President Bob Janes opened our meeting, welcoming guest Robyn Kemp who will be inducted as a new member on June 11. 38 members were zoomed in.
President-Elect Laurie Bienert found a unique and timely anthem version for us: Oh Kanata! with verses like “Our home on native land/restore the land/learn our history.”
Denise Wittkofski shared a personal inspiration. The famous philosopher, writer and theologian Albert Schweitzer once said, “Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason.” Living through this pandemic has certainly given us the time to try and laugh about our confusion of lockdown and live through the moments while we shared our beautiful island together. And everything happens for a reason couldn’t be more poignant over the past year. She said the Rotary family has become more important to her than ever and for that she's eternally grateful to have all of us in her life, sharing wonderful experiences, with love and laughter.
Bob Janes shared the very sad news that long-time Rotarian Doug Pearson (Nanaimo North club) had passed away. A Rotary Youth Leadership Scholarship will be established in his name. Several members who knew Doug commented on his great kindness, always positive attitude, and tireless enthusiasm for Rotary youth programs. He will be greatly missed.
Debbie Narver mentioned that after COVID, there will be a work party at the Nanaimo Foodshare Farm, more info TBC.
Treasurer Lynne Pankratz reminded members that fiscal year-end is coming, so it’s time to please catch up on honour-system happy/sad bucks.
Joyce Smith updated us on our virtual journey to St. John’s, which is going well and “recovered” after a computer glitch. There are still some team t-shirts to pick up and others that can be bought for $10, with proceeds going to our social fund. Bob Janes thanked Joyce and Ron Willis for all the work they have done to manage this project.
Dave Hammond and Laurie Bienert talked about logistics for the upcoming installation on June 18, whether it might be in person, depending on any changes in provincial health orders, expected June 15. Please reply to the member survey about virtual/in-person options.
Guest Speakers
Ken Connolly introduced members Dave Hammond, Past President and Laurie Bienert, President-Elect. Laurie enjoyed international travel at a young age, in grade 12 was an exchange student in Japan, later travelling to Machu Pichu and Galapagos. She moved to Nanaimo in 2007, followed by a tragic personal loss, then developing her career in the non—profit sector. Laurie is the Executive Director of the Nanaimo Foundation (NF).
Dave Hammond’s personal and professional leadership has contributed so much to Nanaimo and Rotary over the years. Ken mentioned in passing that Dave has never been arrested in a foreign country.
Dave shared that the Nanaimo Foundation is one of 109 community foundations in Canada. Last year our Nanaimo Foundation gave out over $1 million in grants. Laurie then continued speaking about how the Foundation has responded to the changing challenges and opportunities for community support during COVID.
Three areas of focus include:
1. increasing lasting impact in community supports
2. helping the local charity sector survive
3. helping donors manage their charitable giving, building permanent endowments in perpetuity
The Nanaimo Vital signs is a survey of community well-being and needs, done every three years. The data is an important resource for the entire community, including businesses. In 2019, findings included that more than 22% of local youth live below the poverty line, the high school completion rate (71%) is low, and about 1/3 of the students don’t feel welcome at their school.
The NF holds some large funds for local charities, as well as providing admin and logistics support for individual donor-advised charitable funds. Several thousand donors donated to the NF Community Response Fund for COVID relief. Rotary and individual Rotarians contributed $10K to the Community Response Fund.
Food insecurity has been a serious issue, and the Nanaimo Foodshare Society has been a key hub for service. About $250K has been used for food for families, youth and seniors.
Federal and other grants raised $700K, which helped support 40 local charities - smaller philanthropic groups that would otherwise have ceased operating due to COVID isolation and the inability to pursue normal fundraising work.
Laurie played an incredible video clip of personal thank you’s and stories from many of these charities who deal with the whole spectrum of children to seniors clients facing food, family, financial and personal crisis. There have been about 43,000 calls to crisis lines, a huge increase, and lives have been saved.
Q&A covered a spectrum of topics: The Vital Signs Survey will be updated again next year. Fund requests are at a record high since most fundraising events were cancelled due to COVID. The NF has two major professional investment managers (Jarislowsky Fraser, RBC Dominion Securities) who work at very reduced fees.
Behzad Forghani Targhi thanked Dave and Laurie for a great presentation and great appreciation for their support for our community. Behzad is proud that he and Laurie joined Rotary at the same time, and he feels Dave’s “never say no to help” attitude is great mentorship.
Douglas Cowling, Chairman of our Community Grants Committee, presented two grant requests for club approval:
1. $2K for the Nanaimo Child Development Centre, Wendy Pratt moved, Susie Stephens seconded, all in favour/passed.
2. $7K for Scouts Canada Camp Caillet, Ken Connolly moved, Wendy Pratt seconded, all in favour/passed.
Discussion: The initial grant request was for $12K, but we’re providing $7K to help tide them over in maintaining this unique community facility, five rural acres used by cubs, scouts, guides, search rescue and other volunteer organizations. Dave also hopes our social committee might someday use this facility. Our grant budget is done for the year, and another club is also helping.
Sergeant at Arms
Dave Hammond started with accolades for Laurie Bienert, for doing an awesome job with a staff of just one at the Nanaimo Foundation. The NF has set up a donor-advised fund for a family in town who is teaching their grandkids about charity - every year the grandkids get to pick the recipient.
Happy/Sad included Joan Ryan, sad at Doug Pearson’s passing and happy that the Interact Club’s library box is done. Behzad Forghani Targhi is happy for his youngest’s birthday and a permit for Shirin’s new Café location. Keith McFarlane happy for the COGS write-up from his talk last week, but correcting that he didn’t inherit his travel business but purchased it and paid for it over 10 years of hard work.
Bob Janes announced two upcoming spouse birthdays: Honorary Member Dale Huck’s wife Joan, and Mike Herold’s wife Sandy.
Bob concluded our meeting with thanks to all for duties, participation and a toast to Rotary.