Rotary Reflections: Celebrating Rotary's centenary in Kingston

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PETER MERKLEY, PAUL ELSLEY and PAUL VAN NEST

April 1, 1921, is the official date the Rotary Club of Kingston was registered by Rotary International, which makes 2021 the 100th year of Rotary in Kingston. There are now four Rotary clubs in Kingston: Kingston (1921), Kingston-Frontenac (1965), Cataraqui-Kingston (1985) and Kingston Waterfront (2015).

Rotarians from all four clubs began planning for this celebration three years ago with a goal to celebrate our past service and offer anniversary contributions to our community. Then COVID-19 happened. Since Rotarians fully understand how to pivot and address community needs, we redirected our energy to assisting people most impacted by the lockdown. Since April 2020, we have delivered healthy food to vulnerable children and their families and made masks for front-line workers and others who need them.

Centennial planning resumed mid-summer to finalize the details on a series of projects that would have a lasting impact on Kingston. Working with community partners will ensure sustainability long after our centennial year concludes. Through these projects, Rotarians and friends of Rotary will contribute in excess of $500,000 to the community.

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Centennial Projects:

  • Transitioning Pathways to Education graduates from high school to post-secondary through mentorship.
  • Supporting students at St. Lawrence College with scholarships and funding facilities.
  • Promoting youth mental health and safety with virtual programs for secondary school students.
  • Partnering with Loughborough Public School to build a greenhouse and teaching kitchen.
  • Sustaining our environment by planting 100 trees in Rotary Park and in the community.
  • Connecting new Canadians to employment opportunities and services and fellowship.
  • Developing cultural awareness at No. 9 Gardens by engaging Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
  • Constructing a new accessible fire pit at Easter Seals’ Camp Merrywood.
  • Purchasing and installing new dock facilities at RKY Camp.
  • Dedicating the Rotary Reading Room as part of the Reg Shadbolt Learning Centre at the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and Area.
  • Supporting Hospice Kingston in developing its new facilities.
  • Building a Monarch Butterfly Garden at Rotary Park.

In addition to the centennial projects, we will host a number of celebratory events. In March, Rotarians will honour outstanding community organizations and citizens with Paul Harris Fellow Awards. In June, Rotarians and friends will hold a centennial dinner, and then our community partners and youth program participants will join us at Rotary Park in July for our centennial birthday party.

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A centennial is a momentous time for any organization. It’s a time to recognize and celebrate a century of service. Rotary in Kingston has evolved and expanded to include over 200 members, including two Rotaract and three Interact clubs. We look forward to sharing our story through these Rotary Reflections, 52 in number and published weekly in The Kingston Whig-Standard and Kingston This Week. Follow us. And we encourage you to join with us in all of these endeavours.

This is the first of 52 Rotary Reflections to be published in 2021 to provide a snapshot of the impact Rotary has had in Kingston over the past century. Feedback is welcome at rotaryreflections@gmail.com. For more information about 100 Years of Rotary in Kingston, visit www.kingstonrotarycentennial.com.

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