As we begin the new Rotary Year, we have so much to look forward to that will be exciting and challenging, unique and perhaps unprecedented but as stalwart and dedicated Rotarians we will rise to the occasion.

Given that we are functioning during a pandemic we are unsure about a number of things but never unsure about the resilience and dedication of our Rotarian pledge of service above self.

Your board of directors has set a number of goals for the year (more on this in coming weeks); we plan to expand to two Blueberry sales events during the year and we hope to have a number of dynamic, interesting and thought-provoking speakers to get you all thinking.

Holger Knaack, the new President of Rotary International, has chosen as his theme for the year “Rotary Opens Opportunities”.  One opportunity that I am personally pursuing is to create a more collegial and inclusive relationship with the two other Abbotsford Rotary Clubs. This will hopefully “open opportunities” for combined fellowship meetings (even via Zoom) and the potential for additional fundraising events.  The first meeting of the three club presidents is to take place this week.

This year we celebrate our 70th year as a club and there is much to be proud of in our 7-decade history. Here are a few historical facts:

The 1st president of the club was Bergie Thorsteinsson, who, on May 17th, 1950 was presented with the club charter by District Governor and New Westminster Club member Tobi Jackson in front of 350 fellow Rotarians. This made the Rotary Club of Abbotsford the 7,495th club to be chartered by Rotary International. The first official meeting was held May 24th, 1950 and Rotarwrites started the same year.

The Abbotsford International Airshow was started by the club with the first show being held August 11-12, 1962 with an admission charge of 50 cents.

For many years our club ran the Festival of Carols.

In 1985 the Abbotsford-Matsqui Rotary Club was sponsored by our club with former Mayor George Peary as its first president. I was honored to attend (via Zoom) the inauguration of this year’s president Kelly Meade and was able to join in as they began the celebrations of their 35th year as a vibrant Rotary Club.

While we have accomplished much, but there is still much to do moving forward.

In closing may I say I am truly humbled and honored to serve as your president this year and look forward to working with the board and each member as we all move forward and Open Opportunities.

Milt Walker