The Rotaract Club of Toronto is pleased to announce that we will donate the proceeds from the Vodka Tasting Fundraiser which will be held Friday March 13, 2015 at 8pm at The National Club to Homes First which is a local charity assisting the homeless in our community.
There are over 5,000 people in Toronto without a safe stable place to live. Hundreds live “rough” – in ravines, stairwells or on the street. Hundreds more suffer with mental illness and addictions. This is who Homes First serves.
The organization has been helping the homeless for 30 years. They believe people need a home first. Their mission is to provide affordable, stable housing and support services to break the cycle of homelessness for people with the fewest housing options.
Homes First operates 16 buildings, including 3 shelters, in 9 Toronto neighbourhoods, housing 550 men, women and families every night.
Homes First recently adopted a strategic plan focusing on four key areas to develop and strengthen in the next three years – portfolio, programs, partnerships and sustainability.
They provide the following supports to help residents maintain their housing:
• Employment & volunteer engagement
• Health Clinic
• Community Engagement
• Life Skills: budgeting, housing, hygiene, self-esteem, networking in the community
We are looking forward to planning and successfully raising funds to assist Homes First in furthering their cause in our community.
To learn more, please visit http://www.homesfirst.on.ca/
By: Emily Qiu
I was really fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the 2014 District 7070 Conference on the weekend of October 24, 2014. It was a really fun weekend filled with speeches from great speakers, breakout sessions, activities, a fancy gala, poker night and much more.
The most memorable speech for me was the one delivered by Gabrielle Scrimshaw, a proud member of the Hatchet Lake First Nations born in Northern Saskatchewan. She grew up with many daunting challenges being First Nations such as being eight times more likely to commit suicide than the average Canadian, three times more likely to be unemployed, etc. She shared her personal stories, challenges she faced and how she overcame them.
One of the stories she told us was when she met a counselor who encouraged her in times of doubt. The counselor, who had travelled in many countries and had met many people, told her that she was one of the most amazing women he had ever met. The comment greatly surprised and encouraged Gabrielle, but most importantly, it planted a seed in her mind that she would do something great in the future. This belief gave her the strength and confidence to surpass obstacles that she faced and made her who she is today, a successful young professional who inspires others.
Her story truly touched and inspired me. It made me realize how powerful one’s will could be and how much impact a person or even a comment can leave on another person.
The help we give may seem trivial at the time, but the impact created could far exceed our imaginations. This is the kind of positive energy that we should spread to others to make this world a better place.
by Heidi Ludwick
Light up the night was a great event. Emily and I arrived and had an orientation about being a Marshall, got a cool shirt and a flashlight and we were off! As route marshall s we walked along group of hundreds of people along university st to make sure that everyone was safe and knew where to go. As we walked along everyone had so much fun, holding their lights, signing and chatting with friends. The most moving part of the walk was when we came up to sick kids hospital and a group of children were lined up at the window with sparkly lights. When they saw the group arrive they were so excited jumping up and down and waving their lights around.
Light the night was such a moving event. We were so proud to be part of the fight against for lymphoma and leukemia. Looking forward to helping out at next years event!
By Katherine Kirkpatrick-Wahl
Yet another successful year for the Rotaract Club’s Tick-or-Eat. Trick or Eat, a charitable – Meal Exchange, event that puts a new spin on the annual night of giving – Halloween. Instead of candy, thousands of Trick or Eaters go door to door to collect non-perishable food items for local food agencies. We collected over 350 cans of non perishable donations for the Fort York Food Bank. The team of collectors was over thirty volunteers strong, which included our own Rotarators, members of the University of Toronto’s Rotaract, volunteers from the food back, and members of the community. It was wonderful to spend time going from door-to-door hearing that the home owners were delighted to see to us and many were waiting with their donations ready to go. We were glad to be a part of the community and look forward to next year.
by Graham Shular
Rotaract is a thriving organization. You can find a Rotaract Club pretty much anywhere in the world where there is also a Rotary Club. Rotaractors have also been able to organize themselves incredibly well. “Rotaract Round Trips” exist in most parts of the world, and give young people many different opportunities to travel, visit, and get to know Rotaractors from different countries. I believe that these opportunities help to ignite the spirit of Rotary in young people because they invite Rotaractors to share in the worldwide celebration of doing service and to develop as global citizens eager to help others, and each other. Interota is the apex of these global celebrations. Interota Toronto-Montreal invited over 200 delegates from dozens of countries to gather here in Canada for a weeklong conference, which highlighted many things including service projects, professionalism and club management, and VIP guest speakers. Interota 2014 was a spectacular event, and successfully showcased the best of our local Rotaract talent to the world.
The international conference began in Ontario’s capital city, Toronto, at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College. After a splendid barbeque, country presentations, and welcomes from Interota co-chairs Sean (RI 7040) and Andrea (RI 7080), we found comfortable lodgings in the dormitory styled residence at the University. The Toronto leg of the experience had many different highlights. We were in the city for just two full days, yet we still managed to experience many things! My two favourite highlights from Toronto were getting to hear from different Rotaractors from different regions of the world explain how they conduct service in their communities. It was fascinating listening to the different strategies used by Rotaract Clubs from different parts of the world (shout out to Annie Chu – RI 7080 for organizing this edition of Annie’s Corner!). I also really enjoyed getting to know many of our visitors better while on the Toronto Harbour Boat Cruise. The food was great, the music was great, and I think I saw RI President Gary dancing!
Our second leg of the trip was to one of Canada’s most impressive natural wonders: Niagara Falls. The impressive spectacle delighted everyone (even those from Ontario who have visited the Falls numerous times before). It felt really amazing to go behind the Falls to experience the power of the falling water from the unique perspective behind the waterfall. Visiting Niagara Falls was definitely a highlight of Interota, but the true joy was being able to experience them with so many visitors who had never seen them before.
Alas, the time had come for us to depart Canada’s largest city. We boarded early morning VIA Rail cars and travelled to Montreal. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a proper Toronto experience if our guests had not experienced Toronto’s infamous rush hour (Zain and I almost missed our train)! The train ride provided many of us with wonderful glimpses of Ontario and Quebec’s vast farmland and mature woodlots.
While in Montreal we had the wonderful opportunity to help clean the city up during an outing to Parc Jeanne-Mance. Many of us climbed up Mont-Royal afterwards, and took in the wonderful sights of downtown Montréal from the many nature trails in the park. We had many other important presentations in Montreal, including the bidding presentation and voting for Interota 2017 (congratulations, Taiwan!), professional development seminars (including conflict resolution and communication), and time to explore the historic old-town of Montreal.
A highlight of the Montreal leg of Interota was the opportunity to listen to Dr. Bob Scott, the Chair of the Rotary International Polio Plus committee. His inspiring presentation humanized the very dangerous, but necessary struggle to provide polio vaccines to every child in parts of the world where polio still threatens human health. I always knew that Rotary International was doing its best to eradicate polio, but I never really considered just how complex – and urgent – the last 1% of the job is. I know I’ll be doing my best to help eradicate polio in the coming years.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Andrea Tirone, Sean Yaphe and the entire Interota 2014 team (you know who you are) for organizing a spectacular conference. Special thanks goes also to the Rotary Clubs who helped to orchestrate as much as they could as well. What a wonderful team of service to be a part of. A final thank-you goes to RI President Gary Huang. It was truly inspirational to have our RI President give us all the inspiration we need to “Light Up Rotary” every day. I look forward to seeing you all before Interota 2017 – when ‘InteroTaipei’ will be held in Taipei, Taiwan. In the meantime, we from the Rotaract Club of Toronto miss you all very much! Let’s continue to Light Up Rotary in all that we do through Rotaract!
by Sara Rofle-Hughes
The Rotary Club of Toronto held their weekly Rotary Lunch on October 17th. As part of their 2014 Zone Institute, the lunch featured special guest speaker Ravi Ravindran, current President-Elect of Rotary International. The Rotary Club invited members of our Rotaract Club and outside Rotary clubs to attend, and over approximately 600 people turned out for a delicious meal and an inspiring speech by Mr. Ravindran.
He talked about his personal connection and dedication to Lego’s motto “only the best is good enough,” and his plans to apply that motto to the way Rotary International is run. The President-Elect was blunt about his desire to gradually run Rotary International like a business, as a benefit to the club, it’s beneficiaries, committees, members, and future members. This includes having high-ranking members fund their own travel and accommodations, saving the club thousands of dollars. Although Mr. Ravindran admitted his decisions might not at times be popular, they are made in the interest of the club. The standing ovation he received signified the support Mr. Ravindran has from the Rotararians of Ontario.
In addition, Mr. Ravindrian spoke about his passion for the eradication of polio as his country’s national PolioPlus chair, about his time as a Rotarian since he joined at the age of 20, and how his persistence and perseverance pulled him and his family through hard times and helped him create a tea label-printing company that produces over 100,000,000 labels a day.
The lunch proved insightful (and tasty), and was a treat for those who had never attended a Rotary lunch before. Rotaracters are encouraged to attend the next Rotary lunch our club is invited to, as it’s a great way to see how far Rotary spans and to see Rotarians in action.