More than 70 people gathered at the Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan last month to reminisce over the good times they had enjoyed together and 48 years of community service.
It was a wake, of sorts, for the Rotary Club of Queanbeyan West (RCQW).
RCQW president Joe Prevedello says the decision was a difficult but unanimous one, only made after several years of struggling to fill senior positions.
“We need a president, treasurer and secretary to steer the club,” he says.
“A lot of our members joined decades ago and have already risen through the ranks and served in these senior positions. They’re now at the point they want to pursue different avenues of community service and not take up those leadership roles again.”
The RCQW is the hyperlocal arm of Rotary International, a humanitarian service organisation founded in the US in 1905 to bring together business and professional leaders.
Since the first 30 members drew up the charter in 1974, it’s estimated RCQW has contributed more than $1 million to the local Queanbeyan community and beyond. This has taken the form of fund-raising at sports matches, school breakfasts, fashion parades and service at the Queanbeyan Local Court.
Joe maintains their recent struggles aren’t a sign of decline in Rotary clubs across the board.
“People might think the ethic of community service is dying and the younger generation isn’t getting involved, but that isn’t uniformly the case,” he says.
“Rotary clubs come in all different shapes and sizes. Some have long-term existing memberships; others have a higher turnover in their membership; some focus on international service and others on very local service.
“Like any other organisation, Rotary clubs exist for a period of time. Not everything great lasts forever.”
Rather than lament the end, Joe says it was only fitting they have a celebration and “go out with a bang”.
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) mayor Kenrick Winchester attended and thanked members for their invaluable service to the community.
Joe himself was presented with one of the highest honours in the Rotary world, a Paul Harris Fellow recognition, reserved for members who contribute $1000 or more to the Rotary Foundation. Other members were presented with certificates, acknowledging their service over the years.
Joe says the members have relished the comradeship and friendship in the club, and this won’t stop even after official operations wind up at the end of this financial year.
“The club has been a big part of many of their lives, but the end doesn’t mean we can’t keep catch up on a semi-regular basis as friends.”
Some members are also expected to join other clubs in the region.
As a parting gift to the Queanbeyan community, RCQW has made a final donation of more than $12,000 to HOME for a much-need flooring restoration project. Made up of 20 self-contained residential apartments on Crawford Street, HOME provides long-term supported accommodation for those dealing with mental illness.
RCQW has also earmarked another $9000 for the ‘Respite Care in Queanbeyan Project’. Yvonne Cuschieri House, a six-bedroom facility to be built on Ross Road, will provide short-term residential respite care for people suffering from a terminal or chronic illness.