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Rotarians making a difference at home and around the world

mary turner
Mary Turner is district governor for the Rotary Club.

Mary Turner learned early in her time as a Rotarian the difference the club can make in the world.

Now the district governor, Turner shared with the Rotary Club of Fort Macleod a story from her early days with the Olds Rotary Club.

A colleague at work had asked Turner many times to join Rotary but she resisted — until her son went to university and she found herself with an empty nest.

Joining Rotary, she decided, would be her new fall project.

One day her colleague at work told Turner about difficulties facing her home community in Kenya. A criminal element was vandalizing and stealing from the local school and the government was threatening to shut it down.

Turner’s colleague asked whether there was anything Rotary could do to help.

“As a brand-new Rotarian, I really had no idea,” Turner said.

A plan began to develop when the colleague’s parents came from Kenya for a visit, and the father explained how a fence around the school grounds, along with a security guard and office, would be of benefit.

The Rotary Club of Olds — 20 members strong — made it happen.

While that was going on, a receptionist at the physician clinic Turner and her husband run in Olds, offered to donate all her teaching materials from her previous career.

“When the school received these supplies they were able to implement them right away,” Turner said. “Now the school is able to have more students graduate. And with more graduates the government now recognizes the school as a viable entity and provides regular funding.”

“It’s made a huge difference in this community, not only for the children from this community who are able to attend school, but for all of the children from the neighbouring villages.”

The contributions of Rotary mean that all children can get an education and move on to university and become valuable members of their communities.

Turner shared that story as an example of what is possible as a member of Rotary.

“It’s amazing the opportunities that Rotary sometimes presents to us, if only we’re there to listen” Turner said.

Turner appeared virtually at Rotary’s October meeting to stress that growing membership is one of the goals for the coming year.

She urged the Fort Macleod Rotarians to share with friends and family the many good works Rotary can accomplish locally and internationally, in the hopes that others will share their passion.

Another example of that is the Los Amigos project, through which Rotary acquires used fire trucks, ambulances and handivans and delivers them to communities in Mexico.

Turner praised the Fort Macleod Rotary Club for its donation of $30,000 to the outdoor pool project, citing it is an example of what Rotarians are doing for their home communities.

“I think as Rotarians we have an amazing ability to impact lives every single day,” Turner said. “You’re doing that right now with this huge donation toward the swimming pool project. There will be so many children and adults thrilled with your contribution next spring and summer when the pool opens and they will all thank Rotarians for this great gift to your community.”

In addition to growing membership, other Rotary International goals this year are to support environmental projects, encouraging more women to join, and develop new club models.

Rotary clubs are encouraged to have a meeting this year to set goals for the next five years.

The Rotary Club of Fort Macleod’s next meeting is Monday, Nov. 9. Contact Jim Monteith at 403-382-0924 or Cassandra Vanee at 403-553-3355 for information.

“I think as Rotarians we need to realize we are doing incredible work through our organization and we are just in an awesome opportunity right now — more than ever — to affect lives.”