“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” - Proverbs 11:24
When The Marketplace Excellence (MPE) Caribbean Report recently featured accomplished Barbadian tennis coach Lionel Eli on receiving his “Unsung Hero” award from the Barbados Government at the Barbados Consulate in Canada, Lionel remarked: “I think the best thing (for me) to do in life is to give back – I think we are born to help others and when we stop helping others, then we stop living.”
The Rotary International (RI) service club was founded in 1905 and now has a global membership of 1.4 million Rotarians, organized into 46,000 clubs and 529 geographic districts. Its motto is “Service above Self.”
I have been a Rotarian for 34 years, first as a member of the Rotary Club of Barbados South and for the last eight years as a member of the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain (RCCPOS).
Last Sunday I participated in the execution of a project on the business of giving when the RCCPOS delivered its annual CHOKHAFEST drive-thru event after 10 weeks of planning. This is what Rotarians do – invest time to give back to society.
I am reminded of the famous writer, philosopher, scientist, politician, patriot, Founding Father, inventor and publisher Benjamin Franklin who is credited with the saying: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. These very simple but meaningful words are so relevant in many areas of our daily lives today.
I am also reminded of one of the most famous lines from the mid-1980s television show “The A-Team”: “I love it when a plan comes together.”
It was an absolute joy to witness a seamless operation, excellent face-to-face bonding and fellowship by Rotarians after months of virtual meetings. The patrons enjoyed a delicious local brunch, which included sada roti, coconut bake & buljol, vegetable chokhas and a beverage. The feedback was exemplary. “I can’t decide which was better … the service or the food,” one patron commented. The event was very successful since we served twice as many meals and the cash yield was over two and a half times that of last year.
Thanks to patrons for buying tickets, sponsors for cash and in-kind donations, Rotarians for turning out in their numbers, and the younger Rotaractors for their support.
CHOKHAFEST started 10 years ago with a modest offering of 300 meals, but this year we served over 1,700 meals, including over 200 meals going to children’s homes. Many patrons went out of their way to voice their satisfaction after the event/ Rotarians were very motivated and enjoyed the fellowship.
RCCPOS services include: (1) helping youth in the disadvantaged Beetham Estate Gardens and wider East Port of Spain communities; we provide teaching equipment, uniforms and schoolbooks; support a youth steel band, and share annual Christmas cheer; (2) shepherding RCCPOS Interact and Rotaract youth leadership clubs; (3) supporting local and regional emergency disaster relief efforts; (4) providing financial support to indigent children requiring medical procedures; (5) hosting an annual peace and conflict resolution youth development program entitled Model United Nations; (6) distributing meals to children’s homes and community kitchens; and (7) contributing annually to the RI Foundation and to the RI Polio eradication programme.
Sir Winston Churchill reminds us that “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
And … if Rotary wins, we all win!