Rotary raising more than a million dollars "has been quite a ride"
What is a million dollars?
How about a lot of money?
But that’s what the Rotary Club of Sarnia Bluewaterland has contributed to the community over its 25-year existence. An existence marked with a dinner and celebration late last month.
The Club’s handiwork can been seen everywhere. Four playgrounds, the flag plaza at the foot of the Bluewater Bridge and later this year a therapeutic garden to be built in the reconstructed Centennial Park are just some of the projects.
Many local organizations have received funding. In addition to supporting school breakfast and equipment programs the Club has donated to Lambton literacy, the YMCA, Inn of the Good Shepherd, St. Clair Child and Youth, St. Joseph Hospice, Sarnia Little Theatre, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the City’s transit van program and Communities in Bloom.
The Bluewaterland Rotary Club has also funded the eradication of polio and numerous international clean water projects.
And it all began on December 17, 1990 when the fledgling Club received its charter. Two District Governors, Jack Luttrell and Graydon Baines believed Sarnia could support a second Rotary Club, an offshoot of the older and well-established Sarnia Club.
Bluewaterland Rotary would be different. It would be smaller, some 20 or 25 members and it would meet Wednesday mornings for breakfast. The new members would meet to discuss projects and fundraising. “Service above Self” was the motto.
First there was bingo as a steady source of revenue followed by fundraising events.
Lobsterfest, chili cook-offs, Octoberfest, meat raffles, walks to raise money for polio eradication and then came the flag plaza, used book sales and Art in the Park.
Raising money to support the community and support Rotary International was the objective.
Six members of the original Club are still active. They include John Hus, Chris Cooke, Tim Fletcher, Jean Cowper, Don Waters and Henry Kulik. Today the Club has 31 members and fundraising centres on book sales, Art in the Park and the sale of memorial bricks and pavers at the International Flag Plaza.
In a video presentation at the 25th anniversary dinner Kulik said initially Rotary responsibilities were restricted to the Club and the greater worldwide Rotary family. However, it quickly became apparent Rotary was a commitment that would involve families of the members to support activities.
“Spouses, partners, parents, sibling, sons, daughters and grand children were enlisted to assist and support many ventures”.
Kulik summarized his Rotary involvement this way. “In January 1991, the Rotary Club of Sarnia Bluewaterland set sail for an amazing journey and it has been quite a ride”.