Kitchener Rotary Down Under

The ramblings of a first-time Rotary International Conference goer

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G’day from Sydney!

This is my first Rotary International (RI) Conference. The conference is a privilege and requirement for incoming Presidents of the Rotary Club of Kitchener; and certainly something I was looking forward to. I viewed it as a chance to connect with Rotarians across the globe and discover a bit about the southern hemisphere.

But, only one day into the conference, what I have found is so much more.

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Since arriving nearly a week ago, David and I found the watermark of Rotary everywhere. Stepping off the plane, we were greeted by two Rotarians from Australia—Past District Governor, Alex McHarg and David Martin—as well as a volunteer friend, Robert Scott. The trio helped us with travel information and offered a friendly face after the fifteen-hour plane ride.

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This welcoming atmosphere would be replicated right across the city over the course of the next week. Where ever we went, Sydney welcomed us with specular restaurants, Rotary flags lining the streets, and the incredible Vivid Light Show which included a display of the Rotary wheel.

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We quickly discovered that a simple Rotary pin gave us free access to all means of transport; bus, ferry, and their sophisticated network of trains. A gift from our generous host state, New South Wales. A gift we put to great use exploring the city.

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Although the trains of Sydney are traditionally quiet (in fact, they have entire cars dedicated for this purpose), the trains to Sydney Olympic Park for the opening ceremonies was anything but! Stuffed with Rotarians from the four corners of the globe, laughter and camaraderie echoed freely throughout the cars of the train. Many people meeting for the first time and filled with excited anticipation of the day ahead.

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I rode the train with new friends from Arizona and a community radio host, Peter Saville from Mid North Coast of New South Wales. An outside observer would think we’d known each other for longer than just 30 minutes!

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We were greeted on the Olympic Park platform by a jazz band playing despite a soft drizzle. Peter promptly informed us that jazz is very popular on Australia, with its own dedicated station. In the midst of the Park the Olympic Caldron burned brightly. Special authorization was granted to have the caldron lit in recognition of the many Rotarians who hosted Olympic families.

With over 20,000 in attendance, it was no wonder we soon lost each other in the House of Friendship. The building, dubbed The Billabong (the waterhole) by Australia’s indigenous people, was an enormous space. It was fitted with replica outback homesteads and pseudo-habitats—even an enormous replica Harbour Bridge!

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To secure a good seat for the opening ceremonies (this year’s conference is so full that they’ve had to arrange two opening ceremonies!), I made my way to the AllPhones Arena. The arena was typically reserved for entertainment industry’s most prestigious and spectacular events. On my way I crossed paths with another President Elect, Karen Morgan. Karen is incoming President of the Rotary Club of Juneau. We shared stories of our clubs and hopes for our upcoming leadership roles. I was intrigued to learn that her club is nearly 50 per cent female and they have found an interesting way to engage young professionals—especially new moms. She was interested in our President’s Advisory Breakfast and our wine quizzes.

We were successful in our efforts, locating two seats on the floor in the second section. We were soon join by the very outgoing, District Governor Elect for 5440, Julie Phares. She danced away with Human Nature and even showed us the tattoo of the Rotary wheel that she had been dared to get when she accepted the DG role. I can’t wait to share this bit of information with our own DG Nominee, Bill Proctor!

The ceremonies launched with a stunning performance by traditional dancers from the NSW Public Schools Traditional Dance Company. The performance was a ‘welcome’ to the Rotarians gathered on aboriginal lands by the aboriginal custodians of the land. It was very powerful. After which, Convention Chair Mark Maloney took to the stage to welcome everyone. He rang the bell like he’d been waiting ten years to do it (and he had!).

The Rotary Parade of Flags were delivered to the stadium by the young men and women of Australia’s Surf Life Saving. The group, known for their selfless acts of bravery, rowed the flags to the stadium starting at Manly Beach. The reading of the 180 countries (including the recent addition of Myanmar!) was provided by RI Director-elect, Julie Phelps.

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The Honourable Mike Baird, Premier of New South Wales (only six weeks into his role) told those gathered that he’d seen the great work of Rotary tackling issues such as homelessness and mental health. He went on to say that when emergencies broke out, like bush fires and floods, Rotarians were always prepared to step up; to say, “we are here to help.”

But it was the surprise announcement of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott—whose father Dick, a 40-year Rotarian, was in attendance—that drew the greatest applause. Abbot stated that his government would commit a whopping $100 million towards fighting polio! He also dubbed everyone in the crowd “honorary Australians.”

Canada’s Monty Audenart introduced RI President Ron Burton. Burton highlighted the innovative work being done on every corner of the globe to change lives, all in the name of Rotary.

When the lights finally came up, the convention hall was electric! Everyone excited for the days ahead and proud to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. I wondered how I would ever be able to bring the essence of the day back to our Club in a meaningful way.

On the way out I ran into our unstoppable District Governor-elect, Patsy Marshall, and rode the train back to my hotel with the Rotarian couple; District Governor Debra Rodenbaugh-Schaub and Past President of Konza Rotary Club, Patrick Schaub. They shared a very touching story about how they met and married because of Rotary. “He came pre-screened,” said Debra, referring to the Rotary four-way test.

Changing for final train, I was stopped by one of the many Rotarians in yellow vests stationed on the platforms.

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“You’re from Kitchener,” he said reading my badge. He beamed as he pointed out a small gold pin on his lanyard that read, “Kitchener”. “I met a Rotarian from Kitchener earlier today and he gave me this pin.”

I smiled. “Was his name John Thompson?”

“It was!” he responded.

Today I was reminded how proud I am to be a Rotarian; proud to be a part of an organization that includes so many of the wonderfully warm and friendly people I met today; and those, like John Thompson, that I have known for years.

I wonder what day two will bring…

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#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Anna Giesbrecht

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We are thrilled to feature our first Rotaractor, Anna Giesbrecht. Anna is one of the people working hard to form the Rotaract Club at the University of Waterloo. Anna and her team recently celebrated the successful approval of their constitution by Feds, making the UWaterloo Rotaract Club an official club on campus. Congratulations!

Why did you join Rotaract?  I joined Rotaract because my friend had been very involved with Rotary throughout his life and was very passionate about the experiences he had the opportunity to par-take in. I began learning more about what Rotary and Rotaract were, about how they strive to serve others in their local communities and around them. This is something that resonates with me so I decided to join for more opportunity to serve others.

Can you provide me with your “Rotaract path,” highlighting experiences and accomplishments?  My time in Rotaract hasn’t been very long. My friend Timothy Souza had started looking for people who would be interested in joining a University of Waterloo Rotaract club last December, and once I learned more about what Rotaract was I decided to join. Since then a team of us have been working on getting UWaterloo Rotaract started; electing a Board, Chairs, getting people out to meetings. During this time I became the secretary, which has been an interesting experience as I’ve never done it before, and we were able to get our constitution approved by Feds, thus becoming an official club on campus! Since the last few months have just been setting the foundation for the group we’re taking the summer to plan meetings and events for the fall term.

Tell me about your values and how Rotaract/Rotary aligns with these?  One of my strongest values is to treat others with the same respect as you wish to be given. I also believe that we all have a duty to look out for one another, to help each other prosper and heal. I found that this aligns with what Rotary stands for as they openly promote ‘service above self’. This is part of what really drew me to Rotary, as their goal is to help others and help create strong community bonds.

What are your future Rotaract/Rotary goals, both short‐term and long‐term?  Currently, to continue to help UWaterloo Rotaract grow, get more members, do more events, raise money and awareness – make a difference. In the short term we need to find people to sit on the Board and be Chairs for the Committees for once we leave. In the long term, I personally hope we can do an international trip with the group – whether it be to a Rotary conference or to learn more about how other people live and what we can do to support them.

If you could tell another woman one thing about Rotaract/Rotary membership, what would it be?  It’s a great place where your voice can be heard, where you can take leadership and affect change – both within the organization and around it.

Do you think Rotaract/Rotary membership adds positive value for woman? If so, how (e.g. networking, mentorship, community involvement, leadership, etc.)  Though I haven’t been involved for very long I can definitely say joining can add positive value for a woman. It gives the opportunity to meet women from all walks of life; different career paths, different ages and backgrounds. To form connections and relationships with these people offers so much more opportunity for learning. I think having women form mentoring relationships with each other would be very beneficial as you can learn about life through one another’s experiences. As well, to encourage each other to take leadership positions within Rotary is essential for Rotary’s growth and development over future years.

To find our more about the UWaterloo Rotaract Club, visit them on Twitter at @uwrotaractclub.

#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Jacqueline Mulvey

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It is a pleasure to share Jacqueline Mulvey’s profile with you as part of our Profiles of Women in Rotary. Jacqueline joined Rotary over three years ago feels that belonging to Rotary has “changed her life.”

A lawyer for almost 20 years, Jaci is a sole practitioner in a General Law Practice with a focus on family law and real estate.  She practices out of a century home in downtown Kitchener that she and her husband purchased and restored. They have three amazing children, Emily age 15, Ben age 13, and Ella age nine.

It was a long-time client who introduced Jaci to Rotary.

With a busy practice and family life, Jaci felt she didn’t have enough time to be involved with Rotary. But, after a single breakfast meeting at the Walper Hotel, Jaci was hooked.

When she entered the room for her first meeting, she felt she belonged. She found the members welcoming, and it wasn’t long before she was calling them friends.

Jaci got involved immediately in the Club’s local Allocations Committee. The Committee’s responsibility is to allocate funds to community projects, including schools and other child-focused organizations. The Rotary Club of Kitchener Grand River’s primary focus (and the mission statement for their club) is to help local children, particularly those who are underprivileged. It has been a rewarding experience, and she has been involved with this Committee ever since. Jaci states that she “loves being a part of helping under privileged children in our community”.

Jaci has also been involved in the Kidsability Fun Fair committee for the last five years. The event is a local Rotary initiative, combining all five clubs. It provides a fun-filled day for the children involved with KidsAbilty and their families. A day for them just to be kids.

The annual event has had a tremendous impact on Jaci. She finds herself teary-eyed when she witnesses first hand, a child with leg braces have the opportunity to take their braces off to jump in a bouncy castle just like his/her peers. She finds the smiles on the children’s faces “contagious and unforgettable”.

At last year’s Fun Fair, Jaci was standing with a few other Rotarians when one of the parents approached them. She thanked them for putting on such a wonderful event and told them that they “had no idea how much this event meant to her son.”

A mother herself, the comment resonated with Jaci. She understood the specialness and power of Rotary, but more importantly, that the difference she made as a Rotarian was felt not just globally, but locally, and certainly to this one Waterloo Region family.

Last year, Jaci proudly stepped into the President-Elect role for the Kitchener-Grand River Rotary Club. She feels that being a part of Rotary has opened her eyes to something wonderful; a local group of people with a similar interest in making a difference in their community and in the world. This June she will attend the Rotary International Convention in Australia where she looks forward to having the opportunity to meet Rotarians from all over the world.

The values of Rotary, service above self, is something Jaci believes applies in her family life as well. She hopes that her involvement in Rotary will have an impact on her children; that they will realize the importance of helping people in need in their community. She has brought her children to Rotary meetings and events, and indicates that she would be so proud if one or all of them were Rotarians one day!

To find out more about Rotary and how you can have an impact locally or globally, visit the Rotary Club of Kitchener Grand River website, check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

#WomenWednesday – Audrey Wipper

AW Twitter header - lrgAudrey Wipper – Scholar, Horsewoman, Benefactor, Rotarian

Audrey Wipper has been a member of the Rotary Club of Kitchener since 1993, holding distinction as the third woman to join the club—but that that is not her only distinction!

Born and raised in St. Catharines, Audrey attended McGill University. She graduated in Arts in 1952 before moving on to complete a Master’s Degree in Sociology and further graduate studies at the University of California – Berkley. In the early 60s she went to East Africa and worked out of Makerere University in Kampala.

A pioneer in the field of scholarship on African women and development issues, her PH.D studies focussed on various religious movements involving both Christian and indigenous women in western Kenya. After receiving her Doctorate she returned to Kenya for post-doctorate studies. While there she was offered a position in the new Sociology Faculty at the University of Waterloo where she spent the rest of her career. She retired as Professor in 1996.

Over the years Audrey has had an active academic career authoring many books and editing journals, many most having  to do with conditions in Africa including: Towards a General Explanation of Protest Movements in Colonial Kenya, Equal Rights for Women in Kenya? and Bishops and Prophets in a Black City – African Independent Churches in Soweto.

For much of her life, Audrey owned her own horse and enjoyed riding most days. She was involved in competitive riding and dressage where she often travelled to shows pulling her horse trailer. Her Master`s thesis was on people who rode horses, hunters and jumpers.

As busy as her life was, Audrey maintained regular attendance at Rotary meetings. Her incredible work earned her a rare eighth level Paul Harris Fellow–the highest in the Club. In 2005, Audrey went to India as part of a Rotary National Immunization Campaign against Polio and helped vaccinate hundreds of children.

In 2009, Audrey approached club leaders to set up a fund that would support the university education of African women. It was her belief that educated African women could have a profound effect on their society and family. In this effort, and with a substantial personal contribution, the Audrey Wipper Educational Fund was created.

The Fund is administered by the Rotary African Women’s Education Fund (RAWEF) Committee. Since its inception, the fund has enabled 13 young women who survived capture from their Ugandan school dorm by rebel soldiers in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, to complete secondary and post-secondary education. The women, from Uganda and Kenya, are expected to return to work in their communities in order to provide leadership.

To find out more about the women who have benefit from the Audrey Wipper Educational Fund, visit http://www.rawef.com/ .

 

 

The History of Women in Rotary

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The 1989 Council on Legislation vote to admit women into Rotary clubs worldwide remains a watershed moment in the history of Rotary.

“My fellow delegates, I would like to remind you that the world of 1989 is very different to the world of 1905. I sincerely believe that Rotary has to adapt itself to a changing world,” said Frank J. Devlyn, who would go on to become RI president in 2000-01.

The vote followed the decades-long efforts of men and women from all over the Rotary world to allow for the admission of women into Rotary clubs, and several close votes at previous Council meetings.

The response to the decision was overwhelming: By June 1990, the number of female Rotarians had skyrocketed to over 20,000. By 2010, the number of women was approaching 200,000.

Timeline of women in Rotary

1950

An enactment to delete the word “male” from the Standard Rotary Club Constitution is proposed by a Rotary club in India for the Council on Legislation meeting at the 1950 RI Convention.

1964

The Council on Legislation agenda contains an enactment proposed by a Rotary club in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to permit the admission of women into Rotary clubs. Delegates vote that it be withdrawn. Two other proposals to allow women to be eligible for honorary membership are also withdrawn.

1972

As more women begin reaching higher positions in their professions, more clubs begin lobbying for female members. A U.S. Rotary club proposes admitting women into Rotary at the 1972 Council on Legislation.

1977

Three separate proposals to admit women into membership are submitted to the Council on Legislation for consideration at the 1977 RI Convention. A Brazilian club makes a different proposal to admit women as honorary members.

The Rotary Club of Duarte, California, USA, admits women as members in violation of the RI Constitution and Standard Rotary Club Constitution. Because of this violation, the club’s membership in Rotary International is terminated in March 1978. (The club was reinstated in September 1986.)

1980

The RI Board of Directors and Rotary clubs in India, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States propose an enactment to remove from the RI and club constitutions and bylaws all references to members as “male persons.”

1983-86

In a lawsuit filed by the Duarte club, the California Superior Court in 1983 rules in favor of Rotary International, upholding gender-based qualification for membership in California Rotary clubs. In 1986, the California Court of Appeals reverses the lower court’s decision, preventing the enforcement of the provision in California. The California Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, and it is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

1987

On 4 May, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Rotary clubs may not exclude women from membership on the basis of gender. Rotary issues a policy statement that any Rotary club in the United States can admit qualified women into membership.

The Rotary Club of Marin Sunrise, California (formerly Larkspur Landing), is chartered on 28 May. It becomes the first club after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to have women as charter members.

Sylvia Whitlock, of the Rotary Club of Duarte, California, becomes the first female Rotary club president.

1988

In November, the RI Board of Directors issues a policy statement recognizing the right of Rotary clubs in Canada to admit female members based on a Canadian law similar to that upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

1989

At its first meeting after the 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Council on Legislation votes to eliminate the requirement in the RI Constitution that membership in Rotary clubs be limited to men. Women are welcomed into Rotary clubs around the world.

1990

As of June, there are about 20,200 female Rotarians worldwide. The Rotarian runs a feature on women in Rotary.

1995

In July, eight women become district governors, the first elected to this role: Mimi Altman, Gilda Chirafisi, Janet W. Holland, Reba F. Lovrien, Virginia B. Nordby, Donna J. Rapp, Anne Robertson, and Olive P. Scott.

2005

Carolyn E. Jones begins her term as the first woman appointed as trustee of The Rotary Foundation.

2008

Catherine Noyer-Riveau begins her term as the first woman elected to the RI Board of Directors.

2010

More than 199,000 women are members of Rotary clubs worldwide, with an increasing number serving as district governors.

2012

Elizabeth S. Demaray begins her term as treasurer, the first woman to serve in this position.

2013

Anne L. Matthews begins her term as the first woman to serve as RI vice president.

Source: Rotary International

#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Jennifer Jones

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Jennifer Jones, Rotary International Director 2015-2017

Jennifer is the President and CEO of Media Street Productions Inc., a television production company in Windsor, ON. She is a proud member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland and is a Past District Governor of District 6400.

In Rotary, she is the Chair of the Strengthening Rotary’s Advisory Group and has served as the Moderator of the 2013 RC/RPIC Institute, Vice Chair of the RI Communication Committee, North American RPIC Coordinator, the Advisory Board for Rotary Canada and the RI Promotions Committee’s for Lisbon and New Orleans. She is serving a third term as Seminar Leader at the International Assembly 2014 and has been a featured speaker at this event on three occasions.

Jennifer also contributes much of her energy to local organizations. She is the Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of Windsor and the immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

She has been recognized with many awards and recognitions including Rotary’s Service above Self Award, the YMCA Peace Medallion, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Wayne State University’s Peacemaker of the Year Award – a first for a Canadian.

Jennifer is happily married to Nick Krayacich, a local family physician. They share a love for many things including travel, cycling, golf and relaxing at their family cottage. They share a thirst for adventure and reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa in January 2009.

As champions of The Rotary Foundation, they are members of the Arch C. Klumph Society, the Paul Harris Society and are charter members of the Bequest Society.

Meet Jennifer…

PDG Jennifer Jones has been selected to serve as Rotary International Director in 2015-2017. As of December 1, 2013, she is officially our Zones 28-29 Director-nominee.  What a great time for all of us to get to know Jennifer as she begins her preparations.

What are two of your most memorable Rotary experiences?

How do you select just two…. there are so many Rotary experiences that have framed the way I think, feel and act. I think for most of us it’s the intimate, shared experiences as a Rotarian…the joys and the sorrows of life are that much richer when you walk alongside those who you cherish.

A day I will never forget was being a club president on 9/11. By about 10am I began receiving emails and phone calls asking if we would be cancelling our meeting. I knew this was an important time for us to be together and share our feelings…so the meeting went on, but certainly not as had been planned.

Our members all arrived that day and as Canadian’s we stood belting out the Star Spangled Banner and weeping with our neighbors to the south.  Rotary punctuates more than anything that we exist without boundaries and borders and that day as human beings we were all united.

A second memorable experience that I have been recently reflecting upon was being the Host Organizing Chair of the Rotary World Peace Summit in April 2008 in Windsor, ON. It was a dynamic, three-day event in which over 1000 people attended including 400 young people. Rotarians came from far corners of the world and we opened the doors to the community to attend. More than 3500 people participated in a parade of flags along the Detroit River and an outdoor opening ceremony. It was breathtaking.

There were many notable speakers including UN Ambassadors, Nobel Nominees, Rotary Senior Leaders and on Sunday morning a “spirited” keynote address from Robert Kennedy Jr.

What first attracted you to Rotary?

I first attended Rotary because I was asked. It may sound cliché but I think this is the case for so many Rotarians. I was 27 – had just started my business and didn’t have a family history in Rotary. I really didn’t have much of an idea of what I was getting into at first but once I walked through the doors and saw like-minded people, some who I knew and some I didn’t, I was hooked. Right away I was asked to chair our club’s big Lobsterfest fundraiser. While terrified, I agreed. Ahhh…youth! It was a great lesson for me about engaging new members in Rotary. You have to give them something meaningful to do.

 How has Rotary changed your life?

The most profound way that Rotary has changed my life is how it’s affected my family and my circle of friends.  My husband Nick is a Rotarian, as is my mom. As a matter of fact, the last official act I performed as a District Governor was installing my mom into Rotary.

The embarrassing part of this story is that I am not the sponsor of either one. Sometimes we look right past what is in front of us and miss the opportunity to share service with those closest to us.

They both had the opportunity to serve as club presidents last year. We all attended PETS together.  Nick doubled the size of his club and my mom hosted an incredible international Rotary Peace Walk.

As of late, we have reflected upon how our membership in Rotary has deepened our marriage – making this life journey even more special by sharing in service.

What are your goals for service on the Board of Directors?

While the role of the Director is one that governs the organization at large – I think there are opportunities to continue to grow relationships within our paired Zones – everything we do needs to be focused on improving the club experience …and this is a theme that is central to all of my thinking.

We are truly entering into what will be one of our most historic times as an organization with the end of polio and strengthened brand communications.

However, our biggest task in North America is to continue to focus our attention on the North American Membership Plan and make it real to Rotarians so they are able to take action.

And finally on a more personal note, I’m quite excited to work with President Nominee Ravi Ravindran. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with him over the past several years and he is an outstanding Rotarian, incredible business mind and a progressive thinker.

What do you see as Rotary’s biggest challenges?

Membership is definitely our biggest challenge. If we don’t have Rotarians we don’t have Rotary and then nothing else matters. We can’t rely on the same old business model and expect things to change. Albert Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

What about you would surprise your fellow Rotarians?

While attending University for a degree in communications, I worked full time in radio at AM800 CKLW. This is the station that launched all of the Motown greats including Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and so many more.

I began as the world’s worst overnight disc jockey and then transferred quickly into the newsroom where I found my passion. I loved being an anchor and reporter and breaking news as it happened. These were formative years and the most profound lesson learned was about the power of story telling – a skill that I now rely on daily in sharing Rotary with others.

There are many other things that people wouldn’t know but one other memorable surprise would be that I starred in a movie called “The Gift of Time”. It was shown nationally and was sent to Hollywood to qualify for the Academy Awards. It was a cute little flick but as you can see, I kept my day job! As I reflect upon the name of the movie – isn’t that what Rotary is all about!

#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Melanie Schrauwers

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It is a pleasure to share Mélanie Schrauwer’s story with you as part of our Profiles of Women in Rotary. I first learned about Mélanie while at a Rotary training session. I was intrigued when I heard that it was the men in her Rotary Club who organized the baby shower for her most recent child, Mila! I knew that I had to speak to her.

What I learned is that Melanie is a very busy mom, entrepreneur, and Rotarian…but also someone who may very well have found that elusive recipe for balance.

How does Rotary align with your values?

Rotary’s motto, ‘Service Above Self’ has always held a special place in my heart. Our family thrives when helping others. We try to always be kind, generous and compassionate with our neighbours, friends and people of the world. To serve others is a priority.

What keeps you coming back every week?

The Rotary Club of Burlington Central consists of 65 friends who meet weekly. We can lean on one another professionally and personally! We have a lot of fun, with a common goal—to make a difference in our community.

What is/was the greatest challenge you’ve ever faced?

Prior to going on maternity leave, I struggled with my career and the direction it was taking. Making the decision to start my own business was a big one. I received an incredible amount of support from my Rotary friends. They never ceased to encourage me. I really do feel like I can do anything.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

My kids and our family are what I am obviously the most proud. However, being a Rotarian allows me to teach our kids the importance of being involved in something other than ourselves. I am proud to be able to teach them that.

What was a defining turning points in your life?

I moved to Ontario, from Chicoutimi, QC, when I was 18 and didn’t speak English. I worked hard to pick up the language and make a decent life for myself. I will never forget those who helped me along the way. Rotary gives me a chance to ‘pay it forward.’

What do you consider your greatest Rotary moment?

While visiting Fort Worth, Texas, I had a chance to attend the District Conference dinner with a friend. She is the person who sponsored my Rotary membership and my dearest friend. They do say to invite your best friends to become Rotarians!!  The focus for the event was polio. Members of organizations such as Centre for Disease Control, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Past Director of Rotary International, Phil Silvers, spoke about the polio situation as of May 2013. The presentations were interesting and incredibly eye-opening. I am proud to be a part of an organization so dedicated to ridding the world of this terrible disease.

What are your future Rotary goals?

Short-term, I would like to become more involved on the District level. Not a position, per se but, promoting Rotary to younger people, even young parents. Being a part of the membership growth campaign.

Long-term, I would like to take my family on an international trip. Whether it be a vaccination mission or other projects. Since Mila is only one, this is super long term goal!

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

GET INVOLVED! Break the mold. One of my fellow Rotarians, an older gentleman, calls the 18 women in our club the “powerhouses”! We get things done!

Rotary membership adds positive value for woman. Having women with so much experience become my friends has given me courage, knowledge and the “can do” attitude I didn’t have before! There is no limitations for women today. The only limitations are the ones we inflict on ourselves!

Is there anything you would like to add?

Rotary has changed my life. It has made me a better person and has given me a feeling of “belonging”.

To find out more about Rotary and how you can have an impact locally or globally, visit the Rotary Club of Burlington Central website, check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

"Téo Schrauwers, 6, enjoys looking through The Rotarian as much as his Rotarian mom."

“Téo Schrauwers, 6, enjoys looking through The Rotarian as much as his Rotarian mom.”