B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong read the proclamation, declaring, “April 15 of 2013 shall be known as Rotary International week in B.C.”
The event was attended by about 290 people, including Rotarians, dignitaries and members of the community who came to celebrate 100 years of contributions by Rotary clubs in B.C.
Sean Hogan, the District-Governor for regional clubs, attended the event. He said clubs in B.C. gave $8.5 million to charities in 2012, a huge contribution to communities.
“We do a lot of good work, but we’ve always done it humbly.”
Hogan hopes Rotary can raise its profile and get more people involved in giving back through the organization, saying he was thankful for the event, which brought together Rotarians and community members.
“This is a great, fun event for us to get together and celebrate.”
Presidents from each of Abbotsford’s three Rotary clubs welcomed attendees to the event.Clubs represented included; Rotary Club of Abbotsford, Rotary Club of Abbotsford-Matsqui and the Rotary Club of Abbotsford-Sumas.
The presidents all spoke about the contributions Rotary has made locally and internationally, including the worldwide impact of the End Polio Now campaign led by Rotary International, which has immunized millions of children against polio.
Andrew Franklin, president of the Abbotsford club, explained that Rotary has 1.2 million members in over 200 countries, and has had an effect across the world. He said Rotary has allowed him to travel and meet people from around the world.
“Rotary has provided me with experiences I’ll never forget.”
Tyler Coburn, president of Abbotsford-Matsqui, told listeners that he originally didn’t know what Rotary was, but after attending a meeting and feeling so welcome, he went back.
“If you’re not a Rotarian, you should be,” he told the crowd.
De Jong, who was a member of the Abbotsford-Matsqui club, said it was a night to celebrate and recognize Rotary’s contributions to the Abbotsford community, including building parks, contributing to hospitals and funding care centres.
“It’s difficult to walk through Abbotsford and not be confronted by the good work Rotary has done.”
Mark Evered, the president of the University of Fraser Valley, said he was pleased to celebrate alongside Rotarians.
“Rotary clubs have been very generous to us,” he said. “They have supported us with programs, equipment, and scholarships and bursaries for our students.”
Mayor Bruce Banman said he understands the importance of Rotary, as his grandfathers were both Rotarians. He said that Rotary humbly works for the community even though people are often unaware of what Rotary does.
“They’re a great organization. They give back to the community they work and live in.”
Counc. John Smith joined Rotary in 1984. He said every Rotarian is proud because of the important things Rotary has achieved for people around the world.
“We need more love and altruism in the world – Rotary is the epitome of the word altruism.”