Friday, February 19, 2021

Life lessons from a crisis negotiator -
Ripples, Waves and Reflections
Messages this week from our Club President, Tracey Curtis
          Toronto Symphony Orchestra      
Hello Rotarians. This week I came across this perfect quote from Rotary's founder, Paul Harris:   
The foundation upon which Rotary is built is friendship;
on no less firm foundation could it have stood. 
Friendship is valuable at the best of times, and even more so during difficult times. So I want to thank you for your friendship and all the hard work that you are doing. And let's all continue spreading the joy of friendship by reaching out to others. It truly makes a difference. 
This week's rendition of O Canada was from an elementary school in Ottawa with a teacher demonstrating the use of sign language for the words of our national anthem. Due to the current Covid restrictions against singing, many school students across Canada have now become tri-lingual in their performance of O Canada: English, French and American Sign Language. Thank you, teachers! Watch and listen again here. And thank you for another lovely find, Rick!
Many happy returns to:
Thomas Koester (in Germany) - February 19
Terrie Jarvis - February 22
Rick Le Feuvre - February 23
Paul Demarco - February 25 
Congratulations on these Rotary anniversaries:
Anne Pennock - February 21, 1992 - 29 years!
Dennis Weiler - February 22, 1982 - 39 years!
Thank you! We are so grateful for all you have done.
Other Announcements:
Our weekly Zoom meetings - what do you think?
Tracey really, really misses the face-to-face contacts we always enjoyed at the ICC. Meeting by Zoom is certainly better than not meeting at all, but Tracey would love some feedback on how you feel about our current meetings. Please contact her with any thoughts or suggestions. Email or call Tracey and let her know. 
Blood Donation Challenge Idea 
Several Rotary Clubs in our District are challenging their members, friends and families to donate blood if they can. That's because blood and plasma are desperately needed. Donating blood is considered an essential service, so the donation centres are open - by appointment only. 
What do you think about our club joining forces with other Rotary clubs to build a local blood donation campaign? Tracey would like to hear your thoughts on this idea. Email or call. 
Winter Paint Night - another wonderful success
50 or more participants enjoyed their online painting experience with Ben McCarl on February 15, an event jointly promoted by our club and the CMHA. See some of the delightful pictures on our website here. The next Paint Night will take place on March 21 - details coming soon. 
Our Indigenous Awareness Committee supporting a new, local project called "Thrifting"
Liz Sandals explained that while the committee is thrilled to be supporting the WATER FIRST training in northern Ontario, the committee also wants to support local Indigenous activities within our own community. This has led them to the Anishnabeg Outreach Employment & Training program serving Wellington and Waterloo. It runs mostly out of the Indigenous Drop-in Centre in Kitchener and offers many different services. A new project in need of support is called "Thrifting" and needs to purchase heavy duty sewing machines to teach individuals how to upcycle and repurpose thrifted clothing items for themselves and their families. The program will also be offered to Indigenous women in prisons to learn valuable skills that foster rehabilitation. Liz described the fundraising efforts to date, ending with a compelling appeal for our club to raise just $500 more to help this program get started. Before the end of our Rotary meeting, this fundraising had received personal commitments exceeding $500!  Awesome. Any additional  donations will still be welcomed to help this program grow bigger, faster. Please donate through our club, so Trevor can track our totals. Trevor will also take care of  transferring the money to Anishnabeg Outreach.  
Bottle Drive for Guatemala Project
As reported last week, Domingo Bernal is collecting bottles and cans to raise funds through his non-profit organization, Videsa, to support his next projects in Guatemala. Joanne McAuley is excited to be helping Domingo and offered to help other Rotarians cutomize a simple Bottle Drive flyer to drop off with their neighbours, and/or email to all their local contacts. Email Joanne or call her. 
There were good-natured chuckles about members asking Domingo not to reveal how MANY bottles and cans he picks up from their homes!
View and vote on Guelph's Rotary Forest video
Our talented and dedicated Carolyn Weatherson has created another marvelous video, and entered it in a Rotary International contest! The more votes our video gets, the better the chance of our club winning a prize. Read more details on our website here. There's a two-step process for viewing and voting. Please spread the word: vote vote vote!

Coldest Night Of the Year (Virtual) Walk for HOPE House - February 20, 2021

Our member Sean Yo is the voluntary  organizer of this year's event to help HOPE House raise much needed funds towards supporting people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger in our very own community. Sean and his own family have formed a team called "Walking on Sunshine" and will be walking outdoors on Saturday, February 20, whatever the weather. They can be supported here with all donations going to HOPE House. Thank you, Sean!


Rotaract Gala on March 5, 20221

This event is coming up fast. Details here. Let's support our Gueph Rotaract Club. 

Upcoming speakers

Remember to check our club website for upcoming speakers. You'll find program details for our upcoming Friday meetings, as well as wonderful meetings and presentations arranged by other Rotary clubs that you can also attend.  


Handbags for Hospice Fundraiser - February 25, 2021

One of our favourite places to support is Hospice Wellington. Their 4th annual fundraiser "Handbags for Hospice" is coming up on February 25, 2021. There's a $25 tax receiptable donation to attend online (and it's an entertaining blast!) with the usual amazing auction of fantastic handbags. There's also a terrific 50/50.  Details are 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.
  • Crista Renner says her father-in-law, Bill Ramage, who was our guest speaker for Remembrance Day 2020, is still delighted with the certificate he received from our club to vaccinate 100 children against polio in his name. He said he liked Crista's Valentine's Day gift, but not as much as that Rotary certificate!
  • Ab Moore praised the networking and teamwork of Rotarians and explained how Luisa Del Rosario had provided a contact in Buffalo, New York which led to our club finding an international Rotary Club partner for a global grant on an Africa project. It takes a team!
  • Randy Seager and his wife, Mary, are grateful that their daughter has received her second vaccine. She works frontline so they are always concerned about the COVID risks for her.
  • Helmuth Slisarenko mentioned his friend's worry for her daughter in Texas due to the awful challenges being faced there right now with power outages and water shortages. Even charging their cell phones is a challenge for many Texans right now. Helmuth reminds us how grateful we should be for where we live.
  • Marva Wisdom, calling in from her car at the side of the road where she had pulled off to join our Zoom meeting, endorsed Helmuth's comment. 
  • Marty Fairbairn gave a "teaser" about a new club event coming up. All he would say is "Prima Festa Is Back". We'll have to wait for details!
Program this week - February 19, 2021 - NEIL DUNSMORE: Life lessons from a crisis negotiator - Ripples, Waves and Reflections
Welcoming Neil Dunsmore as our guest speaker, Terrie Jarvis said it felt more like a family reunion because Neil, a fellow Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Fergus-Elora, was happily catching up with many old friends he spotted on screen, and they were equally delighted to see him.
Neil's outstanding story-telling began and ended with a solid endorsement of what President Tracey reminds each and every week:  OUR PRESENCE MATTERS TO OTHERS.
Having worked for a decade as a Provincial Corrections Officer, Neil explained how he used to be on call as a specialized Crisis/Hostage Negotiator. He wryly commented that a maximum security prison did not have many 'Hostage' situations, but there were frequent calls for inmates in Crisis with suicide threats, anger, fear and meltdowns. In short, he saw that nearly every crisis was linked with mental health. His work taught him to Keep Calm and Carry On, and today, he shares his experience by consulting to organizations in how to manage conflict ... of which there is plenty in the world. He has also become a Township of Centre Wellington Councillor.
In September 2020, Neil did something significant to raise awareness and funds for mental health initiatives. He took a walk. A very long, solo walk, from Elora to Ottawa: 531km in 22 days. His experience and reflections from this walk were the main part of his presentation to us today, told in a highly entertaining way (he is a celebrated Toastmaster and Speaking Coach) along with very humourous side stories and deep insights about human nature.
Walking for some 10 hours a day was taxing on his physical strength and his replaced knee, but he was as well prepared as he could be,  with walking poles, good shoes, pain killers ... and lots of bear spray. His son Graham was his travelling accommodation, towing the family trailer from one overnight site to the next, giving Neil a place to sleep and rest each night. While walking, Neil was entirely alone with his thoughts each day, observing his surroundings, step by step, and talking to himself on a recorder. He is now writing a book about his walk which he will self-publish later this year, with proceeds supporting mental health initiatives.
His greatest learning from his long walk came from his mental state of isolation, nagging discomforts and creeping self-doubt. At his lowest points, as if like magic someone would reach out to him, calling his cell phone, lifting his spirits. At a few spots along the way, people unexpectedly showed up to cheer him on. He reflects now on the importance of those connections, and how we must all take the time to reach out and lift each other up. 
Two unexpected encounters during his journey called upon his experience as a negotiator. Once, a young man who was following Neil's daily Facebook postings about his big walk called Neil all the way from Scotland. The young man's agitation quickly alerted Neil to his mental state and suicidal feelings, and Neil was miraculously able to summon help for him. On another occasion, he came across a distraught woman who was reluctant to converse but Neil recognized fear when he saw it, and was gently able to connect her with a women's shelter for protection.  
His eventual arrival in Ottawa, and being met and accompanied on his final steps by his friend, Senator Rob Black, was accompanied by overwhelming feelings plus astonished delight that 40 or so friends from Centre Wellington had driven all the way to Ottawa to welcome him there! 
Since then, Neil has mentally relived his experience, acknowledging that he hoped to cause a ripple effect in mental health awareness, that actually turned into more of a wave, but that the real lessons were in his reflections about the power of human connections. Neil is a powerful communicator and shares these life lessons at every opportunity.
As Andrew Johnson said in thanking Neil, OUR PRESENCE MATTERS TO OTHERS.  Just as President Tracey reminds us every week. 
Take a look at the photos and reports of Neil's walk at this website.
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! 
  • Friday, February 26 - Marva Wisdom and Guests, a panel discussion on COLLECTING COURAGE: JOY, PAIN, FREEDOM, LOVE
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