Now that the Rotary year 2021-2022 has ended, it is time to highlight some of the year’s accomplishments.
Although the club hoped that the pandemic was finished the Delta variant and then Omicron forced us to pivot yet again. We are people of action though, and we found our way to keep going!
We returned to in-person meetings on August 3rd, at our new home of 25 The Great Rd (First Parish Congregational Church). We are all so grateful to John Castricum for offering the use of the space – it has provided the home we needed at just the right time! Thanks to our tech-savvy members (a special shout-out to Victor and Sze-Wen) we were able to troubleshoot our way through most of our issues and have become very comfortable with hybrid meetings. The technology has proved invaluable in allowing us to stay connected through the various waves and infections. Anyone can attend our meetings from anywhere in the world! Although we lost two members this year, we now have an equal number of men and women in the club.
Due to the pandemic, we didn’t get to host our usual fundraising events, Bedford Day and Breakfast with Santa. We did however have a booth at Bedford Day in September and shared information about Rotary at the fair. We had other fundraisers, including the community-wide Scavenger Hunt, the Spring Cleaning Clothing Drive, and our Flatbread restaurant night and raffle.
We did have a number of social gatherings, despite the best efforts of Covid to keep us apart! We met at Flatbread twice this past year, we had the Bedford Rotary Family Outing at the Knoll (hosted by Nat Brown). In October we went Apple Picking—another family outing! The Rotary Scavenger Hunt was both a fun social activity AND a fundraiser led by Christine Pinney. In April we had a Trivia night supporting Zanmi Beni, competing against other clubs in the district (of course we won!), and rounded out the year with a Membership Social at Nat Brown’s house
The Rotary International theme for this year was Serve to Change Lives, a theme that resonated with me. My goal was to do even more service projects than ever before, and expand our reach by working on projects with other groups and organizations in the community. I think we succeeded! We had build days with Habitat for Humanity and the Concord Rotary club—one of which was a women-only build! Other service projects included a RYLA Service event cleaning up/picking up trash near Bedford High School and fields, and our annual bicycle Helmet Giveaway in conjunction with the BPD.
New this past year we participated in Trunk or Treat and distributed milkweed seeds to children/families. We worked with the Bedford Food Bank helping pack Thanksgiving meals. We also delivered some of the beds we built with Sleep in Heavenly Peace – a great way to see people enjoy the result of our labor. We distributed safety lights during the town tree lighting. We participated in Bedford Embraces Diversity’s (BED) Annual MLK Community Day doing service projects for the COA. Another new project was our Winter Sow using native pollinator seeds. This was a trial run for a community-wide project to stock our pollinator garden next year. We hosted an Election Day Personal Care item drive for the MCC food pantry. Our Spring Cleaning Clothing Drive supported the Epilepsy Foundation (along with being a fundraiser for us). We hosted a Rise Against Hunger meal packing event, packaging over 10,000 meals (BHS & Carlisle Interact clubs participated along with BAE Systems and members of the Bedford community.) We rounded out the year with the Job Lane cleanup day, helping at the BEST PTO Color Run and providing assistance at RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards).
This year saw the beginning of many initiatives including our efforts to create a Native Pollinator Garden in town (in progress). We have had an impact globally with our District Grant to build water catchment basins with Friendly Water for the World in Kenya, work in DEI led by Ralph (working with Bedford Embraces Diversity and Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy and the Rotary Disabilities Advisors Group), which directly resulted in us supporting Club Foot Shoe Building in Kenya. Along with our support for disaster relief in Ukraine – our trustees matched donations to the Disaster Response Fund, encouraging all members to contribute.
Finally, it is all of you who make the Bedford club the best Rotary Club! Without your passion for giving, we could not accomplish all of the great things we did this past year. Whether you showed up at a service event, offered support for our projects, or helped a fellow member in some special way, you all contributed to making this past year a great year by Serving to Change Lives!
It was a great honor and a privilege to serve as your President! A special shout out to members who went above and beyond to make this year a very special year – Christine McLellan, Marc Hamilton, Christine Pinney, and Sze-Wen Kuo.
The Rotarian of the Year this year epitomizes everything a Rotarian should be. He has supported every service project and every social event. His roles include – Executive Secretary, Membership committee member, Bric² evangelist, DEI ally (Bedford Embraces Diversity and Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy), Environmental champion, Bedford POPS supporter, and Co-President Elect. Thank you, Ralph Hammond!
Let us now focus on the new Rotary year and our new President, Dawn Kociubes.
With Dawn’s enthusiastic and capable leadership, we have another incredible year to look forward to.
Thank you and welcome to Dawn!