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November 2021
 
Dear Fellow Rotarians,
 
It is my honor to serve as your President for 2021-22 and to present this report on Club activities over the past several months.
 

Membership

Many Rotary clubs struggled to maintain membership during the pandemic, but I’m pleased to say that our numbers increased from fifteen to twenty-five during the 2020-21 fiscal year, putting the Club in the top 5% in North America for membership growth.  So far this year we have welcomed another three new members: 
 
  • Rima Girnius
  • Eimear Gorman
  • Jeff Boak 
 
Please join me in welcoming them to the Club.
 
Much of the increase in membership resulted from the greater visibility that the Club achieved through promoting the Good Neighbor Fund to help those impacted by the pandemic, and the launch of Duxbury for All.  Events and outreach by Duxbury for All continue to expand awareness of Rotary’s important role in the Duxbury community.
 
As Membership Chair, Elika is working closely with several prospective members, and if you are aware of anyone interested in learning more about the Club, please refer them to her:  
 
 
Along with increased membership has come greater diversity (of the thirteen new members, more than half are women) and a decrease in the average age of our membership.
 
In her role as Membership Chair, Elika is conducting periodic surveys of our members to learn how their skills and experience can benefit our various causes and activities.  Engaged members are key to an effective Rotary club.

Events

Following the hiatus caused by the first year of the pandemic, we returned with a reimagined Tree Lighting last December, expanded to include all faiths (thank you, Elika) and supported by a virtual event on PAC-TV (thanks to Tara).  In the spring we held a virtual Trivia Night (thanks to Bill for figuring this out), and in August the Duck Race returned, raising almost $7,000, a record amount that far eclipsed our budget.  Mickey’s idea to ask local merchants to sell ducks helped increase our revenues, and laid the foundation for some creative thinking about ways to expand the reach of this popular event in 2022 and beyond.  

 

This holiday season, the Tree Lighting has evolved into a Festival of Lights, and the New Year’s Eve lunch at the Senior Center has switched to a brunch on December 30, with Rotarians providing support as always.

 

Our early December social gathering will give us an opportunity to thank Good Neighbor Fund donors, Megaduck purchasers and merchants who sold ducks for us.

 

In the next couple of months we’ll be planning events for 2022, including: Trivia Night (date to be decided); a fundraiser on May 14 for Razia’s Ray of Hope School in Afghanistan; a spring social event to thank the Duxbury for All (DfA) and Duxbury Afghan Resettlement Initiative (DARI) teams; the Duck Race, and perhaps an entirely new fundraiser.   

In the summer of 2020, our launch of Prejudice Free Duxbury (later renamed Duxbury for All) in partnership with the Duxbury Interfaith Council, was a first among clubs in our District.  District Governor, Billy Roberts, has since launched a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion challenge to all clubs. 
 
In the past year DfA has attracted almost 300 supporters through a series of events, including Listening Events, book reads and back-yard conversations.  This has stimulated interest in Rotary and led to an influx of new members.
 
Karen’s proposal to hold a Comedy Night to raise awareness of DfA, and raise funds to expand our activities, led to a sell-out event, spearheaded by Tara and supported by many Club members and others.  We raised more than $8,000 through ticket sales, sponsorships and sales on the night.  This is certain to become an annual event to support DfA.  
 
On November 10, DfA hosted a presentation of the Holocaust documentary “Etched in Glass” at the Performing Arts Center.  Thanks again to Tara for her organizational skills, and to the School Administration for facilitating the event.  We had almost 100 attending, more than half of whom were new to DfA. 
Recognizing the Club’s special connection with Afghanistan – as an early funder of Razia Jan’s Ray of Hope school – DfA has risen to the challenge of welcoming an Afghan refugee family to Duxbury.  Following a presentation to the Town Select Board, we were asked to form a task force to discover how the town should proceed.  Karl and Catherine have been leading this intensive effort, and we expect to be ready by the end of November.  Your Board approved an agreement between DfA and Catholic Charities – one of largest refugee resettlement agencies, which is working in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston – and is hard at work fundraising towards a target of  $30,000.  The Board authorized $3,000 in seed funding for DARI, from the proceeds of Trivia Night and Comedy Night.  Here is the GoFundMe link:  
 
 

Scholarships  

In 2020 we resumed high school scholarships, granting $1,000 each to three deserving students, Carly McDermott, Grayson Kirk-Elliot and Tim Ayers, and we were privileged to hear all of them speak at our scholarship meeting in July.  With our strengthening financial position, the Board will be considering an increase in scholarship grants for 2022.  
 

Meeting schedule

The transition from Zoom meetings to hybrid and in-person meetings has been challenging.  At the same time, we have been changing our schedule to better accommodate members’ schedules.  Over the next few months, we’ll be meeting at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we will also consider some meetings at restaurants, rather than always at the Senior Center.  
 
We are also hoping to resume a program of speakers; if you have any ideas, please let me or Elika know. In addition to speakers from outside the Club, many members have interesting stories to tell, so we may call on you to talk to the Club.
 

Rotary Foundation

From time-to-time you will receive emails from Rotary International seeking contributions to the Foundation’s global efforts.  Please support these causes.  It is Rotary that has been largely responsible for the almost complete eradication of polio around the world, and many other worthwhile projects are supported by the Foundation and individual clubs working in partnership.  
 
Foundation Chair Philomena is hoping we can achieve 100% member participation this year, with every member giving at least $100 to Rotary Foundation. 
 

What's next?

In the past, the Club has supported Plymouth Habitat for Humanity, and we have been advised that they are working to acquire an abandoned house in Carver, to be rebuilt for a veteran family.  More to follow in 2022. With younger members joining the club, many of whom have school-age children, we should think about forming an Interact Club, which would encourage community service and leadership development among those aged 12-18. Finally, in addition to the upcoming events and activities described above, we need to start thinking about officers for the 2022-23 Club year.  Over the next few months, I’ll be talking with members about their interest in stepping up to take a larger role in the Club’s activities. Thank you for helping make Duxbury Rotary Club a vibrant part of the community!
 
Respectfully submitted, 
Maarten Hemsley
President 2021-22