Posted by Rob Leek on Nov 01, 2018

What a time we had....

In “The County” Prince Edward County that is!! 
Over 270 Rotarians and guests arrived in Prince Edward County for a weekend of fun, fellowship and inspiration.  The party got started in the evening of Friday, October 26th with a pre conference “Sweet County Welcome” gathering hosted by the Rotary Clubs of Picton and Wellington, featuring local County wines and delectable County treats. An enjoyable evening was had by all.
Saturday morning, Oct 27th, saw the beginning of the one day Rotary Reunion – District Conference 2018.  Rotarians arrived to morning juice, coffee and breakfast treats, and were given the opportunity to assemble birthday party bags (cake-mixes, candles, icing, party favours) and use their creative talents to decorate the bags.  In the end, 200 bags were completed and distributed to the Wellington and Picton food banks so parents have an opportunity to host a wonderful child’s birthday party.
The Saturday program got underway under the capable direction of Picton Rotarian Jim “JJ” Johnston¸ the emcee for the day.  “JJ”, a radio personality at the local not-for-profit station 99.3 County F M, “The Voice of The County” led us throughout the day as the program progressed.
District Governor Mary Lou Harrison opened the morning session, with the introduction of R I President Barry Rassin’s Representative, Past District Governor Karen Oakes from District 7090.  Karen hails from Norfolk County in the Simcoe/Delhi area . . . she is a self-professed “county girl” and as such felt right at home in Prince Edward County.  A highlight of the opening session was the parade of flags, featuring our districts inbound Youth Exchange students from 10 countries presenting their colours.
Each conference attendees participation in the day long program was centred on TRF’s 6 areas of focus.
Under Basic Education and Literacy, we were engaged by Garbriel Munro from Amarok Society which works with poor uneducated moms in helping them to become neighbourhood teachers, and by Rotarian Heather Lennie discussing The Free Reading Program offering cloud-based learning to anyone with access to the internet.  Visti for more details.
Economic and Community Development featured ShelterBox E.D. Stephanie Christensen and ShelterBox Ambassador and Rotarian Geoff Lloyd guiding us through an on-the-ground experience.  The ShelterBox was erected on-site with the help of our Rotaractors.  Due to the weather, we changed plans and housed participants in a cosy hallway, although many braved the elements to get a first-hand look at the tent and its accessories.
Disease Prevention and Treatment, hosted by Rotarian Jennifer Boyd and Dale Duke allowed registrants to experience a Virtual Reality video on the End Polio Now program.
Water & Sanitation was chaired by Rotarian Karen Thompson who introduced water related projects from a number of district clubs.  This session allowed for interaction with specific project presenters to answer questions and gather information to take back to district clubs.
Maternal & Child Health involved an eye-opening presentation by Rotarian Shannon Lavigne focusing on supporting mothers and youth dealing with mental health issues.
Peace & Conflict Prevention/Resolution presented as our lunch time activity by Rotary Peace Fellow Chenai Kadungure harnessed the collective wisdom at each table in dealing with conflict situations.
When the sessions ended, play time began, with the Rotary Club of Cobourg offering wine tastings in their hospitality tent as part of the promotion for next year’s District Conference - Rotary Muskoka Style.
The final event was a minimal speeches dinner, followed by a thank you from the conference co-chairs, Deb Murray and Rob Leek, closing remarks from our District Governor and RI President’s Rep.  Guests were entertained by the pre-dinner musical offerings of the Class Act Trio, and the up-beat sounds of the Sound Explosion for the post-repast dance party.  Even our emcee got involved as a guest singer with the band.
Our thanks to the many volunteers who spent an incredible amount of time putting this program together.  An amazing group!  And finally, thank you to all Rotarians who came to learn, enjoy and Be the Inspiration for others.  We hope you found the experience both enlightening and fun.
Conference Co-Chairs Deb Murray – Rotary Club of Trenton & Rob Leek – PDG – Rotary Club of Picton