Rotarians committed to provide service – locally and worldwide

Local club member Frank Reitz announced as 2017-2018 District Governor

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

With the motto: “Service above self,” Rotarians of both local Fort McMurray and Oilsands Rotary Clubs have been providing humanitarian initiatives since 1977.

With the two clubs owning the same mandate to: “administer the lease and steward the land to provide recreation amenities for the community.”

Frank ReitzLocal resident and Rotarian Frank Reitz, who has recently been announced as the 2017-2018 District Governor, explained how the history of the Rotary Club of Fort McMurray first started due to securing the mandate. The result was the building of Rotary House – a solid foundation to the city.

The first step was the recreation lease on Airport Road, which later permitted the RV Campground. With a partnership to correlate the land, the Club worked with the Archery Club, the Motor Cycle Club and the Running Club to provide the space for a wide variety of recreational activities.

Once the campground operations became profitable, the Rotary Club contributed $2.7 million to construct Rotary House, which still today provides assisted-living to Fort McMurray’s senior population.

Over a decade later, the local Clubs joined with Rotary International to provide mass immunizations to children for Polio. As the fight against the disease continues, so does the delivery of the oral polio vaccines.

“To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.3 billion to fight polio,” Reitz explained. “As of 2013, there were only 416 confirmed polio cases in the world, which is down from about 350,000 a year, when the initiative launched in 1988.”

According to Rotary World’s Greatest Meal (www.wgmeal.com), the January 27 polio update states there are currently zero cases recorded in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Last year’s totals indicated 53 cases in Pakistan and 19 recorded cases in Afghanistan.

“We have come a long way in 2015, and District 5370 has been a very big part of that effort,” Reitz said. “In the current Rotary year, our district has contributed $100,000 U.S. to the Polio Plus effort. We are very proud of all Clubs and Rotarians in our district for how we have helped the cause.”

“We have come a long way in 2015, and District 5370 has been a very big part of that effort,” Reitz said. “In the current Rotary year, our district has contributed $100,000 U.S. to the Polio Plus effort. We are very proud of all Clubs and Rotarians in our district for how we have helped the cause.”

Looking towards the 2017th year, Reitz will be officially pronounced as the 2017-2018 District Governor for the 61 Rotary Clubs, 20 Interact Clubs (members include high school students) and 6 Rotaract Clubs (members include University students and young professionals) in Rotary International District 5370 Zone 24.

“The message is to inspire Rotarians by recognizing the wonderful activities and projects Rotary Clubs undertake and to celebrate their successes and on-going campaigns in their community abroad,” Reitz shared.

Because Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional persons uniting to provide humanitarian services, Reitz said he will continue to share the message of philanthropy at home and throughout the neighbouring communities to his fellow club members.

“The message is to inspire Rotarians by recognizing the wonderful activities and projects Rotary Clubs undertake and to celebrate their successes and on-going campaigns in their community abroad,” Reitz shared.

In the past 37 years in Fort McMurray, the Clubs have a well-established list of contributions, which have been made possible by funding and creating partnerships. A few of the following highlighted initiatives includes: The Oils Sands Rotary Music Festival, 868 YMM-Rotary Northstar RCACS Air Cadets ($5,000 – $7,500/per year), Leadership Wood Buffalo ($2,500/per year), Lifeline Program ($100,000 – which ensures Fort McMurray Seniors are able to receive the service free of charge), the Fort McMurray Firefighters Social Society PAD Program ($62,000 Rotary purchased AEDs), Keyano Student Bursary ($1,500/per year), The Hub Literacy Program – Alphabet Soup ($11,000), and the Junior Curling initiative ($25,000).

The Clubs have also sponsored: The Tom Jackson – Singing for Supper Program for the Food Bank and K of C Christmas Dinner, the Clean Scene program for Fort McMurray School Districts with Mike Ryan as presenter ($2,500/each time). Furthermore, a donation of $5,000 was provided to the Heritage Park Flood Restoration Project.

A recent partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library has allowed children (five years and under) in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) the opportunity to receive a free book each month. The Rotary Clubs provide funding for the shipping and handling costs. (Parents and Caregivers can register at ca.imaginationlibrary.com).

Reitz further shared the how committee members have and continue to travel the Region to meet with leaders and elders to promote the free book program through the Rural Wood Buffalo (established in November 2010) and the Urban Wood Buffalo (established in April 2012).

“With support from Syncrude Canada, the RMWB, local small businesses and the Rotary Club of Fort McMurray contributing approximately $150,000 over the next five years; 3,500 children in the region will continue to receive free books,” he said.

In 2017, Fort McMurray will be host to the 2017 Rotary Conference, which expects to have a 500 Rotarians guest list from the members in the District. The planning has already been put in action and will have special presenters and speakers, including Rotary International Dignitaries.

Shortly after the conference, Reitz will be taking on his role of Governor to promote the Clubs projects and initiatives to communities covering Northern Alberta, as well as, parts of Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

“Annually, the Governor’s home Club hosts our District Conference,” he said. “The Conference features speakers and presentations from noted Rotarians and individuals who have travelled and experienced the successes of Rotary, as well as, examples of potential projects and programs where Rotary could assist. My mission is to promote the Conference and to highlight the positives Fort McMurray will offer to visitors attending the conference.”

ROTARY 2015

Rotary Club members at last year’s WinterPLAY festival. The Rotary Clubs have partnered with the RMWB for the 2016 festival and will be hosting the Rotary Bonfire at the Closing Ceremonies on February 21 at 6 p.m. to hand out free hot chocolate during the fireworks. Fireworks start at 7:30 p.m. SUPPLIED PHOTO

The Oil Sands Rotary Club are currently planning their second annual Rotary Car Rally. Last year, the Club raised approximately $18,000 to fund on-going community programs like the Rotary Music Festival (which will be held from March 18 to April 26) and the Rotary Disk Golf Course at Vista Ridge. Club members have also organized and hosted mystery dinner theatre evenings numerous times throughout the years.

To keep updated with the local clubs, visit Fort McMurray Rotary Club at http://portal.clubrunner.ca/460 (Club meetings are held every Wednesday at noon in Smitty’s back room) and Oil Sands Rotary Club at http://portal.clubrunner.ca/461 (Club meetings are on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Sawridge Inn & Conference Centre).

– Connect Weekly –