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Portage La Prairie

Service Above Self

We meet Tuesdays at 12:00 PM
Canad Inns
2401 Saskatchewan Avenue W
Portage La Prairie, MB  R1N 3L5
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Nathan Peto (photo Mike Blume)

Today's Portage Rotary Club luncheon in Portage la Prairie highlighted a presentation by new city manager Nathan Peto. Peto took the time to explain to the Portage Rotary Club how his role as city manager works.

"They city manager role is really key in taking the direction and vision of Council and bringing that down to administration to make sure those goals and objectives of council are effectively implemented by administration," says Peto.

He explains his position is like the neck of an hourglass. He funnels all the decisions, goals and visions of the council to administration, and likewise relates needs of engineering reports and financial records to council so they can adjust anything that requires change to accommodate those needs.

(Victoria Espey. Photo by Mike Blume)

The guest speaker at this week's Rotary Luncheon was Portage Community Revitalization Corporation Executive Director Victoria Espey. She detailed that her group reaches out to the community, looking at the positives and negatives and making sure what works is being done.

Espey notes community response to the group has been high and people are excited about having their input heard in the community, "Just a tremendous response from the community," says Espey, "and it just shows they value PCRC, they understand why we're here, what we're doing, wanting to have that community input and have their voice heard." 

Daniela Zilinska (photo by Mike Blume)

Yesterday's Portage Rotary Club Luncheon received a presentation by Slovakian exchange student Daniela Zilinska. She shared information about her country, noting it's the geographical heart of Europe.

Zilinska recounts her time here in Portage so far.

"It has been really great. I'm having a really great time with my family," she says. "I have two brothers and one sister. It's almost like at home except for two brothers. But they are just really great and funny, as well as the parents."

So far she's been able to travel and meet other exchange students associated with Rotary District 5550 in Neepawa, including some from Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Belgium, and France. Zilinska adds she's enjoyed camping at West Hawk Lake, and even participated in the Portage Dirt Dash.

Upcoming plans include a trip to a concert put on by Kings of Leon in Winnipeg with her councillor Sherrie Palmer.


You likely heard on Friday the Boston Bruins Alumni will be in Portage la Prairie December 1st and 2nd.

They'll play a charity game on the 1st, versus members of the Portage Terriers alumni. It's a joint effort between the Portage Rotary Club, the Bruins alumni, the Terriers alumni, and the current terriers team.

Rotary's Preston Meier tells us more.

"A select group of the Portage Terriers Alumni, right back from 1967," he says, "Will be playing the Boston Bruins Alumni, led by Ray Bourque himself. The Portage Terriers have always held their sportsmens' dinner on November 10th. Working together now, and partnering with them, we're changing that, and it's going to be on December 2nd. Headline speaker will be Ray Bourque."

Meier says having Bourque here is exciting.

"When you're talking about a hall-of-famer, from 2004, one of the top 100 players in the NHL," he says, "21 years he played with Boston, one of the longest captains, and just the entire Bruins Alumni. It's really great, the charity work they do, and at the end of the day, that's who wins. The proceeds will be going toward the Portage Terriers, and, of course, the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie, for our ongoing projects, as we all give back to the community."

Tickets should be available soon.

Rotary Club President Peter Fedak and exchange student from Slovakia Daniela Zilinska. (Photo by Aaron Wilgosh)

Portage Rotary Club welcomed their newest exchange student to Portage this week.

Daniela Zilinska from Banskejban Bystrica, Slovakia, got to Portage Monday and is just getting settled into her billet family's home. The 17-year-old will be taking Grade 12 courses at Portage Collegiate and is looking forward to getting started.

"I like Biology and Chemistry for academic courses," says Zilinska. "They're my favourite. I'd like to go to University after and I've been thinking about becoming a doctor."

Zilinska says the climate is very close to that of her home in Slovakia, and Portage is very similar as well just smaller. She's excited to get involved with the PCI Saints' basketball team and maybe a couple other sports while she's here.

She doesn't have a list of things she'd like to see or do in Manitoba but says she'd like to take in as much as possible while she's here.

Peter Fedak (photos by Mike Blume)

A new president's at the helm of the Portage Rotary Club. Yesterday's luncheon saw Cathie MacFarlane hand over the torch to Peter Fedak.

Fedak shares his focus for Rotary and his new position.

fedak jun27171MacFarlane Placing the president's pin on Fedak"Things I've been watching and listening and learning about Rotary Club. My thing is, what makes the Rotary Club different," he asks. "A lot of that is the fellowship, and maybe learning something and improving yourself to go back out and pass that other knowledge to the community."

Fedak says a Gala's slated again for next spring. A new side to the Gala will be a golf ball drop from a helicopter. He explains they have initial approval from the Lotteries office in Manitoba to drop 1,000 golf balls from a helicopter and watch which one falls closest to the target to win the prize.

fedak jun2717bTravis Foster (right) announced as new president electHe adds he plans to add some new concepts including evening meetings every two months to increase membership. Other professional speakers are planned to bring professional development to members including a lunch lecture on leadership, explaining how to run events better and organize themselves better to more efficiently fulfill their part.  Moving forward, other new events will definitely be created, as well as new ways of doing things so members don't regret anticipating the same old same old. Fedak adds the membership and community should both be excited about Rotary activities.

fedak jun2717cExecutive board


(L-R) Mandy Dubois, Cathie MacFarlane, Kelvin Lobban, Travis Foster, Gail Patterson, and Murray Graham (photo by Mike Blume)

The Portage Rotary Club initiated a committee about three years ago to restore the tennis courts located on Island Park in Portage la Prairie for an estimated $30,000 dollars. Four cheques were presented today from various service clubs and organizations.

"We were looking at raising $30,000 and we definitely met our goal," says Committee Chair Travis Foster. "We want to acknowledge the help that we've gotten from the Lions Club, the Community Foundation (of Portage and District), the (Portage Plains) United Way, as well as Portage Rotary Club. We've been working on it for about three years. That's when I got the first quote. It's going to be done this year. It looks like July 20th is our date that's set as long as the weather permits, and it'll be nice and fresh for August."

$5,000 was donated from Portage la Prairie Lions Club, $18,000 from the Community Foundation of Portage and District, $10,000 from the Portage Rotary Club, and $1,000 from Portage Plains United Way.

"The finishing that we're getting done is three coats of paint, any dips filled in and any cracks filled in," explains Kelvin Lobban, tennis club president. "It should have been done three to five years ago. If it's allowed to go much further, then you're facing a huge expense for putting an asphalt layer on top. That can get over $100,000. At this point, we can preserve the courts at $30,000 and then we've preserved it for another ten years or so."

Lobban emotionally thanked the four organizations who presented the donations.

Community Foundation of Portage and District Representative Gail Patterson says the Foundation was thrilled to give $18,000 to such a charitable cause.

Cathie MacFarlane, Rotary Club president, adds it's the first Rotary-driven project. Members were approached and asked for initiatives. Rotarians followed up with a community search for what was needed, and the tennis courts were suggested by Foster.

Lions representative Murray Graham says his club's happy to help out, noting it's great to see students using the courts today. He says classes take place at the courts Tuesday and Thursdays including adult classes.

"Portage Plains United Way was really excited when we were approached by Travis for this opportunity," says Mandy Dubois, United Way executive director. "We used our Community Response Grant funds that we hold back from our campaign each year to help fund this project. It's important to us because the tennis courts provide an opportunity for free recreation in our community aside from the rackets and balls. It's available to everybody as well as many groups who use this, including the Tennis Club and the Portage School Division. It's an important piece in our community and will help strengthen it."

Tracey Turner (Photo by Mike Blume)

The Portage Rotary Club was updated yesterday with information about what's going on at the Fort la Reine Museum.

"I was presenting an overview of the exciting projects that we have underway at the Museum," says curator and executive director Tracey Turner. "We've been doing a lot of infrastructure upgrades for our Canada 150 projects, as well as accessibility upgrades for the main building and the grounds of the museum. We talked about renovations and our season with three exciting traveling exhibitions."

She notes you can invest in the museum by becoming a member. A membership is paid for after two and a half visits, giving you VIP access to member-only advance tickets sales for special events, and 10% discounts on event ticket purchases. Turner adds some special events coming up include Canada Day celebrations with a Red River cart construction, as well as a teepee build on national Aboriginal Day on June 21.

Paulette Connery

Rotarian and district youth exchange chair for District 5550 Paulette Connery presented yesterday at Portage Rotary Club's luncheon outlining the many programs they offer for youth.

"The biggest one for our club is Rotary Youth Exchange," says Connery. "That's where we have a student go out to another country and a student comes in. Next year's student is off to Finland. RYLA is also a terrific program. It's Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and it runs two camps -- one for juniors and the other for youth."

Connery explains programs range from Adventures in Technology to Adventures in Aviation, and Model United Nations. She adds Adventures in Agriculture's always oversold and limited as to how many can get involved. Connery notes what's really great about that program is our area is so agriculturally based. Any students aspiring to agriculture will find all sorts of careers within that program, and they also get the chance to go to Regina's Agribition where they can experience other agricultural programs that are available.

She adds there's still time for students to apply for RYLA 2017. Sherrie Palmer or Kim Houle are involved and can be contacted, or anybody else from the Portage Rotary Club. Those applications are being accepted until June 15th. The camp is held at Clear Lake's Anglican Church campground.

Peggy May (Photo by Mike Blume)

Southport Aerospace has come a long way in five years. CEO Peggy May brought the Portage Rotary Club up to date at its luncheon yesterday.

"Our jobs have grown from 2012 to 2016, and I also explained how the GDP and wages have increased," says May. "We're very proud of that because we've actually grown by 20 jobs. These are full-time equivalent jobs. So, that means some of them could be part-time or seasonal. But we've actually grown by that much, and it's made a huge impression on the impact in the community."

She notes Southport pays more taxes, and spends much more money on everything from capital improvements to wages and jobs. May adds the average wage for Southport's 570 current jobs is $60,000, while the national average is around $45,000, noting it's likely due to the skilled and trained occupations that comprise a lot of Southport's operations.

May says club members asked her about the future use of the airport and if it can be grown outside of the military. She notes she fully believes they will, and are always looking at that and searching for new opportunities. Inquiries are currently in from as far away as China and Saudi Arabia in regard to their airfield.

"Sometimes it takes a long time to bring those to fruition, but the fact that people are interested and we can get people interested in our airport, and being out in Portage, I think those are all great opportunities for us," May continues. "Yes, we'd love to see other things other than military out there. Obviously, they're a big part of our airfield and what we do. But there are times of the day when a passenger aircraft could run one flight a day or ten flights a day, and not really impact the operation of the military flight training currently taking place there."

May adds they have plenty of room for development: "It's a great big brand new kind of facility that we haven't exhausted all the opportunity yet."

Elaine Thompson (photo by Mike Blume)

Yesterday's Portage Rotary Club luncheon in Portage la Prairie was highlighted with a presentation of the wealth of internet information resources at its disposal. District governor nominee Elaine Thompson says she informed the club about various project ideas they can access.

"I outlined how Rotarians can get more information and why it's helpful to them from the websites that Rotary International and Rotary District 5550 have online," explains Thompson. "And the amount of information that's there is amazing -- helpful information."

She says their site outlines various projects from which they can get ideas. Thompson notes the local club has many of its own ideas, but it's sometimes helpful to see what other projects are taking place around the world. She adds Rotary was the first service club of its kind in the world, and there's an impressive wealth of resources from which members can draw.

Log in to MY ROTARY at https://my.rotary.org/en

Friends of Rotary recognized for helping Portage Rotary Club

The Portage Rotary Club held a Friends of Rotary luncheon yesterday at Canada Inns in Portage la Prairie, recognizing those who help the club do many of the things they do. Membership director Tyler Dunn says there were four projects presented during the event, one of which will be selected to soon enhance life in Portage la Prairie.

people tyler dunn

Tyler Dunn"The first was the community micro-libraries -- they're small libraries all across town where you can go in and take a book and put it back when you're done," explains Dunn. "The second was a boat-launch at Delta Beach. The third was the resurfacing of the tennis courts on Island Park, and the fourth was the green space development in front of Red River Community College."

Dunn says the Friends of Rotary helped them put $118,825 back into Portage la Prairie over the last three years alone. Other major projects accomplished include the bike and walking paths with a donation of $42,563, a ongoing pledge to donate $50,000 to Rotary Republic Park, and giving $120,000 dollars to Stride Place.

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Friends of Rotary Luncheon

Valentine gIft box of 16 brigadeiros (photos by Mike Blume)

Brazilian exchange student Victor Pinto Matias is helping you get ready for Valentine's Day while he raises funds for shelter boxes and his western Canadian Rotary trip.

20170207 125121 1486493935986 resized

Matias offering his gift boxes of brigadeiros for Valentine's Day"I'm doing some fundraising for the Shelter Box and my western trip," says Matias. "The Shelter Box is a Rotary project to help provide shelter boxes that contain basic supplies for families and people in emerging countries who experience a natural disaster."

He's selling brigadeiros, a Brazilian delicacy consisting of chocolate balls with various sprinkles. Matias says you can give your loved ones some love from Brazil.

His western trip, for which he's also raising funds, takes him and other Rotary exchange students across western Canada to see all the sights our country has to offer.

Matias' western trip takes him and other Rotary exchange students across western Canada to see all the sights our country has to offer.

You can get a gift box of 16 brigadeiros for $10.00 until this Friday, February 10. Send Matias an email to this address: victor.guri@hotmail.com.

Paul Legris presenting at Rotary luncheon today (photos by Mike Blume)

The Portage Rotary Club had a taste of the arts today at its weekly luncheon. Portage and District Arts Centre executive director Paul Legris was the speaker.

PAUL LEGRIS FEB072017Paul Legris"I just spoke to Rotary giving an outline of what the Portage and District Arts Centre has to offer the community: Our arts programming, our lessons, our classes, our dance program, our gala events, our Reel Event -- everything that we offer -- just in about 10 to 15 minutes. It's just was a high-level overview and it was fun."

Legris says his words about the Reel Event caught the Rotarians attention the most, noting it's due to everyone's enjoyment of movies. The Reel Event is held at the Glesby Centre's 400-seat venue and is a first-run of motion picture films.

Bob Durston

Rotary International has been voted the No. 1 charity in the world this year. That's from District 5550 Rotary Foundation chair Bob Durston, who spoke today at the local club's luncheon in Portage la Prairie.

"Rotary started its charity foundation 100 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia, after our international conference there," says Durston. "And it's grown now to over a billion dollars in our endowment funds. We encourage Rotarians to look at the foundation as charity of choice for doing good in the world. That's really what we want to do."

Durston informed the Portage club members they can now get money back from international endowment funds. He says funds are matched for local projects such as scholarships, making it easier for said projects to move forward.

The Rotary Club's been in the top ten of all international charities in the world on a regular basis.

"This speaks a lot of the Rotarians who volunteer their time to do a lot of this work," Durston adds. "Without the volunteer-time your administrative expenses go up. We put back out into the community worldwide about 92% of what we raise. We talk about Rotarians, but non-Rotarians who believe in what we're doing can also donate to our foundation and receive a charitable tax receipt. The only thing is they have to go through the Rotary club. If there are people in Portage that believe what Rotary is doing and want to donate to the Foundation, you only need to talk to the Foundation chair here to funnel your money through to the foundation."

(L-R) Guy Moffat, Ann Marie MacIntyre & Steve Hildebrand (photos by Mike Blume)

The Portage Rotary Club held its luncheon Tuesday and presented two cheques to local services. Guy Moffat, chair of community services, says it's been a long time coming.

"It was nice to finally get the money where it belongs," Moffat explains. "Quite a number of years ago we partnered with Portage Community Revitalization Corporation, and we've done two different Jail-And-Bail fundraisers. The first fundraiser was specifically raised for Active Transportation, and the second was split between Active Transportation and (Portage) Parks (Committee)."

people active transportation jan242017sm

(L-R) Ann Marie MacIntyre & Heather BruceSteve Hildebrand, chair of Portage Parks Committee, says he received $2,788.32 to go toward their continued work on parks. Active Transportation was the second recipient, and chair Ann Marie MacIntyre and retired teacher Heather Bruce said the amount they received, totalling almost $14,000 dollars, will be used for their programming.

If you have a project suggestion for our Rotary Club to complete in 2017, we would appreciate that you complete the attached document.  This document can either be emailed or given to me or any of our club's executive members.  We will discussing these projects at our Feb 9th meeting and bringing forward a short listing to club members at the Feb 14th business meeting for discussion and decisions on implementing.
All club members are encouraged to submit their ideas.


The Portage Rotary Club luncheon today heard from Southern Health-Santé Sud Regional Director of Recruitment and Indigenous Employment Holly Leost. Leost spoke about employment for aboriginal young people.

people holly leost lorraine daniels jan172017

(L-R) Lorraine Daniels & Holly Leost

"We're trying to form partnerships with the businesses that we have within Portage la Prairie," Leost explains. "We have a growing indigenous workforce. These young people are looking for opportunities to get employed. We need the businesses to come and work with us and sort out how can we advise our young people about what opportunities are there for them, and what education they need as well as what training the businesses want them to have."

Long Plain Employment Training Program Manager Lorraine Daniels also spoke, and explained how their efforts are working. Her grand-daughter took an aboriginal health care internship program, moved into health care aid training and is now a certified health care aid. Daniels says she was a casual call-in for over a year and was just hired full-time.

Leost says an I.A.N.E. (Interprovincial Aboriginal Native Employment) planning meeting is taking place February 16th, from 9:00 a.m. until Noon at the Arrowhead Corp. building on the west end of Crescent Avenue with refreshments served, and businesses are invited. 


A previous year's book sale

The Portage Rotary Club's annual used book sale is coming up and they're asking you to donate gently used books for their sale.

Book sale co-chair Derek R McCutcheon explains where you can drop of books you wish to donate.

"We have bins around the community, such as the ones at Portage Supermarket, Shoppers Drug Mart, Off The Top, MIG, Panko's, Sobeys and the Portage CO-OP, and we collect used books then we take those books to the Portage Mall and we're selling them November 3rd, 4th, and 5th."

McCutcheon says it's important they collect a lot of books, especially kids books, because everyone under twelve gets a free book. He adds they aren't asking people for textbooks as those don't typically sell.

All proceeds from the sale go toward the Rotary's community projects.

The book sale takes place Thursday, November 3rd and Friday, November 4th from 1:00 to 8:00 as well as Saturday, November 5th from 10:00 until 6:00 at the Portage Mall.

The Southport Rec-Plex is almost ready.

people colby orchard oct182016sm2Colby OrchardManager of Recreation Colby Orchard spoke yesterday at the Portage Rotary Club luncheon, and shares its highlights.

"I was talking about the new open concept, a fully accessible fitness facility that we're opening up in Southport. It's a state-of-the-art facility with a lot of new features such as a climbing wall, 110-metre walking track with rubberized flooring, and food kiosk. At the same time keeping a lot of the old features that people liked about what we had. So, there's a lot of our fitness equipment, and adding new fitness equipment at the same time, and our fully rentable gymnasium."

IMG 20161008 090527Climbing wall

Orchard outlines their scheduled opening.

"Our opening will be at the end of the month. That's not set in stone. But our grand opening event will be November 15th. So, we do count on being open for then. Our hours of operation right now for members 5:00 a.m. til 10:00 p.m. during the week, and then 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the weekend. It'd be an 8:30 a.m. opening for just public non-members, and 11:00 a.m. on the weekends."

He notes a highlight's the new rock wall. All ages can come and climb with three different types of climbing, including top-rope belay climbing, auto belay, and bouldering.

He explains they overhauled the former pool location.

"It's in our old pool area where our old Southport pool was located. We're using that space. It was a lot of work changing that over and making it new. The climbing wall, as I mentioned earlier, is based in the pit of our deep end of the pool. So, ten feet down and then 30 feet up."

Website: http://centralplainsrecplex.com/


Amy Cyr and Lee-Anne Carmichael

Yesterday's Portage la Prairie Rotary Club luncheon saw a presentation from Amy Cyr and Lee-Anne Carmichael from Training and Employment Services in Portage la Prairie.

They're career development consultants, and discussed the programs available for clients, and the business community.

Cyr talks about their work with job seekers.

"Everyone's eligible for certain services, such as job search assistance. There is sometimes financial assistance, but it's very dependent on someone's personal situation. They don't always necessarily have to go to school, or get that on-the-job training. It may just be a fresh resume cover letter, so letting them realize what skills they actually have, and how transferable they are."

Carmichael outlines what skills are need in this area.

"Truck driving and nursing. The medical field is always looking for people. So, those right now are the ones that we recognize as being higher demand."

Cyr adds trades are also looking for employees, and their office does some apprenticeship work as well.


(L-R) Anita Janzen Gemmell with Alison Loewen & Jessica Stewart

Chartered Professional Accounts of Canada are putting on financial literacy presentations. BDO Canada Portage office partner Anita Janzen-Gemmell says it's a free presentation for any group wanting one.

"As a CPA I volunteered. There are about 20 presentations for any age level, basically from grade four all the way to seniors."

She outlines topics they cover.

"Understanding balance sheets, or even understanding how credit cards work, or for grade four even understanding the difference between needs versus wants."

Janzen-Gemmell explains what the volunteers offer.

"CPA's can come in and give for about 45 minutes to an hour, just to kind of explain some of that. We are doing that because we feel that as CPA's we have some information that we can share to try and increase the financial knowledge of Canadians across the board. So, any CPA in any province can sign up to be a volunteer and give these presentations to folks who are looking for it."

She says non-profits groups, seniors groups, entrepreneurs, and school classes can apply. A question and answer period is involved, all to help everyone understanding finances better and help folks make stronger financial decisions in life. Janzen-Gemmell says she knows from expeirence that young people need ot be informed. She notes she has two children, aged 12 and 8, and each has their own personality. Janzen-Gemmell says while one likes to burn a hole in her pocket, the other banks her funds. With the credit card and debit card world we live in, she explains communication with the youth is much needed.

Janzen-Gemmell explains youth need to learn that we can go to an ATM and pull out money, but it requires money in the bank beforehand. Credit cards can only work if we have are able to access money to pay the bill off later on. 

She adds it's never too early to talk about money and how it works in our lives. Janzen-Gemmell adds she's been involved a couple of months ago, and it's a great idea to help people with their finances.

(L-R) Karen Lambert & Maria Matthews

The Portage Rotary Club received a presentation about the upcoming Minds In Motion program coming to Portage la Prairie this fall. Minds In Motion program manager Maria Matthews gives an outline.

"It's a program for people and their families who are experiencing the early to mid stages symptoms of dementia. They will be able to come out to the community and enjoy a weekly program for two hours once a week for eight weeks, with either their spousal partner, adult child or community friend. Our program consists of basically three components. It's about 45 minutes of fitness or physical activity."

She shares their schedule for Portage.

"This program actually rolls October 17th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. It'll go for eight consecutive weeks. We'll be bringing it back for early January for a winter session, and we'll see one more session in the spring. And then we'll take a look at how it went. We know in Winnipeg we're experiencing over 52% of our registration return for a second session, and over 25% of the registration will return for at least three sessions."

The program costs $58, and Matthews says they're committed to keeping it at that affordable rate.

Matthews adds, "We're seeing a high level of need in communities. Families are recognizing the significance of really focusing on doing things together -- things that we used to do together and have fun, and not worrying about what doesn't go right. But focusing on what still does go right. And those are the types of connections that we look to foster in the room at the program."

Sherilyn Knox and Preston Meier making the draw

The Portage Rotary Club and Portage Plains United Way's Home and Away Draw took place today. Rotary representative Preston Meier says it was incredible.

"It was great partnering with United Way again this year. It's our second year that we've done it. And it's really neat when you start to bring groups together, right? Many hands make light work, and I think it was one of the most successful draws that we had. We were maybe a little but behind last year, but of course the timeframe I think was about half, as well. So, it certainly was great to be part of that organization."

He adds, "Certainly we want to thank all of the community. I don't want to steal anything away from the United Way, but we want to thank certainly our sponsorships in Rona, Travel Quest and of course Century 21 Fox Realty for the gracious support for the $1,000 cash prize. Of course we want to congratulate the winners. And the Rotary club is really thankful for, first of all the partnership, one; and secondly all of the people that supported the event and bought tickets on it."

Meier explains where Rotary's half of the proceeds go.

"We do add it into a number of the projects that we have ongoing. And of course one of the biggest projects that we have right now is the Rotary Republic Park. And all of the money does stay in the community."

United Way executive director Mandy Dubois says the support was great this year

"I'm really pleased to see the support again for this draw. This is our second year in a row doing this, and this year once again we had great community support. We had a number of people buy tickets, a number of people volunteered to help sell the tickets, and a number of businesses that helped us out, as well as local media. So, it's great to see the support. It's just really important that organizations like ours are able to work together in the future. And the more times you can kind of partner with organizations such as the United Way, the better it is for everybody, and of course the better it is for the community.""

She's excited how it all came together.

"I'm really pleased to see the support again for this draw. This is our second year in a row doing this, and this year once again we had great community support. We had a number of people buy tickets, a number of people volunteered to help sell the tickets, and a number of businesses that helped us out, as well as local media. So, it's great to see the support for both the Rotary Club and United Way."

Dubois shares what happens to the United Way's proceeds.

"Our portion is going to help us continue to do the good work that we do in the community in our catchment area. The money all stays here locally to help us fund our member agencies, our community response fund, and just ensure that the programs and services that are vital for our community stay intact."

Prizes were awarded to the following:

  • The $5,000 Rona gift card went to Diana Aune.
  • The $2,500 Travel Quest voucher went to Stephanie Verhoeven.
  • $1,000 cash went to Vic Giesbrecht.
  • Both organizations gained more than $5,000 each for their local efforts.


Stacy Turner

"We're looking for volunteers." That's from 5th Portage Scouts cub leader Stacy Turner.

Turner presented at the Portage Rotary Club luncheon today and explained their need.

"We talked a little bit about what scouting is all about, and what we do in our community. Basically, we're looking for volunteers. If anyone wants to come help, and if anyone's interested in learning about scouting, there'll be registration coming up soon. So, watch for it."

She shares some highlights from last year.

"We did lots of really unique things last year. We did lots of hiking, and walking, and boat safety, and things like that. We did some camping trips. We went to Rushing River (Provincial Park near Kenora Ontario) -- fun things like that. The kids get to learn lots of neat things about canoes and hiking."

Turner says exchange student Daniel Garcia was involved with them during his stay in Portage last year, on his visit from Colombia. He's a scout in his home country, and went on several trips with the Portage group.


Guy Moffat speaks to Rotary on behalf of Portage Campus of the Red River College

The Portage Rotary Club received a presentation from the Portage Campus of the Red River College this afternoon.

Portage Regional Campus Manager for Red River College Guy Moffat shares some highlights.

red river college portage 100

College building now 100 years old"I gave an overview of what Red River College does as a whole. I gave some history on Red River College in Portage la Prairie. We've been around since 1985. And we were the very first regional campus of what is now five different regional campuses. We were first located on the Avenue and then relocated to Southport, and then in 2011 moved back onto Saskatchewan into the old Victoria School. Our building's 100 years old this year, which is kind of exciting."

Moffat shares some of the programs the college offers the community.

"So, if there's a business or a company in town that wants to deliver something very specific to their employees, that they don't have the ability to do or the know-how to do -- if they were wanting to do a training session on emotional intelligence, or critical thinking, for their staff -- they could contract us to develop a program to their specifications. And then we would either give it to them to deliver, or deliver it on their behalf to their employees."

He notes there are the regular courses offered that everyone knows about, including full-time programming and part-time programming: Health unit clerk, health care aid, business administration, early childhood education, paramedicine, as well as evening and weekend courses for safe food handling, first aid, general interests like photography and do-it-yourself. He says there's also availability for people to rent space if they're doing a meeting or conference, and office space for long term lease, with three currently in place.

He says, "We also do different projects. So, if someone has a project on putting together a training program to learn how to make French fries, that's something we'd be able to do for them, as well as applied research. If someone has something they're wanting to further develop, they can contract Red River college in order to help them with the research aspect of that."

Moffat notes some other plans.

"I also talked about where we are going. I want to see Portage la Prairie a college town as a result of our campus. I know a few people in Portage la Prairie and their extra-curricular interests, the things that they do in their day-to-day lives, are really interesting. I don't know that people in Portage typically know there is an opportunity to share their knowledge, to share their hobbies, their passions, and dreams with others. I am hoping to have an evening course very soon where they can get some accreditation in some adult education, and delivering adult education programs. And then if there's a course that they're interested in delivering, and there's people interested in taking it, we'd love to facilitate that and offer that course. This will do a few things. Number one, it's increasing our product offering to individuals who are interested in learning about something, as an example, like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles -- how to fly them, and the regulations -- if there's someone in town who knows a lot about that. And it also will give the availability to a part-time job, if you will. If somebody's wanting to pad their winter getaway fund, they would be able to potentially deliver a program and evening class at Red River College, and make a few dollars during four to six evenings out of a week. If the program's two to three hours each evening everybody wins, and we're able to grow as a community."

Moffat adds the Portage campus is statistically doing better than the other Red River College campuses.  

"Our employability for our students is very, very high. It's in the top 90's -- around 98%. For the last couple of practicums that we've had from our administrative assistant program, as well as health care aid, it's around 98% of those students who complete that program who are hired on before they're actually done. Two of our business administration graduates who just finished up last month had job offers before they were done our program. Our students are highly sought after. And it's really interesting. Our practicum placements, the businesses in the community that allow these people to come into practice their education, end up hiring them on the spot."

Jordan Friesen

The Canadian Mental Health Association's Central Region's Executive Director gave a presentation at this weeks Portage la Prairie Rotary Lunch.

Jordan Friesen explains he wanted to open up about the brand and image of CMHA.

"The perception of the community that CMHA serves individuals that might be marginalized, or might have substance use issues, or might be homeless, but what I really want to say is that there are a lot of people in Portage la Prairie that have mental health issues and the CMHA can provide services to all of those people. Not just to those that might be considered marginalized, but our aim is to promote mentally healthy lives for every body."

Friesen discusses how they deal with that struggle.

"Well it's certainly our biggest challenge that we don't want to be boxed into a niche. We've been doing what we've been doing for a long time, and now that mental health is something that people are more willing to talk about I think it's time to expand who we're able to provide services to as seeking mental health services becomes more acceptable."

He discusses some of the questions brought forth during the lunch.

"We had some questions around our housing, and in particular questions about housing and substance use. My answer around those issues is that we know that housing is the key to recovering from a lot of different issues, specifically related to mental health. Our goal is to provide good, quality, affordable housing to every body that needs it, regardless of what issues they're dealing with."

He adds there's a lot of people in Portage la Prairie suffering from mental health issues, and they'll continue to help as many people as they can.

Rotary Club President Shannon Moffat and 3CFFTS multi-engine instructor, Captain Michael Houle. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic/Postmedia Network)

Rotary Club President Shannon Moffat and 3CFFTS multi-engine instructor, Captain Michael Houle. 


The Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie (RCPP), in partnership with 3 Canadian Forces Flight Training School (3CFFTS), will be hosting the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Gala April 23 in Hanger 1 at Southport Airport.

“It’s a really good partnership, the military has a very big presence in our community,” said RCPP President Shannon Moffat. “The military wanted to bring that presence to Portage to show their traditions and give people the experience they may not have had the opportunity to have before.”

The gala, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of flight training in Southport, will feature the jazz quintet from the RCF command band to serenade attendees fraternizing amongst the many aircrafts on display in the hanger.

As well as keynote speaker retired general Raymond Henault, the last base commander at Southport before it became a training facility.  
“You can expect a traditional military-style dinner,” said Captain Michael Houle, multi-engine instructor at 3CFFTS. “We’re trying to keep as many traditions as we normally have at one of our (military) dinners.”

The gala’s venue moved from the Canad Inns to the hanger in Southport to accommodate all those wishing to attend, as the new location allows for the addition of 100 more people.

“It was brought to our attention that there was an opportunity where we were able to do it (at Southport) and we jumped on board,” said Moffat. “The ambiance of (the hanger) is very different than just being in a ball room.”

Tickets are selling quickly, and are expected to be sold out in the coming weeks, those interested in attending may purchase a ticket for $120 or a table — which seats eight — for $800. Tickets are available at Irwin Flooring, MIG Insurance, Remax, Southport Admin office or from any Rotarian.

Roberta Christianson

The Portage Rotary club highlighted a presentation today about public art, and it's value to our city. Chair of the Portage Public Art Committee Roberta Christianson says it's not what people think.

"I think public art is one of those things that people automatically think about as the murals which are all over the place right now, and they are wonderful. They're a great way to decorate. But there's so much more than just murals. And sometimes public art can just be an occasion, and it can be something that only lasts for the time that you're actually creating it."

Christianson outlines other forms of public art that just might fit your likes.

"It's opportunity for community to get together and create something that may have no ability to last beyond that 24 hour space, or whatever. Public art is sometimes a way of celebrating heritage. Sometimes it's a way of just bringing people together. Sometimes it's just a way of learning about another culture. There are so many ways that public art can be used, and we just have to open up our imagination about what we want to achieve and how we're going to do it."

She adds, "Number one, for a lot of people, they may never see statues and everything. So, this is an opportunity to go out and have that feeling of relating to something without having to get dressed up, or buying a ticket, or do all the formal things around art; whether it's just sitting at a concert on the island or going to a powwow."

Christianson says art comes in many diverse forms.

"There's lots of things that happen that are art. You can enjoy them and just relate to some part of yourself and another part of another culture, or our landscape. There's just so many ways the public benefits. It's a reflection sometimes of the values and the makeup of our community. So, it needs to be diverse and interesting."

Lucia DeVito

Lucia DeVito's been in Portage la Prairie as a Rotary exchange student from Italy since the start of the school year, and has been enjoying a lot of Western Canada. She's now with her second house family for her stay.

"As part of the program I'm staying with three different families in the year. And so now I'm living with my second house family. We have done so many things. We've been in British Columbia for the Christmas holiday. And then we went to Elkhorn. I tried cross-country skiing for the first time here. I went to the hot springs for the first time. I could lie down on the snow while I was in my swim suit. I saw the cars racing on the ice. A friend's grandparents have a farm, so I visited the farm and saw some baby goats born. It was interesting and disgusting at the same time. Monster Jam trucks were very cool in Winnipeg."

DeVito says she's looking forward to an upcoming ten-day bus trip.

"I'm going with the other exchange students who are staying in this district like me, from all over the world. They're staying in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. In May we're going for ten days on a trip. It's going to be the Western Trip. We're going to be on the bus and we're going to sleep almost every night in different places, and travel together."

She describes her presentation she's preparing for a Rotary luncheon in two weeks.

"I'm going to speak in two weeks. I'm going to do a presentation about my town in Italy, because one day I was in Winnipeg with my counsellor's husband, and we were speaking about how old are the churches here. We searched on the Internet and we figured out what Canadians mean by 'old' is nothing for us, because our buildings are very, very old. So, I thought that would be interesting for a presentation."

Travis Foster, Rotary Pond Hockey Chair, announces Jan. 19 during the Portage Rotary Club luncheon, its Pond Hockey event this year will be more of a family event. While keeping competitive teams at the centre of the mix, non-competitive and even kids' teams being included will help grow the event this year. (Mickey Dumont/Postmedia Network/Herald Leader)

Travis Foster, Rotary Pond Hockey Chair, announces Jan. 19 during the Portage Rotary Club luncheon, its Pond Hockey event this year will be more of a family event. While keeping competitive teams at the centre of the mix, non-competitive and even kids' teams being included will help grow the event this year.


Portage la Prairie's annual outdoor pond hockey tournament is expanding.

The 11th annual EF Moon Western Canadian Pond Hockey Championships will feature multiple divisions for the first time. Alongside the traditional competitive division, a non-competitive division and youth division (ages 12-17) will be added in hopes of attracting a wider variety of age and skill levels to the event.

“Up until this year we've always had just one division. The calibre of players was kind of all over the map and we'd been asked to divide it up,” said tournament co-ordinator Travis Foster. “We're hoping (it) will bring in some new blood and attract people that just want to have a fun weekend.”

Preparations are already underway outside the PCU Centre. Construction of the playing surfaces has begun and ice-surfacing by zambonis will be starting this week, according to Foster. The Portage Rotary Multi-Purpose room in the PCU Centre will once again serve as the indoor home base for the event, where hot food will be available for registered players. 

Added to the lineup of festivities surrounding the pond hockey tournament is the 3rd annual Cabin Fever Reliever social, presented in partnership with the Portage Potato Festival. The social will take place on Feb. 13 and feature live bands, a 50/50 draw and a raffle. Registered players in the pond hockey tournament get free admission. Tickets are $10 to the general public. Proceeds go to both Portage Pond Hockey and the Potato Festival.

“For the past 10 years pond hockey has been ran in Portage, we've been able to distribute over $50k to initiatives in (the community),” Foster said.

In the competitive and non-competitive divisions, the cost is $300 per team to register. The youth division is $100 per team. Individuals who wish to play but don't have a full team are asked to contact Foster via email at Travis.Foster@freedom55financial.com to be accommodated

The tournament is scheduled to run from Friday, Feb. 12 until Sunday, Feb. 14. The full schedule for the tournament will be released on http://www.portagepondhockey.com as the start date nears.

There are currently 12 teams across all divisions confirmed and Foster is hoping to have that number up to 20.

One uncontrollable factor: the weather. Hopefully polar vortexes, Alberta clippers and other formidable forms of cold fronts time their arrivals February arrivals appropriately.

“We're hoping for a nice weekend that's a little warmer than last year,” said Foster. “Cause last year was pretty cold.”

Rotary President Shannon Moffat

2016 promises to be a busy year for local Rotarians. Portage la Prairie Rotary Club President Shannon Moffat notes this year will see the annual events such as the Peace Ride and Pond Hockey tournament take place, as well as the return of the Royal Canadian Air Force Ball in the spring.

However, on top of their annual fundraising work, Moffat explains they're hoping to take on a more active role in the community. She says they're discussing the option of getting involved with a local event or organization, to provide more than just proceeds.

"The club does a lot of fundraisers. We're approached by a number of different people and organizations to help with different projects. What we want to look at is to look for a project that we want to put not only proceeds into, but our time and effort as well. We want to get our hands in there and start working on stuff."

Moffat indicates membership will continue to be a focus in 2016, noting they've seen several applications come in this this year. She says while they have a great group, they're always looking for diversify the Rotary Club's members.

"We have a very good mix right now, in terms of age range and gender. What we'd like to see is more younger members getting involved."

She notes they'll put a real focus on memberships in February, which is their membership month. Moffat encourages community members to take the time to learn more about the club online, or by attending their Tuesday meetings, adding there's no pressure to join and you can take your time making the decision

Shannon Moffatt ~ President of the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie

2015 is all but wrapped up for the Portage la Prairie Rotary Club, and their president says it was an active twelve months.

Shannon Moffatt's been at the helm for six months, noting Rotary's year started July 1st, with the Canada Day breakfast, and continued from there.

"We also had the veggie sale, the book sale. Recently, we've had a couple of casino nights that we do for different businesss for their Christmas parties. And then to end off the year, has been the parade. It was our first year taking over the parade (Portage Rotary Santa Parade of Lights), and it was a huge success. There were a lot of new floats, as well as the Rotary float -- we re-did that as well."

Moffatt's been part of Rotary for three years, and since taking over as president, has seen the commitment of Rotary members.

"Being president, I've been able to witness more closely the amount of work that these individuals put in, and how much time give because everybody is busy, if you're part of a service club or not. It's amazing the amount of time and commitment that they will put in, and the dedication they put into the fundraisers, and to community events."

Moffatt's also impressed with exchange student Lucia DeVito from Italy, who's been fun to work with, and seems to be enjoying getting to know new people, and having new adventures in Canada.

Lynne Parker, Recreation Supervisor of Recreation Opportunities for Children

Portage la Prairie's Recreation Opportunities for Children presented today at the Portage Rotary Club luncheon, highlighting some programs currently running in the city. Recreation supervisor Lynne Parker shares a summary.

people lynne parker dec152105smLynne Parker"I just brought them up to speed on everything we're doing right now. What programs ROC is running right now. We're doing the LVS hockey programs; we're doing the skating with North Memorial; we have our POW, the Aboriginal Dance Program; we just finished off an art program at North Memorial; and we have lacrosse going on also."

She notes the questions posed from the club.

"You know, the club members were wondering how long the programs have been running in Portage. I think that more than questions, there was just a lot of, 'Wow, that's great that these are the things that are happening,' and in the areas that really need it. The programs are all no charge to the families. And there's always a healthy snack for the kids. Those are two big drawing cards, right? And they're in their area, so they don't need the transportation to go anywhere else."

The warmer winter weather lead to great conditions for the annual Portage Rotary Club Santa Parade of Lights. Jakob Lautenschlaeger of Century 21 Foxx Realty outlines his experience in the parade.

"Awesome. It's going faster than usual but it's good. It's jut fun to see the community involved here and to be able to distribute a few small things to the kids. Just to see the kids smile is fun."

Mayor Irvine Ferris also took part in the holiday festivities and says the turnout was outstanding.

"It's fantastic! It's just packed down the avenue. Great weather, lots of people and great floats. It's a perfect parade."

As per usual the parade ended with an appearance from Santa Claus and his eight reindeer on the final float.

(Left to right) Jim Brands & Derek McCutcheon (co-chairs of Rotary Club book sale fundraiser)

The totals are in for this year's Portage Rotary Club book sale fundraiser. Fundraiser co-chair Jim Brands shares how it went.

"The Rotary Club's been having a book sale now for four or or five years. We missed last year. Derek and myself decided this year was a great event and we had a lot of fun if nothing else. It wasn't one of our biggest fundraisers, but we had a lot of fun. We had great participation. The mall donated some space for us and some tables. They looked after us very well. It's always nice to see a business like that jump on board and help us out. We picked up a couple of thousand dollars for the club. "

He says they gave a free book away to every child under twelve.

"We gave away a lot of books. Anybody under twelve came in, and parents were bringing their kids in. I was quite surprised at some of the books they actually picked. It was a great event. We give away so much money we have to make it somehow. This is one of the ones that I have the most fun with."

Co-chair Derek McCutcheon adds, "We had a different crowd again this year. We had a lot of action. We gave out free books to kids under twelve. I think that went really well. And there was lots of interaction with the community. It was good."

(Left to right) Jasmine, (second year Guide), Lena (first year Pathfinder) & Kim Houle (District Commissioner of Portage Girl Guides)

This week's Rotary luncheon in Portage la Prairie included a presentation from the Portage Girl Guides. District Commissioner Kim Houle outlines what she presented.

people kim houle nov172015d
"The Girl Guide program as an organization nationwide. And then I talked about what's happening in Portage la Prairie for Girl Guides. We have a lot going on. Sparks, for ages five and six. Brownies for ages seven and eight. Guides is ages nine to eleven, and Pathfinders from twelve to fourteen."

Houle explains why many have to be turned away.

"We always find that there's a lot of girls interested in the program and they want to join. Unfortunately we have to turn some people away because we don't have enough leaders to lead the girls through the program. So, if we have more adults that are willing to volunteer for the program then we can have more girls join it."

Houle notes she had a couple of girls involved in her presentation.

"We've got Jasmine and we've got Lena. Jasmine is a second year guide, and she talked about her experience in guiding, and she talked about camping at Bird's Hill, and how she likes to work on badges."

Jasmine shares some goals she's currently working on.

"I'm working on the Lady Baden Powell badge. I was helping out with Habitat for Humanity, to get the community service badge which is a part of the Lady Baden Powell badge."

people kim houle nov172015c
Houle adds, "The Lady Baden Powell badge is the highest award in guiding and it takes about two years to complete. Things that she has to do include participating in community service projects and helping other people. And Lena is a first year Pathfinder. She talked about how her mom encouraged her to join the program, and she keeps coming back every week. It's a new activity for her. She likes meeting the other girls in the group and she's participated in a variety of activities, one of which was the Remembrance Day ceremony. She carried one of the flags on behalf of the Girl Guides, which is a really important job for us to remember that day in our community. And she did a great job of holding that flag for a very long time."

She adds, "I really enjoying leading the groups in Portage la Prairie. Guiding is a really great program for the girls. It helps build good citizens for our community, and that's what it's all about. And if anyone wants to get more information about registering girls or how they can volunteer or help out, then they can contact me."

You can call Houle at (204) 240-6841 or by email at guider_kim@yahoo.ca.

The mayor of Portage la Prairie made a presentation at this week's Rotary luncheon in the Canad Inns. Mayor Irvine Ferris describes what it means to share his thoughts on his first year in office to the club.

"I was very excited to be invited to present to Rotary today. Rotary has a good cross section of citizens and business people from our community. Rotary is also involved in a lot of projects that move Portage ahead. You know, everything from the fountain to active transportation paths. So, this is an influential group, and it's a great group to talk to about this."

Ferris notes his presentation focused on not only the past year, but also what he'd like to see in the future.

"Certainly highlights of the past year -- there's so many, it's hard to touch on all of them. But I gave them a general idea of what's happened in the last year and also looking ahead both to the projects we'll be doing in 2016-2017, and also challenges that we face at the same time. So, it's to give them an idea of what we're facing as a city."

people irvine ferris nov022015a

Austin Morrison-Prieur and Rayden Desjarlais receive a cheque from Guy Moffat

A Portage la Prairie School Division run out of La Verendrye School has received a boost from the Portage Rotary Club. Members of the 'Positive Atmosphere for Learning Social Skills' (PALS) presented to the club at Tuesday's luncheon, focusing on their recycling program. The program aids to provide lessons of social skills for youth who may struggle in other areas of education for various reasons.

After showing a video outlining the program, Rotary member Guy Moffat presented them with a cheque for $850. Linda Meier says with the ongoing growth of this recycling program, the funding provided will go a long way.

"It's really expanded from where we first started with the recycling program. We're now looking at different things that can be recycled beyond what our local recycling place can take. We've done a lot through TerraCycle, so we're looking at various bins that will accommodate the different things that can be collected."

Meanwhile Christine Davidson who also presented noted the funding could also be used to improve their sorting capabilities, while also creating storage for items commonly needed by teachers.

"Perhaps we'll do sort of a station in our recycling room, where the sorting process will be a little easier. We're going to start storing things that teachers need on a regular basis, shoe boxes, sour cream containers, and things like that."

The youth are in charge of much of the work in the program, providing them with valuable lessons in cooperation, responsibility, and environmental consideration. Rayden Desjarlais was one of the students to present to the club, and notes there's no shortage of work to be done.

"We do washing, cardboard boxes, clean out chocolate milk containers, take the tabs of cans, and lots of stuff."

Meanwhile Austin Morrison-Prieur says being involved in the program is an excellent way to help the environment, while having fun.

"We help the environment, we help our school. The best part is it sounds like a boring job, but we usually find some fun things and play with them. We get to keep them, if we can re-use it, I can bring it home to re-use."

Ken Krebs, Rotary International District 5550 Governor, & Shannon Moffat, President of Portage Rotary Club, aside the banner with all Club Presidents' signatures

An official with Rotary International spoke at this week's Portage Rotary Club luncheon. Rotary International District 5550 Governor Ken Krebs summarizes the presentation he made regarding Rotary.

"We are called to use the gifts that each of us have -- the varied gifts, because no one has the two same gifts -- to join together, use those and be a gift to the world through service in Rotary."

Krebs shares his thoughts on the local club.

people ken krebs sep152015Ken Krebs"You've got a great group here. It's a fairly large club, as Rotary clubs go. It's a reasonably well-balanced club. You do have younger members. They're very enthusiastic, they're community-minded, and they're one of the clubs that never ceases to amaze me with wonderful things that they're doing for their community."

He notes some interesting efforts being made globally. "The polio campaign started back in 1985 when Rotary was a little bit innocent about how you go about eradicating a disease, and thought it could be done in a matter of a few years. We started in the Philippines. A couple of years into the project it was realized that we needed help. So, we teamed with the World Health Organization and UNSECO, and got different international governments online. We have been working hard at getting those two drops on the tongue of every child in the world ever since, to eradicate the disease. We're very close because the wild polio virus hasn't been seen now in a month. Occasionally a case will pop up that's derived from the vaccine. The oral vaccine is a live virus, just weakened. It lives in the gut of the child receiving it, multiplies, and it does change genetically slightly. Polio is spread by feces. So when this child goes to the bathroom, and if there's not good sanitation around, another child who has not been immunized may contact that, and contract a form of polio -- not as devastating as the full wild polio virus, but they can catch it. So, to eliminate that, we're now going to the injected vaccine which is made from the dead virus. That way it cannot mutate in the gut. It just causes the body to form the proper antibodies to fend off polio. And that will hopefully stop the cycle within the three years that we're projecting."

Krebs says the club's seeking to appeal to a younger generation. "Like many other service clubs, we're facing changing times, and we're working very hard at making our meetings more acceptable to the younger generation who, compared to some of us we think are impatient, really want to get on with life. They want to do their fellowships, and to do some business networking, but, like most people, they want also to give back to the community. So, we are trying to shift our meeting styles and our membership styles to suit the newer lifestyle of today's young professionals."

He adds there's exciting news in China. "China has sort of opened the thin edge of the wedge, in that they're allowing Rotary clubs to be formed in China now. There are limitations on who can be a Rotarian, but we're growing rapidly, and I was advised yesterday that we now have ten active clubs in China."

Mandy Dubois, executive director of Portage Plains United Way

The Portage Plains United Way gave this week's featured presentation at the Portage Rotary club luncheon. Executive Director Mandy Dubois says she related some personal history of her association with the United Way.

"I came to Rotary and I wanted to just give them kind of a brief history of myself, where I cam from and my connection with the United Way long before I became the executive director. That was important to me. I wanted to talk about how we've added two new agencies this year to receive funding from the Portage Plains United Way, which is something that hasn't happened in at least ten years from what I've looked back at."

Dubois says she also shared their list of upcoming events.

"I wanted to talk about our upcoming events because, other than corporate workplace and individual donations, that's where we raise a lot of our money for our campaign. I just want to encourage people to support the Portage Plains United Way in any way they possibly can. I know that we all aren't financially able to donate. But, you know, it might be just supporting one of our special events, and bringing your family out to that, or it could be volunteering your time with us to help us at special events or in the office. So, I just encourage everybody to get involved with our community, invest their time or their money with the Portage Plains United Way, and make a difference."

Visiting Rotary exchange student Lucia De Vito, left, from Fabriano, italy, recently returned students Quinn Ferris who visited Mexico and Kristi Perrin who did her exchange in Belgium, attended the Tuesday regular Rotary meeting where Ferris gave a presentation.

Sharing cultural experience, broadening one’s mind and learning are cornerstones of student exchanges. Quinn Ferris told the Portage la Prairie Rotarians during their luncheon Aug. 25, the exchange they sponsored him on, hit that in spades.

Rotary International, of which there is a vibrant club in Portage has been sending youth on international exchanges since 1929. Each year the service club sponsors approximately 9,000 students internationally to travel and learn a new culture.
Ferris and Kristi Perrin were fortunate students from here in late 2014, to embark on an exchange. Visiting here this year is 17-year-old Lucia De Vito of Fabriano, Italy.

Ferris visited Cozumel, Mexico and Perrin traveled Belgium in Europe.

The young Portager now preparing to leave for university could not praise the exchange program enough for how it has helped him personally. ‘Mi casa, tu casa’ a famous Spanish saying meaning my home is your home, is now a part of his heart.

Bowled over by the shear beauty of Cozumel, home to the world’s second largest reef, Ferris emphasized what he really brought home was a sense of family. He boarded with three Mexican families, each he said are his families he left behind.

“One of the things I was luckiest to have down there was how I felt a part of a family down there,” said Ferris. “I can truly say that I have three families that are in Mexico with parents and other siblings. I didn’t feel that with one family, with all three of my families.

“I was so lucky with the people I got meet and with the local experiences.”.

August 2020
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