The Rotary Club of Picton have seen fit to honour a pair of local residents with 2020 Paul Harris Fellow awards.
The Paul Harris Fellow award is Rotary International’s highest award and named after one of Rotary’s founders. This award has been given to people from all around the world such as Jimmy Carter and Mother Teresa and is meant for non-members who support local clubs and their initiatives while honouring Rotary’s mantra of ‘Service above Self’.
At Tuesday’s virtual zoom meeting, retired family physician Dr. Norah Connell and Rev. Lynne Donovan were presented Paul Harris fellowships.
“Rotarians not only around the world, and also here in Prince Edward County engage in service to their community. Generosity of time and money goes into all of the club’s activities, which makes it possible for Rotarians to help individuals and community groups,” Picton Club Past President Bob Bird said. “There are many non-Rotarians who share our passion and priorities for service to their community-for example literacy and youth.They help with our fundraisers or assist with our service projects. While not members, they work with us, side by side. They share our motto of service above self.”
Connell was described by presenter and club member Libby Crombie as someone who has helped to make Prince Edward County a vibrant community as a physician, businesswoman, trailblazer, visionary, and arts supporter, Crombie explained Connell’s generosity has touched so many in the community in a myriad of many ways including the physician’s extensive health care achievements as well as triumphs in the business world.
“The Businesswoman in Norah led to a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee for conserving historic properties,” Crombie said. “The list of these restored properties is impressive and significant, and led to many other community awards: The Waring House, the Picton Harbour Inn; 100 Main st., an 1835 historic building and the Claramount Inn. But as we know, preservation of buildings is one achievement, but the other part is the generous use of those buildings for the community. Countless community organizations continually make use of the Waring Hall for charitable fundraising.”
Crombie parroted Connell’s words about Prince Edward County and the connection the Waring House has to the community.
“This is such an amazing community and it is a pleasure to do business here. We have such great local support and we believe in giving back whenever we can. We love the fact that people consider the Waring House as a local gathering place and we try to make it a place the community can be proud of and a place that gives visitors a true sampling of what PEC is about.”
Connell’s Love of the Arts has generated educational opportunities and economic development for residents in the County and Crombie said her involvement in the arts community came about because of her love of music and belief in the importance of the arts to the fabric of a community.
“Initially Norah volunteered with the Prince Edward Arts Council as well as The Regent Theatre Foundation which eventually presented Quinte Summer Music – a professional summer festival which she led as President for three years,” Crombie added.
In 1986 Connell received the Prince Edward County Citizen of the Year award for community volunteer work- an award she truly treasures- and Crombie mentioned Connell’s leadership that led to the creation of the transformative Taste the County organization.
“Rotary speaks to the importance of “service above self” by volunteers and community leaders to meet the needs communities have for growing local economies, education and building peace and good will. We thank Norah for all the work she does to make our County a better place for all of us,” Crombie said.
In honouring Donovan, Bird said clubs, like the Rotary club of Picton accomplish much more when they are able to work with community leaders like “Reverend Lynne.”
“Reverend Lynne has many signature accomplishments which have touched so many of us: Ten Thousand Villages; Reaching for Rainbows and the transformation of the St Andrew’s out door spaces such as the Labyrinth, the Community Gardens, and the Wisdom of the Universe Mural. She has coordinated many more projects which have engaged the wider community: artists, musicians, mental health advocates, dying with dignity and meditation,” Bird noted.
Ten Thousand Villages graced Picton Main Street for a decade and as a not-for-profit store operated by volunteers, the shop sold over $1.6 million of goods produced by artisan groups from close to 60 countries, These goods were fairly traded, ensuring the artisans received a fair wage.
“So, not only did our County residents have a place to shop that ensured goods were made and sold fairly, the makers of the goods had wages which ensured they had a better standard of living, making it possible to provide education and health care for their children. Such efforts support Rotary’s goals of growing local economies and lifting people out of poverty,” Bird added.
Because of the TTV project, thousands of artists were able to make a living wage for their work and highly dedicated volunteers here in the County, made it happen.
“Reaching for Rainbows is a well loved and respected programme, which reaches out to young girls. Over the last 30 years or so, people have moved into the County in droves, attracted by the charm and plenty of this beautiful island. Yet the vital statistics reports that emerge every couple of years put this County on the bottom rung in terms of food insecurity, obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and low educational scores. Reverend Lynne who, as the Pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, gathered a team of people around her to research and brainstorm for a way to turn those statistics around,” Bird said.
The solution was Reaching for Rainbows. Why Rainbows? The statistics of Prince Edward County are like a chain, linking one generation to another.
“Reverend Lynne’s round table recognized that the best way forward was to break that chain. How? By teaching the children who will inherit these statistics how to reimagine themselves. By engaging in these children’s lives at their most impressionable age to give them a chance at a different future. Reaching for Rainbows was born, then, to give some of the most vulnerable children in the community an opportunity to discover a different perspective of the world and of themselves,” he said.
The Past president noted Donovan’s efforts to bring Truth and Reconciliation to Prince Edward County as well as other community initiatives both in the religious and more broader spectrum.
“How fortunate we are that Reverend Lynne ended up here. Our County truly has benefitted from her previous work and dedication. We thank her most sincerely for all of her contributions to our County; for her values and thank her for her service above self . It is with great appreciation to Reverend Lynne that we honour her today with Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow,” said Bird.