From nurses in Guyana to children in Belarus – and Santa’s visits to Brockville – it has been an eventful century for the city’s Rotarians.
Saturday marked the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Brockville, a milestone that, like all other events, must be marked in an unanticipated way because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sometimes I feel like I’ve been there since the beginning,” Doris Hallett, the club’s treasurer and co-chair of the 100th anniversary committee, joked on Friday.
The Brockville club meets at lunch time on Mondays at the Brockville Country Club. Conflicting schedules among younger Rotarians led to the formation, in 2005, of a second local club, known internally as the “breakfast club,” the Rotary Club of the 1000 Islands.
The older lunch club now numbers about 36 active members, said Hallett.
The Brockville club will mark its centenary in part with the raising of the Rotary flag behind City Hall on Monday.
On May 21, said Hallett, Mayor Jason Baker will present the club with the key to the city in an event at the Country Club. Also at that event, two as-yet-unnamed people will receive Rotary’s highest honour, the Paul Harris Award.
Since its inception a century ago, the Brockville Rotary club has left its imprint on the community.
Its many contributions include fundraising for the pool at the former, original Memorial Centre downtown, as well as the Rotary Field House in the north end, to which the club gave $40,000 in 1992 towards construction, and later $100,000 toward making it accessible, as well as other upgrades.
The Rotarians have also funded a program for seniors at the Brockville Museum, scholarships at area high schools, and a range of educational programs for young people. Hallett notes the club is also involved with Loaves and Fishes, a worthy organization currently seeking volunteers.
The Rotary Club recently paid for a projector for the Movies in the Park initiative.
Internationally, the local Rotarians have supported Canadian Aid for Chernobyl with funding for medical care, while also supporting a nursing scholarship in Guyana.
“We sponsored three nurses and put them through university and through nursing school,” said Hallett.
“To me, that was very, very special.”
The club is also known for such events as the Brockville Santa Claus Parade, the Rotary Gala and an annual golf tournament.
None of this would be possible, said Hallett, without the sustained generosity of the community.
The Rotary Gala is yet another event that has been knocked off-course by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Rotarians are finding a new way to hold the fundraiser, the “Gala-in-a-Box,” set for Thursday, June 3.
“Those that participate will receive a mystery box with swag, fun things, which we will deliver to your home, a few days before,” said organizing committee chairwoman Susan Brister.
“Then the night of the event, you will obtain your meal (curbside pick-up); eat at your leisure, and log on to the Zoom link provided for the virtual entertainment.”
The reason for the pre-delivery of the “Gala-in-a-Box” is for people to familiarize themselves with when and where to pick-up their meal, the Zoom link and when to connect to the online program.
“This will be a virtual event,” said Brister. “In the past we had great galas, in the community and they were fun.”
“We were able to interact then, but with COVID-19, we have had to rethink how we fundraise.”
As for the dinner, participants are asked to use curbside pickup at the Brockville Country Club, at a pre-determined time to be shared.
“The meal will be cold that you take home,” said Brister. “When you are ready to eat, just pop it in the oven, set your table, check the Zoom link and proceed to eat.”
As the evening unfolds, former Brockville police chief Adrian Geraghty and current Brockville Police Chief and Rotarian Scott Fraser will be live from YourTV Studio Brockville, as the masters of ceremonies.
Tickets are $100 per person, and are available online.