By Darren Lum
Published August 29 2017
Semi-retired Haliburton resident Steve Roberts who just turned 61 this past Tuesday is proud to be the current president for the Rotary Club of Haliburton.
Roberts has been a member of the service club for 18 years and took over the presidency from Richard Van Nood on July 1.
He likes to support his community and believes in what the club has always stood for in Haliburton.
“Rotary is part of the community of Haliburton. It’s been around since 1944. If Rotary wasn’t in this community n’t have the little extra things we see around here” he said.
There are examples of the club’s investment all around the community including Head Lake Park its bandshell the town docks with the timber frame shelter and most recently the new timber frame entranceway at the A.J. LaRue Arena – expected to be fully completed by September.
“It’s an asset to the arena now” he said.
The club funded the purchase of the wood and partnered with Haliburton School of Art and Design which enlisted its timber frame students led by instructor and local tradesperson Glenn Diezel to help construct the entranceway recently.
A community is built upon a foundation of small achievements Roberts said when asked if any one project or endeavour stands out for him.
“It’s just a whole bunch of little things adding all up. It’s not all one thing. I’m a community-minded person” he said.
Roberts who is president for the second time compared himself to politicians (like his wife Andrea deputy-reeve for Dysart et al) who are motivated to improve their community.
“It’s the same as that. You’re offering your community a service of giving where it is needed” he said.
Among the headline grabbers is the Rotary Golf Classic which benefited the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation. It helped to raise more than $250000 from the event over a 10-year period for the HHHSF Roberts said.
Part of the club’s mandate is to help children with their social development which has come in the form of support for Food for Kids Razzamataz Kids’ Shows and the spring clean-up at Head Lake Park.
All 25 current members put the community and the club first to improve conditions for everyone he said. The bedrock of the club’s strength is its sense of family.
“If you don’t have fellowship in any club not just Rotary … your club won’t work” he said.
His focus will be on bolstering this feeling at the club to ensure the membership is encouraged and provide the motivation to keep volunteering.
Decisions are made by the collective he adds. There are three or four club meetings known as club assemblies when members can give input and thoughts toward future projects.
Much of the club’s power comes from the community itself.
One example is how a single $20 ticket for the annual car draw can grow into several thousand dollars.
“For them to do something for $20 you can’t do anything but if 6000 people put $20 in together you have a foundation or a fund of money that you can do something big with” he said.
Now that many of the time-consuming events of the summer are past Roberts is ready to work with nephew and fellow Rotarian Matthew Roberts serving as the membership chairperson to entice new members.
“He’s a younger person that can connect with younger people” he said about the 30-something. “I’d like to see younger people as well as older people in the club.”
The club’s membership includes men women and one member in their 20s.
There is a diverse range of community efforts undertaken by Rotary so there is something for everyone whatever their strength or interest.
The local club was started with 16 chartered members in 1944. Things were different then.
Close to 20 years ago Roberts not only had to be invited but was interviewed to join the club. He said prospective members don’t have to go through the same process or fulfill any specific criteria.
“You just have to be a good person that serves and does good things in your community and be an outstanding citizen [then] you can join Rotary” he said.
A strong club member can come from anywhere.
“They can be of all different ages. As long as you’re willing to help make a difference … in our community and the Rotary world you’ll be a great Rotarian” he said.