Pledging to carry on the legacy established by past presidents of her organization, new president of the Rotary Club of Freeport, Rengin Johnson, and the members of her board were officially installed on Saturday night during the club's annual installation banquet at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club.


The event, held under the theme "Make Dreams Real," provided an official welcome to the incoming board, which will serve from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.

In addition to President Johnson, the other officers installed at the banquet were President-elect Harold "Son-ny" Waugh, Past President Michael Stafford, Vice President Steve Wilchcombe, Secretary Nikki Waugh, Treasurer Queenie Stubbs, and directors Wilbur Major; Melinda Mitchell, Bert Lightbourne, Louie Chan, and Roger Pinder. Also installed was the new Assistant District Governor Richard Bates.

Attendees were treated to a night of fine dining and live entertainment as provided by Steve Davis, as well as a raffle and an auction conducted by master of ceremonies Michael Lerch.

Johnson told The Freeport News that she was excited about her upcoming year and was looking forward to serving her club to the best of her ability.

"Over the years, we've done wonderful projects in our community... I would like to, with the blessing of the club, do certain things as club service in our community and also internationally," she said.

She extended thanks to all the individuals and corporate citizens who donated prizes to the raffle and to all the patrons in attendance, including members of the Rotary Clubs of Lucaya and Sunrise, for their support.

A Rotarian for the past 15 years, Johnson said she intended to focus specifically on the areas of literacy and AIDS awareness during her time in office,

"I always believe that you have to assist, together with the government departments, with projects focussed on issues such as literacy, which in turn can also assist with awareness about how to become a good citizen," Johnson said. "One of the areas that I have found as an employer, there are a lot of young people who are still not able to read and write and also do primary arithmetic and that's why I would like to help with that cause."

The plan to increase AIDS awareness among the youth, she said, is especially important since they are the future of the nation and their health should be a foremost concern.

"I would like to also assist in the area of AIDS awareness so that our young children can grow up healthy, with healthy minds and healthy living, and that focus will also probably assist with teenage pregnancy," she said.

An attorney and former magistrate, Johnson said it was also important to her that programmes carried out by civic organizations such as Rotary target the youth as a means of helping them to become productive citizens.

"We must give them an awareness about how to become law-abiding citizens, as a means of resolving the crime situation. We must teach them about right and wrong, obeying the law, and becoming good citizens," she said.

Johnson said she hopes to work closely with the Ministries of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture and Health to achieve her club's goals for the year.

"I would like to work through the schools and through the ministries so that our programmes can be meaningful and they would be able to tell us where we can assist where needed," she said.

Also topping her list of priorities, she said, is creating a greater awareness in the community about the Rotary Club's purpose and objectives.

"I want us to have a better personal relationship with the community. You can only ask your community to help you and support you if they know what you can do, what you're capable of doing and what you stand for. So I would like for the Rotary Club to be better known."

Johnson said she hopes to attract more persons to join the club, but was insistent that those persons must be able to live according to the principles of Rotary. The organization, she noted, is not an exclusive society, but rather is open to persons who have a genuine interest in helping others and serving their community.

"It is not just for Bahamian citizens, it is for anyone who lives in The Bahamas and who has a desire to help the human kind. It is not just for a select few," she maintained.

Recalling her club's numerous contributions over the past year, Johnson had high praise for Past President Mike Stafford and his team for their work. The good work that Rotary performs in the community, she said, will be her main inspiration for the upcoming year in her position of leadership.

"I have always been inspired by Rotary and what they have done in our community over the years. The three Rotary clubs have done outstanding good work in our country and in our community and that is the most inspiring thing. That's why I joined Rotary," she said.

"Along with my board, who are also very outstanding citizens and good people, I would like to do the same as was done previously to help my community to the best of my ability."