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  • Community Services Committee (CSC) – Monthly Blog – Reflections on December Events

    Children's Christmas Party By Olena Repekha (edited April 2019) Rotary Club of Toronto Children’s Christmas Party took place at Fairmont Royal York Hotel, one of the most beautiful hotels in the city. I was really impressed with the amount of work volunteers put towards organization this event. I was very happy and proud to be part of 89th annual Rotary Christmas Children’s Party. In front of the hotel I met international exchange students who were greeting family with kids and creating a nice Christmas atmosphere with their laughs and funny costumes. I met so many wonderful kids and I had so much fun with them. We danced, played with police officers and their dogs, had face painting stations, met and took pictures with Santa and picked Christmas presents. All the kids were overjoyed and exited as they laughed, met new friends and just had a great time with their families. I would like to thank every single person who took part in organizing this event, including those who helped to put smiles on kids’ faces before Christmas and who helped them feel a part of this big family. We can not change the world by merely helping one person but through our actions we can change the whole word for one person. Blood Drive By Rodayna Abuelwafa On December the 1st, the Rotaract Club of Toronto decided to join the Rotaract Club of Stabroek and the Rotaract Club of South East Nassau Centennial on a joint Blood Drive Event. On this day, December the 1st, all 3 clubs decided to share awareness on how 1 pint of blood can help 3 lives. As a result, the Rotaract Club of Toronto coordinated with the Canadian Blood Services. After people signing up for the event, I sent the eligibility test to make sure that people will be able to donate and made it on the December 1st to donate. Our appointment was at 10 am, so we were there on time donated, took a group photo and left to have a breakfast together to celebrate what we did. Thanks to the Rotaract Club of South East Nassau Centennial for reaching us and suggesting such great event. Thanks to them, we were able to spread awareness and participating in saving people’s lives. Thanks again to everyone who participated and looking forward for making more impact in the society. As Donald Reagan said “If not us, who and if not now, when?”.

  • Community Services Committee (CSC) – Monthly Blog – Reflections on November Events

    Pencil Drive (November 19) | By Maya Abr On November 19, during our bi-weekly meeting, Rotaractors donated stationary supplies for our first ever Pencil Drive. We received multiple items, new or used, from pencils, pens, lined papers, notebooks, markers and were able to fill around 10 bags of supplies. We were even able to donate the coloring supplies that were used during our Youth expo event back in October. After the meeting, Rodayna and I went to the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls club office to drop-off the items. The Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls club provide after-school programs for 500 children and youth daily. They create a safe and fun environment for them to learn and grow and are always looking for donations to replenish their homework spaces. Their programs are centered on: literacy and learning, cooking and nutrition, physical activity, creative arts and personal development. I would like to thank everyone for their donations, and hopefully in the future we would be able to donate to this organization again to help with their multiple programs. Reflection on Senior’s Christmas Party (November 29) | By Jiajing Zhang: I was really grateful to help out at the Rotary’s Senior Christmas Party this past Thursday. This was my first time volunteering for a Rotary event and I’d say it was a wonderful experience. The luncheon was really well organized, with a lot of volunteers at every aspects to make sure things go smoothly and the seniors can enjoy their lunch and performances without any problems. The Christmas party started with people singing Christmas carols on stage while seniors arrive and getting seated at their table. After the president’s speech, lunch was served. Then after lunch, the Santa and his helpers (elves) walked around tables, greeting everyone, taking pictures, and handing out candy canes. After the dessert is served, there was an elementary school choir with a group of super talented boys singing Christmas songs and sending their wishes to everyone in the room. After the event was over, there were also gift bags handed out to seniors; it was just great. My main task for that day was to be a table host and be a Santa’s helper. When being the Santa’s helper, I was just an elf running around handing out candies. Seniors were super delightful to see us and seeing how excited they are just make me feel so accomplished. I heard a lot of seniors saying this is the event they most looking forward to during the year and being able to help make their day made me really happy as well. FYFB – November 24 | By Tiana Mae Piza: When I moved to Toronto in July 2018, I couldn't wait to give back to a new community and meet likeminded individuals. Being familiar with the Rotary family, I eagerly found my local Rotaract Club and joined the Community Services Committee. I knew this committee would give me the opportunity to see the impact of my efforts first hand, while working alongside a passionate group. Our work with the Fort York Food Bank is a great example of this! November 24th, 2018 was a rainy and cold Saturday, a perfect day to spend indoors surrounded by caring faces and warm food. I'm sure many of those in need felt the same way. So, I couldn't think of a better way to start the weekend than by volunteering at the Fort York Food Bank. I arrived at the FYFB at 11:30am ready for the second shift. I was immediately greeted by fellow Rotaractors who had put in the hard work to make the lovely food for the day. After saying hello to both new and familiar faces, I stepped out to serve the hearty meal to the line of eager people. Serving those in need at the Fort York Food Bank was extremely touching. Every interaction with those receiving the food was different. A few gushed about their favourite hobbies (excited to share their stories with someone), some were exploding with gratitude and others were happy to simply share a meal in good company. But the commonality amongst everyone at FYFB was the smile they reflected when handed a warm meal on that chilly Saturday. I am grateful I had the opportunity to brighten the day of others by helping serve over 100 meals alongside the caring FYFB team. I look forward to continuing to spread joy in the community at FYFB and through other Rotaract initiatives! PS: The Certificate in the photos was given to us that day from the FYFB administration as a recognition to all our work with them

  • Community Services Committee (CSC) – Monthly Blog – Reflections on October Events

    Fort York Food Bank (FYFB) By Gina Chetram On Saturday 27th October 2018, volunteers and members were able to prepare meals at the Fort York Food Bank. The day was divided into two shifts: the food preparation and cooking shift and the serving and cleanup. The first shift began at 8:30 am under the leadership of Head Chef Errol, an intelligent and kind-hearted individual who organized the meals and delegated their respective duties to volunteers to start the cooking. The second shift directed by Maggie, the FYFB director commenced at 11:30 am, the second shift volunteers arranged the serving room with the necessary equipment for the meals as well as greeted and served the food, coffee and tea to the individuals who visited the FYFB that day. The team were able to serve a total of 155 plates of food, which consisted of pasta,vegetables, ground beef, chicken nugget and honeydew melon. Personally, volunteering at the FYFB has been extremely fulfilling. It gives you the chance to work with people from various walks of life, contributes to self-development and empowers you to make a difference in the community. One of the reasons for getting involved with the Rotaract Club of Toronto is to help improve the quality of the lives of others in the community and around the world. Trick or Eat Flyering Event By Nereu Oliveira What is trick or eat, you might be wondering. Trick or eat is a Toronto Rotaract event where some of our club members volunteer to go door to door on Halloween night asking for non-perishable items. This event took place in the High Park North neighbourhood. To get an optimal result out of it, we split the area into four routes. Yes, that is right, we are asking for food, not candy and this is why the flyering event exist. It happens on the weekend that precedes Halloween, on the very same routes our volunteers are going to ask for food. We visit the houses and stick a flyer to let the residents know that we are coming on October 31st, this way they have time to prepare their donations. This year was the second time I participate in the flyering event. For me, I find it fascinating to go around the area and see all the decorations, the community getting ready for this tradition and creativity manifesting in the form of Jack-o'-lanterns. For this year event, I team up with another Rotaractor, each one of us goes on different sides of the street to spread the word. After all of the flyering and the trick or eat is over, we take all the donations to the Fort York Food Bank where it will be put to good use. Trick or Eat By Michael Tai, Edited by Rodayna Abuelwafa On the Halloween night of 2018, there were four groups from Rotaract of Toronto and University of Toronto Rotaract. We covered 4 routes within a square that's between Runnyumede Rd, Keele St and Dundas st w, Bloor st w. Our group B, we went along the Clendenan ave from the South end to the North. The route is about 15 minutes by walking, comfortably. The weather is just lovely for the day with great cloud coverage. So, everyone can go Trick or Treat early without fearing the late sunlight. In our case, we go Trick or Eat! With the sun down, no one will know you are in the late 20th :p To be honest, everyone is a bit of a kid deep down inside somewhere. Everyone had amazing time and can be a little kid again. This time of the year is the perfect opportunity to get the residents of the area to open their doors and contribute to the food bank! During Halloween, kids come around and collect candy. The residents are in a giving sprint, they all have a bit of something they can contribute. Whether is a can of snail to bags of pasta, we collect them all! Of course, we have many bags of pasta and dry goods; stacks upon stacks of canned vegetables, beans and more. On the Halloween night, we filled up the food rack and had many cans left overs in storage. The lady at the food bank told us, "... I have never seen this much food before... You guys have done well! " It's always good to know we have done something good and had fun at the same time!

  • 3 Key Reasons to Celebrate World Polio Day

    As described by the World Health Organization, World Polio Day was established by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of a remarkable individual – Dr. Jonas Salk – who led a team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Aside from this life-changing milestone, here are 3 other key reasons to celebrate World Polio Day, from the perspective of a vibrant Rotaractor! 3. It connects us with our Rotary family worldwide. The Rotary family is more than 1.2 million members strong. Coming together for a collective vision – to eradicate polio around the world – creates a powerful bond. #WorldPolioDay creates an opportunity for us to come together in-person locally, and on social media globally, to engage in discussions about what we’ve accomplished together, what we are working to achieve, and the lessons learned along the way. It is through learning and engaging with one another that the Rotary network can continue to create a better tomorrow. The Rotary International World Polio Day Livestream is a great opportunity to reflect on all of this, while hearing from global health experts and Rotary’s celebrity polio ambassadors, and I hope you will tune in! 2. It’s an opportunity to learn from each other. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) inspires Rotarians, Rotaractors, and many others in the Rotary family to take action in the fight against polio. A number of clubs around the world organize initiatives in honour of World Polio Day, as well as throughout the year, to raise awareness about the importance of global polio eradication, raise funds to ensure children are vaccinated to prevent transmission of polio, or celebrate how far we have come through this collaborative effort! If there is anything I’ve learned in my 7 years in Rotaract, it’s that the possibilities for creativity and making a difference are limitless! Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland are selling Rotary Crocuses, with the sales of these flowers serving as a leading fundraiser for the End Polio Now campaign. As described at the RI Convention in 2018, some clubs produce and sell champagne bottles or End Polio Now sneakers to raise funds and awareness! Many other clubs, including my current club, the Rotaract Club of Toronto, dye pinkies purple in symbolism of children’s pinkies being marked purple when they are vaccinated, to prevent double vaccination from occurring. Get creative in thinking about how your club can put a unique ‘stamp’ on the GPEI! Queen’s University Rotaract Club, D7040, 2012 Rotaract Club of Toronto, D7070, 2018 1. The world is more than 99.9% POLIO-FREE. Through building strong partnerships, understanding different geographical and political landscapes, tailoring approaches to reach children in their communities, and having a burning desire to eliminate the second virus in history, the world has become more than 99.9% polio-free. It is essential that we stay focused on the goal and cross the finish line to ensure no child nor their loved ones have to live in fear of the poliovirus or its impact. We truly are “this close” to eradicating polio, and there is no time like the present to make history.

  • Community Services Committee (CSC) – Monthly Blog – Reflections on September Events

    Reflection – Bike & Bites, 23 September By Rahul Rai On Sunday, September 23rd, the Rotaract Toronto team met up in beautiful downtown Toronto united for the purpose of raising money for the Toronto Foundation for Student Success. Their mission is to enable children to learn by removing physical and social barriers and providing nourishment to them. By providing food, medical care, emergency funds and after school programs for children in need, the TFSS helps them succeed in school and in out of school endeavors. The team met close to lakeshore to start the bike ride to Sir Casimir Gzowski Park. Over this half hour bike ride we got reacquainted with wonderful downtown Toronto on a warm summer day. The Lakeshore bike path in Toronto is a great mix of modern roadways and park areas. When we arrived at the park we gathered around with some food and engaged in team building activities like spike ball and volleyball. We reacquainted ourselves with existing members and welcomed new ones. We discussed the importance of coming together for the community. The Bike and Bites was a roaring success because it was extremely well planned by the organizing team, attracted several interested members, was a fulfilling experience for all who participated and had community uplift and support at its heart. It was the kind of creatively planned event that is incentive but still has more to offer. Reflection - Fort York Food Bank, 29 September By Buse Tuncel I joined Rotaract Club in August 2019. During my second meeting, I saw the CSC opportunity with foodbank and immediately sent an email to Rodayna. On September 29th, Kimberly, Muna, Rodayna, Gina and I met at Fort York Food Bank at 8:30. The morning crew was in charge of food prep and cooking and afternoon shift was in charge of serving and cleaning up. That day, we had an amazing companion with us; who is a Rotarian and our head chef: Errol! He immediately showed us where things are and formed smaller groups with different tasks. Some of us were gathering the ingredients and others were chopping vegetables. I started with onions (it was quite a challenge to not cry at 8:30am☺). Errol was not only volunteering there with us, but also was teaching us useful kitchen skills and giving useful tips on how to make things faster and tastier. After prepping the ingredients, I quickly moved to meal prepping part. “You are in charge of pasta and chicken nuggets”, Errol said to me. After cooking approximately 6 boxes of chicken nuggets and 8 bags of pasta; my task for meal prepping was complete. It is serving time! I immediately moved to serving section to serve coffee and tea. As I was serving, I made couple of friends along the way including Maria from Portugal who came to Canada 45 years ago. “You look Portuguese” she said to me. I told her that I was not and encouraged to take another guess. She couldn’t guess my background correctly but she shared her story as an immigrant here and taught me life lessons that I could not even imagined. As she was leaving the foodbank, Maria gave me a gentle squeeze on my shoulder and that moment I remembered again, why I did this and everything (including all the tears from onion) was worth it. I am extremely grateful for this moment with Maria, extremely grateful for Rotaract and Rodayna for this opportunity and Errol for his patience with us. I cannot wait to meet Maria again!

  • Community Services Committee (CSC) – Monthly Blog – Reflections on August Events

    Fort York Food Bank Reflections By Cassandra Stefura On August 14th, the Community Service Committee held its second meeting. It was a full house, with 9 members in attendance. During this meeting I was able to meet many new members and hear about their vision for the committee, which is always very inspiring. As a group, we focussed our time on the logistics behind the upcoming Clothing Drive, as well as the Cycling Fundraiser Event, and an event involving a hike and a park clean up! Additionally, we discussed initiatives that CSC members are interested in pursuing, and realistic ways to participate in such initiatives. Two weeks after our meeting, several members were able to volunteer with the Fort York Food Bank. Generally, the day is split into two shifts: a cooking shift, and a serving shift. The first shift begins at 8:30am under the direction of Errol, a Rotarian whom is kind enough to organize the meal we serve. With significant kitchen experience, he is always there to teach volunteers useful kitchen skills, in addition to delegating the volunteers. It sure was a learning experience for me, as I can safely say that I have never cooked – or seen! -- so much food at once before. At 11:30am, the second shift begins. Serving time! Errol’s time is up, and volunteers are tasked with setting up serving stations and serving food. Volunteers can serve over 100 people with the meal we prepare. After serving, CSC members clean up and are finished for 2pm. Personally, I find volunteering at the Fort York Food Bank extremely rewarding. While it is essential to support larger charities and their initiatives, it is a pleasure to be able to directly see my volunteer efforts contribute to the community. Poverty in Toronto is becoming more and more of a prominent issue over time, and I am glad that I can assist those in need in some way. A primary reason that I joined the Rotaract Club of Toronto was to be able to volunteer my time to my community, and I am extremely grateful to the Community Service Committee for the opportunity to do so. Reflection on the Rotaract Club of Toronto Clothing Drive By Jessica Besaw and Cassandra Stefura The recent Rotaract Club of Toronto clothing drive held on August 27, 2018 was a huge success as our members donated fifteen overflowing bag containing gently-used clothing, brand new undergarments, and even sanitary pads. These donations were divided among two worthwhile charities: the St. Michael's Hospital Transition Center and the FCJ Refugee Centre. The St. Michaels Hospital Transition Center is near and dear to our Rotaract hearts because it was opened in December 1999 with the help of the Rotary Club of Toronto. Our parent club donated $500,000 to fund this unique facility which provides homeless and under-housed people a temporary place to rest, shower, enjoy a warm meal, do laundry, and obtain clothing hand-outs. This facility is located in the emergency department of St. Michael’s hospital. This is a convenient location since often when the homeless are admitted into emergency, their clothing are ruined in an accident or cut off by doctors in order to assess injuries. In this way, the transition center can provide replacement clothing and other services immediately to those with the greatest need. In addition to the St. Michael’s Hospital Transition Centre, the Rotaract Club of Toronto chose to donate to the FCJ Centre. The facility assists refugees and others at risk due to their immigration status, and it does so in a variety of ways. Often, when refugees enter Canada, they do not have enough clothing, or clothing appropriate for Canada’s extreme climate. The FCJ Centre solves this problem by accepting clothing donations and providing the donations to those in need. Also, numerous houses are available as shelter at the centre, as well as an education programme that includes training, seminars, workshops, and publications. These popular programmes are a great opportunity for refugees to learn a skill and aid them to successfully enter the job market. Furthermore, the FCJ Centre addresses systematic issues refugees face, including a lack of resources, marginalization, and discrimination. The centre accomplishes this through their refugee protection services and refugee settlement services. Moreover, the FCJ centre helps with paperwork, translation and interpretation, referral to immigration lawyers, orientation to local social services, skills development, and counselling.

  • Cheers to Our Wonderful Members !

    Members are the substance that form a successful Rotaract Club, without each other we would not be able to execute the incredible work we do as the Rotaract Club of Toronto. This year we have decided to recognise a member each month who has shown a great amount of dedication and has gone above and beyond in their contribution to the club. With so many active and enthusiastic members it is not hard to find a member of the month, rather it is hard to choose just one person! In honour of the RI theme for August : Membership and New Club Development Month, we would like to thank our members who make our club the joy that it is. We took some time to talk to Diego Ribeiro Galbiati (noted as DG in the article) our member of the month for August 2018, to find out what it is that makes him be so dedicated and keep wanting to give more by exemplifying our motto “Service Above Self”: How long have you been involved with Rotaract ? (the short version haha) DG: I have been part of Rotary family since 2005 when I was an outbound Rotary Youth Exchange Student in 2005-06 in Thailand, Rotary district 3350. I then joined Rotaract Club in October, 2008 and I became president of Rotaract Club of Presidente Prudente Sul in 2009-2010. In 2011-12 I was secretary of Rotaract District Representative. I received Paul Harris title in 2010-11 after I went to RYLA North America by trying to make Matching Grants through Rotaract Clubs to partner with Rotary Clubs. In April 2010, while president of Rotaract Club Presidente Prudente Sul, I founded Rotex as president founder of Rotex of Rotary district 4510. In December, 2015 I joined Rotaract Club of Toronto from Rotary District 7070, by transferring from Rotaract Club of Presidente Prudente Sul. Diego being acknowledged as the Rotaract Club of Toronto's Member of the Month for August. What is your favourite part of being a rotaractor? DG: My favourite part is continuing to be part of the Rotary International family. I would love to give back what Rotary International gave to me through my year in Thailand. So, I believe by joining Rotaract Club and being part of this Rotary Club structure, we are working towards the Rotary Wheels as a little engine that keeps on moving to benefit our local and international community. I love the fellowship among rotaractors, friends you are able to make and the Rotarians that can be your mentors. What made you want to join Rotaract ? DG: I also joined Rotaract Club P. P. Sul because of my grandmother’s influence. She was a Rotarian for 17 years and Rotarians that are friends of my family wanted me to go join de Rotaract Club. They all supported me to become President for the year 2009-2010. Rotaract Club gives you so much that being part of the club, you can never give back enough to community. So if are thinking of joining, be open minded, in your heart and soul. You will learn, experience and also share so much from the moment you will enter a Rotaract Club. Describe Rotaract in 3 words DG: Fellowship, Comprehension and Leadership! Thank you to Diego for sharing his sage Rotaract wisdom and heart-warming words about the difference the Rotary International Family has made in his life. We are grateful to have such amazing people as part of our community. *The answers here have been edited for length and/or clarity.*

  • Community Services Committee (CSC) – Monthly Blog – Reflection on Monthly Events

    July 2018, a new Rotaract year that is full of excitement and motivation. The CSC had its first meeting on July 25, where 7 motivated members where present. I loved their engagement, determination and their awesome ideas for the year. During this meeting, we discussed past initiatives, this year’s vision, ideas for new events, causes, donations, partnerships and action items. Our first event of the year occurred on July 28, where we helped in preparing and serving food to people who are in need in the Fort York Food Bank. The day was divided into two shifts, from 8:30 am to 12 pm where we cooked some delicious meals and learned new cooking skills from Errol, our Chef. Later, on the second shift (11:30 am to 2pm), we prepared the serving stations, served the food and cleaned after us. Personally, contributing in such events is always a great pleasure; as it offers the chance to give back to my community and make a difference in someone’s life. As, Kennedy mentioned once, “If Not Now, When? If Not Us, Who?”. I am really passionate about the idea of providing equal opportunities and justice as I believe that despite our differences we should all receive equal chances and opportunities. I believe that participating in the FYFB and being part of the CSC in general is a great starting point, where we choose some of the problems that faces our community and we try to tackle some of them (i.e. poverty). We should not wait for others to make a difference, as we, ourselves, can make one!

  • 2017/18 Rotaract Club of Toronto President's Annual Review

    This year was a very special year for our club, it marked our 30th anniversary of continuous service. For 30 years, members and boards of our club have worked hard to serve the community and grow our club to make it strong. As we are extremely grateful for their efforts. This year it was our turn to make our club stronger, and energize it for the next 30 years. As a group who believes in the spirit of teamwork and value leadership, our main objectives was to promote leadership within the club and to ensure we have a strong team for sustainable growth to serve the community better. We have expanded our membership to a record high of 62 members, 40% of them were inducted during the 2017/2018 Rotary year. These members have exemplified the true meaning of service above self and showed a model on how to work and live by the four-way test. That was not only an increase in the number of members but also an increase in their engagement, where many members took lead on the club’s initiatives or part of these initiatives. The highlight of our year was our fundraiser. On February 22nd, 2018, the Rotaract Club of Toronto held a Cocktail Party fundraiser for the Eye health and diabetes prevention program of the Anishnawbe Health Foundation New Health Centre. The event was attended by over 150 people including many Rotarians and Rotaractors. We have taken over La Maquette venue and run it by 26 Rotaractors serving food and drinks. The club donated $5000 mostly raised during the fundraiser to the project. Anishnawbe Health Foundation will recognize the Rotaract Club of Toronto by adding its name to a plaque at the entrance of their new health Centre due to be opened on the fall of 2020 and estimated to cost over 30 million dollars. I would like to acknowledge the long-term partnership with the Rotary Club of Toronto and their board, through which made this event and many others possible. Locally in Toronto, we had 20 community service events ranged from collecting non-perishable food items at trick or eat and planting trees on Earth Day to serving over 1500 meals at the Fort York Food Bank. We have also started new initiatives, including blood drives, where we held 2 blood drives to help reduce the shortage faced by the Canadian Blood Services. Additionally, we have collaborated with our parent club, the Rotary Club of Toronto on many initiatives including the children and seniors Christmas parties, youth initiatives and Camp Scugog. Collectively our members volunteered over 1000 hours. Internationally, our service has reached remote areas in Canada and around the world. In fact, we had projects covering all 6 Rotary areas of focus. We have promoted peace through various indigenous service projects including sending solar eclipse glasses to KI reserve in northern Ontario. We supported local economies by providing microcredit loans to families in Africa, clean water and sanitation by raising funds for the OK clean water project, and child and maternal health through our support to Bridge to Health. Disease prevention especially ending polio remained a major area of focus for our club and rotary, we have continued our support by raising funds for End Polio. Lastly, we have supported education through a wide range of initiatives including raising funds for the Grace and Nelly Project in Zimbabwe and volunteering with One Laptop per Child. Our international service arm has expanded drastically during the year. As members of our club are also part of the community, developing their skills is a priority to ensure they succeed in their careers. Through our Professional Development Committee, we had peer workshops about resume writing, LinkedIn accounts and interview skills. The committee has secured a diverse number of speakers for our meetings. We were inspired by them and learned something new every meeting. We had a record number of members attending our district conference. There was no better way to end the year than hosting the Rotary International convention in Toronto where we enjoyed the fellowship of Rotarians and Rotaractors from all over the world. Again, our members exemplified the meaning of service above self by volunteering for tens of hours at the convention and at the host organizing committee events. It was not surprising after all this hard work that our club won every single award for Rotaract District 7070 including the Community Service Project Award, Rotaract-Rotary Partnership Award and Rotaract Innovation Project Award. Additionally, we were also awarded the Rotary Citation Award from Rotary International for achieving goals that strengthen Rotary and our club, and the Ed Storie District Conference Award from Rotary District 7070. All this amazing work and service to our local community and to communities around the world wouldn’t have been accomplished without the tremendous efforts of our 62 members. I want to especially thank my board and core team Kaitlynn Almeida, Katherine Kirkpatrick-Wahl, Dennis Lam, Caitlin Goodmurphy, Jessica Besaw, Catherine Woodford and Quincy Poon, without them we couldn’t have done it. Their support and hard work were invaluable. I would like to thank our District Governor Neil Phillips who supported us and came to visit our club 3 times during the year, Pat Neuman, the President of Rotary Club of Toronto and Binoy Luckoo, our Rotary Liaison Director for their help and support throughout the year. WE board and members made a difference and set our club for success for 30 more years. The Rotaract Club of Toronto is now stronger than ever, this is all because of the dedication and devotion of our members during this year and for 30 years before. It was my privilege to serve as the President of the Rotaract Club of Toronto, an honour that I will forever cherish. As we celebrate a year that passed, it is time to be the inspiration for the year to come where the club is in good hands lead by our Co-Presidents Kaitlynn Almeida and Katherine Kirkpatrick-Wahl to take our club and community to a better future, for a better world. Joseph Hanna President 2017/2018 Rotaract Club of Toronto

  • Reflections on June's Rotary Fellowship Month

    June is Rotary Fellowships Month. Fellowships are crucial in Rotary’s success and member engagement, whether they are achieved through formal fellowship groups or through relationships informally built with other members along the way. During Rotaract Preconvention and the Rotary International Convention in Toronto, we interviewed some Rotaractors and Rotarians from around the world to get their thoughts on fellowship, and here’s what they had to say: Amanda Simao, Member of Rotaract Club of Bauru-Norte and President of Rotex of District 4510, Brazil Amanda is happy to have been able to experience attending this years' Convention because she feels that Rotarians are so very welcoming and kind because we are all part of an international Rotary family wherever we go. Rich Brew, Rotarian, San Jose, Jacksonville, Florida When reflecting on Rotary International fellowships groups, motorcycle and yachting fellowships stood out to Rich. He has already joined one and plans to join another. As for friendships in Rotary, he highlighted the value from relationships: Everyone has something going on and you can learn a lot from each other. It’s an opportunity to meet people with diverse professions. Andrew Long, District Rotaract Representative for District 9675, Sydney, Australia Attending my first Rotary International Convention in Toronto as a Rotaractor was absolutely inspiring and a highlight in my Rotary journey. The best thing I took away from the Convention were the friendships that I formed with incredible Rotaractors and Rotarians from all across the world. I have gained some incredible insights that will considerably help me grow Rotaract and strengthen the partnership between Rotaract and Rotary in my District as an incoming District Rotaract Representative in Sydney, Australia. Above all else, the Rotary International Convention in Toronto has inspired me to work even harder to create lasting change in the world that Rotary has been achieving for over 113 years. Johanna Johnson, District Rotaract Representative for District 5040, Delta, British Columbia, Canada Johanna has been extensively involved in the Rotary world, with experience in Rotary Youth Exchange, Interact, and RYLA. When asked about building fellowship with others in the Rotary world, Johanna said that knowing that no matter where you go there are friends and family. You can meet Rotaractors on a trip or go to a Convention like this and find 60-100 new friends. Tobias Oelfke, Member, Rotaract Club Wiitten-Wetter-Ruhrtal, Germany Tobias met his best friend in Rotaract 4 years ago, and they continue to do many things together. For him, Rotaract is an opportunity to meet and socialize with the most powerful and energetic people. Deb Snider, Member of the Rotary Club of Toronto, Ontario, Canada I am a new member of the Rotary Club of Toronto, and only started in March this year but decided to jump right into helping out with the volunteer events the club has been holding which has been a great way to get to know the people and learn about the initiatives of the club. In a very short time, I have learned that this club is made up of such quality outstanding people, I am so proud to be a part of it. The Rotary Convention 2018 is clearly my first convention and although I was not able to participate in all of the sessions due to the Host Club volunteering…..I was able to attend the opening ceremonies and go through the House of Friendship. I was also fortuneate enough to be a part of one of the Hospitality events that were held by our members to entertain out of town guests. 2000 guests were treated to being entertained by various club members either at their homes or at an event space. The one I was at was hosted at a members home and it was such a great way to meet people from all over the world on a more personal level and really get to know them and learn what they do as Rotarians. The entire experience, (including the volunteer portion because I met so many great people this way as well), was inspiring and reinforced to me that my decision to join the Rotary was the right one and I am only beginning to scratch the surface of what looks to be an endless opportunity to be a part of something amazing, with so many wonderful people working together to make a difference.

  • May - Rotary Youth Service Month

    May is Rotary's "Youth Service Month”, during which we focus on all Rotary activities that support the development of young people including Rotaract, Interact, even Rota-Kids! Great examples of Rotary initiatives involving youth include for example the Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) or the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). This year, I was privileged to be part of the organizing committee for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards - and was amazed by the incredible youth in our community. Together with the Rotary Club of Toronto and the two Rotaract university clubs (Rotaract Club U of T and Rotaract Club of Ryerson University) we wanted to award outstanding civic leadership with a special celebration. We reached out to students grade 10 to 12 of high schools in the City of Toronto, who create positive community impact and are actively involved in their school and community. The awards include four prices endowed with $2000 for Platinum, $1000 for Gold, $500 for Silver and $500 for Bronze. By the deadline in April we had over 40 applicants with amazing resumes and all of us on the organizing committee were more than impressed. When I think back of what I did in High School… well. After receiving all the applications, we met to score them and somehow filter the best applicants, the we would invite for a personal interview. Easier said than done - but we managed and one week later, we met our 10 final candidates for a personal interview. To hear about their achievements and meet these incredible students in person was one of my favourite parts of being on the committee. The engagement in environment and sustainability, multiculturalism, indigenous rights as well as social justice and equity at such young age was simply unbelievable and every single one of these youth deserves an award for their involvement. After reading the applications, hearing the personal interviews and lots of discussing, our final 4 award winners were chosen. The winners and all finalists, were invited to a special Rotary Lunch at the National Club on May 4, 2018. It was an exciting day. We had planned a great lunch with nice speeches and musical entertainment by high school students from Toronto. Our MCs were Rotaractors from our club - Lauriane and Enrico - and they did an amazing job guiding us through the lunch and calling the award winners and finalists on stage. Each winner held a short speech about their achievements and their passion to be active in their school and community and I am certain that every attendee was just as impressed as we were before. All in all it was an amazing time planning and organizing the awards and meeting outstanding leaders in our community. We should never stop encouraging and honouring children, students and youth to be engaged and to care. For all I know, all these students have now been in touch with Rotary and our idea of giving back - and all of them are potential Rotaractors and future Rotarians! To read more about the finalist and award winners, please click here to find the Voice of the celebration lunch.

  • How Rotaract helps me live a Life with Purpose

    “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Gandhi Like every other individual, I too had a phase where I wandered directionless trying to figure the oblivious answers of existence of mankind. The feelings of confusion, desolation, and yearning to seek answers engulfed to create a monster in my mind. All I remember is feeling weird, and the desire to change it. Consequently, I began the pursuit to define the purpose of my life. Usually people find their purpose either through self-introspection, or reading books, whereas I found it through Internet. (No Kidding! Where can one expect a millennial to start from, if not a Google search?) Google defined purpose as “the reason for which something is done, or created for or which someone exists”. Intrigued by the definition, I realized that only my actions can translate my mere existence into a life with purpose, and I have the complete liberty to define it. Now the missing piece in the puzzle was to find which actions would define a meaningful and rewarding purpose. This is when I began to volunteer with Rotaract Club of Toronto, where I experienced a series of revelation moments that helped me see the big picture. Here’s a list of three things that I learned while volunteering at Rotaract that helped me live a life with purpose: Actions are expressions of core values: Our experiences shape our values, which are further translated with our actions. The club’s International Service Committee illuminated how a mere necessity like water, shoes, or sanitary pads can be a luxury for some. The glimpse of harsh realities of people’s lives simply made me value, and be grateful for what I have, and the strength to share those with others. I realized my compassion towards such issues, which translated into actions of fundraising. The joy of creating positive impact in someone living miles away filled me with sense of fulfilment. Selfless Service: “A candle loses nothing by lighting other candles” – James Keller. Even though I joined Rotaract as a way to find my purpose, it allowed me become a part of community, and be selfless in service. I became capable of channelling my energy in serving, and solving bigger issues rather than focusing on trivial matters. Rotaract’s slogan “service above self’ got etched on my mind with time, as I was surrounded by people who tirelessly worked toward the goal of serving others. The outer expression of service and the worthiness of my occupational skills elevated my confidence in defining who I was as a person. Leading by example: Rotaract Club of Toronto has like-minded and self-driven members focused on transforming the world through service. Every member shares compassion, and love for beings, and won’t hesitate in taking an initiative towards resolving an issue, therefore setting an example for others by leading. They recognize everyone’s potential; encourage members to use knowledge of their area of expertise by sharing it with others. One works on initiative suggested by members, and learns something new about the world every time. Joining Rotaract Club of Toronto was my investment in finding my purpose, but staying in the club was a choice to surround myself with wonderful people, and strive to leave a positive impact and make this life worthwhile. Contributor: -Ankita Sethi

  • The Cape Town Water Diet: Living on 50 liters of Water

    Prepared Through Reflections on Clean Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Month In modern history, no city in the developed world has ever run out of water. But in a historic first, the city of Cape Town in South Africa is predicted to run out of water on July 9, 2018, due to the harsh drought brought on by climate change, human influence, and the strong El Niño. In response to the water crisis, its citizens are rationed to 50 liters (L) of water a day and charged expensive water tariffs if they use more than allotted. To put this in perspective, Canadians use on average 330 L of water per day. A Capetonian household ‘wasting’ this much water would be fined the equivalent of $730 to $2200 CAD. When Cape Town reaches "Day Zero", the municipal government will turn off the water taps to its residents. Water will be further limited to 25 L per person per day, which people can collect from one of 200 available water stations servicing a population of 4 million people. To try and empathize with the struggle of Capetonians, I decided to challenge myself to use 50 L of water a day, whether I am at home, work, or elsewhere. Overall, it was pretty difficult and I could only keep it up for two days (Sunday and Monday), because rationing water was particularly challenging during work days. I realized that I had to carefully plan my day around water. Sunday is normally my day to catch up on life, where I clean the apartment, do my laundry, and cook food for the week. However, using the washing machine or dishwasher would consume more water than I was allocated. Instead, I rationed 15 L of water for cleaning in order to mop the floors, wash the counters, hand wash my clothes, and clean all the dishes from my food preparation. I decided to cook lasagna for the work week, so I had to use an addition 2 L of water to boil the water for the noodles (what a waste!). Without easy access to water, all the Sunday chores took much longer than normal - with the exception of showering. A ninety second shower uses fifteen litres of water! So, I had to speed-wash and shave in ninety second flat – there was no time to wait for the water to warm up or adjust it to the perfect temperature. Although I did plug the bathtub to collect the water, I made the mistake of not placing a bucket below me. After my shower, I had to spend time scooping all the shower water into a bucket so that I could use it to flush the toilet later on. With these water restrictions in place, I realized I use the bathroom way too often. With each flush using 6 L of water, I resorted to following the mantra, "If it's yellow, let it mellow." On Sunday evening, I really wanted to exercise at the gym - but exercising would mean drinking more water, taking another (brief) shower, and creating more dirty clothes that I would have to hand-wash later. Exercising was just not feasible based on the amount of water I had left. By the time I accounted for drinking water, brushing my teeth, and washing my face, I had used up all of my 50 liters. Going to work on Monday was also particularly difficult. I had to use the public bathroom twice and that took 12 L of my reserves. To cut down my water usage, I bought hand sanitizer to wash my hands, but they just didn’t feel clean. During work, I had to run several biochemistry experiments, and use my precious water reserves to clean the dirty glassware and wipe off my bench. By the end of the day, I didn’t have enough water left to clean the Tupperware container that I had used to pack my lunch. My experience showed me that rationing water really challenged many aspects of my lifestyle. It is difficult for me to imagine a developed country like Canada running out of water, with our expansive great lakes that make up 20% of the worlds fresh water resources. How could Canada possibly run out of water? It is possible to run out of water, if we were hit by severe weather patterns or if we treated our freshwater resources as a commodity and sold it in bulk to other countries. I truly believe that water is a basic human right, and not a commodity. But now, I realize that having access to very abundant and cheap water means that I tend to be wasteful and inefficient with its use. I challenge anyone reading this article to spend a day (or week, if you can manage) living on only 50 L of water - plan your day, figure out which amenities you will cut out, and recycle your water to make it stretch for the whole day! NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and water level chart by Joshua Stevens using data from South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation.

  • Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution Month: A Member’s Experience at the Caux Forum

    Participating in Caux forum (Inclusive Peace conference) was a great pleasure. It was a nourishing experience that has affected me personally; starting from meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds to working on finding strategies to spread peace. Taking part in this conference gave me the opportunity to listen, meet, inspire and get inspired. Getting to know people on a human level, not a professional one, was one of the greatest opportunities that Caux Forum offered to us. This conference managed to gather all the people who want to leave a positive impact in the world, which is really inspiring. Spreading peace all over the world is not an easy task, but through brainstorming and listening to some inspiring speakers, we have reached four strategies that can help in eliminating radicalisation and extremism: 1- Community Based-Indicators strategy, which was mentioned by Dr. Andreas Hirblinger.
Summary: a) Create a focus group
Ex: Imams, youth, psychologists ... etc. b) Discuss the purpose of the group Ex: Fighting Extremism and radicalisation c) Put some indicators
Ex: Increase of hatred speech, increase of sense of isolation.... etc. And if more than one indicator can be applied on a certain personality, then there is a risk that this person can become an extremist 2- Deal with the Extremists as human beings and not ignoring them. It is important to listen to them, know how they joined the extremist groups and form a friendly dialogue. By this way, you can find out the main reason for joining such group; example: poverty, lack of sense of belongness… etc.
Thus, the problem can be solved easily; however, if they are already brainwashed, then they have to change themselves by themselves and that is why dealing with them as human beings may change their way of thinking. (Please contact me if you have some questions). 3- Work on improving the education system, as this will help people to think critically and prevent being brainwashed easily. 4- Customize speeches according to people who you are talking with to spread peace. Ex: you can’t take about tolerance if people are just angry; they will not listen to you. In conclusion, I am grateful that I got the chance to participate in such conference, as it directly affects my future career. This is the environment that I would love to invest my time and ideas in to push the human race forward. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who participated in this conference. Together towards inclusive peace!

  • PEER WORKSHOP - Interview Skills

    The workshop presented by Anisa Nazir related to be prepared for an interview was very precise and fulfilled all the points related for what, why and how to be ready for an interview. The information provided was very updated, useful, and scenarios were given, dynamics exercises created to connect, share and exchange experience from workplace by the ones that were in the workshop. Those guidelines, suggestions for daily basis for the ones that are facing or going to deal with this stage and that will fit perfectly to ace during the interview. Also, in an interview, related to questions that recruiters may have, such as, what they can ask, following the legal standards towards who is being interviewed, what type of questions they may ask and how you can get ready for it, for example, try to specific, direct and answer on the same time properly the question asked by a recruiter. While you are going to be interviewed you allowed to know who will interview you and to know the name of the person and how would the best way to approach from the start until the end of the interview, the recruiters. The presentation was well prepared, very thoughtful, well-illustrated, dynamic and everyone in the workshop interacted to each other, sharing their experiences, feedbacks and participating in the activities provided by Anisa during the themes discussed. All exercises were related to explore all sort of topics involved. The workshop served the proposal as well as to avoid any type of missing knowledge and to ensure that everyone understood how it works this environment in Toronto, major standards, patterns and structure being prepared and being aware what an interview holds. But also, it may be more specific for a certain position or cultural organization that have their own style of recruiting and interviewing. Personally, I found that all topics presented clarified our doubts, questions or concerns towards getting ready for an interview and also the manners that everyone should use after the interview, such as, a call or short note thank you for the opportunity of being interviewed. ------ For info on our professional development events and workshops, come find our Professional Development Committee members at our next club meeting!

  • Vocational Service Month: Why is vocational service at the heart of Rotary?

    As it is the start of a new year and first week back at work after a relaxing holiday, I can’t help but think about how vocational service is unique to the Rotary call to service. We ask our members to (1) have high ethical standards in business and professions; (2) understand and recognize the worthiness of all useful occupations; and (3) the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society. Rotary was named because of the practice of rotating meeting sites among member’s place of work. It was founded on the principals of the Four Way Test, which provides and ethical framework for the workplace and all other areas of the Rotarian’s life and our Avenues of Services help us build the foundation of club activity - Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, International Service, and Youth Service. To help understand what the Vocational Service calls our members to do, we must understand that vocation is defined as a “strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation”. If you are passionate about your work, vocation and vacation are not so far apart. Passion brings fulfillment and satisfaction in your life and allows you to wake up in the morning with a purpose. When that passion is mixed with a life of service, then we can truly change the world. Reflecting back on 2017, I realized that vocational service was a major part of my Rotaract year as well. As a member of the Professional Development Committee, we hosted inspiring guest speakers to our meetings who inspired about the work they did in non-profits and other organizations that provided services to the communities. I led an Interview Skills workshop as part of the PD Committee’s Peer Workshop series that helped me prepare and practice for my own interviews. I also participated in the Rotaract e-club's mentorship program linking Rotarians and Rotaractors. I was lucky to be a mentor as well as a mentee and this experience helped me to find my role in Rotary as a medical professional as well as guide an aspiring medical student. I went to RYLA this year and learned how to be an effective leader in my workplace and community. As young people, we are in the various stages of picking a career, figuring out resumes and job applications, and learning to network. So how can we tie it all together and apply the object of vocational service as Rotaractors? Here are some of the ways: 1, Talking about your vocation in the club and asking other members about what their vocation is. 2, Volunteer for service projects that uses your vocational skills. 3, Practicing your profession with integrity and encouraging others to behave ethically. 4, Mentoring younger members of the club and help them achieve their career aspirations. 5, Encourage professional development. 6, Join a Rotary Fellowship related to your vocation. Happy New Year!

  • December Reflections for Disease Prevention and Treatment Month

    This year seems to have flown by so fast! Time flies when you’re having fun (with Rotaract :) ) and before you know it the end of the year is upon us. December is not only a month of holiday celebrations around the world, but it is also Disease Prevention and Treatment month in the Rotary calendar. While it might seem odd to put these two topics in the same sentence they do have a commonality in that the end of year holidays bring about a mindset of hope and looking towards a better future, which can be applied to fuel our motivation in the fight against disease Disease prevention and treatment is one of the world’s most critical and widespread humanitarian needs and we as the Rotaract club of Toronto are constantly working to play our part in addressing this need. We do this by supporting and fundraising for organisations that educate people on how to prevent diseases and help people get access to treatments that they may otherwise not have access to. Some examples of events we have partaken in are the Rotary AIDS poker walk in which we walked to raise funds for international and local initiatives which help fight HIV/AIDS through education, prevention, treatment, support for orphans, surviving guardians and people living with AIDS.. We also organised a blood donation drive in September at a time which the Canadian Blood services had critically low volumes, which goes to show there are many different ways you can contribute to this Rotary area of focus! Education is also a big factor in conquering disease as with knowledge comes prevention. Certain diseases such as Polio have no treatment, but are preventable through vaccines and raising awareness. To date through the efforts of Rotary and partner organisations the world is now more than 99.9% Polio-free. We’ve gone from 1,000 new cases each day to less than one per week! This year on World Polio Day we had the privilege of having Eddie Rice, a huge advocate for improving accessibility in Canada, and Erica Mugan who works for March of Dimes Canada, speak to us and educate us more on Polio and its impact. We also had a social media campaign to raise awareness about Polio. As we work together towards providing everyone with the basic human right of health here’s what YOU can do to help: • Support health education programs that explain how diseases are spread and promote ways to reduce the risk of transmission. • Carry out immunizations against infectious diseases. • Sponsor continuing education and training for health workers, including supporting scholarships, stipends, and public recognition. With heartfelt gratitude for all your contributions towards improving communities near and far, happy holidays and best wishes for a healthy, happy, and successful new year.

  • Rotaract Club of Toronto Hosts Another Successful Round Trip

    The Canadian Corridor Trip 2017 was organized by Rotaractors in District 7070, 7040 and 7090. This trip invited 6 Rotaractors from around the world to Canada from Thursday, June 22nd to Tuesday, July 4th. The 6 Rotaractors were Martin and Will from Australia, Deepal from India, Emma from Mexico, Laura from Netherlands and Ernest from Zimbabwe. These Rotaractors were selected based on their dedication in serving Rotaract and their experience throughout the years. These Rotaractors were hosted by local Rotaractors and Rotarians who opened up their homes to these visiting Rotaractors. This trip included stops in Toronto, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal. In addition to this, they visited unique neighbourhoods, iconic landmarks, experienced vibrant nightlife, tried different cuisines and breathtaking outdoor excursions. Some highlights of their visit included going to a Rotary lunch, attending a Rotary Changeover, partying on King Street, volunteering for local projects, rooftop party, Pride parade, Yonge/Dundas square, Maid of the Mist, wine tasting at Niagara-on-the-Lake, hiking, Blue Jays game, escape game, celebrating Canada's 150th on Parliament Hill, partying at a museum, participating in a local art project and many many more. In addition to these activities, the Rotaractors shared stories about how their culture, Rotaract/Rotary clubs, the service projects that they've done, how their districts operate, and their life stores. Not only did the international Rotaractors build friendships with each other, they built friendships with the local Rotaractors in Canada and through the events local Rotaractors also built partnerships with each other. To learn more and see more photos from the trip, go here: https://www.facebook.com/CanadianCorridorTrip/

  • Sarah Hui named Paul Harris Fellow

    The Rotaract Club of Toronto held their annual changeover at the National Club of Friday, June 23rd. Rotary Club of Toronto President Susan Hunter and President-Elect Pat Neuman joined them as Dennis Lam, President 2016-17, turned over the gavel to new President, 2017-18, Joseph Hanna. This marked the end of five years of Sarah Hui serving on the club’s Board of Directors. To commemorate the accomplishment the Rotaract Club of Toronto nominated Sarah for a Paul Harris Fellowship. She was the President of the club in 2015-2016. She was the recipient of the club’s Jamie Maynard Leadership Award in 2016, and of the Herbert J. Taylor Award in 2014. Beyond chairing several committees, Sarah has been an outstanding volunteer organizing members to volunteer at the Children’s Christmas party, Light the Night Walk, Ribfest, etc. She attends many of our community service events, including our regular volunteer initiatives at Fort York Food Bank and Fred Victor, and ensures we always have a group photo to share on Facebook! Sarah is also active with the fellowship aspect of Rotaract and has gone on so many Rotaract World Roundtrips to foster goodwill and cultural exchange. She then helped host not one, but now two trips in Toronto. She has attended four Rotary UN days in New York. Sarah is fun, loving, hard working, enthusiastic, and a true leader. Her passion for Rotaract is unwavering and we are just so fortunate to have her in the Rotaract Club of Toronto. The Club is forever thankful for her contributions and passion towards Rotaract. Congratulations Sarah!

  • Happy Victoria Day!

    As the official/unofficial start of summer rolls through this weekend, wishing you all a safe, relaxing, and enjoyable long weekend! Since Monday is the holiday, we will not have a meeting. Join us again on Monday June 5 for our general meeting.

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