The Rotary Club of Avalon Northeast marked its 25th anniversary last week with a gala event that celebrated accomplishments and honoured late members who are credited with the success of the club.
While the club serves Conception Bay South, Paradise and surrounding area, we like to think of it as our club because of its presence here in our town.
The Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre, where the gala was held on Friday evening, and the Topsail Beach Rotary Park, are two of landmark projects which we associate with the Rotary Club.
However, the club does also have a connection to neighbouring Paradise where Rotarians helped develop the Rotary Paradise Youth Community Centre.
Those three projects were highlighted during the anniversary celebrations because they have brought special recognition to the club.
Past-president Donald Sword, who presented the club’s history, said they have received Significant Achievement Awards from Rotary International for the three initiatives.
The awards are also significant as this small club in Newfoundland is one of 42 of Rotary’s 34,000 clubs around the world to get this award for three projects.
As highlighted by Sword, that is quite an accomplishment for a club that has averaged about 35 members each year since its establishment 25 years ago.
However, as Sword noted, it is not always about the big projects and achievements, as the club has touched and helped many people.
From donations to reading programs for local children, the food bank and minor hockey, to polio vaccines in Afghanistan and clean water in the Philippines, the club has made a difference.
Sword talked about how the club’s youth focus meant involvement in drug awareness, entrepreneurship and leadership programs, as well as international student exchanges.
“And we can’t forget the senior who attended our monthly lifestyle clinic or the young single mother in our community who learned valuable life skills at the Momma Moments program,” said Sword.
The event was also an occasion to pay tribute to two of the club’s charter or original members, who have died. Trevor J. Atkin, a past-president and past district governor, who was chairing the anniversary committee, died suddenly in February.
Atkin was the club’s first recipient of a Paul Harris Fellowship — a special Rotary honour — and the club had intended to surprise him with this second recognition to mark the beginning of the club’s second quarter century.
The anniversary event was attended by his widow Kathryn, also a member, past-president and a Paul Harris Fellow. The recognition was accepted by the Atkins’ niece, Jessica McCarthy.
The club’s first community service project was funding an annual scholarship for two local high schools. These scholarships are now named after Ross Reccord, a charter member, past-president and Paul Harris Fellow who died when the club was 10 years old.
Sword credited people like Atkin and Reccord and other great Rotarians for the club’s success.
Reflecting on the beginning of the club and what helped fund the scholarships, Sword said their first fundraiser was selling souvenir “Last Spikes” from the Newfoundland railway for $10 each.
Their fundraising may have had humble beginnings but it is clear that the club has enjoyed financial success to enable it to provide funding for the major projects and many other smaller projects in C.B.S. and Paradise.
The guest speaker for the evening was Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan, who is also a former Rotarian. The master of ceremonies was Derrick (Rick) Spracklin, another club charter member. They were joined by close to 90 other Rotarians and other special guests.
Nine of the club’s charter members are still with the club 25 years later, and they are joined by another 31 men and women from a variety of ages and backgrounds.
Joan Butler is a lifelong resident
of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South.
She can be reached by email