Posted by Norma Gamble
When COVID-19 reared its ugly head in our community the four Oakville Rotary Clubs immediately came together to discuss projects and fundraising efforts that might meet the emerging needs. An Oakville Rotary Relief Fund was formed and to date has raised over $45,000, including a district COVID-19 grant of $5,000. The Rotary Club of Oakville, Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar, Rotary Club of Oakville West, and the Passport South Rotary Club, with donations from the general public made at www.rotaryoakville.ca continue to impact profoundly the Oakville community.
 
Step 1 – Late March - Assistant Governor Bent Fink-Jensen and D7080 Community Service Director, Norma Gamble, and the four club Presidents met on zoom to determine if there was a way to work together in the face of COVID-19. Immediate decision was to form an Oakville Rotary Relief Fund which identified necessities in food, PPE, and education/technology as our main focus. We continued to meet weekly and soon four service organizations received funding.

Step 2 – The Presidents decided that further funding decisions should be made by the club Community Service chairs since they usually received requests for funding and knew the needs within the community. With some Presidents staying on the committee, the Community Service chairs stepped up and determined the recipients of the second and third rounds of funding. With regularly input from the Oakville Community Foundation, United Way and the Town of Oakville, we continue to help identify those who may have slipped through the cracks in getting immediate help.

Step 3 – Wouldn’t we need our PR/Communication chairs to publicize all of this great news? Absolutely! So the PR/Communication chairs soon started their zoom calls and so began a well-oiled machine within our Oakville Rotary Cluster.

Recently our members were asked whether they had found this coordinated approach helpful. A resounding “Yes” was heard from all and a strong desire to continue to work together in the future. Due to the success of this cluster initiative we might well add another cluster zoom group of Membership Chairs in our effort to increase membership in the four clubs. We’d encourage all clusters to work together to maximize effort and results.

While COVID-19 has been a serious challenge to all, we have recognized the positive side of things. We might never have discovered the incredible power of working together had we not been challenged by this pandemic.