Being a Rotary Member During a Pandemic
When I joined Rotary in 2019, I was attracted by the fellowship of like-minded people who wanted to give back to our local community. I quickly got involved in helping in the organisation of various events like the Santa Sleigh Pull, comedy nights, beer festivals and the infamous Gloucester 10k run. These events raise important funding for many local charities and made a real difference to our local society.
Then in March 2020, the Covid-19 global pandemic began to impact our lives in ways that could never have been foreseen. Every aspect of normality has been challenged and Covid-19 has now shone a light on deepening inequalities in our society.
I'll be the first to admit that during those first few weeks of lockdown, I went into a 'self-preservation' mode, focusing on home schooling, my business and my family. However, it quickly became apparent that I was one of the luckier ones and I had a lot to be grateful for. But I could do more, I could make a difference to those less fortunate. Being a member of Rotary reminded me of that.
Joining the weekly Zoom calls with other members, the creativity and sheer determination of the group was incredible. Whilst 2020 was not full of the typical events of previous years, it has been equally rewarding and beneficial. The Gloucester 10k went virtual, the cycle for Pied Piper went virtual, we supported a collection drive for Gloucester foodbank, and we donated thousands of pounds to local causes. The innovation to work differently has led to some amazing reflections on how we did things before and I'm sure will change the way we operate in the future.
If you speak to any member they will all have a personal highlight of 2020, but for me, if there was one event to sum up the impact our Rotary club had on our communities it was the Santa Sleigh Pulls. Traditionally door to door knocking whilst towing Santa on a sleigh through the streets, this year was more difficult. The club made a decision to make the event focused on giving the community something to raise spirits, with collections being secondary. We quickly moved to online collections, social media for awareness and organised extended, socially distanced routes. Sometimes we underestimate the impact something so simple can have - I have never seen so many smiles from adults and children alike. Irionically, we also raised more than previous years too!
Pandemic or no pandemic, if you want to join us to see how much difference you can make to others my advice is don't hesitate, do it now.