Friday, February 26, 2016

Local Inspiration

I belong to a Rotary club and unlike many of the public misconceptions about Rotary being a bit stuffy, my club, the Rotary Club of Wallsend-Maryland is lots of fun and its members are great - generous community-minded people with hearts of gold and  tremendous senses of humour.
Christmas 2015 meeting 
 However, we do have a serious side, and some of our projects are based in the local community - graffiti removal, supporting the homeless and needy, the local school's gifted and talented students' program and supporting local charities and other volunteer groups with catering for fundraising.
Some of the catering team  enjoying a break.... 
(We also have other projects we support which are district, national and international) 

This week we celebrated the 111th birthday of Rotary International but at a local level.  Being a club which enjoys any excuse for a celebration, we are having a whole month of bringing our Rotary club into the community. On Tuesday morning, we had a birthday cake - not unusual for a birthday celebration, but this was with breakfast and at a meeting where we all learnt that you are never too old or decrepit to exercise, even at age 111! Birthday cake, and exercises with beach balls, ribbons on sticks, bean bags and swimming pool noodles, and lots of laughing - that just about sums up a Rotary meeting for our club!

Our birthday celebrations continue with a colourful display at the Wallsend Regional Library about Rotary in general and what our club does.
Library display 
 Last night, my club hosted the Community Awards which recognizes the achievements of other volunteers who make our community a better place in which to live, work and play. There were sixteen amazing recipients of these awards and each one of them has a story which is inspirational. Congratulations to all of you!  I nominated a very special young woman, Sarah, who in three years  has raised over $66,000  locally for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, after suffering her own personal tragedy of losing her husband to this disease and is also a volunteer with SIDS and KIDS after losing a baby at 32 weeks. I think Sarah epitomises our club's  mantra  " ordinary people achieving extraordinary things " .... and while I would never take for granted the wonderful work which Sarah does, there are so many "Sarahs" in our community who are, in their own quiet ways, going about supporting and helping others and we don't even know about them. If you know them, please say "thank you".
Sarah (on the right) with her friend another recipient, Kim 
It was also wonderful to see my friend, Wendy (a Rotarian from another club)  receive an award for  putting her creative talent for dressmaking to support others in the community, Wendy is always at the Hunter Homeless Day mending and altering clothes, and she makes tiny baby clothes for Angel Gowns for stillborn infants, reusable sanitary hygiene items for Days for Girls,  and  "dressy" clothes for Dress for Success, especially for  homeless  and underprivileged women seeking employment or for appearing in court.
Not all the recipients were individuals. It was great to see a local business, Local Hearing Aid Specialists recognised for their exceptional service and care of their clients , but also for their compassion, empathy and  friendship. Great to hear in these days of  commercialised health care! 
And there's more.... as a final part of the celebration of "Rotary - Serving the Community" , our club will be hosting a free Community Breakfast at the Rotunda in Wallsend  (NSW, Australia) on 15 March at 7.15am. Join us for a fun- filled morning.  Invitations will soon be in your letterboxes if you live in the Wallsend area. If you would like  an invitation, please contact a member, or  message via our Facebook page  
Happy Birthday, Rotary International and keep celebrating, Rotary Club of Wallsend-Maryland!