There were a lively group of 22 Rotarians in attendance this morning, along with ADG Kenn Whiteman.  Peter Hann started off the meeting, leading the members in an enthusiastic recitation of the Four Way Test.
The following announcements were made:
  • Taste of Oceanside is fast approaching.  Members were urged to help distribute posters, sell tickets, donate silent auction items, and indicate their preferences on the volunteer sign-up sheets
  • The Qualicum Beach Sunrise Club’s Spring Ball will be held on March 22.  Tickets are $75 apiece, but we will receive a discount to $70 if we can put together a table of 10.  Helen Dyck has tickets if you are interested.
  • Major Norm presented a certificate of appreciation to the Club for all those who worked on the Kettle Campaign in December.  There was an appreciation lunch held recently.  Unfortunately the invitation was not received by everyone, but Ken Armstrong attended on behalf of the Club.  The lunch will become an annual event; in the meantime, Norm brought chocolate hearts for all the members.
John O’Brien spoke eloquently about the value of fellowship amongst members and the need to make a point of including and acknowledging everyone at our meetings. He concluded by saying that he has never felt “left out” by our Club members.
ADG Kenn Whiteman echoed John’s sentiments about the inclusive nature of our Club and also invited members to attend the Hops Festival on March 22, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Port Alberni-Arrowsmith.
Bill Rawlins was our guest speaker this morning and he delivered on his promise to leave us with a “tear in our eye” as he presented two videos on the work of Live Different and Hero Holidays in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  Bill began his presentation with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

The first video, “Live Different in Haiti”, showed the building of a school and the amazing change resulting from this project, both in the lives of the Haitian people and in those of the young Canadians who worked side by side with local workers and contractors to build a school at the top of a mountain.  In April, a follow-up project will focus on the construction of a fence around the school so it will be safer for the children to attend.

The second video was of a project to build homes in the Dominican Republic in an area where people live in conditions unimaginable to us here in Canada.  Agua Negra, also known as “black water village”, was built on an old garbage dump, and ongoing flooding has caused the living conditions to be toxic.  Through the ongoing efforts of Hero Holidays’ volunteers, run-down toxic shacks are being torn down and replaced by strong dry houses, causing the townsite to be renamed Nuevo Renacer.  The words of one little girl as her family received the keys to a new house spoke to the heart of what this project really means: “Thank you for my house.  It’s like giving me the sky.” 

Bill noted that a number of corporate sponsors have come on board with Live Different, including Westjet and Boston Pizza.  The local governments in Haiti and the Dominican Republic have also begun to get more involved as the positive impacts of this work have gained attention.  The philosophy of Live Different is to “hire local and buy local”, thus impacting the local economy in a positive way.  Bill leaves again next week for a five week stint in these two countries.
Helen Dyck thanked Bill for his commitment, presenting him with $2000 approved by the Club for school uniforms.  Although families do not have to pay for their children to go to school, they must have uniforms before they can attend. This is also a long term investment in the community as the uniforms will be made locally with fabric purchased from local suppliers.

Sergeant Ian cheerfully fined Gord Svenson for his joke and gave Cara and Diana both A+ grades for finally getting the spelling of “Sergeant” corrected on our website. He then proceeded to the members where he elicited many Happy Dollars for Bill’s presentation and for his work with Live Different and Hero Holidays.  The Club unanimously voted that fines collected today be donated to Hero Holidays, resulting in a further donation of $40.

Before the meeting ended, Bill had one more proposal for the Club, asking that members consider participating in a Hero Holiday to Mexico in the fall of 2014, possibly with members from the other three clubs in our area.  This would be an 11 day trip to build houses, and Bill assured us that it would indeed be “transformational”.  Bill will investigate dates and we will provide more information shortly.

As the Club has begun a partnership with Live Different, this will now be reflected on our website at the top right section of the Home Page.  The two videos shown today can be viewed on YouTube using the links from our website.
Don’t miss next week’s meeting as the first installment of the District-required Youth Protection Seminar will be delivered by Garry Cox, Helen and Ron Dyck.