FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2021- 12:15 to 1:15 PM
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Prince Kumar
During his tenure he has served in the following categories:
President Elect, Vice President and as Liaison Director for Indigenous Service
Outgoing Club Board of Directors
Thank you to those that joined the Board in 2018 for your Commitment
Jayson Phelps
During his tenure he has served in the following categories:
Vice President and as Liaison Director for Indigenous Service, Program, Seniors and Rotaract
Anny-Sandra Hamel
During her tenure she has served in the following categories:
as Liaison Director for Fundraising and Rotaract
Alanna Scott:   
During her tenure she has served in the following categories:
Liaison Director for:  Fellowship and Entertainment, Environmental and Community services.
    Marg Stanowski
    During her tenure she has served in the following categories:
    As Liaison Director for our Senior Citizens’, International
    Service and Marketing and Communications
    Fabio Ventolini
    During his tenure he has served in the following categories:
    as Liaison Director for Community Service, Fundraising and Women’s Initiatives.
    Wow! What a year! From John Fortney
    The President’s year actually starts to get intense in the months leading up to it. This past Rotary year was dramatically intensified due to Covid-19. You have already heard of the 30/40 hours a week on Googlemeets/Zoom plus the countless phone calls. I actually had to have a Virtual doctor’s appointment as all the added time on the computer had strained my neck and shoulders. Thanks to some temporary meds and adjustments to the positioning of my computer that all got worked out.
    At the same time as my year was ramping up, my Father, who, like most sons, I loved very much, admired greatly and genuinely enjoyed being around was ill. Dad was palliative for those initial months and passed away just as we hit Changeover. Possibly the most emotional Presidential takeover in RCT history. It was a lot, but I made it through. The outpouring of support and love from members gave me strength. My Inaugural Speech is still our most attended meeting with over 1200 views. It was a gift that I was able to be there for Dad and my Wonderful Step-mom and this new virtual world allowed this.
    Thus, began The Fortney Era at The Rotary Club of Toronto!
    The Covid Grants from the $300,000 our Foundation put up continued into my year as we tried to help frontline charities caught in a lurch because of new Pandemic protocols.
    It soon became obvious that Virtual was going to be our world for most of the year, most likely the whole year. It is really hard to describe what it is like to finally become President and not be with anyone from the club the entire time. Periodically I got messages or phone calls of support that were very appreciated; in the last few weeks there have been many, thank you. They meant so much! The same goes for last Tuesday’s farewell event - it gave me a much needed reaction to my year. I really had no idea.
    Probably the most significant realization of this unprecedented year was the absolute resilience, resourcefulness and strength of our club. Early on with Covid two significant indicators of this for me were the rapid and generous response from our Club’s Foundation and the swift action of our Fellowship Committee. We had immediate and substantial reaction for both Community needs and for our Rotary Family’s needs.
    These Fellowship events, led by the formidable Past President Pat Neuman, continued throughout the year in a variety of activities from Dinner Club to Euchre, Wine Club, Gardening, Book Club, even therapy time.
    The Foundation’s response signaled to the city that we cared and we were there, regardless. The Fellowship events signaled to members we were there for each other, regardless. I believe they set the tone for our year.  We were regulars at the Dinner Club which was weekly when Covid began. Organized by Neil Phillips, he organized the Wine Club and Scotch Tasting too, we enjoyed fantastic meals and had fun sharing our experiences with the other Rotarians. The recipes were from Neil’s partner Mardi Michels’  book Eat Live Travel Write and they were all incredible, some we have remade often. 
    When I was elected I was wondering how I was going to balance summer at the cottage and making it to meetings on Friday; turned out this that was not going to be a problem. I was at the cottage for most of the last fifteen months and never missed a meeting. It was another gift of the virtual reality we found ourselves in. You do have to look for the positives, right?
    One of our club’s strong attractions are the consistent, high quality speakers we attract every week. This year The Program Committee under the sage leadership of Bert Steenburgh did not fail us, in fact, I think the virtual nature of the meetings allowed some speakers that may not have been able to make it to Toronto in person such as Sarwar Kashmeri who spoke to us from New Hampshire. His talk on Canada, The U S, China and Geopolitics was Fascinating!
    We had some lighter, fun and entertaining fare such the always magnificent Liberty Silver and Geoffrey Johnson's exciting Caribbean Extravaganza, complete with delivered Lunch!
    Despite Covid we forged ahead with heady topics never afraid to push the envelope or shy away from “ugly” topics. We were even scolded by an American Rotarian who saw we were hosting Andrew Phillips from The Toronto Star to discuss the carnage of Donald Trump as he left the White House.
    Personally, Our first meeting back after the Christmas holidays in January was especially moving and poignant.  Reverend Brent Hawkes was very personal with his topic: Organized Religion and Homophobia. It was powerful, emotional, moving and taboo. Speaking of powerful impactful and informative,  definitely a topic that has been avoided for too long, was our impactful Anti-Racism series over three weeks. Thank you to co-chairs Sylvia Geist and Geoffrey Johnson, assisted by Peter Stephenson. How proud were you to be a part of this club? That series reached a wide audience and gained a lot of recognition and exposure for our club. I can’t wait to see where we take this very important and urgent topic.
    We were inspired by the likes of the STEAM sisters (science, technology, engineering, art and math). Dave Dame the Physically Challenged leadership coach from Scotiabank was compelling. Dan Carter, The amazing Mayor of Oshawa, from homelessness and addiction to the Mayor’s office. Powerful. How could you not leave any of those meetings without a new perspective on life? 
    On the business front we had the head of the Toronto Yonge BIA, insight into Clean Investing and the owner of a sustainable and successful  Organic Winery.
    On the health front we heard how Covid was affecting the Indigenous community, we learned more about Alzheimer’s, and Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr de Villa. We held our special annual Days: Scholarship Day, so proud! Foundation Day, always informative! International Women’s Day, Powerful! Remembrance Day, where I was streaming alone from the Main Dining Room at The National Club, and most recently National Indigenous Peoples Day which was moving and poignant. 
    How about that U of T debate team?! Inspiring!
    We almost had an in-person meeting hosting our very own Bill Morari and a history of the National Club. Unfortunately, I had to pull the plug on that being in person. Bill rose to the occasion as he always does and we had a great presentation.
    Being virtual it was nice to still enjoy some celebrations too. Early December I was Roasted in a very unique game show style, thank you Kevin PowerNeil Phillips and everyone. Dauna Jones-Simmonds hosted a wonderful Club Christmas Party. Every time we worried what something cherished would be like virtually the organizer always blew us away. The Easter President’s Cocktail Party fell on my milestone Birthday and I don’t think I was the only one that had an amazing time. Kudos to The National Club, the performers and the organizers, Jayson Phelps and Geoffrey Johnson, for putting on such a great experience.
    Last week you all touched me in a very special and needed way with a wonderful Farewell Party.
    Thank you Anny-Sandra Hamel, Geoffrey Johnson, Jayson Phelps and The National Club, again.
    Probably the most important lunch for me was the Senior Members Recognition Lunch. I had an idea based on a conversation with Margo Morgan about Michael Morgan’s 50 years with the club coming up in June and I wanted to honour him and the other incredible long time members who have done so much and left us this amazing legacy. Thank you to Steve SmithNiesely Eugene and Randy Gunn for taking an idea and making such a memorable occasion. I also want to thank enVille Catering for for getting amazing meals and bubbles out to the honourees. There were so many more, including Neil Hetherington from The Daily Bread Food Bank, Annemie Paul, Leader of The National Green Party, Our District Governor, Mark Chipman the list goes on.
    Did I mention that this speech would be going on until dinner? I am practicing to be a good Past President!
    One disaster that happened that was overshadowed in the news by Covid and American Politics was the Volcano erupting in ST Vincent. I wanted to do something and as ShelterBox, our usual go to in these situations, did not have a response for there I asked Executive if we could help. We donated $10,000 from the Phil fund and I asked the ever efficient Maureen Bird to look into the District response and we ultimately put out a challenge to our members and the entire district to match our donation. That was exceeded! We have just sent $26,200 to St Vincent with contributions from across the District both clubs and individual Rotarians. I might add a few of our members were particularly generous!
    There is a movement for greater cooperation within the district which matches perfectly with our last Strategic Plan Vision 2020 which calls for us to work more with Corporations, other Charities and other Rotary Clubs.
    Despite a worldwide Pandemic, economic uncertainty and high levels of anxiety, our Club not only persevered it flourished. This was a perfect storm of new branding, a significant increase in social media activity, our ability to manage a virtual world all of which resulted in a greater internet presence.
    Add to that an increased desire by many to give back after months of reflection this led to a dramatic increase in potential new members. The hard work of Dawn-Marie King and Dauna Jones-Simmons and the New Member Engagement Committee meant we were prepared for the influx and we have managed it very well. I am hopeful that when final numbers are in we will be in a net increase position with membership, and we have about a dozen more in the hopper!
    Our move to Google Meets a couple of years ago prepared us for going virtual and our transition was much easier than some other clubs were. Our Show Team: Prince Kumar, Maureen Bird, Carol Hutchinson  week in and week out had our Friday meeting running smoothly. This included a dry run for lighting, sound and muting lessons  every Thursday before a meeting. Meetings began with a musical prelude by our own Diva Brigitte Bogar and pianist extraordinaire Glenn Davis. This gave members entertainment as others were joining in to the meetings. The time they spent practising, planning and performing was appreciated.  Not to mention their fun special songs like on my Throne Speech and on my Birthday. I followed them with five minutes of President’s chat. It was my way of connecting with as many members as I could while not being together.
    To Maureen Bird also, with her helpers, a big shout out to new member Natalie Soroka, got the Voice out every week in time and bursting with information.

    Our Foundation barrelled on, last I heard we were just over $23 Million dollars! Excellent stewardship by Susan Howson and then Rick Goldsmith. Being on the Foundation Board was one of the most interesting things I have done in Rotary. There had been a dearth of requests coming in so our Research and Appeals committee went to work. They shook the charitable bushes and requests have begun coming in. The Rotary Club of Toronto Charitable Foundation is in business. Last month alone $130,000 worth of appeals were granted and more are being worked on currently. There has been a more concerted effort to work closer with the club and aligning strategies; likewise, the Club is working with the Foundation in setting up the New Structure and Committees. 

    This is probably a good time for some Thank You’s. If I miss anyone you know I appreciated everyone.
    Like all celebrities I had my entourage, at least virtually. The continual support, conversations, check-ins and Sounding boards  with Jayson PhelpsSuzanne SeaquistRohit TamhaneMichele GuySusan Howson and Geoffrey Johnson were a godsend. The notes of support or encouragement throughout the year from an array of members were gas for my engine. My employer Harvey Kalles Real Estate and colleagues like Kim Thorne and Howard Biderman who covered my slack when needed eased the stress.
    The Team, President Kevin, President Elect Prince, VP Jayson, my incredible Board and life would not be worth living without the indomitable Carol Hutchinson. I only had one of the usual Presidential trips, the Large Club conference with Carol. That is typically where The President and The Executive Director  bond, plan out the upcoming year, liaison directors, Chairs, direction, personality traits, potential issue, plans for the year and so on. I feel we had a wonderful working relationship and I know Carol worked exceptionally hard this year, missing most of her holidays to boot. We had a lot of laughs and I always knew she had my back. Thank you Carol. Oh Belli Belliappa, you are a dream accountant, we are so lucky to have had you this year. Thank you for so much. Working remotely, putting up with a difficult audit, getting new auditors, waiting outside year round waiting for us to stop in front of The Royal York to sign cheques. Always cheerful and helpful.
    Thank you Club Members for putting your trust in me, it wasn’t the year we were expecting together, but, we came out okay, actually we came out stronger! Thank you to Mark Chipman, our hard working District Governor, Iosif Ciosa our Assistant Governor and my fellow District Presidents. We made it through!
    Of course, I have to thank my support at home. I know Garren was disappointed for me when Covid hit, but, his support, encouragement and pride for what I was able to do was heartwarming. He did this all the while looking after my Step Mom and me as we were grieving and he made sure all of our “Firsts” this past year were as easy and special as possible. There were times where it all was all a bit overwhelming. 
    Now it is time for a Prince to become King. Prince, I know I am leaving the reins in very capable hands, and if I am wrong, I know Carol is there to fix things! I wish you and your outstanding Board a very successful year, hopefully one eventually with many in person activities.
    Welcome everyone, to the Kumar era!