The Port Alfred Rotary Club gave potential new members an overview of Rotary International and the work of the local service organisation at a Rotary awareness evening last week.
Port Alfred Rotary chairman Ray Oliver said Rotary’s theme for the year was “Be the inspiration”, and the club intended to follow it throughout the year.
Member Colin Murphy introduced some videos by Rotary International before Jan van Schalkwyk and Julie Beer – joint recipients of the Rotarian of the Year award – gave speeches.
“I’m a serious person,” Van Schalkwyk said, “but my first introduction to Rotary was the fun side – going on a bike ride with Dave and Delene Hawkins.”
She then went on a Rotary Fellowship Exchange to Canada, where she said she built lasting friendships.
“Rotary filled a big gap in my life, introducing me to business contacts and trustworthy people – not just international exposure but locally,” she said.
“You get to choose how much you get involved in the club, but your benefit is linked to your input.”
Beer, who is Rotary’s director of youth, said she was a former teacher, semi-retired. She was asked by Fred and Heather Tyson if she wanted to join Rotary.
“I thought about it and decided, yes, it’s for me. One of the reasons was that it’s professional and international and serves the local community. And I wanted to meet new people,” Beer said.
She said she was constantly meeting new people, but also growing through new challenges, and the best part was doing things to help others.
Past district governor Maddy Webber mentioned Rotary’s auxiliary organisations, like the Anns – the wives of Rotarians who choose not to be full members
“Rotary was first started by men who thought they could do it by themselves,” she said with a laugh.
Other linked organisations are Rotaract – 18 to 30-year-olds comprising students and young professionals, Interact – 13 to 18-year-old school pupils and Earlyact – primary school children.
Webber mentioned examples of how Rotarians have formed bonds across the world.
“If you need help, find your nearest Rotarian and they will help you,” she said. “Rotary is a big family and anyone who becomes a family member is very, very happy.”