Joyce introduced John as a Rotarian for 34 years, mostly in Bolton and now in Nipissing and all with perfect attendance.  He went on a study exchange to Africa in 1999, has been to 32 District Conferences and 8 Zone Conferences, has been a Zone Trainer, is a multi PH and a benefactor as well has a PDG.  In 2007 Joyce and John and his wife went to South Africa.  He's retired after 36 years teaching and serves as a volunteer firefighter, likes to travel, play golf, work with wood and drink scotch.

John said Rotary is central to his life and to that of many but if you ask people what Rotary is, who are Rotarians, you will get different answers.  The public perception is still that of a group of older, white, well off males.  He says we have to work on branding and is glad to see the signs marking Rotary contributions in Midland.  Another common perception is that of a group of 'sellers of ticktets' and again it's a matter of getting the word out on what the proceeds do locally and internationally.

He went to meetings for years and took part in all the activities but it was the trip to South Africa that made him a Rotaran.  Sometimes we need to get hit with a brick to wake us up to the need and to how well off we are.  He led an exchange of teachers to a small school that had no washrooms, no desks (they sat on the ground under a tree), teachers with no training and class sizes ov over 90.  He had just finished supervising the construction of a new school at home and dealing with complaints from teachers, one of whom was upset because all the chairs in the room were not the same colour.  The Africans had a love for teaching and for the kids but not much else.  He knew he and his teachers had too much.

Back at the Bolton Club his story inspired a different path and, with the help of Foundation matching grants and other efforts, when he went back 7 years later there was a structure and supplies.  Every Rotarian every year.

Another visit was made to an AIDS hospital which took kids abandoned by their parents, babies, into a palliative care type place though, of course, nothing like we have in NA.  These kids were just looking for human contact, for a hug.  He was trying to comfort and quiet a baby and thought he had been successful only to find that it had died, but at least it had died in someone's arms. 

What does one do with such experiences?  He turned to the team of Rotary.  He compared how the matching aspect of the Foundation turns local donations into multiples against the big lotteries for hospitals that, according to a recent news report, only return 27% of the proceeds to the facility.  50% goes back to the district, none of it goes to admin and it can be leveraged by as much as 5 times to go to help make the world a better place.

He asks, what is the moment in the experience of each of us that makes us a Rotarian?  Be engaged, be active, be proud and follow your dream.  Every little bit helps to make a difference and we want to make that difference so we can leave the world a bit better for the next generations.

Rotary projects are sustainable and they promote activity in the area - they prime the pump.  As a Club we should be proud of what we're doing and thanks to Joyce for her work on the Foundation.