“The future of our clubs, our districts, and the brand we love is stronger.” 


As February comes to a close so does a busy month.  A month that included a hybrid RI Board meeting, a hybrid gala fundraiser for our foundation and concluded with a hybrid multi-district PETS.  I had the opportunity to be in person at each of these events and I cannot tell you how it feels to be with people.  With the proper precautions it is beginning to feel somewhat “normal.”
I want to thank all of you who attended and gave so generously to our Gala for the Rotary Foundation on Rotary's 117th birthday!  More than 650 were in attendance, some virtually and some at house parties where RIDE Drew and RIPE Jennifer dropped in.  At this time, we estimate approximately $250,000 USD was raised!  With the Gates Foundation match for Polio funding that is over $300,000 USD.  As the RI Board meeting was occurring in Evanston, we did our part from RI Headquarters, so it was truly a hybrid event.
Presidents elect training is underway as we approach March and the end of winter. Although Spring is a most welcome relief for those of us in traditional snow belts, we do look forward to the change in seasons this year, but it is with heavy hearts we learn of the beginning of Russia’s attack on the people of Ukraine. 
It is important that we recognize that this fight is not between the everyday people of these two countries, all citizens including the people of Russia must be kept in our thoughts as these horrible situations play out. To see the statement on the situation in Ukraine by Rotary International please click here.
I write this as I visit Mid Atlantic PETS where once again, I am blown away with the enthusiasm, camaraderie, and the innovative resourcefulness of our Presidents Elect. Clearly the selection committees in each club have done a great job of choosing their next club presidents. As well it is wonderful to see a diverse group of new club Presidents, proof that clubs and districts are embracing equity and inclusion strategies. Each year as I visit PETS across our zones, I am more and more impressed with the caliber of the next generation of leadership. 
March also marks the end of the second year of the pandemic. It was March 14th, 2020, when Mark and I had to leave Rochester, New York to ensure we could cross the border back into Canada on time. We have lost many Rotarians during this pandemic and suffered immeasurable losses. This is a time in history we will never forget, yet the future of our clubs, our districts, and the brand we love is stronger as a result of weathering the storm as a family. 
I hope to see each of you soon as we continue to Serve to Change Lives!
Yours In Rotary,
Valarie Wafer
Rotary International Vice President (2021-2022)
Rotary International Director (2020-22)
Rotary Club of Collingwood, South Georgian Bay