Club News
The Paul Harris Fellow Award is named after Rotary's founder, Paul Harris, a Chicago lawyer who started Rotary International with three business associates in 1905.  The Rotary Club of Belleville started shortly after in 1920.  There are ways that Rotarians can earn PHF recognition and there are a number of members who carry that recognition.  Rotarians can designate a Community Paul Harris Fellow recognition as a tribute to a person who is a non-Rotarian and whose life demonstrates a shared purpose with the core values of Rotary and who share a spirit of "Service Above Self".  President Peter Malone was pleased to have the honour and pleasure of recognizing three amazing individuals from within our community who do exactly that.  In alphabetic order.
Inspector Sheri Meeks, Belleville Police Service was nominated by Executive Director of The Children's Foundation and Rotarian, Melanie Cressman.  Melanie came to know Inspector Meeks through her volunteer work in the Belleville community.  She is well respected by anyone who has had the pleasure of working with her.  Melanie had the opportunity to witness Sheri's leadership in her former role at United Way.  Inspector Meeks was Campaign Chair for two years during the height of the pandemic, a time when most of the world was shutting down.  Sheri led her team of campaign volunteers to exceed goal, two years in a row.  The Belleville Community is a better place because of the work that Inspector Meeks does.  The list of volunteer/community Board involvement is a long one and includes the responsibility of Board Member for Big Sisters, Mental Health Support Network, Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee, United Way HPE Campaign Cabinet, Special Olympics Polar Plunge Chair, Pedal for Hope participant, 100 Women Who Care Quinte, Kids Got Talent judge, Victim Services, Children's Safety Village, Enrichment Centre for Mental Health.  Inspector Meeks' role at the Belleville Police Service also sees her very involved in associations and committees, locally and provincially, including areas of health and wellness, peer support, education, training and professional development, executive education, psychological resiliency, police response to persons in crisis and leadership planning. 
Rotarian Hazzem Koudsi was very pleased to introduce his nominated award winner Sarah Rozema-Seaton, the founder and CEO of Big Red Bow Digital Marketing.  Sarah's values are strongly aligned with all Rotarians and she holds true to Rotary's motto of Service Above Self.  Her involvement as a volunteer with many local charities is truly impressive.  Sarah has been involved with Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward Hastings with respect to fundraising events as well as with their website development.  Her expertise and support of their e-commerce platform improved Habitat's online and community presence.  Her efforts provided much needed resources for their build fund.  Sarah also assists as a board member with The Children's Foundation.  Her help in promoting various events such as the Guardian Angel Gala or the annual Radio-a-Thon results in increased community awareness and additional much needed funds for The Children's Foundation.  Sarah's help with the United Way HPE's annual giving campaign including the kickoff event and the close out party results in them reaching their goals.  The Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation also receives the benefit of Sarah's contributions at all their events.  Recently Sarah joined the Strong Communities Campaign with the YMCA that focuses on raising much needed resources to improve and enrich the lives of thousands of children, adults, seniors and families.  Simply put Sarah meets all aspects of the four-way test of Rotary with the main focus on "will it be beneficial to all concerned?"  A resounding yes!
Heather Smith has been nominated by Steve Cooke, Executive Director of the Belleville General Hospital Foundation and it is interesting to note that Heather was a Paul Harris Community Award recipient in June 2013 from her father, a long time member of the Rotary Club of Belleville, Mac (Macdonald) Smith when he turned 90 and wanted to recognize his children on his special milestone birthday.  Fast forward ten years and Heather continues her illustrious career in fundraising for the Lung Association, University Hospitals Kingston, YMCA Central East Ontario and the Belleville General Hospital Foundation.  Heather held her CFRE, professional fundraising designation until her retirement in 2018 and has been an active life-long volunteer in Sudbury, Kingston, Ottawa and Belleville including the YMCA, RKY Camp, Ride for Dad and Inn from the Cold.  She has a vast experience in community endeavours, managing volunteers as a servant to the community.  In addition to what has been mentioned, Heather serves on the Belleville Police Services Board and is also on the provincial Executive Committee for Zone 2 of which Belleville is part.  She is is now the President of the Belleville General Hospital Auxiliary, having been a member for a number of years as well as a member of the Belleville General Hospital Foundation Board.  Heather has also held leadership positions in professional associations related to fundraising such as the Canadian Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Giving back to the community certainly runs deep in Heather's family and has done so for many, many years.  Heather's response to this award honour "Community service has always been important to our family.  Giving back means so much and we are grateful to be part of this loving community.  To be recognized is a real honour".
President Peter Malone rounded out the evening with a request for a final round of applause for the three Community Paul Harris Fellow recipients.  For all they do.  Very impressive indeed.  Peter also acknowledged three previous recipients in attendance -- June Rickard, Leah Johnson and Pat Guernsey. 
Past President Shannon Neely welcomed and introduced the four Mayors of the Week.  First up to speak was Chevy Omolade, a Grade 12 student at Eastside Secondary.  With her sights set on a career in policing in the future, Chevy was very grateful for the opportunity to connect with her community through this program and to see the important impact that people make on a daily basis.  Recognizing that it's the little things that matter, Chevy loves to drive downtown or take the city bus, go to the Santa Claus Parade, participate in Camp Molly, go to the arena to watch her younger brother play hockey.  After touring the city and the different departments, Chevy now knows that the Bridge Street bridge changes colour and that indeed, Belleville is a special place and thanked Rotary for the amazing memories of seeing everything first hand.
Harshita Srikanth, was the second speaker and is a Grade 12 student at Eastside Secondary as well.  She was extremely grateful to be able to participate in Mayors of the Week and to see all the job opportunities Belleville has to offer.  Thanks to Mayor Ellis for his calm composure and the time he took to explain everything.  Being a pizza person, Harshita very much enjoyed their lunch and the goody bags they were given by the different City departments as well as for the photos that were taken.  She thanked the fellow Mayors of the Week for their good questions.  Without having taken part in this program, Harshita would not have known what it takes to keep Belleville running smoothly.  She would definitely do it again and encouraged future students to take advantage if the opportunity was presented to them.
Shivani Narendranath, a student at Nicholson thanked everyone for their part in this program.  It was an incredible experience and one that will help her as she heads off to University to study politics.  All the questions that were asked by her and the fellow Mayors of the Week were answered in detail by each department they visited.  It was such a refreshing experience to see the community come together to explain everything that happens in running a city the size of Belleville.
Last, but not least, Ben Weinstein, a Grade 11 student at Albert College said he was very fortunate to have participated in this program.  He met interesting people and was very surprised to learn so much about Belleville that he didn't know, for instance, Belleville has an electric race car business.  Ben was surprised to learn that.  He enjoyed the water treatment tour and saw how water filtration and engineering is applied in real life versus learning about chemical reactions in school.   At the fire department, Ben was able to observe dispatch services which he found very interesting.  How the staff at the Wellness Center dealt with a major ice melting incident was impressive.  Ben thanked everyone for taking the time to meet with the Mayors of the Week, for the Rotary reps giving of their time to transport and accompany the students.
Tracy Bray thanked the students for their presentations and admitted this was her favourite day of the year, to hear them engaged in learning more about their City and their community.  Certificates were handed out.
The Rotary Club of Belleville welcomed 8 Wing Commander Colonel Leighton James to their lunch meeting on Thursday, November 9th along with Honorary Colonel Julie Ann Lange.  Introduced by Past President Shannon Neely who shared Colonel James' biography with the Club.  Colonel James earned his Canadian Air Force wings in 2004 after completing his bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto.  During his career, Colonel James has conducted numerous search and rescue missions, served as Aircraft Commander, Pilot Leader and Hercules Flight Commander.  In 2009, Col. James became a pilot instructor at the Hercules Operational Training Unit at 8 Wing Trenton, eventually holding the position of Deputy Commanding Officer at the Squadron.  Col. James has also participated in numerous humanitarian missions within Canada and has been deployed internationally  both in Haiti and Qatar.  He was promoted to his current rank in 2015 after completing a master's degree in Defence Studies at the Joint Command and Staff College in Toronto.  Command of 424 Squadron involved saving the lives of citizens on a daily basis.  In 2020 Col. James was appointed as Joint Air Component Coordination Element Director at the Canadian Joint Operations Command and upon completion of the National Security Program at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto he subsequently was posted to CJOC as the Special Advisor to the Commander.  Honorary Colonel Julie Ann Lange was appointed  as Hon. Col. of 436 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton effective September 2015 in a four year term.  Hon. Col. Lange has been an active volunteer with the Quinte Regional Children's Foundation and founder of their "Helping Hands' program which led to her being honoured with the prestigious Guardian Angel Award.  She is the past chair of Quinte Hospice and past Treasurer and Board Member of Trenton Memorial Hospital.  Hon. Col. has supported numerous other charities and committees, raising funds for the Trenton Memorial Hospital and Wounded Warriors Canada and founding an education bursary for children and spouses of 436 Squadron members..  A proud supporter of Canada's military as the daughter of a Second World War veteran and granddaughter of a First World War veteran.  Welcome both today.
Colonel James pointed out that command is something very special, cannot be taken lightly or done pridefully.  It is an honour and must be done with humility.  Having said that, Col. James feels Canadians need to hear about the world's instability and its overall impact.  The world is a dynamic and fast changing place that is difficult to predict.  Just think about the past four years with a worldwide pandemic, record high interest rates, a traditional WWII style war of attrition in Europe, political polarization and now a hot war in the middle east.  The reality is that the places where you expect conflict are rarely where conflict emerges.  In 1924, Senator Raoul Dandurand said that "Canada is a fireproof house, far from flammable materials".  Oceans that separated Canada from Europe protected it from harm.  The developing industrial might of the U.S. to our south and the Arctic to the north meant that Canada was untouchable and this sentiment remains in Canadian DNA today.  All of this leads to a perception of being invincible.   Our adversaries know they cannot challenge western might on the battlefield, but they can challenge the power by fracturing our societies and this type of reflexive control is everywhere.  Democracy as a way of government is on decline and authoritarian regimes are on the rise.  Information has become more important than knowledge and knowledge more important than wisdom.  In 1968 Walter Cronkite was a trusted deliverer of unbiased news, but today, that trust is difficult to identify.  We must acknowledge that geography is no longer enough to protect our interests.
The close to 5,000 people at 8 Wing touch everything that happens in the Canadian Armed Forces.  Another way of saying that is to say that everything that happens in the world, happens to 8 Wing.   The 39 units in total at 8 Wing cross all components and aspects of our military.  With a budget of around 170 million and a salary base of around 260 million, the wing contributes approximately 350 million dollars in direct and indirect economic benefit to our community.  8 Wing is the cornerstone of CAF operations.  But the most valuable resource is the people that consist of 8 Wing.  Our recent interventions in Israel evacuated 1600 people, launched at a moment's notice from across vast distances.  Trusted to serve is one of three guiding and foundational principles.  In these challenging times we have soldiers, sailors and aviators who rely on the community's support systems.  The members of the military are people too, with family challenges, medical challenges, financial challenges and all of the demands that life puts on members of our society.
The Royal Canadian Air Force will be celebrating 100 years of history in 2024 and a number of significant events in the local area will be held.  One hundred years later, let us remain vigilant in our focus and in our desire to keep Canadians safe, protected, cared for and nurtured.  Let's get the message out that we are no longer in a fireproof house, but together we have Canadians' backs.  Rotarian Mark Musca thanked Colonel James for a life dedicated to lifelong service and for taking the time to speak to the Rotary Club of Belleville today.
Chair of Kids Against Hunger, Jennifer Savini, had nothing but good things to say about the food packing event that took place at Loyalist College on Saturday, October 14th.  See any familiar faces?  Just some of the great volunteers who packed more than 18,000 meals destined for places near and afar.  A concerted effort to improve food security.  The demand is high!  Well done.  As in the past, Jennifer's family were out in full force, her children and her spouse (a great organizer and lots of fun I might add) and of course, Jennifer right in the middle of the action. 
Rotarian Terry Thomas was very pleased to introduce one of the Club's newer members, Andrew Kole, to present his classification talk and share a little about his life story with the Rotary Club of Belleville. Terry emphasized the importance of Rotarians being fully engaged, living the Service Above Self motto, committed to participating in the activities and initiatives of Rotary.  That is what Terry sees when he looks at Andrew Kole.  The only shortfall Terry sees is Andrew's reluctance to actually dress up like a Clown in the Santa Claus Parade, but there is still time to convince him otherwise.
Andrew was born in 1983 in the vibrant City of Dnipro, right in the heart of Central Ukraine.  Both his parents were dedicated pediatricians and to us that would mean a life of relative comfort, but not so in Ukraine as part of the Soviet Union.  Andrew's childhood coincided with the collapse of the USSR, bringing about a complete economic meltdown and collapse of the only bank in town.  Lifetime savings were no more, poor people became poorer.  There were widespread shortages of basic necessities and consumer goods.  Amidst the turmoil of everyday existence, Andrew spent his time playing soccer, a way of life at the time in Ukraine.  And while Andrew was spending time at soccer, his mom, with unwavering determination, took the opportunity to relocate to Canada, Halifax more specifically in 2003.  Andrew was 19 and his parents had been separated for seven years.  Andrew did return to Ukraine to complete his university education but joined his mom in 2006 permanently.  Finding a job proved challenging and working at a call center, although not Andrew's first choice, did provide him with a platform to enhance his proficiency in the English language.  Andrew focused on expanding his academics, obtaining a college diploma and an undergraduate degree in accounting, securing his CPA and CMA designation and then his MBA from Laurentian University in 2022.  Proudly, he became a Canadian citizen at this same time, changing his name officially to Andrew Kole, the Canadian version of his former name in Ukraine.
Through baseball in Kingston, Ontario, Andrew finally felt like he belonged and became long time friends with an extraordinary group of individuals, one who became his best man.  This sport opened many doors for Andrew and he is grateful for those opportunities.  What Andrew thought was merely a photo of him in his soccer uniform turned out to be a work of magic for his dating profile and that is how he met Julie, his lovely wife.  They became engaged in 2019 and after planning a 2020 wedding six months later, found COVID interrupted their well laid plans and they delayed until 2021 on a very wet, rainy day in September.  Andrew is thankful that Julie introduced him to Rotary, as she was a member of the Stirling Rotary Club and is very involved to this day, with a slight step back with the birth of their son Leo in April 2022.  Jo-Anne Wheeler invited Andrew to a Rotary meeting and he finally joined in August 2022.  Since joining, Andrew has worked with the International Service Committee, the Rotary Loves Trees team, the budget committee and most recently, Clowns for Kids.  A great adventure so far and Andrew is very excited to see what Rotary Refresh brings to the forefront.
Andrew and Julie have proudly assisted Ukrainian newcomers to the Quinte region, displaced by the conflict in their homeland in finding local employment opportunities, acquiring clothing and essential household items, securing transportation, obtaining driver's licenses, crafting job applications.  Recently, they helped to organize a community gathering for local Ukrainians residing in this area, aimed to foster connections among the newcomers, to share their stories, exchange experiences and provide emotional support to each other.  There were around 80 people in attendance and the Rotary Club of Belleville donated $500 towards food for the people.  Andrew extended a sincere thank you again for the Club's invaluable support.  Today, Andrew proudly holds the role on the senior management team of a family-owned business, one that is firmly rooted in Belleville and boasts a 35 - year legacy of helping eastern Ontario organizations attain their business objectives through technology in the area of document management and business process automation.
Tracy Bray thanked Andrew for his presentation today and presented him with his new blue badge (instead of his newcomer red badge).  Welcome to Andrew.  We are looking forward to meeting his son Leo soon.
On October 24th, World Polio Day, Belleville Rotarians and friends of Rotary planted 675 tulips in 44 minutes at the Children of Hope parkette in the City of Belleville at Pinnacle Street and Station Street, apparently a record of feat and diligence.  World Polio Day addresses global health issues, a vital focus of Rotary's work in the world.  Rotary's Polio Plus initiative supports vital vaccination campaigns and health care infrastructure to keep communities healthy.  Next spring when we see the tulips beautifying our local area, we will think about the work that Rotary does here and abroad and their focus to eradicate polio everywhere.....and they are 99% there!
The District 7070 Conference was held on the weekend of October 21st through October 23rd in Oshawa and Rotarian Dr. Ruth Mathieson was one of the guest speakers.  She spoke about the work at the Matangwe Hospital in Kenya, Africa and the District was so impressed with the presentation, that Dr. Ruth was provided with a $9,000 District Grant for the projects being carried on at Matangwe.  During the question and answer portion of her presentation, an attendee at the Conference came up to the microphone and presented Dr. Ruth with $1,000 towards her next District Grant.  Much needed funding and good work by Dr. Ruth for many, many years..
At the District Conference, the Rotary Club of Belleville also received a District Grant of $4,125 to be used towards a YMCA Developing Young Leaders program for camp counsellors.  An initiative to build future leaders.....and hopefully Rotarians.
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