Ted Brandon is no stranger to the role of president and is proud to serve in this capacity again this year – for the third time! This incredibly busy club of 28 members has adapted to our current reality and continues to provide service to the community.
Spotlight is going to focus on one of their great success stories, the chartering of the Rotaract Club of Haliburton Highlands and the relationship with the Rotary Club of Haliburton. 
Always looking for ways to increase membership and find new members, President Ted contacted young people in the community. He asked if they were willing to work with him to organize/launch a club of younger community members with a like vision and desire to “do good” in the community. He also approached the college and local Young Professionals Network to get representation there as well. His vision provided the “call to action” and reason they were looking for. 
Two key elements in the initial planning were to have a champion among the participants and to invite participants to be part of the planning – to have ownership. 
In January 2019, the core planning group of 4 got together, discussed what Rotaract is (the manual was provided) and started to plan an information social. They set up social media accounts, contacted other Rotaract Clubs for advice, actively invited friends, used multi-media (newspaper, radio and social media) and did daily posts about what Rotaract is and does. In mid-February they held their information social with 42 present. The four organizers spoke, and all present were invited to sign up.  An initial membership fee of 20$ was offered to keep the costs of membership low. This was not so much for the money but to make the members feel they had some “skin in the game”. Participants were also asked if they were interested in a leadership position. Over 30 attendees sign up and paid for membership that night with 16 indicating they were interested in Leadership roles with the club.
They started meeting twice monthly right away and at the first (and only - due to Covid) meeting the board was set, and the bylaws and constitution voted on. The paperwork was filled out and sent to RI. This gave the club a sense of stability.  The Haliburton Club committed $2000 for start-up costs (although Rotaract has not accessed these funds to date). The Rotary club also offered to give as much or as little guidance as wanted and needed. All of this has happened in the face of the pandemic.
The Haliburton Club is very clear that the Rotaract Club is not a “work horse” or “go to” when they need extra hands. They are autonomous although the two clubs work very closely and support each other’s projects, enhancing their excellent relationship. 
“It is noteworthy that although Rotaract Haliburton Highlands chartered during the pandemic, its members were eager to serve and create positive change in Haliburton County. COVID19 only increased their keenness” said Rotaract President Rebecca Anderson, “and right away started meeting virtually twice a month.
Right off the bat, Rotaractors began sewing masks and created a drop off and pick up location for mask materials. One Rotaractor sewed 60 masks! On top of that, they were able to facilitate 60 more masks sewn through the drop off and pick up location.
Rotaract Haliburton Highlands also made it a goal to engage the community and let everyone know who they are. To do this, they utilized their social media accounts and put fun content up throughout the pandemic. They use the platform to share resources (i.e. mental health services during COVID19), advocate for groups and topics they believe in (i.e. Pride and Black Lives Matter), transfer fun knowledge (i.e. how to make your own jewelry videos made by a talented Rotaractor), and to share other meaningful voices in our community (i.e. Rotary Club of Haliburton).
Currently, the Rotaract Club is planning and implementing a Basic Needs Bags initiative with a $5000 grant received from United Way for COVID19 relief. As well, a few members are working with a local group, the Concerned Citizens of Haliburton County, on an initiative named Blue Communities.
Rotaract Haliburton Highlands and the Rotary Club of Haliburton have not gone dark during the pandemic. In addition to the above:
  • They have continued the monthly “Good Food Box” project where food boxes are packed with fresh produce and delivered to families who need a little help stretching their budgets. The Rotaract Club is part of this initiative and each month 4 Rotaractors join Rotarians to pack the boxes for families in need.
  • They have continued the annual road clean-up. The Rotaract Club was invited to participate and was so enthusiastic they have adopted their own 2 km section of road and have completed one clean up with a second scheduled for October. Community members will be invited to join them and hopefully translate to new members as well.
  • The annual Haliburton Rotary Club Carnival was unable to happen in its usual form but the club broke ground on the new Welcome Centre/Public Washroom project in Head Lake Park, greeted hundreds of community members at a Beef on a Bun Drive Thru and drew the winning ticket for their Annual Car Draw.
To learn more about these great projects and fun fundraisers, check out the club’s Facebook page or website.
Rotary President Ted Brandon and Rotaract President Rebecca Anderson are here to work with other clubs looking to begin a Rotaract Club and to benefit from this relationship.