The Cranbrook Rotary Club is hoping to grow their ranks and has set a recruiting goal of 20 new members over the next year.
Specifically, the group is trying to attract more women and the under-40 crowd to bolster the membership numbers, however, anyone with heart for volunteerism is encouraged to join.
Stepping up as the incoming president is a familiar face.
Bill Bennett, the longtime MLA for Kootenay East and a former cabinet minister under the previous B.C. Liberal government, is leading the club, taking over from past president Ed Murray.
Bennett, who retired from politics before the 2017 provincial election, delivered the keynote address, making a pitch encouraging membership to recruit fresh faces.
“There’s 35,000 Rotary Clubs across the world and in North America, in particular, our clubs still don’t have a sufficient number of under-40s and women,” said Bennett. “We have quite a few women in our club but we need more women.”
“…Once you join the club, you’ll find out that it is fun and you feel good doing this good stuff for your community and internationally.”
Bennett highlighted some projects and initiatives that the club has been involved in, the most visible being Rotary Park and some of the nearby amenities such as the bandstand, the playground and the washrooms.
The club has a trail system through Cranbrook — Rotary Way — and is also partnering up to help with the construction of an accessible trail at Idlewild Park for people with mobility challenges.
Other legacy projects and initiatives include the J. Fred Scott Rotary Villa, a housing and supported living facility for low income seniors. The Rotary Club also organizes a yearly seniors dinner up at the Colombo Lodge, where hundreds of seniors are treated to a turkey dinner with meat and fixings donated by local businesses.
But the impact of the Rotary Club also resonates internationally, both as a global charity and from individual member clubs.
Rotary International has been working to end polio — which has been all but globally eliminated except for places in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria — over the last 30 years with over 2.5 billion children immunized and $1.8 billion in funding towards eradicating the disease.
The Cranbrook Rotary Club is also involved with a program in a marketplace in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, that provides educational opportunities for children by helping build schools and supply educational materials.
“The effects of volunteers in our community and on the world is profound in the quality of life,” Bennett told the crowd. “You can just imagine the millions of people around the world who have been helped by Rotary’s volunteer service, and the people right here, in our community.
“We’re all proud to be Rotarians and that is one of the things that happens when you join Rotary, you get to be really proud of being a Rotarian and you consider the people in your club part of a family, so when we talk about the Rotary family, we’re sincere. It feels like a family and it makes us more fun and it makes us more effective.”
The Rotary Club has a long history in Cranbrook and will be celebrating its centennial in 2021.
The club meets every Thursday at the Heritage Inn at noon for lunch that runs for approximately an hour. For more information on the club, visit the website.