Nogales 2015 – Update

Just a quick update:

All of the team members survived the project and the Martins are on their way home. This was an outstanding year with over 1800 blankets, 348 coats and toys, over 1000 shoeboxes/backpacks/toys and 900 groceries plus 83 balls delivered. The store ran out of balls, so we have some dollars to put towards next year!

We visited two schools that now have water thanks to our club in combination with Mississauga West. Our drinking water fountain is the only access to water for many of the students at one of these schools. They cannot afford to buy bottled water.

We had donations from the state of Sonora, the municipality of Nogales and two congressmen as well as the Rotaract and a taxi service. We visited the mayor, who has promised to make certain that the school most in need of a drinking fountain is provided with free water every second day. One of the congressmen and representatives from the other and the state attended our closing celebration and promised continued support.

Every time I looked around more groceries, more blankets, more toys, and more people seemed to be arriving to help. The firemen and Rotaract provided security and managed the flow of people. Rotary families directed people through the confusion. We have more and more children of Rotary members taking charge of the project and by that I mean a 10 year old telling our team what was and was not appropriate for a boy or girl in selection of backpacks, etc.

The US partner, the Pantano Club has greatly upped their financial support of the project inspired by the Canadians.

There were two ceremonies to recognize long-time team member and friend Jim Aslin, who passed away suddenly in October. The weather caused a change in the plans hence the two ceremonies. One was a very quiet and intimate celebration, the other loud and lovely. Jim always wanted to be taken somewhere so the taxi company will be installing a memorial to him in their new cabs. The owner is a new member of the Rotary Club.

The president of the Nogales club has been in the position for 44 days. In fact he has been a Rotarian for 44 days. He was marvellous and completely overwhelmed.

We are tired and exhilarated and thank the club for all of the support. Again, thanks to our membership for the support.

Cheryl Ewing  [1] interview with Kirty & Jack [2] interview to Fito


#WomenWednesday Rotary Profile – Erica Lee Garcia

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We are pleased to profile Rotarian, Erica Lee Garcia. Erica joined the Rotary Club of Kitchener just over a year ago. An engineer, she leads her own consulting and professional services firm and is a heavily involved with Engineers Without Borders.

Why did you join Rotary?

I was invited by my aunt Patricia Dimeck; she spoke so highly of the international projects she’d volunteered on that I was motivated to check out what it was all about.

There was a Rotary club in my hometown (Walkerton) so I knew about Rotary exchange students and the musical festival, but it never really occurred to me join myself.  But the giving back element of Rotary seemed a natural continuation of the volunteering I’d been doing since childhood, and I loved the idea of knitting that experience into my life here in KW. team

How would you describe your “Rotary path”?

It’s a short but exciting one:  I joined just over a year ago, and just about immediately became a counsellor to Jessica, our club’s inbound exchange student from Taiwan.  I attended a few district events and met some great young Rotarians whom I have agreed to mentor.

I also helped to give away a Mercedes as part of the club’s fundraising car draw.  That was so much fun!

I am now helping the PR committee boost all our membership and fundraising initiatives and contributing to the Club’s first PR handbook.  

How does Rotary align with your own values?

I always look for opportunities to give of myself and to contribute to the world I want to see.  I aspire to be creative with my professional skills and how they can be applied outside the box toward furthering the changes that I believe in. I also look to cultivate a community with like-minded individuals wherever I can; you get more done and it’s more fun than trying to go it alone!

Rotary fits in perfectly with this. 

What have been a defining moment in your life? 

After working nearly a decade as an engineer in manufacturing and mining, I quit a well-paying job that didn’t align with my values in 2009 and went traveling.  I ended up volunteering in Ecuador and Argentina on various non-profit helping initiatives that utilized my skills as a manufacturing engineer and change agent in very unexpected ways.

When I came home I started doing freelance consulting to help businesses reduce their costs by improving their business processes always toward the goal of bettering the work experience for people.   Then I started a mentoring and coaching service for young engineering students and recent grads to give them the benefit of some of my experience and help them find their way.

While speaking at an Engineers Without Borders Canada conference at Queen’s University (my alma mater) I was approached by that organization to partner on speaking to kids about engineering in new and creative ways.

Deciding to become an entrepreneur was without a doubt the most important turning point of my life so far.  I enjoy the social aspect of Rotary since I work by myself a lot and that can get lonely!  Also, I enjoy the chance to network and learn from experienced and accomplished professionals in many different industries in my Rotary club.

What do you consider your greatest Rotary moment?20140616_134500

Watching Jessica give her year-end presentation at our club meeting was a wonderful experience for me; she was so happy and animated as she spoke of her year in Canada and showed us photos of all her exciting excursions and activities.  I felt really proud of her and glad that I had the chance to support her.

As we speak she is making her way across Canada with several fellow inbound Rotary exchange students and having a blast!  When I was a teenager I met Mirjam, a Rotary exchange student from Holland who attended my high school.  Today I am still in touch with Mirjam who emigrated to Canada as an adult.  She lives close by with her husband and young girls, and they love it here, so I know the power of a Rotary exchange to change lives!

Whatever Jessica does in the future, it feels great to have touched a young person’s life and to have had the chance watched her grow.

What are your future Rotary goals, both short‐term and long‐term?

Engineers Without Borders Canada is very well-aligned with Rotary’s international projects, so I dream of further connecting those two wonderful organizations to create some powerful impact overseas.  Also, I sing with Grand Harmony, a local chapter of Sweet Adelines International, and I think that a Rotary singing event would be great fun!

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

It’s a very professional and welcoming environment.  Think about joining up – your contribution will be greatly valued and you will meet lots of great people.

There’s no catch, and lots of great opportunity!  I’d welcome the chance to chat with anyone who is considering Rotary membership and not sure if it’s for them.

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

Kitchener Rotary Down Under

The ramblings of a first-time Rotary International Conference goer


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!


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.


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…


#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 .



#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 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 or visit our website, our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

Tracey & Dad

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