Posted by Colin Alford on Jun 06, 2018
In April 1987 our family including Jan’s mother reluctantly moved from Murray’s Bay on Auckland’s North Shore to Lower Hutt. The move was made for sound business reasons and not taken lightly. We left behind good schools, good friends and a good way of life. We had built a lovely wee house on our section for Jan’s mother, she was very happy there.
 
Lower Hutt was chosen as our new base as it was perceived there were good schools here and there would be the opportunity, we thought, to buy a house and section where we could add a small house for Jan’s mother.
 
That proved difficult to find and we lived in a motel for four months until we found something though not quite like “home” but something we could turn into a home. This we did, adding a “granny flat” below us, not thought to be ideal at the time but it turned out to be ideal.
 
While staying at the motel Jan met with a number of Real Estate agents as she looked for the “perfect” house and section. She met with one David Jones of Selig Real Estate. It was while having a conversation with David that he mentioned he was a member of the Eastern Hutt Rotary Club and did Jan think I would be interested in joining. Jan said (without consultation!!) that I would be interested.
 
David took me along to the first meeting and I must admit to being nervous. Walking into a room with 60 strangers, all business and professional people of note!! Standing up to say my name was difficult. This annoyed me as I had addressed a number of meetings of “high feluting” people in New Zealand and overseas. I was still nervous.
 
I joined the club on 15th June 1987, and have not regretted a moment. I had joined a group of like-minded people who welcomed me, who enjoyed each others company while doing good in the local community and as I eventually found out, doing good in the world.
 
The occasion that really opened my mind was when we attended a District Conference in Whanganui in, I think, 1988. They had, on display, projects that had been or were being carried out by various clubs in the District, either in their own communities or overseas. To see the good that was being done in our District was mind-blowing. Making a Difference came to my mind and has stuck there ever since.
 
I have been working on the Eastern Hutt club Archives, collating the information gathered by the late Dave Smith adding information on the projects that we have been involved in over the later years. A wonderful collection.
 
We are in the process of digitising this information so that it will be easier for people to access via the club website, to use this historical information to assist us in thinking up new ways of “Making a Difference”.
 
May I suggest you take the opportunity to enrol in Rotary International “My Rotary” have a look at the projects being carried out all over the world by Rotarians. Have input, your input could be the key to open doors for worthy needy people.
 
Some people cast aspersions at “Rotary Down Under” it may be Australia biased, there are more of them than us, but all the projects are “mind-blowing” and lessons for us all. For example, Leo Smith from the Mooloolaba club (whom we all met when the Mooloolaba club made a visit to our club) is off to the Solomon Islands for, I think, the twelfth time.
 
See what Rotary clubs are doing with Interact and Rotaract clubs, in turn, see what these young people are doing in their and in international communities. See what the Peace Scholar programme is doing, see the difference the graduates are making already.
 
It has been said that Rotary is finished, no longer relevant, people are too busy, the younger generation is too selfish. I dispute that. Just perusing the world of Rotary denies that thought.
 
We have not been smart enough to tap into the potential, it’s as simple as that.
 
As a last thought, I believe our membership should come from the 45 plus age group, those who have been there done that, children fledging and who are now looking for new challenges. I did that, it worked for me.
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