Posted by Mark Chipman, District Governor 7070, 2020-21

Past District Governor Mark Chipman and the District Governor Team hosted our annual District Governor Changeover Ceremony and Awards Presentations for more than 100 Rotarians and Rotaractors and their spouses from all over District 7070, on June 30, 2021 ONLINE. We are pleased to present Mark's year-end closing remarks to everyone in District 7070.

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Past District Governor Mark Chipman for an outstanding year as District Governor. He has encouraged and challenged us to ensure that Rotary Opens Opportunities in our clubs and in our communities, locally and globally, right in the middle of COVID. A job well done.  

Here are the highlights of Past District Governor Mark Chipman's address to the Rotarians at the District Governor Changover Ceremony.....

Proud of District 7070 in 2020-21


I often hear people say things like “I’m so sorry that you had to be DG during this year”.  And sure, I had visions of Hawaii, Chicago, going to Anchorage for the Rotary Environment summit, volunteering at all the summer fundraisers and welcoming students on Youth Exchange program- all of which didn’t happen of course

But when I look back at this year, I think it has been an exceptional one…

Yes, it’s been the year of the famous phrases that we have come to love and hold dear to our hearts “You are on mute” or “please go on mute”. 

I reflect on this period last year, the incoming Presidents or President Elects had just finished their training sessions…we had the fortune to all meet at the Oshawa Golf Club in January and the BMO Training Centre, on March 6, a week before the COVID lockdown hit.   We were doing only fist bumps them.  In the meetings and months leading up to the new Rotary I observed that the President Elects were nervous, perhaps apprehensive to take over as a Club President, wondering how to lead during a time of crisis when people could no longer meet in person.  How would they raise funds, how would they keep the members engaged, how would they survive as a Rotary Club!

Turn the clock ahead almost a year and I see vibrant, healthy clubs lead by confident, resilient Presidents who were able to pivot and make a positive impact!

RI President Holger Knaack proudly reflect on the unforeseen year that was and quotes 20th century French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre "There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours."  It's all about focusing not on the nature of the times, but our role in making the most of our small moment in history.  And yes, Rotarians in D7070 made the most of this time during COVID.

Every club has their own achievements that they can be proud of this year.  When I read Club weekly newsletters or see their social media posts, I am awed by what clubs in this District have accomplished

At this District level there are so many things that I am also proud of …allow me to share a few:

  • The Beirut project.  We raised $391,400 USD for the Global Grant for the pediatric/neonatal ward of the Karantina Hospital, Beirut's only public hospital. D7070 was the main driver for this effort and a big thank you to Steve Rutledge for spearheading this initiative.

  • Our contributions to The Rotary Foundation .  We raised approx.$650 US or around $850K Canadian – incredible in a year when our Club coffers were not as full as usual… Through the Foundation we helped with a major historical milestone… the eradication of polio in Africa!

  • This year we distributed over $200 US in grants to Club Projects including:

    • $73,000 US that went toward to 35 clubs for COVID related initiatives such as PPE, computers, Food Banks etc.

    • Anesthetic machines for remote hospitals

    • An all-abilities swing in Kennedy Park in Campbellford,

    • Bursaries for high-school students in Etobicoke

    • Irrigation systems in Uganda and Lebanon

    • Sewing machines for an Egyptian community

    • Permanent water supply to the village in Laos

    • Bio-sand water filters for town in the Dominican Republic

    • Development of the Phillips House & Maddie's Healing Garden at the North York General Hospital

    • The Hospital in Beirut

    • Africa Rotary Community Mediation and education

    • All For Her Project to purchase equipment for a breast cancer diagnostic device in Serbia

    • Toilet Block for Girls in Rural India

    • Project in Brazil to improve health situation for sanitation workers

    • And a significant contribution to end polio now campaign

    • Furthermore, we contributed/and received approval for global grant scholarships for three students


...kudos to Bob Wallace, Lars Henriksson and District Foundation team

  • Proud of our first ever online HIV/AIDs & community health walk benefiting Feed Ontario. We raised over $25K.  Kudos AG Nick Ryall and PDG Mary Lou Harrison for your efforts on this.

  • St Vincent Volcano Eruption initiative.  We raised approx. $23,000 raised for victims of the St Vincent volcano eruption, Maureen Bird, John Fortney

  • Proud that we helped raise the necessary money through an online fundraiser to preserve a 250-year-old heritage Red Oak tree in Toronto. Patti Wright, Mary Lou Harrison and the Toronto West club played a key role in this initiative.

  • Proud that we helped with Feed the Need Durham. Across the District we raised over $20K, Huge thank to Joe Solway who led this initiative

  • Throughout the District, there was never a weekend without a Bottle drive, Dinner and Ribfest Drive throughs; I was proud to have the opportunity in September to attend bottle drives put on by 18 clubs for what I called the Super September weekend

  • Proud that we experienced an increase in membership which is significant at a time when Rotary is declining in numbers in North America - we actually had the third highest growth of all the Districts within our Zone.  We are in the process of adding two more Clubs and recently added Earl Haig as a new interact club.  Thank you to Membership Chair Virginia O’Reilly

  • Proud of the collaboration between clubs – with Zoom, Club Presidents met monthly and had ongoing regional Presidents meetings …these meetings served as a chance to share ideas: “here’s how best to run a bottle drive, what were the lessons learned at your club’s drive through Ribfest’, here’s is our model for our Drive in Movie night in case anyone was interested”,  Through zoom, most of my online visits were with 2-3, sometime 4 and 5 clubs at a time; these were opportunities for Rotarians to meet people from other clubs and hear their stories.  

  • Proud of the work Rotary played in the administration of COVID vaccines lead by Cobourg Rotary.  Leslie and I had a chance and were proud to volunteer one day at the Cobourg community centre.                 

  • Proud of our DEI committee.  We kicked off our District Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee this year and the committee presented at over 20 clubs on the importance of DEI in Rotary. Many clubs started their own DEI committees.  They proudly promoted Black History month and we held an online Women in Rotary celebration on International Women’s Day. Thank you to Johanna DeBoer and Jan Hoselton, Thank you to DEI chair Heather Drakes, Courtney Doldron and Nikita Williams and the rest of the DEI committee for driving progress in this area

  • Proud of the work that HIP and John Currie are doing to move us forward toward Truth and Reconciliation.  We are excited that the Youth-to-Youth program to bring 25 indigenous and 25 nonindigenous Youth together to build awareness and understanding is kicking off in October. Proud to support this program and help it along with $5000 contribution from the District.

  • Proud of Environmental Action. This year we set the foundation for more great things to come related to our new Area of Focus, Supporting the Environment. The Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup (GLWC), which most of our Clubs participated in, was born out of discussions between me and the DG in 7090, we had participation from 15 Districts in 8 States and 2 Provinces. Many clubs are starting their own Environmental Action committees and have been scheduling club member hikes and walks.  I have heard many clubs tell me that this Area of Focus has revitalized their club and have given them renewed energy.  Thank you to Nilam Bedi, Dan Coombes, Cora Xaio and the rest of the Environmental Action committee.  And a huge thank you to Sue Miller, for her incredible talents and energy. The GLWC logo went viral, and it was amazing to see this logo on Tshirts from northern Ontario, to Michigan, New York state and all across Ontario.

  • Proud of our social media presence. We need to promote Rotary as Evan Burrell stated on Saturday, and let people know about the amazing things we do.  One person told me that this year they felt more aware of what was going on with other clubs and around the District than ever before through social media.  Huge kudos to our District public image team for making that happen!! 

  • Proud of the Leadership development committee – thank you to Dhamay Kantham and her committee – we have laid out succession planning within Clubs and District and mandates for most of our District roles.

  • Proud how we embraced technology.  Very few of us heard of zoom prior to COVID.  We have been accelerated 5-10 years ahead in our adoption of technology.  Many clubs are experiencing higher attendance numbers at their weekly Zoom meetings than they were prior to the lockdown. Our online District seminars, including Tuesday Talks - and kudos to PDG Beth Selby and District secretary Charles Bridle for running these - have been regularly attended by over 100 people, more than we normally see at physical gatherings.  We have had the opportunity to invite our friends and family and non-Rotarians to our meetings and bringing in speakers from around the world…the Oshawa club met online with members of one of the Moscow clubs that is being piloted. It was to say the least very cool. I hope we continue leveraging this technology and offer hybrid meeting which are both in person and on zoom. What better way to be inclusive!

  • Proud of our District Conference this year. With 450 people registering we gave a$4500 to The Rotary Foundation. On Friday night 13 clubs have purchased/sponsored shelter box kits and as a result were able to give $15,600 to ShelterBox Canada. One comment that made me really proud was from a long outstanding member. He stated that he is not a big fan of District events but decided to join this Conference.  He indicated that he was glad he joined and came away more invigorated about Rotary than he has been in a long time. 

  • Proud of our community engagement. On Saturday, June 26 over 30 clubs went out or into their community to do some hands-on work with a $500 grant in hand from the District! 

  • Also proud of being, I’m sure, the first DG who inducted someone into Rotary while they were fast asleep on a zoom meeting - ask me about this when we meet over a beer in the future.

  • I could go on and on about the things that I am proud of….

As I mentioned at the start, at this time last year our incoming Club Presidents were nervous, unsure and so concerned about how they were going to keep their Club together and members engaged particularly with the COVID lock down upon us.

So, what actually happened in 2020/21?  We embraced what life sent our way, we collaborated out of necessity, we were engaged, we gave back and contributed to our communities- we made a difference!

And for that I am proud, and for that I thank you for the honour and privilege to be your District Governor in 2020/21!


District Governor Mark