Rotary Club of Oak Bay
Bulletin 4 August, 2020
by Renate Mackenzie

President Steve called the zoom meeting to order and was followed by a valiant membership singing effort of ‘O Canada’. Don O’Coffee followed with a moving and encouraging invocation for blessings in our country.

Guests were introduced jointly by Sandy Currie and President Steve. Included were Mike and Sandy Sharlow, Neil Tucker, Paige Tucker, Karen Sharlow and Eileen Laveine.
New member induction. Ben Smillie presided over the induction of our newest member, Jennifer Sharlow. A Rotary pin as well as a special Paul Harris medal from 1999 were presented to Jennifer by President Steve who noted that these once belonged to his father. This Rotary membership meant that Jennifer would be the third generation of the Sharlow family to become a Rotarian.
Our Guest Speaker was introduced by Joan Peggs. David Lau is the Executive Director of the Victoria Immigrant & Refugee Centre Society, and the club gave him a warm welcome.
David Lau began his presentation by sharing the mandate of VIRCS: To assist in the settlement and adjustment of immigrants and refugees in Canada & to provide services designed to increase the newcomers’ participation in Canadian Society. The organization works to assist newcomers to overcome barriers by implementing settlement services, ESL, employment transitions and coaching. In addition there are   well developed community volunteer programs.
The organization primarily serves their client’s needs as they are communicated. Suitable programs are developed and funding is secured where appropriate sources occur. For placements ranging from Sooke to Oak Bay, VIRCS works with newcomers who have five or more issues deriving from, for example, a history of violence in their homeland or past trauma. Programs are created to assist in meeting client’s needs for a period of a year or more. In some cases, clients may not have experienced success in established Federal settlement programs, and innovative programs have been proven to be helpful. One example of utilizing ‘victory gardens’ has now led to a special program where newcomers are paired with local residents, often seniors, who have a fallow garden. These partnerships have led to a variety of benefits such as companionship across generations, English speaking opportunities for newcomers, and an abundance of freshly grown produce to share.
Another focus involves 2 homes in Oak Bay and the Syrian Refugee Resettlement program. In one case one home was completely rebuilt while the other home involved renovations to support resettlement needs in the community of Oak Bay. The larger home on Monterey Avenue will act as a 5 bedroom ‘boarding’ home that includes staff. This will facilitate singles and pairs of newcomers who require a 6-month placement to improve their English and relocate to a more permanent setting. This facility (once it receives municipal permission for up to 7 residents) will require ‘room sponsors’ who take on the occupant(s) and assist in day-to-day needs where assistance and friendship could offer needed support in transition. Our club is invited to consider our involvement as room sponsors. Chris K commented that befriending newcomers is a positive notion for our club.
Ben S. warmly thanked David and emphasized that, since the pandemic has disrupted progress, that room sponsorship by our club could be revisited again.
Our Celebrations Master David M. opened by pointing out that because we have saved money on the cost of lunches, even half the cost of each lunch could be donated. For those who had received a fresh copy of the August Rotarian magazine, David focussed on ‘keeping things fresh’ and issued an abundance of fines. If you missed content such as the length of membership for new Rotarians averages only 3 years, Addis Ababa’s ‘life-blood’ drive involves up to 500 people donating blood, and the main point of the Annual Strategic Plan’s directive is to retain new members, then you pay. As well, we have several members who have been club President more than once and they were levied a fine!
Anniversaries included Chris Wakefield and his fine spouse, as well as acknowledgment of Janette Nation’s 6 years and Peter Laurie’s 13 years as Rotarians.
Happy & Sad Dollars included Joan P who had happy $ as $2,500 was raised for Polio Plus during “Gins for Joan” recently. Joan F offered her happy $ for just being on Pender Island, Doris offered happy $ for her husband’s birthday, and last but not least, Jennifer S for her newly minted membership in Rotary.
President Steve closed our meeting with an inspiring video “You can’t stop us” by Nike.
Meeting Adjourned.
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102-2060 Winston Park Drive, Oakville, ON, L6H 5R7
Russell Hampton
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