Rotary Australia and New Zealand is celebrating 100 years of service in 2021 with clubs across the Sunshine Coast pausing to reflect on a century of work.
With 19 clubs in the region, about 100 Rotarians, Mayor Mark Jamieson and Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson gathered on April 17 at Maroochy RSL for a gala dinner to look back on the achievements of Rotary locally.
Wendy Gilson is assistant governor for the southern Sunshine Coast region, looking after six local clubs including Alexandra Headland, Buderim, Caloundra, Caloundra Pacific, Maroochydore and Mooloolaba and liaising closely with the district governor.
A Rotarian for 14 years and passionate about the work, Ms Gilson says a friend introduced her to Rotary when she moved from Victoria, and at the time she knew very little about the work the club did in the community.
“What I love about it is the friendship and the fellowship. It is a service organisation but we also have a lot of fun.”
Ms Gilson says Rotary attracts like-minded people and brings a sense of camaraderie. “It’s not something people are doing because they have to; it’s something they want to do. I think Rotary almost becomes part of your family.”
Ms Gilson, who is also the president of the Rotary Club of Alexandra Headland, says Rotary supports a variety of programs, from working in schools, to fundraising for local charities and overseas humanitarian projects. “We have a close association with IFYS and through that we have completely done a $75,000 garden makeover for a house that houses teenagers.
“We have an association with the university, and along with other clubs on the Sunshine Coast, offer three scholarships a year to post graduate students.”
She says one of Alex club’s biggest annual fundraisers is the Surf Show and Shine – sponsored by Cricks Volkswagen – that brings some of the coolest Kombi vans to the Coast every September, raising funds for a beneficiary of the club’s choice.
“We also have a Solstice Swim coming up in June, which we are raising money for Salty Souls who deal with children with disabilities.”
David Woodrow has also been fundamental in establishing Rotary on the Coast. Beginning as a Rotarian in Toowoomba in 1990, Mr Woodrow moved to the Sunshine Coast after retiring from his role as a school principal, joining the Maroochydore club in 1995.
He was instrumental in the establishment of the Alex club in 2000 and several significant fundraising projects, including setting up the trust fund to support student scholarships at USC and supporting the now RACQ LifeFlight helicopter.
“I could see projects that needed Rotary support and got the Rotary clubs involved in it,” he says.
“I’ve done about 138 lectures letting people know the importance of the rescue helicopter and we’ve raised about half a million for them in that period of time.”
With so much to celebrate, Ms Gilson says the 100th year anniversary is a way to reflect on the work of members, past and present. “It’s something that Rotary can be very proud of to look back and see.
“It’s not wanting to pat ourselves on the back, but I think sometimes it helps to reflect because you tend to always be in the moment and you don’t stop to think what has been achieved.”
Rotary has more than two million member worldwide and clubs are entirely volunteer run.