THE WHEEL — Friday, November 19th, 2021

President: Roger Tessier
Secretary: Jennifer Stadtke
Bulletin Editor: Daisie O’Neil

President Roger called the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Cobourg to order at 12:04 p.m.
Rotarian Mark Burgess played our Oh Canada for the week – sung by the Toronto Welsh Men’s Choir Visiting Rotarians
We had some very special guests in attendance to help us celebrate 100 years!
RI President Shekhar Mehta Aid to RI President Bryn Styles
District Governor Ron Dick
Celebrating 100 Years of Service

Our History
Our celebration started with a quick overview of our club’s history by Rotarian Martyn Homer. We learned that in March of 1921, a Special Representative from Montreal was appointed to investigate a new club in Cobourg. The first meeting was held on August 12, 1921 at the Arlington Hotel (following meetings would be held at the British Hotel), and a remittance fee of $25 was made to cover the charter. That official charter was presented on November 29th, 1921. The Rotary Club of Cobourg was the 997th club worldwide.
At its inception, the club had 23 members and saw steady growth through the years. April 28, 1989, saw the first women inducted into the club and in 2004, PP Gael Moore served as our first female president.
A vintage black and white photo of the British Hotel in Cobourg Ontario
The British Hotel, Cobourg

President Shekhar Mehta
RI Pres Aid Bryn Style introduced our RI President Shekhar Mehta. RI Pres Shekhar served as President and District Governor before becoming RI President. He has received numerous service awards and in involved in many community and international service efforts. Had he been able to visit us in person, we would also have had the pleasure of meeting his wife Rashi, a social worker and stage artist.

RI President Shekhar began his address by congratulating the club on our 100 years. He also drew special attention to the work our club has done for both our local community and our global one. He noted that PRIVP/PDG/PP Dr Bob’s Scott’s visits to India have been instrumental to the eradication of Polio and encouraged us to look back and recognize the amazing people who have contributed to the club over the past 100 years.

RI President Shekhar said it “gives him goosebumps” to think of how much it means for a club to Celebrate 100 years as his local club is only 30 years old. He joined us from the Rotary Club of Charlotte (founded in 1916) where he had the opportunity to plant a tree near where Rotary Founder Paul Harris had.

Next, RI President Shekhar spoke to the enormous presence and impact Rotary has worldwide. He explained that Rotary has a presence in more countries than the United Nations and that the lives saved through the Polio vaccination efforts almost equals those lost in WWI. He spoke to the importance of the Rotary Youth Exchange as a means of breaking down borders and sharing culture.

Finally, RI President Shekhar spoke about the role of Rotary as a means of spreading peace and notably stated that “Rotary allows us to change the lives of people one at a time – entire communities – entire nations – and the entire world” and that this is the biggest gift we are given as Rotarians. He explained that “A world half hungry is not at peace, a world half healthy is not at peace” and that by addressing these concerns Rotary can bring that peace.

President Roger then opened the floor for questions:

Martyn Homer asked if there were any announcements of new Environment-focused initiatives that the Rotary Club of Cobourg could participate in as this is an area of particular concern for our world.

RI President Shekar stressed that this is becoming the greatest challenge our planet faces and one we did not think about enough in the past. He explained that the development of mangrove plantations is an initiative that Rotary International has decided to take on. These plantations act as a first defence against tornadoes and hailstorms in tropical locations and are excellent barriers to flooding. President Shekhar said that his own town wouldn’t be in existence if it weren’t for these mangroves. This initiative will have both a positive environmental impact and will create jobs. There will be global grants available for the 9 countries identified.

Mangrove Forest

Next, President Roger asked about how RI President Shekhar travel has been impacted due to Covid 19.
President Shekhar explained that, while travel has certainly been impacted, it has been largely possible. Local guidelines and laws are followed and only places where it is safe for both President Shekhar and the communities are being visited.
PRIVP/PDG/PP Bob Scott thanked our speaker. He explained that he was at first given only one job as part of the 100th celebration committee – to ensure the RI President visits us in Cobourg. Not too long after he was given another job – to ensure the RI President DOES NOT visit us in Cobourg. Finally, his final job was assigned – to ensure the RI President DOES attend our meeting – this time on zoom.
Nevertheless, PP Bob Scott expressed how pleased we were to have President Shekhar attend and complimented his efforts to serve to change lives.

Mass Vaccination Clinic
Rotarian Gord Ley gave an overview of our Mass Vaccination Clinic project explaining that it is one of the most impactful projects undertaken in our 100 years as a club. In March, of this year, the call came to create the clinic which was built in 72 hours and recruited 300 volunteers – now 600 volunteers (500 of whom are not Rotarians). The clinic received provincial and national recognition and has administered 16,000 vaccines. Our area has been identified as lowest rate of covid in the province. The clinic is now offering vaccine boosters and gearing up to 5–11-year-olds. Rotarian Gord finished by saying that this clinic shows that there is nothing that a community cannot achieve if we work together.

Timeline: Celebrating a Century of Service
Our final presentation for the day was PP Jamie’s timeline presentation “Celebrating a Century of Service”. This was a super fun look at the Rotary Club of Cobourg through the decades.
1920’s – RCC Chartered in 1921, large focus on community activities and fundraising for the “care of crippled children” and boys camps
1930’s – raised in excess of $193,000 (in 2021 $) despite the great depression
1940’s – many members away on active service, Rotary carnival – held in August – was the highlight for many in the community, support of the air Cadets began which continues today, $136,000 (2021 $) raised
1950’s – Focus mainly on new Local hospital, $193,000 (2021 $) Donated
1960’s – Club membership grown to 67 by 1962, Build a better Cobourg Campaign, pledge of $574,000 (!! In 2021 $) to purchase of new hospital equipment
1970’s – construction of community tennis courts, pledge to local YMCA, $700,000 (2021) pledged during the decade
1980’s – Restoration of Victoria Hall, Floral Clock at Victoria Park, and many more community projects
1990’s – Cobourg Waterfront Walk, Gordon King Library, Purchase of Dragon Boat, Donations upwards of $465,000 (2021) 2000’s – 5-year pledge to Northumberland Hills Hospital, Waterfront Park, $1.184M in donations
2010’s – Membership grown to 136, continued support of hospital, Ed’s House, sponsorship of Family from Syria
2021 – Orange Army, YMCA Peace Medal, and much more to come!

2022 Executive Team
After we said goodbye to our guests, PP Jamie announced the executive for the 2022/23 year. The roles will be as follows:
Past President – Roger Tessier
President – Deborah Burgess
President-Elect – Peter Denoukos
Vice President – Mario Pareja
Treasurer – Michael McAllister
Secretary – Jennifer Stadtke
Directors – Stephanie Smith – Kym Read – Helen Lackey – Gord Ley – Bruce McCartney

Next week – Annual General Meeting. We need a quorum so please attend if you can! If not, please send in Proxies ASAP!