Saturday, 4 February 2017

Takaro Rotary - very busy and having a great time

Did I say something funny or did President Don Searle?  Takaro Rotary Club members and partners enjoying their evening.
When Denise and I visited Takaro Rotary, we were again overwhelmed with the amount of project activity Rotarians do in their communities.  Takaro Rotarians have some very busy weekends coming up.

Next weekend they take part in the Manawatu Cycle Challenge, providing the Takaro Rotary Charity Ride over 5 km or 10 km off road courses along Riverbank Pathway.  The funds raised will go to the Bikes in Schools programme at Takaro School.

The weekend after that, on Sunday 19 February, they are providing a fun day out to Girls' Sheds, and again they'll not only be providing an event for Palmerston North people and visitors, but they'll also raise a significant amount of money for charitable purposes.

On Sunday 5 March, Takaro Rotarians are teaming up with others in the community to provide a children's day out to encourage strong positive relationships between children and their whānau in the Palmerston North community.  This is Rotary in action, connecting people in their communities.

And there is the RYDA programme (Rotary Youth Driver Awareness) around this time as well.

I can't even imagine how much work the organisers have put in to these events in the background.

Takaro Rotary is also very well-connected with the resources Rotary offers and they make the most of this.  They have leaders/representatives on the Club Development Committee, the Rotary Youth Exchange Committee, the Polio Awareness Committee and Trees for Survival. DGE Mitchell Brown (Fiona) is the third District Governor to come from this Club, which was chartered in 1972.  We had the pleasure of the presence of PDG Lindsay Knowles and Jill.

And all of this from a Rotary Club of 29 members.  An impressive effort!

PDG Lindsay Knowles, DG Martin Garcia, and DGE Mitchell Brown


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Levin Rotary - ambitious and innovative projects locally and overseas help attract new members

Mark Conroy, Daphne Linnel. President Barry Rollinson, Linda Archer,
and PDG Allan Birrell inside the Charity House   
Denise and I finally visited Levin Rotary after last week's visit had to be called off due to flooding preventing us getting out of Wellington.

Levin Rotarians have taken on an ambitious project.  They are building a house that they will auction off to raise funds for a Trust that will provide Chromebooks to students in Levin.  They are receiving many generous offers of support from local businesses and tradespeople.

The Charity House provides great visibility for Rotary as it on State Highway 1 as you pass through Levin.

Levin Rotarians have also been out in the community for the 6 weeks selling raffle tickets in their annual trailer raffle.  They have been so successful this year that all 6,000 tickets have already been sold.  Since all of the prizes are donated they will make up to $12,000 for their charitable purposes.    

DG Martin presents President Barry with Centurion Club recognition 
They also support local youth in everything from Rotary programmes to other activities such as outdoor pursuits. These are just a few of their projects and they have plans for the future.  They are gearing up for another Rotary Cave Tour which takes people to all sorts of interesting backyard interests from a remote controlled raceway to classic cars and much more.  They are also planning a Hats and High Tea event around International Women's Day in March.

Levin Rotarians also look beyond their backyard.  Members have been involved in the recovery of Vanuatu after cyclone Pam by rebuilding schools. They are collecting a consignment of hospital beds, wheelchairs and other hospital equipment that they are planning to send to the Solomon Islands Namuga Hospital project.  They just need to find an inexpensive means of transport, so please let them know if you have contacts who can help.

DG Martin, new member Chris, and President Barry.
Levin Rotarians support the Rotary Foundation by donations and they know how to achieve their objectives through The Foundation.  This year they received two District Grants: one for a programme of early childhood hygiene education and the other for Chromebooks for students.

With all of their activity known to the community and publicised in media such as the Horowhenua News it's no wonder they are able to attract new members.  And they are even progressing the formation of a Satellite Club.

New Plymouth Rotary - helping the young and old and looking to the future

A couple of weeks before I visited New Plymouth Rotary they had held their fourth Annual Golf Tournament. They achieved great publicity in advance of the tournament where the local Midweek News and Stuff reported they were aiming to raise $10,000 for a hoist for the local hospice.  Strangely enough the hospice is built on the site of my grandparents' house.  New Plymouth Rotary exceeded expectations and raised more than $15,000.

As well as the hoist, New Plymouth Rotary has also donated $5,000 to the local hospital to assist in purchasing diagnostic equipment.

Among the many people they have supported this year are high school students to allow them to participate in the Get2Go competition in Auckland, RYLA and the National Science & Technology Forum, to name a few.

DG Martin, President Des, AG Colin Jackson 
I was impressed with the two-way relationship they have with New Plymouth Boys High School.  Not only do they support the school's students but they also involve students and the headmaster.  The headmaster spoke recently to all New Plymouth Rotary Clubs about what Rotary will look like in 10 years.  The students are helping the Club develop their new website on the Clubrunner platform.  

Another partnership they are working towards is with Habitat for Humanity where they hope to build a house to meet the needs of a local family.  I was taken through one of the houses Habitat for Humanity have built to the highest standards of insulation, double glazing and heating. New Plymouth Rotarians already have experience with housing as one of their Trusts owns apartments which they are currently renovating.

New Plymouth Rotary is adapting its structure and meetings to meet the needs of the future.  They only have two Committees - one focusing on the internal (Club administration and fellowship) and one on the external (projects etc). Every third week is set aside for Committee meetings and if there are 5 Mondays in a month, a Club Forum is held on that Monday.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Wellington South Rotary - a leading light in contributing to The Rotary Foundation and working with the Foundation to improve people's lives

President Nanubhai Ranchhod with The Rotary Foundation banner and Wellington South Rotarians (photo Denise Garcia) 
Wellington South Rotary was one of the Clubs I was responsible for a few years ago when I was Assistant Governor.  During those two years Wellington South Rotary won the cup for the highest per capita donation to The Rotary Foundation.

Today I was pleased to present them with a banner recognising that in 2015-16 they were the second most generous donors to The Foundation in our District on a per capita basis at over US$150 per person.  At the meeting they were already seeking further donations to The Foundation.

Rotarians and Plunket members
prepare for the Big Dig.
Wellington South Rotary is an exemplar of generosity to The Foundation and knows how to work through The Foundation to improve the lives of others.  They have successfully applied for three District Grants in the past few years and regularly interview candidates for Foundation scholarships. A peace scholar they sponsored returned from Edinburgh earlier this year.

They are also generous with their time - meals on wheels each week, the Big Dig Treasure Hunt with Kilbirnie Plunket every February, helping out at the Newtown Community Fair each March, selling Xmas puddings, and the list goes on.

They support all of the Rotary youth programmes, such as RYLA and RYPEN, and provide dictionaries in schools.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Terrace End Rotary - adapting to the needs of members and their communities

Goff Ashwell, DG Martin, Principal Sue and President Dennis Quinn 
It was a pleasure to visit Terrace End Rotary as they meet in the grounds of Massey University where I used to attend block courses for one of my Masters degrees.  The Wharerata Function Centre is a great venue for a Rotary Club meeting and the excellent company complemented the venue.

This is another Club that has adapted its meetings and activities to better meet the needs of members and its community.  They have two formal meetings a month and on the other evenings have a committee meeting and a social evening.  The success of this formula for Terrace End is that everyone usually turns up to each different type of meeting

Katrine organises Vicki Lee's Vera Lynn concerts.
Terrace End Rotarians support many youth activities from RYLA and the Science and Technology Forum to dictionaries in primary schools.

They have even built a bike jump track for Terrace End School as part of its Bikes in Schools programme.  I was shown the track and spoke with the principal who clearly values the difference that Rotarians and other volunteers are making at the school. The track is a great asset for the whole community and children from around the area use it.

Terrace End is also the Club that supports Vicki Lee with her Vera Lynn fundraising concerts.

President Dennis Quinn & DG Martin
As well as their many community activities, they make donations throughout the year to organisations such as Samaritans, Salvation Army, Big Brother Big Sister and Special Olympians.

They also held a very successful World's Greatest Meal recently to help eradicate polio, sent spectacles to the Pacific Islands and supported an irrigation project in Ethiopia.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Awapuni Rotary - catering for and meeting the needs of Rotarians and their communities

Awapuni Rotarians and RIYE student Jil enjoying their evening meeting.

PDG Rodney Wong and Angela, Acting President Ash Dahya and Erica of Awapuni Rotary have been known to Denise and I for several years.  I have also always known Awapuni Rotary as the Club that provides us with delicious lunch boxes every year at the District Training Assembly in Palmerston North.  So I felt very comfortable meeting their Club last week with AG Christine Jones.

I had also heard of their collaboration with Foxton Rotary where a skilled Awapuni Rotarian, Venkatesh Kannan, helped light up the Foxton water tower.  Have a look next time you pass by Foxton at night as it is spectacular.

Awapuni Rotary is a relatively small Club that is able to achieve great things.  They can cater for 200 people at the District Training Assembly, they can even cater for 600 people at the Awesome Awapuni free community day - and no doubt they could cater for even more. 

Food seems to be a bit of a theme as they are also great supporters of the Plant to Plate programme and gave a significant donation to that organisation when I visited.  Some of their members are heavily involved. Through this programme they support gardening and cooking in local primary schools, providing students with skills that will last a lifetime.   

But more than that, Awapuni Rotarians are engaged in many projects.  They support Canteen and mentor young people from ages 13 to 23 who have dealt with cancer, holding weekly meetings, helping them write CVs and similar, entertaining them and supporting both the young people and their families.  And Awapuni Rotarians are supporters of all Rotary youth programmes as well.

Forward looking, they are also considering how they may be able to help immigrants, who are often highly skilled, into appropriate employment. Well done Awapuni Rotary!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Milson Rotary - increasing membership over the years through social engagement and relevant projects

Jil from Germany updating the Club about
her adventures in New Zealand
The membership numbers of most of the Rotary Clubs in our District have declined in recent years.  Milson Rotary is one of the exceptions.  Their membership numbers have increased over the past five years.

After visiting 50 of our 55 Clubs, the formula for healthy clubs seems to be:
  • Participating in relevant community projects
  • Enjoying each other's company at social events in good surroundings and while carrying out community events.
  • Being flexible in when and how we meet.
  • Thinking outside of the immediate Club environment (e.g. hosting an RIYE student, engaging with the District - such as Assistant Governor and NZ Business Week Coordinator Christine Jones, Mandi Bates as Outbound Coordinator for Rotary International Youth Exchange, and Gary Dome involved in District Insurance and Risk Management).

Milson Rotarians are enjoying themselves and getting a sense of self-satisfaction, which is important for motivating Rotary volunteers ( we all need some encouragement and support), by hosting an RIYE student (Jil is just amazing and has so much potential) and by carrying out so many relevant community activities and fund raisers.

PDG Glen Caves, DG Martin and PDG 9970 Ellis Buchanan 
Milson Rotary has a project providing potable water from wells to communities in Myanmar, utilising 500 litre stainless steel containers.  Many of their members have been to Myanmar to oversee the water project and paint buildings such as classrooms.

Wouldn't it be great if all Clubs had a project they could all travel overseas to and participate in?  Just don't forget the RNZWCS Ltd insurance that will cover you as a volunteer working overseas rather than just as a tourist.  

In their local community, Milson Rotarians are planning one-kilometre markings and fitness equipment around city walkways. all with the Rotary emblem.  There are food bank drives, working bees for preschools and so much more that Milson Rotary is doing that I cannot capture it all.  Well done Milson Rotary!