Friday, February 26, 2021

Program: Collecting Courage - 
A frank discussion about racism, with Marva Wisdom & Friends
Messages this week from our Club President, Tracey Curtis
          Toronto Symphony Orchestra      
Hello Rotarians. Each week, I marvel at how Rotary helps me to cope, connect, share and feel part of a community. Sadly, this feeling of belonging is not equally available (even when we think it is), and that's why today's program is so important - to raise our awareness about racism and its impact. This quote reflects my thoughts:
My humanity is bound up in yours,
for we can only be human together.

Once again, Rick started off our meeting with a wonderful rendition of O Canada spiced up with an African flavour that makes you want to dance! Watch and listen again here

Many happy returns to:
Michael von Keitz - March 1
Elaine Beattie - March 4
Congratulations on these Rotary anniversaries:
Ray Funnel - February 28, 1975 - 46 years!
Marva Wisdom - March 3, 2006 - 15 years
Carl Webster - March 4, 2016 - 5 years
Graham Knowles (Rotarian For Life) - February 29, 1980 - 41 years!

Thank you, Rotarians! You make us proud.
Other Announcements:
Speaking of Birthdays ...
This past week, on February 23, Rotary International celebrated 116 years and our own Rotary Club of Guelph reached celebrated 101 years!  https://rotaryguelph.ca/Stories/happy-birthday-rotary
And speaking of Rotarians that make us proud ...

Three more members from our club will join the ranks of Guelph Wellington WOMEN OF DISTINCTION on March 8, 2021. Read more here, get a $29 ticket to attend, and send your personal congratulations to:

New Member:  Welcome Sue Wigston
Tracey warmly welcomed and inducted Sue Wigston to our club. Sue is the CEO of Givesome, the social platform we currently use for paying our Happy Bucks. Please take a few minutes to read more about Sue and Givesome on our website here. Sue - we are absolutely delighted you have joined our club!
Rotaract Gala on March 5, 20221

Rotaract president-elect for 2021-2022, Eden Saari, provided full details which are also on our website here. Their online auction is already active, here. Let's support our Gueph Rotaract Club, so that they can help the Integrated Youth Services Network with the event proceeds. 

"PICK ME UP" Bags Fundraiser from Rotary Centre Wellington
We're delighted to give a shout-out to our friends at Rotary Centre Wellington for their Spring "PICK ME UP" Bags Fundraiser. For just $25, each bag includes $38 worth of products from local vendors, including handmade soap, handmade scented candle, chocolates and a spring flower. What a treat to give a "pick me up" to someone special, or even yourself! And if you'd like someone to collect your bag/s for you in Fergus on March 13 and bring them back to Guelph, just send Terrie Jarvis an email
Rotary using Polio experience to assist with COVID-19

This is amazing and exciting. Read more here.


If you're happy and you know it, contribute your Happy Bucks on our club's GiveSome pages here. There are four topics to donate to.
Program this week - February 26, 2021:
Collecting Courage:  A frank discussion about racism and its impacts
with Marva Wisdom, Nneka Allen and Mide Akerewusi
In November 2020, our club was delighted to learn that our member, Marva Wisdom, had contributed a chapter to a new book called COLLECTING COURAGE: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love. The book is a collection of stories documenting racism and survival by Black fundraisers working in charities across North America - five from the US and nine from Canada. 
For today's panel discussion, Marva brought together the book's editor and contributing author, Nneka Allen, as well as another contributing author, Olumide (Mide) Akerewusi, for a frank discussion about racism and its impact based on the lived experience of these panel members, including Marva herself.
Marva acknowledged that such discussions can feel uncomfortable but stressed the necessity for us to understand how everything we do and say is part of our inter-connected experience.
All three panel members strive to live and lead in the philosophy of Ubuntu, best described here by Desmond Tutu from South Africa:
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity. 
Marva Wisdom, our esteemed Rotary Club of Guelph member, is well known in Guelph and beyond. A highly respected and sought after facilitator and speaker, Marva, through her company, Wisdom Consulting, provides clients with the tools and courage they need to facilitate meaningful growth through leadership, effective engagement, diversity and inclusivity. Marva says, "By creating a culture of acknowledgement, we can take that first step in healing divisions."
Nneka Allen introduced herself as a descendent of the Underground Railroad, an Ojibwa of Anderson Nation, a mother and a sixth generation Canadian. She's the principal and founder of The Empathy Agency, helping organizations deliver more fairly on their mission and vision. For 20 years, Nneka has worked and inspired philanthropy in the non-profit industry. In her work, she coaches leaders and their teams to explore the effects identity have on organizational culture and equity goals. 
Mide Akerewusi is the Founder and CEO of AGENTSC, a fundraising and Social Change agency helping organizations attract significant financial investments. No stranger to Rotary, he admitted this was actually his first time addressing Rotarians WITHOUT asking or thanking for funding! While outlining his experience of living in the UK, in Nigeria, and in Canada, and speaking with a British accent, his lifelong experience has been not quite fitting in anywhere and always being asked "Where are you from?" 
Nneka explained how the book emerged from a project she had created called Our Right to Heal, a series of powerful personal stories about the experiences of Black women fundraisers in Canada. When asked to produce a micro-learning video on 'belonging versus inclusion', this was somehow accomplished (against the odds and without funding) and made ready for launching in March 2020. Then COVID hit, so the launch was delayed till May. Then the world broke open with the murder of George Floyd, changing the global landscape enormously. It became both cathartic and dangerous for Black people to speak out. This led to a process of collecting stories now published in this book, and ongoing discussions such as at this meeting today.  
The stories from the book and also from this panel discussion revealed pain and a sense of exhaustion from Living and Working While Black, of worrying about their Black children and friends, of micro-aggressions that cause hurt from comments or even from body language, and wondering why these problems still exist today. And they do. But the stories also revealed determination and optimism towards a path to action, all beginning with empathy and being willing to look through the eyes of others.
The book is recommended reading and available from The Guelph Bookshelf or online here.
Noma Vales thanked our panelists for their valuable time and willing contribution today, emphasizing our inter-dependence in  moving forward together, and their important emphasis on the word "belonging" ... a sentiment echoed in the Zoom chat comments by other members as well. It was an insightful hour leaving much to ponder on "What are my own biases?" and "How can I be a better ally?"
Tracey said it's time for a new story to be written, and it needs all of us as participants. 
Upcoming programs 
Check our home page for upcoming speakers at our own club and also at other Rotary events. There are some wonderful talks ahead. Invite friends! 
Bulletin Editor
Terrie Jarvis
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