Posted by Ian Durand on Jun 15, 2011

Club Origins

The concept of a Rotary Club of Dunnville was discussed by three local business men in 1990  on a cold Dec 3rd in the bowling alley at Grimm's (now Mudcat Alley). They decided that Rotary was needed in Dunnville and that Des Rasch would be Secretary, the late Leo Brown would be Treasurer, and Archie Merigold would be the new Chartering President. The three continued to meet at Grimm's, recruiting members one by one until enough existed to satisfy the criterion to formally charter a new Rotary Club.

New first members included Marjorie Ettinger, Jane Smith and Ton Dicke.  We started to look like a club and moved to a newly built section of the restaurant. Rob Merigold at the tender age of 14 years stayed up late to help his dad write a monthly club bulletin. This bulletin kept us together and on track. It provided us with the believability and continuity that made our club credible. Later Rob started the new club web site and an Interact Club at Dunnville Secondary School.


The Club’s first fundraiser before even being chartered was in support of Susie Haines, a young girl who was dying of cancer. There were only 10 members at the time.  Together they raised $3,200.00 and proved that they had the power of Rotary.  They gathered new members to make up for those lost along the way.  They went on to send food and clothing to Bosnia. They gathered a huge amount of dental equipment that was categorized and loaded into shipping containers sent to South America and St Lucia.


Charter Night June 28, 1993

After nearly three years of hard work and preparation during a difficult recession-riddled economy, "The Rotary Club of Dunnville", was chartered June 28, 1993 with 27 Charter Members.  (Robert Blake, Leo Brown, Duncan Currie, Larry Davidson, Mary Davidson, Ton Dicke, Kevin Duliban, Marv Ens, Karen Ettinger, Marjorie Ettinger, Christopher George, Dean Glenney, Marilyn Hyatt, Ian Kirby-Smith, Michael Laverty, Richard McLagan, Archie Merigold, Mary Ann Postma, Pam Prest, Desmond Rasch, Dorothy Richardson, Elaine Ricker, Angus Scott, Jane Smith, Jackie Swords, David Timms, and Conrad Van Viegan)          The Rotary club of Port Colborne was our sponsoring club.  In an interesting twist of fate, in 1998 the Rotary Club of Port Colborne dissolved.


In our Rotary district, Dunnville was the first club to simultaneously Charter both a Rotary Club an Interact Club. Dunnville Secondary School was the source of most Interact students who themselves were respected young members of the community. Robin Merigold and Rob Davidson raised money from sleep-athons to gathering coats for kids. Keeping a young club going was difficult.  Interact disintegrated over the next three years.


The Early Years

In the mid 1990’s through the efforts of members like Marjorie Ettinger, Des Rasch and Archie Merigold, Rotary in Dunnville helped sponsor a new Rotary Club in the growing community of Caledonia. The Rotary Club of Caledonia was chartered in 1995.


It was at a Dunnville Rotary meeting that discussion took place to restart Rotary in Port Colborne. Many members thought the old very positive community organization should be revived. The former club was a respected beneficial community contributor that deserved to be back on its feet. The Rotary Club of Dunnville only had 20 members at the time. A club needs 25 members to sponsor a new club, so Welland Rotary agreed to co-sponsor Port Colborne Rotary. And in February 2005, 7 years after its dissolution, The Rotary Club in Port Colborne was rechartered. Archie Merigold was asked to act as Master of ceremonies. It was a grand night attended by many past district Governors and dignitaries from Rotary.


Mission of the Dunnville Rotary Club

The Mission of the Rotary Club of Dunnville is to enrich the local and world community by providing humanitarian service and youth development. Our policy of spending at least 60% of the annual Disbursements Committee budget on youth is evidence of our commitment to our young people. However, to assure widespread support in the community, no one recipient may receive more than 25% of the annual budget. Originally 75% of our annual budget was spent on local and district needs, with 25% being given to international development.


Support for Youth

Support for youth has included: the DREAM program originated by Rotary members, the Youth Impact Centre, the 611 Harvard Air Cadet Squadron, the DSS Suicide Prevention Program, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Teen Reading Program, the Child Nutrition Apple Program, the Fresh Air Fund to bring inner city children out to the country, and annual DSS scholarships.  For years we ran a Fishing Derby for children with prizes provided by local businesses.  Through two separate Trillium Grants for our Aqua Kids Program, we sponsored over 150 children who wanted to learn how to swim.  For a 17-week period over two winters, we bussed 40 students on Saturday afternoons to an indoor pool in Hamilton. Dunnville Rotarians acted as chaperons both on the school buses transporting the kids as well as at the pool.


In 2008 we were instrumental in obtaining a $25,000.00 Trillium Grant towards the purchase of band instruments for the 611 Harvard Air Cadet Squadron band.  Club members donated the remaining funds to reach $ 35,000.00 to purchase these new musical instruments.  Organizing a band proved to be a major boost in recruiting young people to the Squadron.  Dunnville Rotary has also provided financial support to the Harvard 611 Air Cadet Squadron and assistance to their members to travel to international conventions.


Helping young people develop their leadership skills is a long-standing tradition in Rotary.  Dunnville Rotary sponsored 40 students per year for 5 years at the Maple Creek Church Leadership Seminar.  For the last three years the Club has sent 7 students from Dunnville Secondary School to the Rotary District weekend Slap Shot Program (Student Leadership Award Program for Students High on Training) in Ancaster.  We have sponsored young adults with leadership experience to the weeklong district RYLA program (Rotary Youth Leadership Award).  We have sent students to Ottawa to build their civic knowledge.



(End of Part One)