Rotary conference aimed at caring, inspiring

Rotarians from across the province converged on the River Rock Casino Resort for the annual Rotary District 5040 Conference 2011.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate the year with fellow Rotarians and to recognize the successes of the individual clubs,” said Penny Offer, District 5040 governor. “More than 230 members came to network, listen to some great guest speakers and to acknowledge some Rotary milestones.”

The weekend-long conference is a long-standing tradition for Rotarians and besides being a great opportunity to gather together with friends from across B.C., it also serves to motivate club members to continue their good work, said Offer.

The conference’s theme this year was “I care, I inspire, I act, I Rotary,” and key to this was to highlight the many good deeds carried out on behalf of Rotary International, including its “extremely successful polio eradication project.”

“Our local Rotary clubs have raised more than $140,000 for the polio campaign,” she added. “It’s an ongoing annual campaign.”

Danny Catt, Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar at the College of African Wildlife Management in Tanzania (1991-92), shared his stories and photographs from his travels around the globe.

“He is a world traveller and renowned photographer, whose pictures have been published in TIME, Maclean’s and Chinese Geographic magazines,” said Offer. “We presented him with a university scholarship 20 years ago.”

Retired Vancouver Police Department Const. Al Arsenault, Sgt. Toby Hinton and Const. David Steverding of the Odd Squad, a nonprofit organization created in 1997 by seven Vancouver police officers who work on the Downtown Eastside, spoke about their work and award-winning videos and documentaries that tell real stories of the pitfalls of drugs.

It wasn’t all work though, added Offer. One of the many highlights of the symposium was the world-famous Langley Ukulele Ensemble. On Saturday, the 30-year-old troupe, whose members range in age from 12 to 21, entertained the crowd.

“They have traveled to Hawaii for 16 years as well as Stratford, Ont., where they opened the 10th Annual Stratford Music Festival,” said Offer. “They truly were fantastic.”

Meanwhile, 17 Rotary-sponsored exchange students from 11 different countries welcomed the delegates during a moving flag ceremony.

“The students each marched in with their country’s flag and they were accompanied by an RCMP officer,” said Offer. “They performed a fun skit as well.

For more information about Rotary International or to locate a club near you, visit www.rotary.org.

mhopkins@richmond-news.com

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