Happenings in Rotary
The Rotary Club was pleased to welcome the Executive Director of the Music Festival, Delynne Lorentzen to our meeting today.  Delynne has served as our ED for over 5 years now, and is encouraged by the renewed interest in participation.
Delynee provided a brief update on attendance at the upcoming (March 4 - 17) Rotary Music Festival.  She indicated that our participation is recovering after the shock of the COVID pandemic, and she is hoping for around 600 individual performances during the 2 weeks of Festival.  She was also very happy to provide the news that we are expecting 11 school bands to perform, 7 choirs, and 7 musical theatre groups.
 
She has a great group of adjudicators lined up and is looking forward to a very successful festival.  She is particularly encouraged by the number of junior level performers who are entered.  That bodes very well for the future.
Delynne provided some great slides of past participants and told some great stories about their work and their success.  Several members of the club also stood up and spoke about how the Festival had impacted their families.  She also advised the club of a number of last minute, volunteer opportunities that have arisen as the Festival gets near, and she was able to sign up most of the duties.  Thanks to everyone who will help out!
 
Delynne was thanked by President Bruce Shepard on behalf of the whole club, for her exemplary work on this showpiece of our Community Service.
 
We had the pleasure of the company of Gerry Darichuk and his wife, Barbara, at our noon meeting on Monday. While living in Calgary, Gerry and his four sons run a large engineering company in Airdrie.
 
Gerry has an entrepreneurial spirit and thrives on challenges. We had the privilege of hearing about how he has responded, thus far, to one of them: how he, with others, have become involved in the lives of Ukrainians, settling evacuees in Calgary and getting medical equipment to the frontline in the Ukraine.
 
 
Gerry’s connection with the Ukraine in fact goes back to his forefathers and those of his wife, who were Ukrainian. But fast forwarding, the focus of Gerry’s presentation was on how things transpired after Russia’s invasion into the Ukraine in February 2022.
 
The very next month, two important things happened in Canada: the federal government introduced legislation related to evacuees from the Ukraine, and Gerry received a phonecall, asking whether he and Barbara would take in the very first family to arrive in Calgary, from the Ukraine. He collected them from the airport on 20 March 2022, a mother and her two daughters.
 
From that time, assistance given to the many Ukrainian families arriving in Calgary has become well coordinated. The Calgary Communities Support  Program for Ukrainian Evacuees is up and running, supported by a collaborative effort of a number of community organizations, including a PDG of Rotary and the Calgary North Rotary Club.
 
Gerry shared many interesting facts, gathered through his experiences. One is that a common injury suffered by soldiers on the frontline is bleeding from shrapnel injuries. It is critical to stop the bleeding at medical centres 6-8km from the frontline, prior to transporting the injured soldiers to the nearest hospital. It was in relation to the need for this type of equipment, that in December 2023, Gerry packed 700lbs of tourniquets, bought with a Rotary grant (Global, District, Club), and headed for the Ukraine. Air Canada offered him free transportation of the equipment, if he bought an air ticket. Done deal!
 
A lovely example of how Rotary connects the world at so many levels is that in Warsaw, Gerry met up with a Rotarian who had been one of four Ukrainians, on a Group Study tour, hosted by his club, Calgary North, 22 years previously.
 
Gerry highlighted a very active non-profit that organizes volunteers who come to the Ukraine from all over the world – called UNITERS – united volunteers. It was through Uniters that Gerry made his way to Kiev on a military truck.
 
A wonderful example of how life happens while you’re busy planning:
 
Gerry planned to hand over the supply of tourniquets in Kiev and head back to Canada. However, a senior medical officer asked whether he would like to go the frontline. It took him just a split second to say yes.
 
Gerry spoke about seeing ‘graveyards’ of equipment, about being in Kharkiev, the home city of the first Ukrainian family whom he and Barbara took in, in 2022, about being struck by how young the majority of the soldiers were – a hard-hitting experience being when he met a soldier who looked just like one of his grandsons.
 
We were filled in about drones and their roles in the Ukrainian – Russian war. There are three types: surveillance/reconnaissance that check out the area to which they are flown, those that drop bombs, and those that kamikaze into a target. Of particular interest was to learn that a retired farmer, living in the Olds area, makes a large percentage of the surveillance drones used in the Ukraine warfare. Gerry was told that when a Russian drone flies overhead, the soldiers know that have four hours to pack up and vacate that spot as it will likely be targeted by the Russians.
 
Dispelling any myths about Ukrainian soldiers living in tents and trenches, is the sad fact that they house themselves in the homes of families who only had time to pack a few clothes in a suitcase and leave, when the war broke out. These homes are filled with all the possessions of those families, from wedding photographs to crystal glassware, crockery, cutlery, everything … left just like that.
 
Having addressed the WHAT he did and WHERE he went, Gerry then zoned in on the WHY.
 
Gerry spoke about the impression made on him by the Rotarians he met in Kiev (“It blows you away to hear what they are doing”), the work done by the Uniters non-profit, in coordinating voluntary assistance that comes from all over the world, and the kinds of help offered by other countries. He highlighted the role played by Austria, that takes in children of 6 years and younger, focusing on their mental and emotional well-being, attempting to mitigate the trauma these children have experienced, of war – many having lost members of their family.
 
So WHY did Gerry get involved? Because he said to himself, “I think I can do something”.
 
The presentation ended with the next step in Gerry’s quest to make a positive difference. He is raising $100,000 to buy rehabilitation equipment for a hospital in the Ukraine. His own club, Calgary North, is in on this. His ‘ask’ of the Rotary Clubs of Medicine Hat is $2000 each, in the form of type C grants – as recommended by District Governor Kurt Kowalchuk. Combined with a Global grant, the target will be reached. This equipment is sorely needed at the hospital Gerry visited, where he witnessed the ravages of war on the bodies of the young and older soldiers, civilian men, women and children.
 
The point that Gerry brought home, is that war not only results in death but the mental and physical injuries of the hundreds of thousands who survive and who urgently need rehabilitation in order to be reintegrated into society.
 
The presentation was very well received and was followed by numerous questions and discussion points.
 
A show of hands indicated that the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat is ‘in’!
 
Gerry, you are a Rotarian second to none. Thank you for sharing your Ukraine-linked journey in such a riveting way. You have our respect and our support.
 
NOTE:

A big thank you to Dieter and Kitt Brand, who hosted Gerry and Barbara Darichuk and organized two innovative social events for them to meet Rotarians in Medicine Hat.
 

The Rotary Club was very happy to welcome Chris Christie and Julie Lacasse to our meeting today.  Both these ladies spoke about their work with Cycling without Age, a continent wide organization which provides the cycling experience to those who through age, or disability have lost that experience.
 
The organization uses a Trishaw, which provides transportation for two individuals and is powered by a "pilot" and an attached electric bicycle.  Their first full summer of operation, they provided 70 rides and have doubled their fleet of trishaws, to hopefully provide a significant increase in their capacity for 2024.  They expressed a desire for more individuals to train as pilots, as that seemed to be a limiting factor in the number of rides last year.  They received a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation to get the organization off the ground and support from both Pembina Pipeline and International Petroleum Corporation for training and equipment.  They are responsible for insurance, pilot training and qualifications, helmets/racks and storage.
Their first year of operation centered on the Cypress View Foundation, who provided space to store the trishaws and offered their residents the opportunity to use the service.
 
It was apparently great for mood, mental health and an outstanding outing, especially when the trip included a stop at the ice cream shop.  The group has also provided some youth and vulnerable sector individuals with the opportunity to participate and that has gone very well.  They are currently looking for donations to allow operation of the service for the next year.  More information is available at their website https://www.cwamedhat.ca .
 
Julie answered questions, including how Team Freewheel might potentially help with maintenance or volunteer service.  She was presented with a Rotary Mug and thanked for her work and presentation by President Bruce Shepard.
 
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Medicine Hat

We meet In Person & Online
Mondays at 11:45 a.m.
Medicine Hat Lodge
1051 Ross Glen Dr SE
Medicine Hat, AB T1B 3T8
Canada
The Rotary Club of Medicine Hat has returned to meeting in person. Our first meeting of every month is a ZOOM business meeting. Check the club calendar, which is usually up to date for our meeting locations and program.
Club Contact Info
Rotary Club of Medicine Hat
PO Box 1058
Medicine Hat, AB, T1A 7H1
 
mhrotary@gmail.com