Posted by Gerry Lambert, District Governor

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.

The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchill

I am happy to report that the District’s 75 clubs are starting to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. What better organization would you want to have at your back? Rotary has survived and grown through two World Wars, the last pandemic of the Spanish Flu, and is now in the process of ridding the world of Polio.

I am happy to report that most of our Rotary clubs, the District, Zone and Rotary International have recovered from the initial shock of this crisis and are now moving forward to reach out and assist its members and their local communities worldwide. The response has been fantastic.

The District Governor-elect, Hadi Mortada and I have been working closely with the Area Governors and in turn they with their clubs. Here is a progress report on what is happening within the District.

1.      Transitioning - Most clubs have either already begun holding meetings online or are in the process of doing so.  I have attended these meetings and they are a great tool to discuss and assist others in their clubs and to begin determining how they can best help their communities.

2.      Assistance - Most clubs are contacting those organizations they already support to see how they can assist; examples include:

a.      Food Pantries: so far most of the help has been in the form of dollars.

b.      Food Distribution – Here, it is not just dollars but also through members driving for Meals on Wheels and distributing meals to the elderly in their homes.

c.      Gift Cards - They serve two purposes:  clubs, by buying the cards, are helping local businesses and then by donating them to community organizations to use or distribute to those in need.

d.      Plus, many other initiatives.

3.      Resources:

a.      Rotary Foundation,

                                                              i.      Grants: Through its Disaster Relief fund, Rotary is expediting the process Districts can use to receive Grants and allowing for backdating of claims once awarded.

                                                             ii.      Districts: Having authorized Districts to use their DDF funds to do internal grants, District Foundation Chair, Bonnie Black, and others have already surveyed clubs and will soon have an application that clubs can use to request funding.  The funding will be a match with the percent to be determined.  More to follow.

b.      Clubs:

                                                              i.      Online Fundraising:  The Montreal Rotaract club conducted its first online fundraiser, Trivial Pursuit, and raised $2000. Congratulations to all of them…

                                                             ii.      Club Meetings:  Many clubs have asked their members to donate what they would have spent attending a meeting to the Clubs COVID-19 efforts. Example 20 members * $20.00= $400/wk.

                                                           iii.      Regular Fundraisers: are being postponed for now or in some cases combined or cancelled.  I would ask clubs look at online options like concerts/etc. as an alternative.

c.       District:

                                                              i.      District special webpage with information, a speaker pool and other resources.

                                                             ii.      Area Governors are being used as a conduit between the District and clubs please reach out and use them and keep them in the loop.

                                                           iii.      Foundation committee: working hard on providing resources

                                                           iv.      Status of Rotary events (as of 4 Apr 2020):

1.      RI International Convention - Cancelled for this year.

2.      District Foundation walk: 9 May, Please see separate correspondence.

3.      President-Elect Training Seminar PETS- Done online thanks to District Training Chair Gayle Oudeh and DGE Hadi Mortada. More training sessions coming soon.

4.     District training assembly DTA cancelled but Foundation and other opportunities for training being offered online or through speaker’s pool.

5.     Youth Exchange YE-this year’s students have been returned home, but still working on this Summer and next year’s YE programs.

6.     Adventure programs - History, Citizenship, Technology, and Environment are on hold

7.     Rotary Youth Leadership: RYLA: Transitioning to online - congrats to the committee.

8.     ISC/Foundation Meetings - TBD

9.     Official DG Club Visits: remaining will be done online, if needed.

10.   District Community Service Dinner-being rescheduled.

11.   District Council/Continuity meetings, online, if needed

12.   Global Scholars/Peace Fellows going as planned POC PDG Katie Burke.

13.   District Changeover Dinner/Past District Governors Mtg - no change at the point in time.

Regarding the quote above.

Please think about inviting former club members, Youth Exchange, Rotaractors, Snowbirds, Global Scholars, Community organizations POCs, Friends of Rotary and community members to your online meetings.  Many people are looking for ways to assist during this crisis and returning/partnering with Rotary may help your club have a bigger impact in your local community. 

Also, after the crisis you may have an opportunity to retain those who participated online. For example, you could create a makeup/alternate club meeting, once a month, online. That would provide an opportunity for you to retain/keep active these individuals and others who can’t make regular meetings.  

Again, my congratulations to all the Rotarians who are making a difference. Keep up your efforts….

Good Luck and Stay Healthy.