Posted by Carol Hutchinson on Jul 25, 2018
Guest Speaker: Friday July 13, 2018
Location: The National Club, 303 Bay Street
Topic: Presidential Address 2018/19
Fellow Rotarians,
It is my honour and privilege to address you today as the President of The Rotary Club of Toronto as we begin our 107th year making the world a better place.  Having been a member of this Club since 2001 I know most of you, and some of you very well, that’s likely the main reason I’m standing before you today…friendship. I know we all had our own reasons for joining the Club and I’m sure most would say it had something to do with wanting to “give back.” To be sure, that is a valid and noble reason. We should all be grateful that such motivation exists. I’m also pretty sure that most people stay in the Club not only because they found success in their desire to “give back” but also because they found friendship.
I joined this Club because my twin sister asked me to. Many of you knew my amazing sister Alison who was married to member Paul Truelove. Sadly, we lost her in 2006. She was a force to be reckoned with in pretty much everything she did, and Rotary was no exception. She was a founding member of an Interact Club in high school. She was a founding member of the Rotaract Club of Toronto in the 1980s. Then she was one of the early female members of this Rotary Club. “AJ” (as many of us called her) dragged me kicking and screaming to this Club. I complained to her that I didn’t have time because I had a demanding job and two small kids. But, like I said, she was a force to be reckoned with.
I’ve had a privileged life so far. I had successful and loving parents, I was given a great education. And the privilege that comes from being a white male in our society is not lost on me either. However, I never thought with all that privilege that I would have to thank so many brave souls who have taken to the streets in protest in order to secure my equal place in society as a gay person.
Today at the start of our 107th year we have about 160 of the finest people you could ever know working on countless projects to make Toronto and the world a better place. And they usually have a lot of fun doing it. But we need a slightly higher membership to if we want to enjoy the benefits of our downtown location and everything that goes with it, which our members have said time and again they do. We must get better at finding and keeping new members.
Which brings me to our Rotary theme for this year “Be The Inspiration.” I’ve come to realize that you don’t have to give a great speech to inspire, sometimes just one kind word will suffice. Inspiration may come from finding ways to feed the world, but for those of you who heard Caryl Stern, President of UNICEF speak at the convention, sometimes all it takes is one biscuit. You don’t have to take charge of a whole project to be inspirational. Sometimes all your son, or daughter or colleague needs to see to be inspired is that you showed up for Rotary. It’s important that we don’t underestimate our power to inspire.
Last year in Atlanta, the RI Board agreed to new vision statement:
“Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
” It may not sound as audacious as our Club’s vision statement but I do think it’s profound.
To make this vision a reality, they identified three priorities.
  1. Support and Strengthen Clubs
  2. Focus and increase humanitarian service
  3. Enhance public image and awareness
I’m very happy and relieved to report that these priorities are very much in keeping with the five core drivers we identified to help our Club achieve its vision. After several focus groups and countless hours, we came up with over 200 specific Club initiatives that will not only allow us to achieve our specific Club vision, but also RI’s vision…Achieving lasting change -  globally, locally, and individually.
So why are we doing all this - the vision statements, the planning, the inspiring?
  • Kids need to dream.
  • Seniors need life with dignity.
  • Our indigenous peoples need to be treated like citizens.
  • Women need equality.
  • Our environment needs protection
  • And finally, people in the LGBT and extended community need to live without fear.
Our Club has helped all of these causes in inspiring ways.
Our Roadmap to 2020 will help us as a Club do more of what we do right, even better.
We’re going to raise our membership to a more comfortable level.
We’re going to inspire one another and those around us in many ways, big and small.
I will do my best to help us achieve our vision.
Thank you.
President Jeff Dobson
Note: See  Voice Issue July 13, 2018 for the full Club Board for 2018/19.