Month dedicated to Rotary awareness

For the Rotary International community service group, 2011 starts with Rotary Awareness Month, an annual global exercise to boost knowledge of its many activities both inside and outside the organisation.

Awareness, say Rotary executives, forms an important part of the organisation’s work, as district and local leaders remind everyone of broad international goals for the year: polio eradication; the Future Vision Plan; Every Rotarian, Every Year; and the Permanent Fund.

Rotary began as an idea in 1900 on the North Side of Chicago when newly minted lawyer Paul Harris met attorney Bob Frank for dinner. The two walked the community streets, stopping at shops, greeting local figures, businessmen and leaders along the way.

Harris, impressed by Frank’s extended friendships, wondered if a way might be found to channel and expand this good will… Rotary was born in that moment and Harris founded the Rotary Club of Chicago, the first Rotary, on 23 February 1905.

Rotary today boasts more than 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries and a combined membership of 1.2 million. Its charitable arm, The Rotary Foundation, annually distributes more than $180 million to fund a variety of educational programmes and humanitarian projects throughout the world.

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The first Rotary Club in the Cayman Islands was Rotary Grand Cayman, which was chartered in November 1965. Since then, Rotary has expanded to include Rotary Club of Cayman Brac, Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Central – known simply as “Rotary Central” – and Rotary Sunrise.

Rotary Central received its charter in 1986 and has recently announced the launch of two new University College of the Cayman Islands scholarships focused on vocational service named in honour of two of the club’s founding members.

The new awards, said Mr. Wil Pineau, president of Rotary Central, have been named after two Rotary Central Charter Members and past presidents – Al Thompson Jr. and Dave Phipps – both of whom remain active club members. Starting dates for the programmes have not been set, but talks are ongoing between Rotary and UCCI on the timing and extent of the programmes.

Other traditional Rotary scholarships remain available through the club, including at UCCI one in memory of founding member and past president John Furze and 10 to be awarded at the annual Science Fair on 2 April at the ARC in Camana Bay.

“We invite all public and private high-school students to submit their projects. There are at least 10 winners in different categories, so this provides scholarships for future education, either local or overseas, depending on their choice,” Mr. Pineau said.

Best known as the chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Pineau was elected last year to head Rotary Central. He is ably served by Vice 
President Ravi Kapoor; Immediate Past President Paul Byles; Secretary Margaret Rattray, Treasurer PP Richard Lewis and Directors Naude Dreyer, Susie Bodden, Larry Tibbetts, Todd Davey, Greg Vasic and Graham Wood. On 1 July, Mr. Pineau will be succeeded by President-Elect Fiona Moseley.

The Science Fair is only a small part of a full roster of Rotary Central’s 2011 plans, Mr. Pineau said, which include the installation of five new bus shelters to add to the more than 40 existing shelters, which not only protect travellers from the wind and weather, but serve as an important fund-raising vehicle for Rotary Central.

Youth efforts

Efforts continue through associated youth organisations such at Rotaract, EarlyAct and InterAct to expand Rotary membership and ideals.

“Our club has a long association with Cayman youth, establishing the Junior Achievement programme in the early 1990s,” Mr. Pineau said, “in which members learn life skills, business ethics, how to create a company and operate their own business; all the different elements that are necessary for success.” This year, the club organised a special event to bring together past participants of the JA programme with the aim of developing an alumni association that will continue to support the initiative for many years to come.

This year, and for the first time since the 1920s, Rotary International has added the New Generations Service, a new area of club activity – joining Club Service, Vocational Service and Community Service – the three philosophical cornerstones of Rotary, and the foundation on which club activity is based.

New Generations Service will recognise the positive influence of youth and young adults, offering leadership-development activities, service projects and exchange programs, something that fits in well with the existing youth focus already practised by Rotary Central.

For the first time, the club will exhibit at the Chamber of Commerce’s Careers, Education, Training and Jobs Expo at the Family Life Centre on 4 February and will showcases its many youth programmes and initiatives to high school students and the community.

Meanwhile, Past President Neville Smith is chairing and organising the annual Fred Speirs Interschool Debates, which involves students from each of the high schools. Mr. Speirs served as a past president and was instrumental with establishing the debates many years ago. The competition was named in his memory and honour following his untimely passing in 2009.

The club also has a number of international projects whereby the Cayman Islands club partners with others rotary club in another country to assist in each club’s local community projects. Recent examples include assistance with school libraries such as Cayman Academy and Bodden Town primary school, as well as numerous projects to assist Haiti.

Rotary Central’s environmental initiatives have, in the past included a project to help the National Trust clear the Mastic Trail, which will get a boardwalk to help hikers navigate difficult swampy areas. Other activities include annual Earth Day activities, regular beach clean-ups and the creation of Centennial Park across from the George Town Public Library, the construction of the T.E. McField Community Centre in central George Town, the annual Take A Kid Fishing event, Music Extravaganza and sponsorship of television ads to support domestic violence awareness through the Cayman Crisis Centre.

Last year Rotary Central donated $10,000 to the Pines Retirement Home, and to the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programme and provided funding for the recent FC International Football Clinic. Additional donations will be made to the Pines Retirement Home and other deserving organisations this year.

Mr. Pineau says the club will soon erect a specially designed and constructed handicapped merry-go-round on the grounds of the Lighthouse School as part of a larger project to construct a carefully designed shade garden and playground at the facility. In partnership with Build Cayman, Past President Paul Byles described the playground for the disabled, as “one of the most significant projects for our club last year”. Rotary Central members volunteered their labour for site preparation and installation of supporting posts for the canopy roof.

Cayman’s four Rotary Clubs will come together on 11th and 12th February for REDI Conference a joint project with Rotary District 7020 for disaster preparedness throughout the district. Mr. Pineau said he expected a good turnout of local and international delegates to attend.

Meanwhile, as part of the New Generations project Rotary Central has sponsored EarlyAct under Rotary Secretary Margaret Rattray, principal of the Savannah Primary School, for students at the school, and is working to establish InterAct, under Clifton Hunter counsellor and Rotarian Margaret Jackson, for middle-school students. Internationally, InterAct already boasts more than 12,300 clubs in 133 countries.

Finally, Rotaract Blue – sponsored by Rotary Central – will continue for young adults aged between 18 and 30 interested in leadership, professional development, and service. Sheraim Mascal serves as Rotaract Blue’s current president. Rotaract already claims more than 8,000 clubs in 167 countries.

Mr. Pineau said the EarlyAct and InterAct clubs would initially focus on two schools, informing students about the importance of volunteerism and Rotary’s crucial four-way test. Translated into more than 100 languages, the test, created in 1932, asks of any action: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? And that test largely defines the mission of Rotary International: to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

About Rotary Central

Rotary Central is part of Rotary International, a global association of Rotary clubs, with a common mission to provide service to others, to promote high ethical standards, and to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional and community leaders.

The Rotary Central received its charter from Rotary International on 30 October, 1986. Since then the club has established an impressive track record of service in Cayman’s community, which has included assistance with housing, the building of the T.E. McField Centre, the restoration of the Mastic Trail, the Science Fair, literacy, hurricane relief and a wide range of youth programmes.

Rotary Central has over 65 members ranging across various sectors of the community.

More information is available at

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