Club News
Rotarian Yakov Sobolev introduced CEO Jill Raycroft of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce as the lunch speaker at the Rotary Club of Belleville.  With a combination of 20+ years in the post-secondary education sector and 30+ years volunteering for various causes, Jill brings a dynamic blend of experience and education to serving the community she loves and lives in.  Following a 17 year career at Loyalist College, going back to school for her MBA, raising two children, running for Mayor in 2014 and volunteering with numerous committees and organizations, she finally found her place in the community with the Belleville Chamber of Commerce in 2017.
The Chamber helps business prosper, connect and share.  Through the strength of the Chamber network across the country, organizations grow and prosper with membership being as diverse as the organizations who join.  The Chamber connects members to each other and the community, representing them at all levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal.  The Chamber shares the influence of their voice to impact change for the communities they serve.  The Chamber is celebrating 160 years in 2024, was accredited in 2020.  They are governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, 15 in number, and operate by the Board Trade Act, Part II.
The membership is 500+ strong and is well balanced with professional services, building and renovation, shopping and specialty retail, food and drink, social services and not-for-profit, arts, entertainment and recreation, advertising, publishing and promotion, property sales, development and services, healthcare and many more.  The benefits of belonging include doing business with those they know and  trust as well as networking opportunities and information that keeps you up-to-date on Chamber events, member news and programs of interest.
2019 was the transformation year, re-branding, coming up with new ways to do things.  The plan was to reap the rewards in 2020, but then along came a pandemic and dollars were needed to support small business as it became evident how vital the businesses were and how important it was to recognize the people around the businesses.  The Annual President's Dinner became an opportunity to celebrate the members by presenting Cornerstone Awards, Life Achievement awards and presenting a Key To The Cabin, the Rotary Club of Belleville being the first, celebrating 100 years of working together on events such as the Waterfront Festival, Hometown Hockey, Santa Claus Parade, Family FUNfest and Touch-a-Truck.  Jill is looking forward to how the Chamber and Rotary might realign as partners with intention for the "betterment of the community" as we resolved back in 1923.  Many thanks from Jill to Rotary for their audience, for always aspiring to do more and to look at avenues to stay connected in the future.
The 4th Annual Rotary ‘GREAT LAKES WATERSHED CLEANUP’ is fast approaching. On Saturday April 27, 2024, thousands of Rotarians & Non-Rotarians alike, on both sides of the Canadian and U.S. border will roll up their sleeves to collect refuse along the shoreline, and innumerable waterway tributaries to the Great Lakes basin. This is a great example of ‘ROTARY IN ACTION’ and brings considerable community attention to the importance of ‘ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY.’ Join us for our ‘ROTARY DAY OF SERVICE’ – All Welcome – Invite family, friends, and anyone else who would enjoy the event.
Locally, this year's event will be held on Saturday, April 27th from 10 a.m. to noon (rain date is May 4th).  Meet at East Zwick's Island Park on Mary Street (dog park parking lot).  All Rotarians and families are invited to take part in this amazing environmental initiative.  Please contact Samantha Reid, Rotarian at for more information.
Community Grants Chair, Rotarian Brenda Snider started her presentation by introducing the members of the Committee -- Tracey Vandervoort, Harold Brennan, Cassandra Bonn, Judy McKnight, Shannon Neely and Jared Bellemare. The process is fairly straight forward.  Organizations submit a grant application to the Rotary Club of Belleville, Community Grants Committee where it is reviewed and the Committee determines what is the greatest need in the community.  While the process is not complicated, the results are rewarding.  Over the last three years, $63,000 has been dispersed into the community as outlined below.
The Children's Safety Village provides students with a safety training program facilitated by the Belleville Police Service, Fire Prevention Office, Internet safety and St. John Ambulance as well as VIA rail train safety is offered.  The funds provided by Rotary support the transportation of students to and from the Village from the school.  The training is provided no charge.  Three Oaks Stage Two housing received funding to purchase playground equipment and toys.  To assist with rehabilitation of youth in conflict with the justice system, mentorship is provided through the PACT Program.  Rotarian Chris Finkle and his work crew purchased a 3D printer and offset the costs of making face shields for front-line workers to support programs and agencies in the community during those tough COVID days.
A weekly program is provided by Abigails Learning Centre in partnership with Belleville Quinte West Community Health Centre to help educate parents on parenting and other life skills as well as mental health support.  Training is also provided to pregnant or new mothers with child care offered while in class.  Funding was provided to the Strive to Thrive Care packages provided by the Children's Foundation for their virtual mental health program.  The Good Baby Box program is supported through Community Development Council Quinte and provides families access to formula and diapers at affordable costs.
Volunteer Information Quinte received funding to support the Community and Youth Program facilitator to provide presentations to Grade 10 students regarding volunteer opportunities, benefits and supports and career planning.  This builds youth self esteem and self worth, builds future leaders and offers youth the opportunity to develop skills and to network with others.  Popular Camp Molly assists with firefighting training for young females as an introduction to consider a career as a firefighter.  Big Brothers/Sisters facilitates a school mentoring program for children where they receive one on one matches with a volunteer and meet on school property, spending time reading, playing games, sharing stories where there is opportunity for the students to build self-esteem, self-worth and healthy relationships.  
We have heard (today also) about the Humane Society Rescue Readers program.  Check out the other story on the Literacy Committee.
Hospice Quinte received funding to support the 2nd Annual Caregivers Expo, bringing together all service providers for an event where families can attend and learn about programs and services offered for their loved ones, providing support for the caregivers as well as individuals and family members.  Music to our ears?  The Quinte Symphony received funding to assist with the 2023 Spring Concert.
And there you have it, all the hard work of the Community Grants Committee.
In April and May 2023, the Rotary Club of Belleville spearheaded a Rotary Refresh initiative.  The purpose of this exercise was to involve Rotary members in a process with the aim of co-creating positive change, as identified by members, that results in attracting new members and aligning activities with ways in which the Club can best serve Belleville and uphold Rotary's 7 Areas of Focus.  As an update, Janeen presented the areas Rotary Refresh Focus:
  • Lunch Club and Satellite Club -- one club with two meeting times, lunch and evening, in-person, alternating weeks.  Exploring ways to accommodate virtual attendance in ways that create minimal support and ease for example, listen only.
  • Rotary Club awareness -- new Club tent.  Exploring ways members can promote Rotary when volunteering and attending events, e.g., Rotary caps, tee-shirts, when at RLK, Children's Christmas Party, Porchfest, Touch-a-Truck, tree planting, Senators 50/50, etc.
  • Recruit new members -- 7 new members have joined.  The committee is exploring a 'recruitment drive' or event.  Have Rotary take-aways, e.g., postcard at events like Winter Games and others mentioned.
  • Engage existing members -- speakers to include recipients of Paul Harris Awards, recipients of grants to discuss impact, Rotarians with history in the Club, new community members, e.g., downtown developer, Zubin, artist with pieces in MOMA & Tate, ordinary people with extraordinary stories, etc.
  • Focus and clarity of fundraising activities -- committee work in process
  • Energize meetings -- social time to mingle built in at both lunch and evening meetings.  Meeting energizers.  Peter's jokes of the day
Next steps to ensure discussions and ideas raised at the Refresh Rotary Committee meetings are brought forward to the Board.  Encouraging members who are not on the committee, but would like to share input and insights to reach out to Committee members -- Peter Malone, Tracey Vandervoort, Janeen Halliwell, Ruth Mathieson, Cristina Cadavid, John Smale, Peter Coy and Karen Baker.  Ensure the work of the Committee intersects with other Committee work such as Public Image and Recruitment.  Continue to work together to move our efforts forward.
This work is about change.  We are evolving and need to take time to be thoughtful as we move forward.
When Wilf Wilkinson was Rotary International President in 2007/2008, he introduced an area of focus under Basic Education and Literacy and in 2010, the Rotary Club of Belleville started the first Literacy Committee under chair Michael Maloney.  One of the first partnerships was with the Amarok Society, a small NGO registered charity founded by a Canadian family in Bangladesh.  The Mission is to teach illiterate mothers basic literacy skills in slum neighbourhoods to start micro schools where the mothers would teach five children each.  Thirty Amarok Schools were established to teach 750 mothers who in turn would teach 3,750 students.  The goal was to transfer the students to government schools where they could graduate from post secondary with government scholarships.  The success rate was high.  Through a Global Grant $100,000 Canadian was raised, $7,500 of which came from the Rotary Club of Belleville.  Digital skills were introduced and grant goals met and exceeded.  The world of Internet opened and the program expanded to India.  This program has huge benefits on the lives of people, lifting them out of poverty, providing mothers with better jobs and brighter futures for the children.  Annual support will be continued through a District Grant in 2024/2025.
The Rotary Club of Belleville has partnered with the Hastings Prince Edward Humane Society to support a new program called Rescue Readers, where classes of elementary school children visit the new Humane Society Shelter.  Students learn about what is involved in having and caring for a pet, the role of Shelters and developing empathy for other living creatures.  The students are given a tour of the building and have an opportunity to read to the animals.  Literacy activity involves reading aloud to a non-judgemental audience and what could be better than calming an animal and helping them socialize.  Benefits of both ends of the leash!  Sharon was quick to point out that everyone can participate in a fellowship opportunity on September 28th, joining colleagues, friends, family to walk your dogs around Zwicks Park, all in support of this really fun initiative.  The event is organized by the Humane Society called Wiggle Waggle Walkathon.  Funds raised can be in support of the Rescue Readers Program.

The 9th Annual Inter-Rotary Club Spelling Bee is coming up with 7 Rotary Clubs involved. Each Rotary Club donates $500 to cover prizes and promotional material.   The Spelling Bee is for Grades 4 - 6 (Junior) and Grades 7 - 8 (Intermediate).  The regional finals will be held at Bayside and aired on YOUR TV on May 11, 2024.  A joint Competition in the form of an Adult Spelling Bee will be hosted by the Trenton Rotary Club at These 4 Walls on Monday, April 15th as a taste of what's to come.  Sharon is looking for team(s) of six. 
Having read all of this work that the Literacy Committee does, it's no surprise that Sharon McConnell is looking for new members to join.  Guaranteed to be worth your while and lots of fun too!  Call Sharon at (613) 661-7781 or send her an email at sharonmcconnell50
Dr. Ruth Mathieson took the opportunity to share how some of the Rotary money is spent and the good we are doing in the world through International Service.  One of the people our Club supports is Dr. Paul Thistle, who lives and works in Zimbabwe.  He is an obstetrician/gynaecologist who married a local midwife, Pedrinah, learned to speak Shona and have three boys, two of them are now studying at Toronto University.  Dr. Thistle first came on Rotary's radar in 2004 when Dr. Bill Beattie sent over a hockey bag full of medications.  Then in 2007, vital hospital equipment was sent from BGH in a 40 foot sea container which included 30 beds, 28 mattresses, 3 cribs and lots of medical supplies.  The Rotary Club of Belleville gave $2,400 towards the freight charges.  We have continued to support him over the years.  The latest was a contribution to the rehabilitation ward and pocket money for him, as he now volunteers at Karanda hospital.  Four times a year he writes an email letter, called the Thistle Epistle.  Here are some excerpts from his latest letter.
"The work at Karanda continues in the midst of armed conflicts and humanitarian crises around the globe.  Zimbabwe faces its own specific challenges, including the recent rapid devaluation of the local currency, a national cholera epidemic and an active polio outbreak.  In addition, we are facing a drought year.  The once promising crops are withering on the vine.  According to the 2023 Zimbabwean Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report, 49% of people lack basic sanitation at home, 45% are affected by drought and 17% walk more than one kilometer to their water source daily, 26% of children are stunted and 17% are classified as having severe hunger.  We have noted that the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' has widened, more so in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic".  In spite of these challenges "we are eager to turn the sod on 2024 projects:  maternity extension, laboratory expansion, chapel renovations, dormitory and solarization of the hospital compound.  The needs seem endless, our five year strategic plan ambitious.  However, in contrast to the Beatles' song, we get by with a big help from our friends at home and abroad.  Thank you everyone."
Past District Governor Jim Louttit and advisor on The Rotary Foundation/Endowment/Major Gifts for District 7070 was welcomed by Past President Darrell Smith.  As a way of introduction, Jim is the President of JVL Global Corp, a financial services consulting company specializing in community development and microfinance.  Prior to starting his own consulting company in 2012, he worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia with much of his work in their International Banking Division where he lived and worked in Central and South America for seven years serving in Executive roles.
Jim became a Rotarian in early 2005 as a founding member and Second Vice-President of the Rotary Club of Lima Sunrise in District 4450.  After leaving Peru in 2007 to return to Canada, he joined Toronto Sunrise in District 7070 serving as President in 2010-11.  He also served as District Governor in 2016-17 and remains active in the District's Foundation, Governance and Membership Committees. In 2021-22, Jim became an Adviser for the Community Economic Development Major Gifts Initiative (CED-MGI) Committee and will serve in this role until June 2024.   He is the Past Chair of the Rotary Action Group Chairs Council serving in this role for the Rotary years 2019-20 and 2020-21.  He is also a Past President of the Rotary Action Group for Community Economic Development (RAGCED) and a past Chair of their Advisory Board.  Jim is also a member of the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group (ESRAG); the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Rotary Action Group (WASHRAG); and the Rotary Action Group for Peace (RAGFP) as well as a member of the International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians (IFMR) and IT Professionals Forum Rotary Fellowship.  He is a member of the Paul Harris Society, Bequest Society, and is a Major Donor.
It was the 6th President of Rotary International in 1916, Arch C. Klumph who suggested Rotary start an endowment fund to do good in the world.  The Rotary Foundation became formalized in 1928 with an investment of $26.50 U.S. and today it is worth more than one billion dollars.  For the 15th consecutive year, the Rotary Foundation has been recognized by Charity Navigator as a Four Star Charity that encourages people to give with confidence based on the organization's financial health including measures of stability, efficiency and sustainability.  Also tracked is accountability and transparency policies to ensure the good governance and integrity of the organization.  Quite an achievement!
Through Rotary's "doing good in the world", the worldwide eradication of polio has been made possible, through Rotary's Peace Center Program Peace Building has been achieved, and both global and district grants have included humanitarian projects, scholarships and vocational training teams.  A Masters degree program and professional development certificate program has provided on-line and classroom education around the world through the Peace Centers and each year, 1600 program alumni are working on peace and development in more than 140 countries.
Global Grant Funding for Rotary Year 2014 through to 2023 has been broken down as follows:
  • Disease prevention and treatment - $369,785,348
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene - $177,226,066
  • Community economic development - $104,607,915
  • Basic education and literacy - $91,471,520
  • Maternal and child health - $67,063,275
  • Peacebuilding and conflict prevention - $34,252,724
  • Environment - $5,234,447
Rotary's Disaster Response Fund has approved 375 grant applications since COVID, over $17 million dollars with 300 Districts involved.  Donating to the Rotary Foundation through annual giving ensures help and support today continues.  This giving is the life blood of the Foundation.  Long-term planning through an endowment fund is also available to provide support forever.  Directing your gift to what matters most to you was one of the top reasons the Rotary Foundation is flourishing.  A person can donate to one foundation with many option.  A major donor is one who gifts $10,000 or more U.S. and an Arch Klumph Society donor is one who gifts $250,000 or more U.S.
And to quote Arch C. Klumph we should not live for ourselves alone, but for the joy in doing good for others.
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