Club Christmas Holiday Party December 18, 2020 YouTube Link:
President John's Christmas and Holiday Message:
Christmas already! Where has this year gone, it hardly feels like I have left my house.
Christmas and the holidays are a time to celebrate, enjoy family and friends, eat, drink,  reminisce, eat some more, drink some more, contemplate life and look back over the past year, eat more, drink more and all this ending up with the welcoming in of a New Year and all the excitement and promise that has to offer.
This year has been unlike any other. The world was given a challenge and like everyone else Rotary needed to adapt quite abruptly to a new reality.
I think we met this challenge and, in fact, rose above it.
From the onset of Covid we were quickly relegated to a virtual world and thankfully we had already been working with Google Not for Profit so we were already somewhat familiar. It was still a challenge. Prince Kumar has been unbelievable as our Technoguru! Getting us through our virtual meetings each week including  a practice run-through the day before each one.
At the same time, I was also dealing with my Father in Palliative care and he passed away just as we were having Changeover. Dad was  buried the day before my Inaugural speech. Not an easy time, but, I drew strength from the love and support from my many friends in Rotary.
It is a good thing for me that business-wise  I was  slow in March-April as we went into Covid hyper mode . The Club Board, Foundation Board, Executive committee all went from monthly meetings to meeting every two weeks. Some of us were also on the Transition team which met weekly. Kevin, Susan, Carol and I also had the Covid Phil fund requests to review each week. We were logging about 40 hours a week on Google meets not counting phone calls. That’s the crazy stuff, the good stuff is that we were making a huge difference.
Our first concern, of course, was the club and the members. We wanted to ensure safety, health ( both physical and mental), did anyone need anything, how is everyone coping? Almost immediate to that was how can we help the community? Where are we needed most and how can we help safely? In typical fashion our Charitable Foundation came up with an emergency fund of $300,000 to help.  $100,000 was to be used for urgent grant requests to the Foundation. Requirements were eased to facilitate a quicker response. $100,000 was given to the Club for its committees to reach out to the charities they help to see what the needs were. The remaining $100,000 was set aside for a matching donation campaign. If you weren’t already proud of and awed by our Foundation this would do it!
So, we quickly got up to speed with going virtual and getting money out where it was urgently needed, so now what? Engagement!! How were the members doing? Each and every one? The Board was tasked with calling each member on a regular basis to find out how they were, did anyone need anything? Next, how do we keep connected as a club? To the rescue came the fellowship committee! Those first few months when anxiety was high they provided us with so many ways to stay connected with each other. Connections that were so necessary. There were weekly cocktail zoom parties, each with different themes. The weekly Dinner club was huge hit. Euchre games, gardening, wine club, it was amazing. We also set up a “How are doing” talk season every week.
I remember some of those first events, even with all the Rotary business meetings we were having, the social ones, especially the first couple, were so emotional. I heard that from a few people who felt the same way.
We have been able to attract new members despite of maybe even because of, Covid. Amazing people who are diving in and getting involved. I can’t wait for them to meet us all in person and get the full Rotary experience we all love so much.
Speaking of membership I cannot rave enough about the amazing work of Dawn Marie King, at first, pretty much on her own, working on tracking  and on boarding new members. With the new structure coming down the tubes we knew there was going to be a Membership Engagement Committee and we felt that did not have to wait for the new structure for it to be approved. This was something we could, and should, implement immediately.  I knew the perfect person for the job as Chair! Today’s most capable host, Dauna Jones-Simmons! As I knew she would, Dauna has tackled this challenge with aplomb! She, Dawn Marie and their team have been very successful getting this up and running.
A long  and lasting drought for us has been marketing and communications and that has been given a new breath of life with the help of President Elect Prince Kumar with Deb Snider, Pauline Lyons, Sara Hui, Kevin Power and Dawn Marie King.
Possibly the hardest working team this year has been the transition Team. Meeting every week, sometimes twice a week with each meeting lasting about 3 hours plus individual tasks on top of that. Starting in early January running until July, now meeting a bit less frequently, but still very active. Coming up with a completely new structure for a 108 year old institution is not a small feat! Working with the realities of the Club today, respecting the past and traditions and looking to an impactful future we had our work cut out for us. There was a lot of disagreements, even more compromises and a lot of ideas. I’ll be honest at first it felt almost unsurmountable, then as we made strides  it started to take shape. Nothing was won easily and with the literally hundreds of pieces of input from all members and  hard work we did it! Now we are into implementation and roll out. We need everyone to jump in and get to know the structure, ask questions and see where they want to fit in. If we were in person I would ask the following to stand with me to be recognized as I believe they deserve a huge round of applause.
President Elect Prince Kumar, Past Presidents Kevin Power, Jeff Dobson, Pat Neuman, Richard White and members Dawn Marie King, Sylvia Geist, Anny Sandra Hamel, and Emre Yurga. New to this crew to help with roll out is Vice President Jayson Phelps.
Thank you for your service.
Many of our great traditions had to be changed or skipped this year. So many of which would have been this month like today’s party. After 90 years we could not hold our much beloved Children’s Christmas party or the equally moving Seniors Christmas party. Dauna Jones-Simmons and her team have created an amazing virtual Christmas party and Past President Kevin with help from Neil Philips and their team pulled off a great President’s roast, I though I might get out of that one  this year!!
The important work in the community has still been ongoing, though , greatly hampered. It was imperative for us to come up with strict Covid protocols. I hated having to pull the plug on certain events that didn’t meet safety requirements or due to timing and public health  restrictions.  I hope everyone recognizes the reasons and appreciates the heavy heart that made those decisions.
Unfortunately , I think we are still in this for a few months, probably until next summer  and I know Rotary will be at the forefront of helping wherever we safely can. I also know that Rotarians will be there for each other and I encourage you to continue checking on each other, join the fellowship events as you can and if you have any ideas share them .
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Divali and Happy New Year,!
2021 will be better, it has to be! I hope you enjoyed our Club Christmas Holiday Party.