2019-2020 President Eric delivered his Swan Song address to the membership at the final June 24th meeting of the 2019-2020 Rotary year.
The speech appears below the screen capture of the membership on Zoom, for those unable to make the meeting that evening.
Dear Fellow Rotarians and Guests,
It’s hard to believe that I actually stood at a podium before you a year ago making my incoming speech. The time has literally flown by! While Covid-19 has challenged us in many ways since March, people forget that it has really only impacted us for three months. I know it seems like an eternity.
Yet, let’s not lose sight of the fact that we still have many, many achievements to celebrate as a Club over the past 12 months.
In my initial speech, I tried to lay out what I saw as the key parts of our task over the coming year. My theme from the start was: “start from a solid foundation, take advantage of our many talents, have some fun, and most importantly, spread the word about who we are”.
I have always believed that, together, the members of this club could move mountains. Well, I don’t know if we’ve moved any mountains but we’ve certainly attacked a few molehills! Over this past year, we’ve held many more in a series of successful annual events. Thanks to the Chairs, and their organizing teams, of these outstanding and very profitable fundraisers: Marc for the July Golf Tournament, Linda for the Lottery Draw, Sandi and Gary for the November Trivia Night and Bob for the February Winter Trivia. Let’s not forget about Mary and Bingo or Janet who works tirelessly behind the scenes with licences of all types and reporting on Bingo and Nevada.
Our promotion of these events through announcements, web pages, articles and interviews on Eventbrite, Gigit, Cogeco Your TV, Snapd, the Standard, Niagara This Week, CKTB radio, CoffeeTime; The Port Reporter, Facebook, Twitter, LinkIn, Instagram all not only sell tickets but publicize who we are and what we do. We have also built email lists of more than a 1000 Trivia enthusiasts and hundreds of past Literacy Ticket purchasers. Every time we send out a flyer for one of our events we remind all of these people about Rotary Lakeshore and what we stand for. And, I’m not even including the efforts of you, the members – a very chatty bunch based on our usual meeting nights at the Parkway.
I can tell you that I personally enjoyed every one of these undertakings - as well as our various Fellowship events including Mini Putt, Ice dogs game, Christmas at the PAC, St. Catharines Museum visit and others. My thanks to Randi, Joy and Bob for all of these great fellowship evenings – and more to come in Bruce’s year I’m sure.
It has always been my belief that participation in these types of fundraising and social activities, outside of the Club dinner format, is what makes this club special, a gathering of friends working towards common goals. It is this esprit de corps that allowed us to launch our most ambitious project: The Charles Ansell Gateway 20 years ago. Thanks to Bruce and his on-going efforts with Tulips, Propellers and Vimy Oaks, this park and its giant sign will always provide a clear answer to that dreaded “so what does Rotary Lakeshore do” question and will continue to benefit the residents of St. Catharines for decades to come.
This year, we took on a new project – supporting Food4Kids financially and through hands on packing and delivery efforts. I believe this has grown into a successful partnership that will continue for years to come. This in addition to our on-going support for St Catharines Academy of Fine Arts youth Program, Learning Disabilities, RAFT, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Community Care and Kristen French locally along with Ryan’s Bowl, Cystenosis, Tabetha and the Guatemala Garden Project internationally. Our School to Home Literacy Program soldiered on against rotating teacher job action and Covid-19 shutdowns.
We also established a strong focus on obtaining more Grants to support our own charitable efforts - and to participate in far larger projects than we could perhaps handle ourselves by joining with other Niagara Clubs. Over the year, we were able to support Food4Kids with additional funding well beyond our initial commitment; donate tablets to Linhaven for resident use to communicate with their loved ones; participate in a water and hygiene project in Guatemala through the Niagara Cluster Fund initiative; and just this past week, support the Downtown Club with a financial commitment towards their Global Grant application to purchase a PPE mask sanitizing machine for the Niagara Health System. My thanks to the Board, Food4Kids, World & Community; and the Grants Committee for pulling this all together.
W3e’ve even learned how to use Zoom – sort of – and we’ll get better at that too!
I must admit that I believe I’ve had a pretty easy year. I think that traces back to the dedication of each Rotarian (and, their significant others) in this club. If a task needed to be done, someone or some group always stepped into the breach for me. For that, I thank you.
It is this group strength that allows us to support a wide variety of local efforts trying to improve the lot of youth in St. Catharines and around the world. And, at the same time, enjoy the fellowship and satisfaction that comes with doing it.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Assistant Governor Milica; my Board of Treasurer Janet, Secretary Joy, Directors Marlene, Phil and Willy, Past President Ellen and of course, President Elect Bruce, all the various Committee Chairs and all the members at large for making this such an enjoyable year for me. I know you will continue to offer the same outstanding support to Bruce as the Era of the Timms dawns and to Courtney- when the sun sets on the Timms - in their Rotary years.
Thanks for a great year! I hope I  haven’t forgotten anyone or anything – but as you can see we do a lot – and we have a lot to be proud of in our little Club that could.
I now turn the gavel (except it is in the blue box at Holiday Inn so here is an imaginary one) over to President Bruce and wish him every success in the Rotary Year to come.
Your Presidential Pin is in the mail!
You are off to a flying start.
I’m out of here! I will celebrate tomorrow with a haircut – the era of the Presidential lion’s mane is over!