Club President's Message
Susan Moore - President, Rotary Club of Grand Bend 2021-2022
Last year when I accepted the gavel from President Robert Beath, I said NEVER did I imagine becoming President of the Rotary Club of Grand Bend during a world-wide pandemic that shut down the commerce of our country and shut us up in our homes for days on end.
Yet, here we are, one year later, still virtually gathered together, just recently released from a “stay at home” order that lasted for months and still legally only able to gather in small groups of 10, outdoors. Thankfully, for service clubs like ours and even more importantly, businesses, the numbers that can gather together will change to 25, outdoors tomorrow. I know all you are looking forward to having an in person social time, together very soon.
As I take on the role of President for one more year, I am optimistic that we will soon be able to have our club meetings together in person. How exciting it will be to actually see your smiling faces directly before me at a club meeting! But, maybe I should be careful of what I wish for, because when you all start talking at once, I will not be able to ask Martin to put you on mute!!!
Despite Covid, this past year, the Rotary Club of Grand Bend has grown and thrived. We met the challenges of this time in our history and figured out ways to achieve our goals. There were quite a few members in our club that had no idea how to take part in a virtual meeting that meant connecting by a zoom link. But eventually every member in our club, despite their lack of technical knowledge was able to attend our twice a month meetings.
Then, as time went by, we began to realize that there were also advantages to virtual technology such as the availability of significant speakers who were able to share information on topics that met the concerns of Rotary, our club and its members.
Speakers such as local entrepreneurs like Christina Masschelein, proprietor of Metonia Boutique in Grand Bend with her passion for the sustainable fashion industry and Mac Voisin, co-owner of the White Squirrel Golf Club told us all about the many changes he was making at his establishment. Lesley Gittings, one of our Rotarian Ambassadorial Scholars, who just happens to be, member Max Morden’s niece, talked to us about the research project she is working on concerning adolescents in South Africa living with HIV and most recently Covid 19.
Another informative speaker was Sheriff Chris Swanson of Genesee County in Flint, Michigan who spoke to us about events leading up to the Black Lives Matter protest in his jurisdiction, and why he laid down his riot gear and joined the protest against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Just recently, outstanding speaker and polio survivor, Ann Lee Hussey of the Casco Bay Rotary Club of Portland, Maine, spoke about her life’s commitment to the eradication of polio. We were moved to tears as she talked about her experiences with polio and the stories of many others, she has encountered through her global work with Rotary International’s Polio Plus Program, as well as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
How excited we all were to hear that this past year the wild polio virus has been reduced by 99.9%, that last August the continent of Africa was finally certified polio free and today Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where the wild polio virus is still active. That reminds me of the delicious chili, I bought from Irene and Brian Hall, and the yummy soup from Mary Ruston and Martin Ward that was actually a donation towards Rotary’s Polio Plus program on World Polio Day. But that wasn’t all, member Randi Ivey had all the female members to her house for a delicious outdoor lunch. In thanks we each made a donation to the Polio Plus program.
Although different, we were also able to enjoy several socials this past year. Last July we divided up into groups of 10 outdoors
at the homes of several members, and enjoyed seeing and catching up with each other as we sipped away on our favourite beverage. Another night, we virtually brushed up on our trivia knowledge! And with great spirit and lots of creativity, the December greeters organized a wonderful virtual Christmas Party that included gifting each other with a wrapped gift of a book with a personalized greeting inside, chatting in our breakout rooms over dinner from the local restaurants Fine and The Lake Hound, and the best surprise of all, Santa’s visit. Santa Ed Fluter, who never misses a chance to dress up or wear a hat entertained us with the reading “Twas the Year Before Christmas and All Through the Town Rotarians Were Running Around and Around!” Each one of us became a character in Santa’s reading that inspired a lot of laughter. In the spirit of giving $1325.00 was raised for the Goderich Women’s Shelter and $625.00 for the Food Distribution Center near Exeter.
Despite not being able to have our annual fundraiser, Autumn Indulgence, our Service initiatives continued. We were able to load and send two more containers. Our 92nd and 93rd containers were full of mainly school and medical supplies that crossed the ocean to the Durban Rotary Club in South Africa for distribution. In October, a crew of members helped with a Habitat for Humanity build at Kettle and Stoney Point. In December members gathered to clean up the debris and small plastic pieces that had accumulated on River Road before they were washed back into the river and lake. And, the distribution of face shields continued throughout the community. In January we were able to help the Grand Bend Legion install a badly needed new furnace.
Just recently we were able to make a $2000.00 donation to help a small community in the Philippians put a roof on the building
where the kindergarten children gathered. It had been destroyed from a major typhoon that swept through this area last fall.
I would be remise, if I didn’t mention some other significant events of this club. One was the retirement of a very active member of our club, Rotarian Don Tedford who had served the Rotary organization for 42 years. In March, he and previously retired member, Dorinda McLeod became Honourary Members of our club. That same month, we were able to induct and welcome new member Jim Young and at our end of the year gathering, Mary Ruston joined our club. Several members became Paul Harris Fellows this year and others received additional pins in recognition of their continuing contribution to The Rotary Foundation and its service throughout the world.
Finally, there are some thankyou’s I want to make. First, to the executive and board chairs who all willingly volunteered to remain in their positions for this upcoming year. Thank you, Kerry Teskey, for stepping into the vacant position of Vice-President. Each one of you have been so supportive as I fumbled my way through the first few months of leading this club. The one thing about the members of this club, when challenged with a task, we work together to accomplish and completed it.
I also want to thank Martin Ward, we would never have had the successful year that we have had without your technical expertise and virtual support at our meetings.
And to Peter Janzen and Roger Wallis along with everyone who served on the Action Involvement/Autumn Indulgence Committee. This was the brain storming center of the club. Some ideas worked and some did not. For sure, the Tuesday morning on-line chats and the Friday virtual euchre games organized by Brian Hall were enjoyed by all who participated!
Excitedly we organized our 30th Anniversary Celebration. It was to be held at the Drive-In and would have been so much fun... but had to be cancelled. Yet, instead of getting discouraged, the committees efforts were transferred to the next fundraising event – our upcoming Virtual Autumn Indulgence on September 25th and the gifting of Rheo Thompson smoothies  to all our local front-line workers. I am so very proud of all our club’s accomplishments this year.
But now, a new Rotary year is dawning. As I previously said, It is my hope that in the very near future, we will be able to gather either in person or by zoom as we initiate “hybrid” meetings for our club.  But no matter how we come together we will continue to be members of a club where “service comes before self” always supporting each other, our local communities and the world.
Here’s to another great year!
President Susan Moore