Children & Youth Committee at Rotary Club of Guelph
EARLY BEGINNINGS
 
Throughout Rotary’s 100 year history in Guelph, providing service to children, has always been in the forefront. The first committee associated with youth was the “Crippled Children’s Committee”. This name reflected the times – the 1920’s – and the Rotary Club of Guelph’s cooperation with the Ontario Society of Crippled Children. This organization later became known as “The Easter Seal Society”.  In 1930, the Board of Directors of the Rotary Foundation made its first contribution of $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children.  (Reference: Rotary Guelph’s 100th Anniversary Book)
 
 “In 1940, at the suggestion of Alex McLaughlin, we undertook the first survey of Wellington County for cases of cripple children needing help.  This first survey, carried out with the help of the district nurses, Municipal and County Health Units, has been repeated periodically to ensure that no worthy case was being overlooked.”  (Reference: 50th Anniversary History of the Rotary Club of Guelph prepared in 1970)
 
In 1947, “Easter Seals” became the name for the fundraising arm of the Society for Crippled Children and the Rotary Club of Guelph started its first of many Easter Seals campaigns. This involved a lot of hands-on letter stuffing during the month of March when a huge community campaign rolled out.
 
In 1954, our club constructed a facility on Beechwood Avenue totally devoted to the care of children who were physically and/or mentally challenged. The Guelph and Wellington Society for Crippled Children operated the Centre from 1955 to 1968 with financial support from the Rotary Club of Guelph. Meanwhile, Rotarians  and their wives, did a lot of volunteer driving of children to needed medical appointments. 
 
Then, In the early 1960’s, Betty Raffan, wife of Rotarian Hamish Raffan, together with a team of volunteers, started a program to look after mentally challenged preschool children. In 1968, the program moved from local churches to the Beechwood Centre, which had just recently been vacated. The Rotary Anns (wives of Rotarians) contributed many volunteer hours at the Beachwood Centre.   In 1980, the Beechwood Centre was renovated as part of the RCOG’s 60thanniversary project, and then it was sold in 1991 and proceeds were used over many years to support other RCOG projects. (Reference: Rotary’ Guelph's 100th Anniversary Book)