Fraser Valley Celebrates -Rotary Foundation’s Centennial Year at The Reach!
(Abbotsford, Mission BC)  Rotary Clubs of Abbotsford and Mission, Fraser Valley Rotaract Club, and a large crowd of community leaders and dignitaries gathered this past Wednesday at the Reach Gallery and Museum to celebrate 100 years of the Rotary Foundation’s work of “Doing Good in the World”.  From Rotary’s battle against the poliovirus to establishing Rotary Peace Centers, and building good will and friendships through Rotary Clubs all around the world the Rotary Foundation has a rich and long history of serving humanity.
Presentations from Rotary Presidents and a short film about Rotary Foundation highlighted the fascinating and inspiring stories of this 100-year journey and honoured those who have helped to make it all happen. In this regard, Andrew Franklin past Publisher of the Abbotsford News, now Director of Digital Development and Canadian Operations for Black Press was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow in recognition of the substantial efforts he has made towards the End Polio Now Campaign, his year as President, and his long standing commitment to the humanitarian efforts of Rotary.  “It seems only fitting that we would honour Andrew in this way at our 100 Year Celebration with this award, said Rotary Club of Abbotsford, President Sara Lawson.    Rotary District Governor, Scott Dudley was in attendance and expressed his congratulations for Andrew Franklins Paul Harris Fellow Award and the high level of community and international work being done by the local Rotary Clubs.
As a representation of the fight against Polio the ‘Juvenile Iron Lung’ was on display in the gallery. “It is very exciting to have had the Iron Lung at the event as a visible way to remember the devastating impacts of Polio and Rotary’s goal to fully eradicate this disease! A big thank you to the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association for loaning us this historic piece of medical equipment” said President Sara Lawson. These medical devices were used heavily during the polio scare of the 40's and 50's in Canada and throughout the world to help children survive polio and hopefully put them on the road to recovery.  What a frightening thought for parents at that time and what a profoundly rewarding thought to think that Rotary is very close to eradicating polio!  “With the help of thousands of Rotarians, and funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and matching funding from the Canadian Government,” President Sara continues, “polio is so very close to being totally eradicated! It is very likely that full eradication will happen in the next few years.   What an amazing feat, and legacy for the Rotary Foundation!  Certainly something to celebrate! “
Tom McMillan President of Abbotsford-Sumas Club highlighted their international focus on youth exchange, group study exchanges and delivery of wheelchairs to disabled people in countries such as Mexico and others. This year wheelchairs will be sent to Guatemala along with a team of Rotarians in partnership with Abbotsford Matsqui Club and the Rotary Club of Abbotsford.
President Elect Elspeth Bowers of the Mission Sunrise Club spoke of Dental Missions to the Philippines, Zambia and Thailand as well as sponsoring a school in Bangladesh and Literacy Projects in partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Project.
President Brad Reminek, President of the Mission Mid-Day Club recalled his recent Rotary Dental Mission to Buri Ram, Thailand and his visit to Angkor Wat in Cambodia saying that this was the first time in his life when he had seen first-hand the devastating effects of polio.   He when on to challenge the crowd by saying, “We can make a difference, Rotary can make a difference! With a 99.9 percent reduction in polio, we are this close to ending polio FOR EVER!”
Mike Welte of Abbotsford Matsqui Club thanked everyone for attending and challenged Rotarians as well as those present to think of new project ideas and emphasized that Rotarians will need to continue to recruit new members to join us in the cause of serving humanity and to undertake the new projects of tomorrow!
Special guests and dignitaries in attendance included:
  • Abbotsford MLA’s Mike Dejong and Darryl Plecas
  • Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun
  • Abbotsford City Councilors Patricia Ross, Kelly Chahal, Brenda Falk, and Dave Loewen.
  • Mission Mayor Randy Hawes
  • Abbotsford Rotary Club Presidents: Sara Lawson (Rotary Club of Abbotsford);Thomas McMillan (Abbotsford Sumas Club); President Mike Welte (Abbotsford-Matsqui Club)
  • Mission Rotary Club Presidents: William Dickson (Rotary Club of Mission); President Elect Elspeth Bowers(Rotary Club of Mission and  Brad Reminek (Mission Mid-Day Rotary Club)
  • John Morrow, Photographer with the Abbotsford News.