You may be surprised to know that I, a grade eleven student, am writing this article. I got this wonderful opportunity to write this and many other articles through cooperative education (co-op). When I first told my co-op teacher what I wanted to do for the next five months, neither of us thought journalism would take me here. My first day as a writer included learning all about Rotary. To be completely honest, I had an inkling of an idea of what Rotary has done. After my first day of research, research, and more research, I found it a complete honour to be writing for an organization that has done such magnificent things in our world. The Rotary Club of Newmarket alone; the club I am writing through, has helped so many internationally and locally. I have learned that Rotarians are these extraordinarily transformative people in society always striving for harmony; where this is peace there is a Rotarian. Our respected Rotarians in our community have inspired and helped multiple citizens, bringing goodwill and fellowship to the lives of many.
So why am I writing this article? It has come to my attention that many others do not know what a Rotarian is, let alone what Rotary is. Often when explaining my co-op placement to many, the response I often get is, “Wait, the what club?” I would like to change that reaction to one that sounds more like this, “Oh, the Rotary Club!” During these past few days I gathered two noble Rotarians, a couple students and a respected teacher from my school to interview them on their take on the Rotary club and Rotarians. Although at points humorous, their answers will surprise, shock, and inspire you as they did for me.
When asked what the Rotary Club was, it was Ariana Fermo, student of St. Maximilan Kolbe Catholic High School (SMK), who hit it right on the nose. She brought up some valid points that summarized all the goodness Rotary represents. When asked what she thought the term Rotary meant she stated that it reminded her of sharing and part taking in experiences. Compared to another peer of mine, Hailey Newton, who thought the term ‘Rotary Club’, was a book club and Rotarians were pretentious figures who enjoy the company of good book, preferably in famous works of literature. Although not quite the answer I was looking for, it did give me a good laugh. Fermo states, “A Rotarian seems like someone who mends their whole efforts and comes together with other people to help the greater good.” Bingo! When telling Ariana what Rotary has done over the past one hundred ten years of existence, she couldn’t believe she hadn’t heard about Rotary before. Newton was also impressed by Rotary’s efforts, “A Rotarian sounds like someone who just wants to make someone’s day better, someone whose there when no one else is.” Rotary and its Rotarians are there for the young or old, the wealthy and the poor and so on. Rotarians are unbiased as to who they serve, the good work they do is not to benefit them, but to benefit others. Their hard work and dedication is to be appreciated.
Teacher, Nella Quintieri of SMK, thinks of a cycle and the exchanging of talents and strengths when hearing the words ‘Rotary Club’. “A Rotarian means putting others before you, engaging in selfless acts and helping those who are in need.” Quintieri brought up a great point when mentioning putting others before oneself. Rotary’s primary rule is to always put service above self. It is a way where they can give back without expecting anything in return. It’s for goodwill and it is a way they can help shape the community into a place full of friendships.
My last interviews are ones that I am honoured to have conducted. President Lynn Bird of the Rotary Club of Newmarket, was asked a few questions about what she thought it meant to be a Rotarian, along with fellow retired Rotarian Doug Simon; very interesting and inspiring perspectives. Like many others, Lynn Bird, Rotarian of twenty four years, did not know much about what Rotary did, but was soon drawn in by the infinite possibilities Rotary would give her to make a positive influential change in the world around us. Doug Simon, Rotarian of 20 years, also did not know of the club until he came across a poster in an associate’s office. I quote Bird, “After attending the first Rotary Club of Newmarket meeting, I felt a strong sense of belonging, a sense of belonging to something much larger and more dynamic than anything I had ever known.” Doug also felt the same sense of belonging when stating, “It provided me with many good friendships and a sense of belonging that I have not experienced elsewhere.” Big or small, Rotary has acted through their projects to make a change in lives of many and has made many aware of the endless possibilities there are to provide care to all. Rotary’s demographics have stayed the same over the years but have brought life and youth to many aspects of the club. “When I first joined Rotary, it was a “mature” club; they considered me a move towards youth at age 47!! The Club has continued with Rotary’s objectives of providing help to those in need, both locally and internationally, but with a new combination of youthful enthusiasm and the wisdom and experience of the longer-serving members. I am proud of what I helped to start in that area and hope that it will continue.” Doug and many others legacies are living on, our communities have found great appreciation in the common good and those who are willing to serve it. “Of great importance is the amount of fun that Rotarians continue to enjoy at each club meeting; a fundamental characteristic of our club. We put fun in “Service Above Self”” I admire what Lynn said about enjoying the service they do. Serving is not an obligation, it not like that frightening ‘To Do List’ you see almost every weekend; service about is finding it within your heart to make the best out of a situation, and giving it your all. Making it fun is defiantly apart of the package. So, what do Doug and Lynn think it means to be a Rotarian? According to Lynn, “For me being a Rotarian means getting involved, taking the opportunity to learn about Rotary and its many programs. It means using that knowledge to address the needs of others, both locally and internationally. It means recognizing one’s own skills and talents and committing to using them to make the world a better place to live.” This is similar to Doug’s well put response, “To me, being a Rotarian means that I am associated with a group that promotes high ethics, both personal and business, and one that is dedicated improving the world by helping those less fortunate.” What uplifting takes on how anyone can change the lives of others, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Bird also added, “I am proud to be a Rotarian. We change the world…one project at a time!” indeed you do Lynn!
As for me, I see a Rotarian as a leader, someone who courageously takes on challenges and someone who society looks up to. I have been given the chance to work closely with a dedicated Rotarian and this leadership trait has been evident since day one.
So, what does it mean to be a Rotarian? Opinions and views may vary but if there is something most can agree on its, Rotary has a resemblance to a mosaic. Different pieces coming together to establish something extraordinary. Rotary has allowed everyday people to improve the development of creating a positive world, and has given those the opportunity to be a part of this mosaic of people doing exceptional deeds.
By: Vanda Di Michele