specific volunteer flag under which I could fly. Now I work under the Rotary flag and I am grateful every day for the opportunity to change a life. This is how I will change the world, one person at a time.

I was born and raised in Liverpool, England – the third daughter of a big and boisterous family, born of parents who always looked for more. MORE! Their immigrant adventure brought us to Canada from a city where music was so big and so were crime and economic struggle. The natural beauty of Ontario took my breath away and I am proud to now call it my home. I raised two amazing kids in rural Ontario and loved the grass roots contrast to living the urban life in England.

My Rotary introduction was first made by a superlative Rotarian, PDG Doug Vincent; and I knew I had discovered something special in this organisation. I joined Waterloo RC whose members provided a positive and rich environment for my own launch. I subsequently came to know other parts of this whole canvas called Rotary as I moved from Bruce-Grey to Waterloo.

Quickly I became involved in International Service; that had been my dream for many years as my adult children left the nest. Back then I had only a small comprehension of the amazing work that has preceded me, and the needs which are so huge. Hence Rotary presented me with impressive history, goals, and the opportunity to achieve them as I explored northern Mexico via project work. The people I have met on my travels are too many to count, and yet they have each enriched my life. The Rotarians with whom I have worked in northern Mexico continue to amaze me as they work tirelessly in their impoverished community. They are grateful, hardworking, dedicated to their community and to each other and they welcome visiting Rotarians with immeasurable warmth! In Agua Prieta, as they celebrate 70 years of Rotary in their city, they continue to impress me with their spirit of community and family.

My work for a tour company takes me all over North America and it is as fascinating as it is challenging, and always satisfying. As a writer waiting to carve out my name, I document my experiences as I travel and enjoy the endless variety of people, scenery and events that unfold before my eyes.

I continue to strive to deserve the honour of being a go-between from the richness of Ontario to the poverty of the Sonora desert.   It is a privilege to receive donations from the hands of generous Rotarians in Canada and then hear the ‘Gracias’ of the resilient people of Agua Prieta. I bring back with me so many difficult, uplifting stories every time I visit, and leave behind a part of my heart.

I am without doubt a part of all whom I have met.

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To find out more about Rotary and how you can have an impact locally or globally, contact us by email at RotaryKitchener@gmail.com or visit our website, our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Tracey Hare Connell

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This week we are featuring the Rotary Club of Kitchener’s Tracey Hare Connell.

Tracey has been a dynamic and engaging Rotarian since she joined in 1997. Her natural leadership abilities were the reason she was quickly recruited to chair important Club fundraising projects and act as a mentor to fellow Rotarians. In 2005/6 Tracey accepted the role of President. Since then Tracey has continued to lead many aspects of the Rotary Club of Kitchener to success, including the upcoming In Vino Caritas ‘In Wine there is Charity’ event taking place at The Tannery on April 3rd.

Why did you join Rotary?

I was seeking a way to focus on something to marry my personal and business interests. My Father, Doug Hare, was the Past President of the Rotary Club of Waterloo (1974/1975) and my brother, Ron Hare was also a Rotarian. My history with Rotary through my Father’s and my brother’s experiences ensured that Rotary was on my list of considerations. (Those experiences included hosting youth exchange students, hosting the world junior curling championships and engaging in a number of charitable and volunteer events and activities. As I explored further, I discovered a friend who was also very involved in Rotary and gave me some perspective (in current terms) about what it was ‘really’ like.

In the process, I looked at other terrific organizations including Zonta International, two Rotary Clubs and a non-profit Board of Directors role. My choice was the Rotary Club of Kitchener.

If you had to describe your Rotary experience in one word, what would it be?

One word … rewarding! I always say that I’ve gained more than I could ever give.

Rotary Experience = Challenging. Fun. Warm. Rich. Rewarding.

Challenging? Yes!  I challenge anyone to motivate and lead a group of busy business people who are ‘volunteers’ with varied skills and motivations.  Leading volunteers is perhaps one of the most significant leadership challenges anyone can take on – in business and in life. My first Rotary leadership opportunity came in the form of a new fund-raiser. There I sat, 15 years younger than most of the folks around the table … inspiring lofty objectives, finding consensus and leveraging the skills of business owners, doctors, lawyers and other community-leaders to plan and execute a high return winter golf tournament. This brand new ‘fun and fund-raising’ event raised 150K over its lifecycle.

In short, Rotary is a terrific way to learn about and connect to my community and its challenges, developments and achievements.

What’s the best advice about Rotary you’ve ever received?

Don’t join Rotary for the food or the business connections … join Rotary because you sincerely want to learn more about your community; to give back; to get involved and to meet a diverse group of people.  The rest will naturally come.

Tell me about your values and how Rotary aligns with these?

I value people and am inspired by the power of a vision to make change in our community and in the world – one small step at a time. Rotary is the ultimate in community – locally and globally.  I value the unique contributions and varied skills and capabilities that Rotarians bring to anything. When we harness the drive, capacity and capabilities of a group of people (in this case Rotarians), we can accomplish much.

What Rotary initiatives are you passionate about? What keeps you coming back every week?

Interestingly, I’m one of the *new* Rotarians who can’t make the weekly meetings due to business commitments and travel,  however,  I’m passionate about helping Rotary raise funds to support its charitable causes, such as Kidsability and Women’s Crisis Shelter. This keeps me committed to continue to lead and participating in Rotary fundraising activities. With financial resources, Rotary can help locally and internationally. Matching grant programs allow us to compound our money – a small seed contribution can be doubled and tripled through this process.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment or take the greatest pride in? Did your experiences with Rotary aid you in this?

Accomplishment: Successfully balancing a challenging business /work life and marriage for over 25 years.

Rotary has been part of my business and family life for many years.  A dimension of Rotary kept me connected and engaged to a diverse group of professionals and a terrific social and business network here and abroad (even before social networks were online!)  As a bi-product, both my personal and business life has seen benefits.

What do you consider your greatest Rotary moment?

I truly joined Rotary more so to become a committed ‘foot-soldier’ vs a member of an executive team. (I had the good fortune to have this opportunity in my working life.) Despite this, my greatest moment came in my year as President. In particular, at the end of my year as President. With my past Rotary President father looking on, I was able to thank an outstanding group of dedicated Rotarians for helping us raise >100K; for clearing community trails of garbage; for hosting two international exchange students; for sponsoring a Rotary Ambassadorial scholar to the University of Waterloo from Japan; for supplying medical and community care facilities in Africa to fight Aids and to help us erect a sculpture at the Rotary Peace Park in Waterloo to symbolize Rotary’s mission to promote goodwill and friendships around the world.  I proudly accepted a Presidential Citation and reflected on an incredible year with a fantastic Board of Directors and committed group of Committee Chairs and Rotarians. People who can make these things happen are the kind of people you want to spend time with.

If you could tell another woman one thing about Rotary membership, what would it be?

This is a personal undertaking. Do this for no one but yourself and if you do get involved, be prepared to contribute all of the skills and abilities you have to offer. In family, business, and Rotary, we succeed when we do our best.  A fellow Rotarian (Louise Gardiner) always told me that the order of priorities was family, business and Rotary. I agree. Despite that order of things, the magnitude of Rotary’s collective achievements is enormous -locally and worldwide.  This used to strike me at every Club Board meeting. Just when I thought we were ‘standing still’, I’d listen to each Director deliver a ‘report’ and highlight progress, achievements and challenges … a track record that many businesses would be proud of.

Do you think Rotary membership adds positive value for woman?

I do believe that Rotary adds positive value for women – locally and worldwide. It’s another opportunity to operate on equal footing – in some cases with men who don’t work with women in their executive peer group. I’d suggest that the learning goes both ways.  This can be a terrific opportunity to learn and exercise leadership and organizational skills and an excellent opportunity to network with a diverse group of business people and community leaders.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Sure … there are some stodgy and old-fashioned stuff of Rotary … such as toasting the head of state and singing Oh Canada at every meeting.  I’ll admit that this can feel a bit ‘uncool’ and un-current at times, however, Rotary is also an extremely modern organization in so many ways. It’s the people of each Club that will determine the future and that’s an exciting thing to be part of.

For more information about the wine tasting and auction event, In Vino Caritas, check out their Facebook page. To find out more about Rotary and how you can have an impact locally or globally, contact us by email at RotaryKitchener@gmail.com or visit our website, our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

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Proud daughter, Tracey Hare Connell, poses here with her father, Doug Hare, a Past President of the Rotary Club of Waterloo.

What are you waiting for—join today.

KS Twitter header - lrgRotary Profile – First Local Woman Rotarian, (Groundbreaker) Kathi Smith 

Advice from Kathi Smith…

Throughout the past 25 years, Rotary has taught Kathi Smith many things. Along the way, she has experienced friendship, fun, change that makes a difference, found opportunity to network and gain valuable leadership skills.  When she advises other women, “what are you waiting for—join today. There is something for everyone”, she knows of what she speaks.

When she arrived in Kitchener from Burlington to work with Junior Achievement, Kathi joined Kitchener Rotary because some asked her to join. Kathi and Pat Talman were asked to join Kitchener Rotary Club as the first women in the area (actually the District). She as attracted to Rotary through its work locally and internationally.  The local clubs were also strong supporters of Junior Achievement. Becoming a Rotarian facilitated Kathi’s pursuit of her passion, making a difference in the lives of children in our community and making a difference in the lives of children around the world.

During her tenure as a Rotarian, Kathi has served chairperson of the Youth Exchange, treasurer and attended district conferences on an annual basis to gain a fuller understanding of Rotary. A clear focus of her Rotary activity has been her involvement as a Group Study Exchange Team leader.

In 1999, Kathi led an exchange team to District 2660 in Osaka, Japan. She returned determined to see a Pease Monument erected somewhere in KW. As such, it was a proud moment for Kathi when the Rotary Peace Park in Waterloo dedicated.

Five years after leading the exchange, Kathi returned to Osaka to attend an RI Convention. This afforded her the opportunity to visit her host families. It also left her awe struck by the opening ceremonies at the Osaka Dome where 50,000 people were in attendance. These experiences have inspired her to attend many more RI conventions: Chicago, Salt Lake City, LA, Copenhagen, Montréal and New Orleans.

Kathi continues her involvement in training at the Zone Level for GSE/Scholars prior to leaving the country.  Time conflicts at noon caused her to transfer her membership to the breakfast club of Kitchener Grand River, where she has served as a director and President.

While accompanying Kathi on her many Rotary-related ventures, her husband Ray takes great delight in correcting the assumption that he is the Rotarian by quipping “Kathi is the Rotarian, I am the Rotary Ann”.

Kathi’s involvement has led to receiving several Paul Harris awards.  She attests to the richness and variety of the Rotary experience.  From her perspective, Kathi believes that Rotary is not just one thing. “It is a great organization to help you fulfill your dreams of making a difference on a local or global scale or both; of networking; of developing leadership of making friends; of learning more about yourself and realizing just how small our world is”.

To find out more about membership, and the leadership opportunities in Rotary, contact us by email at RotaryKitchener@gmail.com or visit our website, our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.