As awareness grows of the automated external defibrillators (AEDs) dotting the island, as students don reflectors and lights to stay bright at night, as more households acquire reflective street address signs, the Rotary Club of Bowen Island welcomed the region’s Rotary district governor, Bala Naidoo on Nov. 14.
The visit was part of the district governor’s tour to District 5040’s 50 clubs. Bowen Island shares a district with the Sunshine Coast, half of Vancouver, Whistler, the Caribou, up to Prince George and Terrace and over to Prince Rupert.
“The amazing thing is to learn about the culture of each area,” says Naidoo. “And each of our nine geographic areas are very, very different and has unique economic challenges and opportunities.”
Rotary Club governors have one-year terms but train for several years before taking over the region’s top job. Naidoo, who is based out of Vancouver, took over July 1 and will hand over the reins next year.
Nearing the end of his tour (Bowen was his 46th stop), Naidoo had kind words for the local club.
“I think we have such dedicated individuals. It's not that many, but it's amazing what a 20 person team can do with the right vision, and to help our community become better and stronger,” he said.
Created in 1905, the apolitical, a-religious international humanitarian organization’s motto is “service above self.” Rotary has thousands of clubs, hundreds of districts and millions of members in countries around the world.
“We are trying to find ways to attract younger people to carry on the legacy that we built over the last hundred years to take us into the next hundred years so that we still stay relevant to the community,” said Naidoo. “The things we raise money for and get involved and even in a small community like this, has far reaching impact all over the world.”
“We find that in smaller communities we actually have the strongest Rotary Clubs,” notes Naidoo.
He says that people can volunteer for a few hours a month, or become more engaged in the organization.
“If [islanders] would like to be involved, they can be involved to almost whatever level they want to be,” said Damien Bryan, the local club’s president.
Recognizable local initiatives include the public AEDs around the island, the Rotary Run for Rwanda that raises money for Komera and Shelterbox fundraisers.
“All the projects that have been done on Bowen and including international projects have been driven from individual Bowen people who felt strongly about this particular thing,” said Bryan. “Other people in the club have gotten behind them and helped make it happen.”
Naidoo said that his role in visiting Bowen is to hear from Rotarians how the district can support the club and what resources it can provide.
When this term is over, Naidoo said that it’ll be his goal is to lead and support projects for the rest of his life.
“Most Rotarians it's a lifestyle. It's a lifelong commitment,” he said. “There's so much work to be done.”