Susan Hunter, President 2016-2017 Presidential Address
July 1st marks a new year for Rotary and this year’s theme is Rotary Serving Humanity: three words that perfectly describe what we all do best — transforming lives in our local communities and around the world.
The Rotary Club of Toronto has been changing lives in the city of Toronto for over 104 years. This Club has a rich tradition of responding to and serving the needs of those less fortunate. Members are dedicated to assisting those most vulnerable in the Toronto community by providing funding and expertise to programs which enhance the quality of life and human dignity of our fellow citizens.
As members of a large Rotary Club, we should be proud of our history which dates back to 1912. It was the vision and passion of past members who have built this great Club and developed ground-breaking, innovative solutions to many challenges in the city including United Appeal (later becoming United Way), Care Canada, Youth Employment Service (YES), the Transition Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital, the Infirmary at Seaton House, and the Health Centre Health Bus. Many of the events that we celebrate today including the annual Christmas Party for Seniors and for Children, have been organized for decades and continue to delight those who attend each year. These notable service projects and events signify the importance of our work and why it is still so urgently needed.
And while we celebrate our storied past, we need to have our eye firmly directed to the future. To continue the work we do and to ensure that we make the greatest impact of serving humanity, let’s pause to examine how we do what we do. Are there easier, more efficient ways for us to do our humanitarian work?
In 2012, then President Sandy Boucher along with the leaders of our Club embarked on developing a five year Strategic Plan through a process of consulting and engaging with our members. A Strategic Planning Committee was established to take charge of implementing the Plan in 2013.
It was agreed that the future of the Club will be built upon the philosophy of Rotary and our own vision which is “Engaged members bringing sustainable improvement to our community and the world.” This vision will be implemented by six core strategic drivers: Sound Governance, Engaged Membership, Sustainable Finance and Operations, Effective Committees, Inspired Communications and a Strong Foundation and Philanthropy.
Over the past few years, we have made progress in a number of ways including:
- Improved communications with a revamped Voice newsletter and the ‘Making a Difference’ insert highlighting the Foundation’s grant giving
- Mobilizing a Buzz Group of media savvy members focused on developing and enhancing our social media presence on LinkedIn and Facebook to promote our Club’s activities, our members and our philanthropic work
- Implementation of a robust orientation program designed to support new members to understand our Club and our structure (see organization charts)
- Initiating a ‘training’ session to support Committee Chairs and to make it easier to run more effective meetings
- And just this past few months, a more proactive approach to membership has begun with the assistance of a professional recruiter to identify potential members.
The above initiatives were made with the support of the Club Board and the guidance of the Strategic Planning Committee.
In 2016-17, the Club Board will continue the work outlined in the Strategic Plan with a focus on the most urgent issues facing the Club today. I look forward to working with a talented and energetic group of Club Directors and welcome members to offer ideas and solutions on how we can make the Rotary Club of Toronto a vibrant and energetic Club. Together, we can and will continue to do the work of serving humanity in our city and around the world.