Rotary “is not about patting yourself on the back, it’s about doing something that makes a difference for someone else,” says member Pache Denis.
“It’s a mindset,” says Karma Kubbernus, president of the Ashcroft & District Rotary Club. “It’s getting involved and doing something.”
The local Rotary Club will celebrate its 25th anniversary this summer.
To the local Rotarians, that means 25 years of good service to their communities as well as to the world. On the local scene, there is the sponsoring of high school students every year to attend a one-week Youth Excellence Society (YES) camp on Vancouver Island, recognizing outstanding citizens through the annual Citizen of the Year award, partnering with the Lions Club to maintain and improve the Chinese Cemetery in Ashcroft, purchasing defibrillators (AEDs) for public facilities in Ashcroft and Cache Creek, donating funds they’ve raised to the Cache Creek Flood Relief, the Christmas Hampers, scholarships, new playground equipment in Ashcroft and more.
One of the Ashcroft & District Club’s founding members, Ron Hood has been a Rotarian for 35 years, joining when he was a credit union manager in Salmon Arm. He was at a meeting one day with Ashcroft and Cache Creek Village administrators Gordon Berdan and Hugh Stephenson when the topic of Rotary came up. They wanted to know how to start a local club and the three of them had it up and running in four months with 35 members.
“The community started to shrink and we shrank with it,” says Hood.
“I was ‘voluntold’,” Kubbernus says, after she became manager of the Interior Savings Credit Union in Ashcroft. “What kept me there has nothing to do with my job,” she says. “For me, it was immersing myself in the community and getting to know people, and the longer I was involved the more I understood what we are.”
Kubbernus says her long term goal is to become more active in the international side of things “so I can bring that to my children” – but it’s the community service like the Hampers and the events that really brings the club members together.
“There’s what Rotary does,” says Hood, “and then there’s what Rotarians do.”
“I think the whole thing about being a Rotarian is dealing with what makes a good citizen,” says Denis, “and I don’t mean that in a community sense but also international. We’re part of an organization that looks at the world and how we can make it a better place.”
Rotary International works towards eliminating polio, providing potable water around the world, providing medical supplies to those who need them.
“It’s hard for us as a small group to get involved in those because they’re time consuming,” says Kubbernus.
“But we do it terms of how we contribute to the international fund,” says Denis.
There are Rotary Clubs in every country of the world, so the contributions from all of those clubs – even small contributions – accumulate.
Rotary has a reputation for attracting influential people who are in positions to affect policy and make the changes needed.
“It’s the only club that has a permanent seat in the United Nations,” says Shirley Dobson.
Rotary Club memberships used to be quite exclusive, says Hood. “There is still a reputation out there that we’re a little group of rich white men and it’s certainly not the case anymore.”
“Here, we’re all sort of down to earth,” he says. “I don’t think we have any rich people in our group.”
Although most of the money raised by the Ashcroft & District Club stays close to home, they do donate to international projects like the Shelter Box project – a self-contained emergency kit with tents and sleeping bags, food and water purifiers, solar ovens – “All packed into a nice little box about the size of a table,” says Hood. “It’s the first thing to show up at an international disaster.”
Partnerships with other community groups, such as with the Lions over th Chinese Cemetery upkeep, has yielded more benefits than first expected.
“In small communities, service clubs are dying out,” says Dobson.
Other benefits of partnerships, says Kubbernus, is staying in touch with groups outside the normal realm of Rotary, to see what they do and hear what they are hearing, and so they get to know what Rotary is.
“The biggest advantage of partnering is it brings all sorts of people into the project,” says Hood.
“We need members,” says Kubbernus. “We have a lot of experience here and a lot of great ideas, we don’t have a lot of physical manpower. It’s getting members who are enthused about what Rotary does and can do and then we can get out and do more in the community.”
Hood recites their creed: “Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
He says that creed has been around now for almost 100 years, and it still sums up how Rotarians look at the world, and anyone looking to make the world a better place for everyone would most likely be welcomed as a Rotarian. They are invited to attend a meeting and see.