Friday, June 11, 2021

Program: Faz Ashkar - Up Close
Messages this week from our Club President, Tracey Curtis
          Toronto Symphony Orchestra      
Hello Rotarians. This has been a week of huge highs and lows. While there is a lot of hard stuff, there is also a lot of good stuff, so please read on. And please remember to reach out to others. A quick phone call or email can make a world of difference.
(August 4, 1930 - June 11, 2021)
Last Friday, Jim's wife Karin came in from the garden and found that Jim had quietly slipped away. We are remembering what a great person, great scientist, great educator, great friend and great Rotarian Jim was; 43 years in Rotary, including serving as president of our club 1998-99. For those who don't know Jim from earlier years, read about him here. He made  the world a better place. 
As we keep Karin in our thoughts, we are remembering Jim's great smile as seen in this photo taken just a few months ago when Tracey delivered his latest Paul Harris Fellow pin and certificate recognizing his ongoing donations to The Rotary Foundation. Rest in peace, Jim. 
In great sadness, we addressed the shocking hit-and-run attack that occurred in London, Ontario last Sunday, June 6. Here is what our club member, Nisha Chandran, said:
Speaking on behalf of the newly formed Peace Building Committee within our club, wherein we are trying to set the course towards peace and tolerance, I feel ironic that the first address I make here to you all is regarding hate and violence. I am sure by now you all are aware of the tragedy that occurred in London, where a family of the Muslim faith were targeted and killed in an act stemming from hatred and discrimination.
This act has left 9-year-old Fayez without his parents, sister, and grandmother. This unthinkable tragedy hits very close to home for me and in my heart I know that this is not the Canada we all call home. Such acts of anti-Muslim -Asian, -Black, and -Indigenous racism and violence have no place in Canada – not in our communities, workplaces, schools, and health care systems.

There is much work to be done in Canada to acknowledge the impact of racism and to dismantle it in our organizations, institutions, and communities. We are the ones who must do this work and make this change happen.
Tracey and some fellow Rotarians attended the Muslim vigil and solidarity walk in Guelph last Thursday night, and heard from Muslim women that they feel afraid to walk outdoors alone. One thing we can do is say "I will walk with you", literally and figuratively.  Read more on our website here about the Muslim Society of Guelph and its actions. Let us support each other with kindness and friendship. 
Emotions of pain and trauma are off the scale amongst Indigenous communities, triggered by the discovery of 215 children's bodies in unmarked graves at a former residential school, and the near certainty that more discoveries are yet to come. Amongst Indigenous peoples, deep grief and mourning stretches from the distant past right up to and including the present. Amongst settlers, many are now realizing that "cancel culture" has actually been in practice for most of our lives regarding Canada's shameful treatment of Indigenous people, as information and education about it was ignored or hidden. But we can no longer claim ignorance. At this time, the guidance is to pause in compassion and reflection as we seek our path forward to build a future that we can ALL be proud of. 
Rotary News and Events:
Back in February 2021, our past-president, Carolyn Weatherson, created and entered this short video in a Rotary International contest organized by #ESRAG ... the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group. It was to promote Rotary's adoption of its seventh Area of Focus, Supporting The EnvironmentWatch the video celebrating our 13-year Rotary Forest project at Guelph Lake, and read more on our club website here. Well done, Carolyn, and kudos to the many people who have worked on this amazing legacy project for a long time! We are remembering our late Rotarian, Clare Rennie, who was the driving force behind this project. 
Paul Dredge shared wonderful news (also speaking on behalf of Cyndy Forsyth who was away visiting her new grandbaby). 
The Integrated Youth Services Network is going to receive over $1 million in operational funding: $650,000 from the Government of Ontario and $420,000 from Wellington County. Read more details here. 
The IYSN will also become an official site of "YWHO" (Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario) which means it will qualify for ongoing operational funding support from the provincial government. This is fantastic news!
Randy Seager, speaking as a past president of our club and current member of the Rotary Club of Guelph's Foundation (RGC Fund) had more awesome news. The Foundation will provide $250,000 in funding for IYSN. $200,000 of this will support the IYSN capital campaign with Rotary naming rights of the IYSN wing at the new CMHA-WW building being constructed on Woolwich Street. The remaining $50,000 will provide matching funds for donations up to this amount.
In sharing these fantastic announcements, Paul Dredge recalled the particular efforts of our members Ranjit Singh and Lawrie Jones (and others) in the late 90s and early 2000s towards developing a Guelph youth centre with one-stop support, and it is truly heartwarming to see this long-held Rotary vision finally becoming a reality. And it would not be happening now without Rotary's involvement. 
Small things matter, too. Organizer Gisella Gazzola was pleased to report on the success and enjoyment of our sixth virtual Paint Night last Sunday, led by our member and artist-in-residence, Ben McCarl. Donations were collected from participants in support of Food4Kids Guelph, and a cheque for $350 was delivered to this Rotary-inspired charity and received by Terrie Jarvis. These Paint Nights are very much enjoyed by all with several repeat participants.Another Paint Night will be organized soon.
The Rotary Club of Guelph-Wellington's 32nd annual Duck Race fundraiser needs our support. Naturally, its a virtual event this year. Purchase tickets at GotDuck.ca.  
  • The final Early Bird Draw is on June 15, with $500 in vouchers to local restaurants
  • The Grand Prize is $500 per month for a year of food from Zehr's (worth $6,000!) and will be drawn on July 1st
  • Net proceeds from the Duck Race will go to Food4Kids Guelph to help feed local children living in severely food-insecure families. 
Read in  Guelph Today how three generations of the Van Dam family are involved with this year's Duck Race. It's a great story. 
The 8th annual Tour de Guelph is now under way running from June 4 to June 27. 
Tour de Guelph is a cycling event in support of Guelph General Hospital and local Rotary projects through the Rotary Clubs of Guelph South and Guelph Trillium. There is still time to enter and/or sponsor riders in this fantastic fundraiser.
Also ... check out the  online auction  in support of Tour de Guelph 2021.  https://trellis.org/tour-de-guelph-online-auction
From our Club Members:
  • Hal Jackson and his wife Nancy are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary along with their three children and eight grandchildren. The Jacksons are donating US$100 to the Rotary International Foundation ... a dollar a year from each of them for their happy 50 years of marriage. 
  • Tom Funk commented on our club being privileged to have TWO members qualifying for the title of "DocDoc". First is Hal Jackson with his two PhDs which you can read about here. And now we have a second "DocDoc" in Faz Ashkar, a medical doctor with a PhD as well. One of the great benefits of joining Rotary is the incredible people one meets here. 
  • Jan Jofriet is absolutely delighted about the overall success and the recognition of the Rotary Forest project. An active participant in this project since the start, Jan says that the recognition it is now receiving from Carolyn's wonderful video warms his heart as he celebrates his 91st birthday on June 12! 
  • Sue Ricketts is happily settled in Drayton, doing well, and hoping to receive Guelph visitors as soon as possible. She is delighted to report on some good medical news. Having lost a lot of weight in the past couple of years, she's now been told she can start coming off the diabetic medicines that she has been taking for the past 20 years!
  • Liz Cooney has decided to step back from Rotary membership after being a member for thirteen and half years. No special reason, she said, just that she is in a new chapter of her life. We are sending Liz a certificate of recognition and appreciation for her many contributions to our club during these years. We will miss you, Liz, and hope you'll still visit us from time to time. You will always be welcome!
  • Bev Trist-Stewart, our former club member before she moved away from Guelph, visited our online meeting on June 11 and was a welcome sight!
  • Anne MacKay shared that the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford (former Mohawk Institute, the Indian Residential School) has seen a huge uptick in donations toward their "Save The Evidence" building restoration fund in the past week as more people learn the history of residential schools. More information can be found here. Let us not forget that June is National Indigenous Month.  
  • Terrie Jarvis reminds everyone to beware of online scams. If helping a friend involves a request to purchase gift cards and then email the pin numbers, DON'T DO IT without personally connecting with the apparent "recipient" directly to verify, by phone or in person. The person you think you are helping  usually has no idea that their name is being used in an online scam (very cleverly carried out to fool us). Once gift cards are purchased, they cannot be refunded.  
Member Birthdays & Rotary Anniversaries:
Many happy returns to:
Jan Jofriet - June 12
Raechelle Devereaux - June 12
Congratulations on these membership  anniversaries:
Paul Pennock - 28 years (June 11, 1993)
Matt Williams - 6 years (June 12, 2015)
Noma Vales - 15 years (June 16, 2006)
Thank you for your service, Rotarians! We truly appreciate you. 
If you're happy and you know it, contribute your Happy Bucks on our club's GiveSome pages here. There are four different topics you can donate to.  
Program this week - June 11, 2021
A personal introduction
This week, our member Fazl Ashkar (or Faz as he is most often called) was our guest speaker, introducing himself to our membership a year after joining our club in May 2020. 
He was introduced by his Rotary sponsor and friend, Murray Taylor, who describes Faz as a hardworking and inspiring entrepreneur with a brilliant mind and an exceptionally kind and generous heart. "Faz already personifies Rotary's 4-Way Test," says Murray, "And that's why I encouraged him to join us."
Faz began his presentation with his life timeline: From 1970 to ... TBD... He was happy for the opportunity to share his first 50 years of life, including his one year of Rotary. His future is yet to unfold and will continue to be based on his three golden key words: LOVE, HONESTY and TRUST.
His life story began in Iran, the youngest of six sons, with the unfortunate death of his mother when he was just nine months old and his eldest brother only twelve. His amazing grandmother stepped in to help the family, becoming his lifelong hero and angel, shown here with Faz.
His dad was a farmer, and getting everything done required the entire family to cooperate, laying the foundations of a strong work ethic, independence, and the lifelong love and loyalty of family. By the age of five, Faz was confident and competent to herd a flock of 400-500 sheep, giving him an affinity for the care of animals that continues to this day. Always entrepreneurial, Faz says he was financially independent by the age of 13.
His dad is now 87 and shown here in this loving photo when Faz visited Iran in 2014.
Growing up in Iran provided gifts of knowledge and insights from one of the most historic places in the world, but also turmoil from the Shah of Iran, the Islamic Revolution, and war with Europe. He well remembers the Persian Gulf War in 1991 when he found himself too close for comfort, within earshot of B52 bombardments. 
At school, he was always near the top of his class, and this opened up opportunities for him, one of which led to finding his future wife. One day, one of Faz's older brothers asked Faz to tutor his young sister-in-law in math. When the two students met each other, there was an instant "spark" that later led to marriage and their happy lives together ever since.
As he progressed through university, Faz excelled in his academics but could not hold back his entrepreneurial spirit so was always running businesses at the same time as being a student. 
After completing his compulsory military service in Iran, Faz became a medical doctor and was in private practice in Iran for some years, simultaneously running two other businesses with 30 employees. One of his brothers, Ali, had qualified as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in Tehran and then come to the University of Guelph to complete a PhD before joining the faculty at McMaster University where Ali is today an esteemed professor of pathology and molecular medicine. In 2005, Faz came to visit Ali in Canada, liked what he saw here (despite the cold weather) and decided to move here with his wife and daughter. Changing countries, cultures and languages is not an easy thing to do. It took a lot of effort. First came four months of intense studying for Faz to study english in order to pass the required language exam before being accepted at University of Guelph for a Master's degree following by a PhD, both of which were successfully completed by 2014. 
Today, Faz is president of Nikan Biopharma Services Ltd., consulting in reproductive biotechnologies. He also has several real estate investment businesses, which is how he met Murray. When Murray suggested that he should join Rotary, Faz knew nothing about Rotary because it has virtually no presence in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya or Syria. Once Faz was satisfied that Rotary was neither a political nor a religious organization, and realized that its community and service goals matched his own life goals, he joined our club, feels welcome and is enjoying it. He is still learning about Rotary, helping with small things along the way with a sense that some day, a bigger  project is going to find him. He doesn't know what it will be, but he'll know it and will respond in his own way. Meantime, Faz quietly helps out here and there wherever he can, and brings valuable insights to our club members letting us know, for example, about Persian New Year celebrations.
Faz and his wife have two daughters. The older is 21 and almost qualified as a Registered Nurse. The younger one is 11 and in Grade 6. Faz says "life is his hobby". He loves work, gardening, cooking, writing, poetry, hiking and camping. He built a "cabin" in his house to provide the quiet feeling of camping - at home. 
Mahmud Hassain thanked Faz for his inspiring talk. We are glad that Faz brought his talents and family to Canada and that he joined our Rotary Club. We are eager to observe the next chapters in Faz's interesting and energetic life story. And we're ready to take him up on his offer to cook for us some time!  
Upcoming programs 
Check our home page for upcoming speakers. Invite guests! 
  • Friday, June 18, 2021 at 12:15pm - Indigenous Awareness  Committee program. Speaker Stephen Jackson, M.A.Sc. CEO Anishnabeg Outreach Employment and Training Inc., will talk about the Kamloops Discovery and Anishnabeg Outreach programs  (Pre-reading)
  • Friday, June 25, 2021 at 12:15pm - Rotary Club Presidential Wrap-up and Handover.  Outgoing club president Tracey Curtis will summarise the 2020-2021 year and hand over the reins to incoming club president Mahmud Hassain for 2021-2022.
Bulletin Editor
Terrie Jarvis
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