They’re making a lasting impact

July 20, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Todd Taylor

Did you enjoy Ribfest this year? The event was successfully led by the Orangeville Rotary Club and approximately 200 volunteers.

A large part of the future of our town rests on the success of events that are put together by volunteers.

Events such as Ribfest, Blues/Jazz and Christmas in the Park serve to strengthen our ties to each other in the community. As property taxes move beyond the level that many can afford, some community projects will not be funded unless they are raised by volunteer organizations. The Rotary Club figured out long ago that they can help our community by raising money for key projects within Orangeville.

Earlier this year, the flag-raising project on Broadway was a part of a large fundraising initiative led by local business icon Paul Korsten.

The very important Bravery Park project was persistently pushed through by the fine leadership of Shannon Marie and her committee.

Larry Kurtz continues to drive the economy of Orangeville each June with his huge Blues and Jazz festival.

These are some examples of projects that are driven by volunteers with a vision for the betterment of our town. Orangeville needs selfless leaders such as these fine people to continue to push forward initiatives that we all benefit from.

There is no doubt that the Rotary Club hit the ball out of the park this past weekend. Ribfest provides a wonderful opportunity for all of us to “break bread” with our neighbours and enjoy a night of wonderful music.

Large successful events are something a commuting town such as Orangeville needs desperately to help us feel like a community. The Rotary club and their president, Scott Hughes, do something behind the scenes that is largely unknown. They started to set up for the event on Wednesday evening and then worked a 14-our day on Thursday to finish getting ready.

Their secret? They work without fanfare to include other community clubs in their projects. You see, the physical work that is required to put on an event is quite simply daunting. The shrewd leadership of the Rotary Club convinced the Lions Club to put a food truck in the event, the Scouts chipped in, Big Brothers and Big Sisters offered a hand, IODE offered their services, and the Orangeville Optimists were present to help as needed.

Many of the relationships the Rotary club have are reciprocal. Volunteer groups need help to do whatever it is in the community that they do. As with any volunteer organization, there are not enough people in each organization to simply go it alone. Therefore, service clubs need to pursue partnerships with others in the community if these events are going to continue.

A great example of a relationship that works for the Rotary Club is their exceptional connection with the Junior Northmen Lacrosse club. Rotary sponsored the Northmen this year, which helped the sports team to participate in upcoming tournaments. In exchange, the Junior Northmen simply had to offer their labour to help set up Ribfest. The Junior Northmen did not disappoint. The work put forth by the young Northmen was extraordinary and greatly appreciated by the Rotarians.

The social club I am involved in also approached the Rotary club for a “deal” this year. I am a part of the Orangeville Optimists, who are responsible for putting together the wonderful Christmas in the Park display each festive season. The familiar truth is that the Optimists also need help with our community event. Rotarian Charles McCabe brokered a deal with the Optimists that will hopefully see the Optimists helping at Ribfest for years to come. In exchange, the Rotarians will quickly learn how to put up Christmas lights in December.

Earlier in this missive, I mentioned two dreaded Orangeville words, “property taxes”. The truth is that meeting future community “wants” will not be possible if we have to rely on taxes as their main source of funding. There is no doubt that our town’s prosperity will rest with community volunteer leaders who have the ability to create a movement.

Leaders such as Larry Kurtz and Paul Korsten are successful because they are able share their vision and paint a compelling future that others want to be part of. 

A great example of the fine work put forth by the Rotary Club can be seen at Fendley Park, where they installed a wonderful splash pad for all to enjoy. Mr. McCabe shared that there are quite a few community projects on his club’s “what’s next” list. The Rotary club’s funding, time, and creativity will eventually be invested in our future youth, town parks, and social services projects in Orangeville.

I think deep down we all want to make a lasting impact in our community. That said, there are other reasons why Rotarians such as Don Voisey, Fred Murphy, Mike Wright, Ingrid/ Howard Sproxton, Dave Proctor and Bill Elliot choose to give back to their community.

Camaraderie and a connection to the town is why events such as Ribfest continue to be such a significant success.

Why not join in?

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