The fifteenth annual Rotary Club of Grand Bend’s (Ontario, Canada – D 6330) ‘Autumn Indulgence’ started off with a bang and ended with a boom.
While final figures aren’t in, it’s thought that the evening could have raised more than $150,000.
The decorations that caught one’s eye were outstanding, as usual, with this year’s theme of the Black Forest, and the conclusion was one of a kind.
Members of the club begin meeting early in the new year and don’t stop until they clean up the day after the event.
The year is spent scouring the region (and beyond) for sponsorships, monetary donations, silent auction gifts, larger expensive items for the live auction and, of course, purchasers of tickets.
The angst that is created by the end of the summer is palpable and reaches the near-panic stage two weeks before the event with unsold tickets, not enough sponsors, donations or gifts.
But, as usual, it all comes together two days before the event with no tickets left and everything secured.
Last year’s gala raised over $80,000 to top all previous years and in addition, after a ‘hard ask’- simply a request for donations directed to a specific cause – another $16,000 was generously donated by attendees for Jessica’s House.
As with every year, every cent of the $80,000 was spent on community projects, youth and international endeavours.
During the 15 years of Autumn Indulgence, the Rotary Club of Grand Bend (and area) has donated about $1 million to its local and international projects.
Some of the noteworthy projects include the Rotary Trail, seating for the Huron Country Playhouse, the Rotary Stage, the Turning Circle at the Bend, historical plaques, donations to all the local elementary and secondary schools, bursaries and awards to senior students, funding for student leadership seminars, the purchase of the elevator at South Huron District High School, support for young people who attend provincial, national and international competitions and financial contributions to the local Food Bank Distribution Centre, South Huron Hospital, the Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre and the Bluewater and Area Family Health Team in Zurich.
Rotary International has spearheaded the fight against polio for almost 40 years, and the local club is near the top of all clubs worldwide on a per capita basis as far as givings are concerned.
Everyone is by now aware of Rotary’s collection of material for distribution overseas, and the Club is proud to announce that last week, its members and friends filled their 88th container of educational and medical equipment for schools and hospitals in Africa.
In a word, Rotarians are involved in almost every major enterprise that takes place in Grand Bend, Lambton Shores, South Huron and Bluewater.
There are no final figures yet for this year, but early estimates are that it will far exceed last year’s record.
The highlight of the night was the hard-ask that occurred at the end of the evening.
The club’s focus this year is to emulate Bayfield’s successful campaign to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.
Their efforts centred on water filling stations (places to refill glass or metal bottles) – they have five scattered around the village.
The club, believing that it has a good cause but uncertain of community support, voted to purchase one station if not enough money was raised from the hard ask which was so successful last year.
The concern, however, proved to be an overwhelming endorsement of the cause.
At the end of the live auction, a short video was shown of discarded plastic bottles on the ocean bed and what damage they were doing to birds, fish and other creatures.
The auctioneer explained that the cost of one of these water stations was about $5,000, but for $3,500 a person could have a name engraved on a bronze plaque affixed to the station.
Immediately, one gentleman said, “I’ll take three at $5,000.” Another said, “I’ll take two.”
More and more joined in with $1,000, $500 and so on until over $71,000 was raised in 10 minutes.
People were clapping, cheering, whistling and shouting. Others sat or stood with mouths and eyes wide open.
Some were proud, others wiped their eyes, but everyone was excited.
It appears that no matter which side one takes on the climate change issue, everyone supports clean, air, clean land and clean water.
The incredible support of the community to the ‘hard ask’ flabbergasted every Rotarian and probably every member of the audience.
The club obviously hit a nerve with the audience.
The night (which may have raised a total exceeding $150,000) proved that the men and women of the communities are generous, caring souls who want to make a difference.
Source: Whig Standard