Jeff Heuchert, Stratford Gazette
The Rotary Club of Stratford celebrated its past and strengthened its commitment to the future at a 90th anniversary gala dinner Wednesday night.
The dinner was a fundraiser for the new Rotary Club of Stratford Charitable Foundation Scholarship, which over the next 10 years will award $2,500 annually to an undergraduate student in the Global Business and Digital Arts program at the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus.
Rotarian Jim Young said the club had spent a significant amount of time deciding on a project to support as part of its 90th year celebrations.
He noted the club has a long history of encouraging young people to plan for their future, including annual scholarships to the city’s three high schools, and the university campus was a natural fit.
“It made good sense to link ourselves with an institution that is going to carry on our interests in education,” he added.
Wednesday’s function drew a capacity crowd to the Arden Park for a cocktail reception, dinner and keynote address from Arlene Dickinson, of CBC’s Dragons’ Den fame.
The CEO of Venture Communications – and a member of the university’s Stratford Campus advisory board – Dickinson delivered an uplifting and at times humorous look at her own life’s challenges and successes.
“One of our members said if you walked into that room and you were trying to build a business and you were really down and disheartened, you would have left feeling ‘Wow, I can do this.’ It was that kind of address,” said Young.
The dinner also had display tables with photos, newspaper clipping and historical pieces like the club’s charter and a video and slideshow with images and clips from many of the Rotary-supported projects and programs.
Young told the Gazette the night had exceeded everyone’s expectations and raised enough money to cover the club’s costs and help fund the scholarship “for a number of years.”
He added the club hopes to make the dinner an annual event, raising funds for the foundation to continue supporting the scholarship and future initiatives.