On Friday, June 26, 2020, the Rotary Club of Guelph's outgoing president, Carolyn Weatherson, summarised our club's amazing 2019-2020 year. It's a must-read!
 
"Fellow Rotarians, this year you put your heart and soul into incredible projects that are uplifting our community, our country, and vulnerable people far beyond our borders. What all of you have accomplished this year is nothing short of inspiring. It has been such an honour and a privilege to serve you during this historic year.

Please raise your glasses for a toast: TO TEAMWORK!"
 
I want to talk about this amazing Rotary team of ours. We are 131 members strong. One of the biggest clubs in Canada.

For 100 years, the Rotary Club of Guelph has been supporting much-needed programs to uplift our community.

We are standing on the shoulders of 99 past presidents and all the members over the past century who have built this club. 

I was joking with past president Paul Dredge that I’ve been standing directly on his shoulders which is probably why he has back pain, but it is because of Paul’s work and the work of all our past presidents and all our past members that our club is so well respected and thriving, and able to accomplish great things. We can all do good things on our own, but we can, and do, accomplish great things when we work together as a team.

This has been a year with an unprecedented amount of activities, opportunities, modernization, press attention, and inspiring projects to be proud of. You rose to the challenge and together we have ushered in a great deal of progress. 
 
New Members
20 new members joined our club in the past year. 20 people willing to give their time and talent to make the world a better place. 20 community leaders for us to get to know and spend time with. Our Fellowship Committee reminds us that we are not just here to work together, but to also enjoy our time together and have fun.

Canada Day
On June 30 and July 1, 2019, Marva, Matt, Tracey and the entire Canada Day Committee gave our city a two-day Canada Day party with an astounding 40,000 people attending and having a blast. Rotary’s Canada Day is an event that brings our whole community together in such a positive, unifying and uplifting way. What a gift to our community that is.
 
Rotary Cluster 
Later that summer, thanks to a lot of work by Marva, Murray and our assistant district governor, Darlene Carpenter, we hosted a big cluster event for the district governor’s meeting bringing all the clubs together.

Darlene, throughout the entire year, has coordinated closer ties and regular meetings with executives from all our local Rotary clubs. Our clubs are now working together on our shared goals and uplifting each other. It’s been a magnificent development for Rotary in Guelph. Thank you Darlene! You are amazing! 

 
Lobsterfest
In September, Louisa and Rosemary and the Lobsterfest Committee put on the best dinner party in the city. It was a massive success and raised more than ever before! 


Marketing
In October, for the first time our board appointed a Marketing Officer, and Justin Funk valiantly stepped up. Justin used his expertise to take a look at the big picture and coordinate our marketing which was so desperately needed. He connected with all the fundraising chairs and the corporate coordinating committee, designed campaigns, streamlined and cleaned up packages to entice sponsors, and examined every aspect of our communications, setting us on a path forward that our club will benefit from for years to come. 
 
In Rotary year 2020-2021, Crista and Sean will be picking up that mantle and moving us forward. 

Fellowship
At the end of October, Paul Taylor organized a fun ghost walk and tour for all of us at the Woodlawn Memorial Park cemetery. A delicious lunch was served courtesy of Chef Scotty.
 
Foundation Promotion
November was Foundation Month, and on top of three five-minute spots at our regular meetings, Ab Moore and Andrew Johnson and the entire Foundation Promotion Committee organized a luncheon at the Cutten Club. It was such a huge success that next year the entire cluster wants to be involved.

 
Name A Star 
Just in time for Christmas, the Star Campaign was launched. Ben McCarl and Richard Broadwith put a lot of heart and soul and work into this fundraiser that has great potential for years and years to come. If you haven’t seen how gorgeous and professional the finished product is, you need to order one of these stars for a loved one this Christmas. It’s a gorgeous gift.
 
Sparkles
Sparkles, oh my goodness, Sparkles. Paul Taylor, Peggy Curry and the entire Sparkles Committee brought another year of magic and wonder to our city. Lighting up the park and lighting up the faces of children and adults in our community. This event creates beautiful memories for families that will last a lifetime. Thanks to Randy Seager and Bob Ireland, the Sparkles team almost doubled their sponsorships to kick off our Centennial year in style. There were fun new displays - including the Grinch. Ben McCarl and I went down to his workshop after our Friday weekly meetings all through the fall to work on The Grinch until he was complete. 
 
Christmas Lunch
Peter, Noma, Jane and the entire fellowship committee worked hard to put on a spectacular Christmas luncheon that was filled with holiday cheer and beautiful music and, of course, a visit from Santa.
 
Rotary Bonspiel
Jim and Helmuth organized the Rotary Curling Bonspiel bringing hundreds of Rotarians and their spouses from all over Canada and the USA to Guelph for our Centennial year. Lots of fun and lots of Local Lager was had by all.
 
Firesides
Ranjit Singh organized another successful round of Fireside chats for fellowship and brainstorming ways to improve our great club.
 
Charter Luncheon
Rosemary Clark arranged an extra special 100 Year Charter Luncheon event with VIP guests that even included the ‘ghost’ of our club’s very first president. The event was packed and a fantastic way to honour our club’s 100 years of Service Above Self.
 
Hockey Challenge
Sean Yo and his team revised The Hockey Challenge. This event is now back on its feet and growing, and the free community family skate to honour our 100th year was a perfect added touch. 
 
Civic Museum Display
Ben McCarl created the most amazing display of 100 years of Rotary at the Guelph Civic Museum that included a giant star finder which is so fantastic that the GRCA wants to place it in the new observatory when it is built. 
 
Rotary History Book
After two years of research, writing and hard work, Tom Funk launched an incredible history book outlining our 100 years of Rotary in Guelph. You all need to buy a copy of that fundraising book. The work Tom did is a great service to our club. We now have a well-documented detailed, organized reference of our history. 

 
Paul Harris Awards
Sharon, Mahmud and Andrea organized the 100 Paul Harris Awards for outstanding members in our community. This was the vision of the wonderful, late Clare Rennie as a way for us as a Rotary Club to extend our celebration beyond ourselves outward and celebrate the achievements of great Guelphites. This initiative to reach out leads to partnerships, new relationships and goodwill. And this initiative is still ongoing, so keep the applications coming.

 
Poetry Contest
Then Ben McCarl worked with the Guelph Public Library to create an inspiring poetry contest to celebrate our Centennial Project and have folks look to the stars for inspiration and perspective. 
 
Centennial Project
Let’s talk about our Centennial project for a moment. A spectacular $3,000,000 gift to our community coordinated with the GRCA, the GRCF, the RCoG Charitable Foundation and the City of Guelph that will be a lasting legacy for generations. You all can be so proud of our Centennial project. A 13 year vision of planting a diverse, beautiful, 100-acre forest to clean our air and water with educational groves and lookouts. We’re also building fully accessible all-weather trails to help every citizen stay healthy and enjoy nature, and we’re supporting the GRCA’s new educational nature centre, planetarium and observatory out at Guelph Lake which has required thousands of hours to coordinate and execute. Thank you to Dave Latreille and the environment committee and everyone who had a hand in this project.
 
Centennial Committee
I just want to pause here to thank someone very special who has spent the last five  years working his tail off to make our Centennial Year special. In 2015, President Roxanne mandated that a Centennial Committee be formed to plan ahead for 2020. This gentleman stepped in and stepped up, leading an extraordinary committee of Rotarians who spent countless hours looking over a myriad of proposals from Rotarians and members of the community to find a Centennial project. There were so many great ideas coming forward that the committee decided to combine four of them into one massive project. 

He worked tirelessly on a twenty page Memorandum of Understanding with the GRCF and still meets monthly with the GRCF to see this huge project all the way through. He spent two years speaking to city staff and city council, and leading presentations that eventually secured a $158,000 cheque from the City.

Every detail and aspect of our Centennial celebrations, from the pins, to the parties, was painstakingly conjured into existence thanks to his hard work. Everyone please stand up. And give it up for Jim MacKenzie!!! 

We love you Jim. You’re the best. 

 
Youth Hubs
Speaking of great projects and thousands of hours, Cyndy Forsyth, Paul Dredge and many other members of our club have been instrumental in working with dozens of partners to launch an Integrated Youth Services Network to support mental health in our community. It’s an extraordinary project that will make a tangible difference to youth in Guelph and the surrounding area. It’s a model so mindfully designed that it may very well be duplicated across our country.

 
COVID-19
All our worlds changed in late February when COVID-19 hit. We found ourselves in a unique and challenging period of history. 
 
Rotarians did what we do best. We leapt into action. We rose up together and adjusted, adapted, innovated, and made important decisions to ensure the greater good.

 A network of Rotarians was immediately set up to make phone calls and assist members. 

March was a flurry of activity. The Gala that was set to raise around $40,000 for our club had to be cancelled. Tree planting was canceled. Canada Day was canceled.
 
Committees had tough decisions to make and countless partners and sponsors to contact. The board met by teleconference. There were hundreds of phone calls and emails. 
 
One of the first calls I made was to Tim Mau, the Chair of our Charitable Foundation to create a COVID-19 Compassion Fund to help the most vulnerable in our community.

During the crisis, I saw in every Rotarian, from our senior members to new members, the driving light of Rotary service shining brighter than ever.

Rotarians stepped up, gathered funds, and researched the best ways to serve the community during this crisis.

The Rotary Club of Guelph COVID-19 Compassion Fund was put to good use right away.

Our Club was able to help our healthcare workers at the Guelph General Hospital and the COVID-19 clinic, we were there for Women in Crisis, for seniors, for hungry children, for frontline workers, for Indigenous communities, and most recently, for the Guelph Black Heritage Society. And I just got word that our special COVID-19 district grant in partnership with the other Guelph Clubs was approved – which will give $8000 to Food4Kids. 

… and it’s all thanks to you. The 131 amazing members that make up the Rotary Club of Guelph.

Rotarians have been uplifting each other and our community for 100 years and I know we will proudly do this for 100 more.

 
Club Organizers
We need to raise our glasses to our program chairs, Marva and Murray, who organized our meetings to both inform and entertain us – attendance was up this year by 25%. 

Put your glasses back up for our treasurers, Trevor and Ian, who do so much for our club and keep our books in order – it’s a monumental task. 

Let’s toast to Kerry Johnson our club secretary who keeps this club running smoothly and keeps us organized. We would be lost without Kerry!

Let’s drink to the 2019-2020 board – Tracey, Mahmud, Marva, Paul, Richard, Eric, Justin, Jaya, Peter, Randy and Nanita who had more emergency emails, phone calls and meetings than perhaps any other board in our club’s history.

Let’s have a cheer for all the chairs of all the committees who are the heart and soul of our club. You serve us and serve our local and international community. You lead teams that identify needs, write grants and get money to where it is needed most: Sharon Rice, Jim MacKenzie, Paul Truex, Rosemary Clark, Sue Ricketts, Terrie Jarvis, Ian Smith, Ranjit Singh, Kerry Johnson, Ruth Thatcher, Carl Jadeski, Rick Lefevre, Randy Wilson, Eric Freeman, Peter McSherry, Noma Vales, Tom Funk, Jane Armstrong, Domingo Bernal, Judith Martin, Brian Martin, Dave Latreille, Dianne Dance, Ab Moore, Andrew Johnson, Sue Ricketts, Matthew Webster, Roger Garriock, Sean Yo, Luisa Del Rosario, Helmuth Slisarenko, Peggy Curry and Paul Taylor!
 
Looking ahead
Fellow Rotarians, we have a bright future ahead of us with president elect Tracey, vice president Mahmud, and second vice Marva. Please be supportive cheerleaders for them just as you have been for me. 

Finally, I want to say thank you. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve. It’s been an incredible honour to be the Rotary Club of Guelph’s president for this historic Centennial year.

Let’s have another toast:  TO ROTARY!