Celebrating 30 Years of Service - June 11, 1991 to June 30,2021
The Rotary Club of Fonthill was chartered on June 11, 1991 under the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Welland. Charter President Gayle Baltjes led a team of 25 people to join the service groups of Fonthill. Many people have come and gone through Rotary over the years, and our current membership stands at 36. Gail Levay is the only active Charter Member remaining in the club.
We are part of Rotary District 7090 which is an international district known as The Best of Friends. There are 66 clubs in the District, about half in Western New York and half in southern Ontario. Fonthill is the home club for the District Governor for 2020-2021.
The first service project for the young club was to plant trees in North Pelham, followed in the early years by assisting in the development of the Steve Bauer Trail. You can see Rotary in many areas and at different times of the year. At Peace Park we have Temperanceville each year, we assisted with the construction of the Bandshell, provided the first sound system, and just recently added 3 benches in the Jazz Up The Park campaign.
In 2003 we installed a gateway sign at the entrance to the town near Hurricane Road. This has since been upgraded in partnership with the town. Also in 2003 we had our inaugural Mayoral Debate, which continues with each municipal election. One of our biggest efforts was in 2005, the centennial year of Rotary International, when we headed a drive to provide new uniforms and equipment for the EL Crossley marching band. You can see our emblem on the bass drum.
We were there for the campaigns to house Pelham Cares, Wellspring Niagara, and the Meridian Community Centre. We have honoured many community members with a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest award that can be given by Rotary.
We have been part of Canada Day, Summerfest, Thursday night concerts, Pelham Mudfest, and our most recent – the Family Fun Fest, which will return on Father’s Day weekend 2022.
We have raised funds through golf tournaments, TV Auctions, barbecues, garage sales, and Purse Bingo (also returning in 2022). Over the years we have donated in excess of $300,000 to community and international projects. We thank our guest speakers with a donation to the Pelham Library.
The Rotary Club of Fonthill has always had a strong emphasis on youth. We have had an Interact Club at EL Crossley for many years, and donate 2 scholarships each year to graduates. The first Earlyact club in Canada was started at A.K. Wigg elementary school about 15 years ago. We have 2 active Rotaract clubs, one at Brock and one for young people who have graduated university/college. Each year we send delegates to S.L.A.P.S.H.O.T. (a leadership program for secondary school students) and RYLA (for post-secondary young adults).
We have hosted many young people from around the world through Youth Exchange, a program that sends a person to another country for a one-year learning experience. They attend a local high school and stay with local host families. We have had students from Europe, Asia, and South America. In return, we have sponsored local students to participate as outbound Youth Exchange.
We also donate to the Rotary International campaigns to End Polio – a challenge to eliminate polio from the world – taken on in 1985. To date we have vaccinated 2.5 billion children against polio and we are down to 2 countries in the world and only 2 new cases this year. Our District had a Pedal for Polio fund-raiser in October and it will repeat this fall.
During this Covid-19 pandemic, which seems to be drawing to an end, we have been particularly busy. We organized and produced about 3,000 masks for front-line workers and senior care homes. A District grant was obtained to provide fresh dairy products through Pelham Cares. We sent 3 oxygen generators to India. There were Rotary blood donor clinics through the area.
The Great Lakes Watershed project began this year as an idea for our District to do some Earth Day clean-ups on the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. It quickly spread through a number of Districts in Canada and the United States, involving hundreds of Rotary clubs and thousands of Rotarians, to clean up many waterways making up the watershed area of all 5 Great Lakes. Such is the power of Rotary.