Rotary Club of St. Marys recognizes longtime Rotarian Ray Bennett

By The Rotary Club of St. Marys

The Rotary Club of St. Marys was chartered on May 25, 1925, with tomorrow night’s Rural Urban Celebration marking the 90th such event.

Over the intervening years, Rotary has been actively involved in projects too numerous to mention, carried out by Rotary women and men who are also too numerous to mention.

As in all things, among those Rotarians were those whose special commitment, dedication and perseverance distinguished their efforts. We trust they were recognized and honoured in their time.

We believe that the greatest honour we can receive is to be appreciated and respected by our peers.

At last year’s Rural Urban Night, the St. Marys Rotary Club presented for the first time the “Service Above Self” Award, to recognize the Rotarian recommended by members of the club as being the person whose present and past commitment to Rotary best exemplifies “Service above Self.” This award will represent our club’s greatest compliment and expression of thanks and appreciation to a member of our club. The award will only be award sporadically and, judging by the first recipient, the bar has been set high. Since joining Rotary in 1986, Ray Bennett has exemplified the best that Rotary has to offer.

He has served as Club Director, Club President, Club Treasurer for seven years, and Youth Exchange Officer for eight years. He has organized annually since 1987 Rotary’s appreciation night for veterans. He has been an executive member and treasurer of the St. Marys Rotary Parkview Apartments since they were built in 1987. In our Club activities and projects, he is always there volunteering, always doing, always with good humour.

These have not been easy assignments. Being Treasurer of Rotary finances means you handle several trust accounts, and a general account. You track project income and expenses, ensure that our commitments are met in a timely fashion, comply with charitable trust regulations, and present detailed statements to club members, from time to time.

Being the Youth Exchange Officer is a serious undertaking. You screen and interview potential outbound students. You educate the students and their parents about expectations during a year away from Canada. You are the point person for most matter relating to the student. You satisfy parents, both at home and abroad, that the world is unfolding as it should for their child. You arrange events transportation, housing, and school.

In the early 1980s, there were no condominiums in St. Marys. A situation had developed where elderly people feeling they were no longer able to maintain their property but wishing to remain a homeowner were, in effect, forced to leave St. Marys for other centres where condominium housing existed. The result was having to move away from friends, family and relationships that had been a large part of their lives.

Rotary responded to that undesirable situation by forming the Rotary Parkview Foundation and constructing 72 life-lease apartment condominiums. Bennett was a member of the original organizing committee for that project. He was involved in planning arranging, financing, land acquisition, advertising, selling and managing that project. He negotiated with purchasers, helped people move and responded with the greatest good will to the concerns of the residents. Throughout it all, he has built up an enviable friendship with the residents.

From the start, the success of the Parkview project depended in large measure upon Rotary’s ability to create a sense of trust between the residents and the Rotary Club, the landlord, if you will. He almost single-handedly built and maintained that trust on our behalf. The original and continuing success of the complex in large part has been due to Bennett. We in the Rotary Club are enormously grateful for his contribution.

The annual veterans night has been Rotary’s way of saying thank you to our veterans since 1987. Bennett has arranged everything to allow that great annual gathering of veterans to take place.

Ray, your fellow Rotarians are very proud that you are the very first “Service Above Self” award recipient.

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