Rotary clubs in British Columbia raised a quite amazing $8.5 million last year. That means that in communities large and small, from Vancouver to Kimberley, Rotarians were doing whatever it took to raise funds for at home charities and international humanitarian work.
Or, as Kimberley Rotary President Pat Barclay put it, “We’re not just sitting around having lunch once a week.”
This is the first time a survey was conducted of the 147 Rotary clubs in the province to estimate the total amount of money received in one year for community projects and humanitarian work. Rotary clubs are semi-autonomous therefore do not generally report their fundraising.
“I knew the amount raised by clubs was high but never thought that would reach $8.5 million. This report demonstrates the often unreported impact of volunteer fundraising in our communities,” the author of the report, Chris Offer, from Delta said.
Barclay says that the Kimberley Club, which meets Wednesdays at noon at BJ’s Restaurant, says about $30,000 was raised in Kimberley over the past year.
How does a small club with only 30 members raise that kind of money? By putting in a lot of volunteer hours.
“We are a small club but a fairly active one. We do a number of different fundraisers, the major one being Lobster Fest,” Barclay said. “That raises in the area of $12,000 to $15,000 each year. We do Rib Fest. We do pancake breakfasts, we are planning a Spring Fling. We make about a $1000 working JulyFest. We’ve got 30 local members and they kick in about $6000 each year in donations.”
As well as providing funding and labour for many local projects such as parks, playgrounds and trails, the Club also contributes to major Rotary International projects such as the polio campaign and the Rotary Foundation.
“We get grants back from the Foundation,” Barclay said. “For instance we made a fairly healthy donation to the Child Development Centre in Cranbrook and we got some of that back from the Foundation.”
He points out that in Rotary, no one is paid to do administration, the organization is 99 per cent volunteer.
The Kimberley Rotary Club counts on extra help from a group known as Friends of Rotary.
“These fantastic people don’t pay dues or attend regular meetings, but whenever we need some extra hands, they come our religiously. Whatever we’re doing — pancake breakfasts, building trails, they come out.”
It’s not just major projects that Rotary involves itself with. There are countless little projects supported by the Kimberley Rotary Club. They buy the cookies and coffee for the annual flu clinics. They support the Food Bank and the community dinner, and they are always looking for projects that help youth.
One of the most successful campaigns locally has been the Rotary ShelterBox program, led by Graham Mann.
A ShelterBox is a sturdy tent, supplied with everything a family would need to survive after a major disaster such as an earthquake, from cooking utensils to water purifiers. In the four years since Mann introduced the ShelterBox to the community at the 2008 Fall Fair, $104,000 has been raised. Every $1000 buys a ShelterBox, so Kimberley has been responsible for sending over 100 ShelterBoxes to disaster areas all over the world.
It is that kind of community support that drives the club, Barclay says.
“Community is what pushes Rotary and Kimberley is a really neat community to operate in. When we have Lobster Fest, we sell out. Any project we take on we get fantastic community support.”
If you are interested in becoming a member of Rotary, contact any Rotary member or drop by BJ’s Wednesdays at noon.