Posted by Gerry Beltgens on Jun 29, 2019
The Rotary Club of Ladysmith capped off an exciting and productive year of service on June 27 with the passing of the gavel from Joan Phillips to Sandra Milne. 
Joan Phillips Steps Down after Successful Year as Ladysmith Rotary President
By Gerry Beltgens
The Rotary Club of Ladysmith capped off an exciting and productive year of service on June 27 with the passing of the gavel from Joan Phillips to Sandra Milne. The 2018/2019 year saw the Ladysmith club record over 2,700 hours of volunteer work, inject around $30,000 back into community and international projects and increase the Club by 8 new members. The year was celebrated at an installation ceremony that was camping themed in honour of Sandra Milne's outdoor passion.
Past President Joan was enthusiastic about her year. “Our club has been very active, our members were engaged and the community saw us in action,” She said. “We attracted new members because of the activity and that brought more enthusiasm and new energy. I have always enjoyed being active in my community and Rotary is a good way to be involved.”
Multiple projects and events kept the club in the news during the year.  Key events included the annual Golf Tournament, supporting the Forrest Field Enhancement Project, Cowichan Valley Hospice Gardens, Disaster Aid Canada, Breakfast with Santa, Volunteering at the Blood Donor Clinic, Festival of Lights, providing funds for the proposed Ladysmith Hospital parking lot expansion, LaFF and the Food Bank. 
Ladysmith Rotary’s BEAR program provides a unique service to Ladysmith Primary School and North Oyster Primary. BEAR stands for “Be Eager About Reading”. Each week Rotarians and Friends of Rotary arrive at the schools, sit down with children in grades K to 3 and read a new book to them. At the end of the session the class is given the book to keep. In the past 5 years Rotary has donated over 1,000 books to Ladysmith Primary and they have begun reading at North Oyster Primary this spring.
The Rotary Interact Club at LSS celebrated its third year. It is a Leadership and Service group at the high school sponsored and supported by Rotary. The Interact Club collected coats and warm clothing, held a Food Hamper Drive and raised over $880.00 for the LRCA. If that wasn’t enough they raised over $1,000.00 for a hospital renovation in Malawi Africa, volunteered at the Oyster Harbour Seniors Centre and volunteered time packaging hygiene kits for Soap for Hope to be donated to Island shelters. The Ladysmith Rotary also supported the students at Ladysmith Senior Secondary through $8,500.00 in Scholarships, participating in the exit interviews for Grade 12 students and supporting the Ambassador Program. 
On top of the regular commitments, Ladysmith Rotary has 3 major projects for 2019/2020; Rotary Gardens at the Cowichan Hospice House, Forrest Field Enhancement (with other service clubs) and Disaster Aid Canada.
Rotary Gardens at the Cowichan Hospice House is a collaborative project of the five Cowichan Valley Rotary Clubs with the Cowichan Hospice Society. The Rotary Clubs of Duncan, Duncan Daybreak, Ladysmith, Chemainus and South Cowichan have teamed up to raise the money, labour and materials to build the Rotary Gardens at Cowichan Hospice House. Estimated to cost around $325,000.00. The Rotary Clubs will put their combined fundraising skills and resources together to bring the project to completion. 
In President Joan’s year the club participated in fundraisers for the Gardens including a Barn Dance, Kitchen Sisters Card Workshop, multi-location Garage Sale, Corks & Forks and many more. Fundraising projects for the Gardens will continue throughout President Sandra’s year.
The Forrest Field Enhancement Committee is made up of the Rotary, Lions, Eagles and Kinsmen Clubs of Ladysmith and Mid Isle Soccer. They are working with the Town of Ladysmith, Stz’uminus First Nation and other organisations to complete the development of Lot 108, the area where Forrest Field is located. Originally the project was only going to be a walking and fitness trail around the perimeter of the property but with the encouragement of the committee the Town is now holding consultations to update the Lot 108 plan and will  moving forward incrementally with extensive improvements. The committee has already raised close to $20,000.00 towards the project. Development is expected to start the fall of 2019.
This year the Ladysmith Club and members raised and donated close to $6,000.00 to Disaster Aid and its sister charity Soap for Hope. Disaster Aid Canada (DAC) was started in 2010 in Ladysmith by local Rotarians. DAC provides worldwide aid to people displaced by a disaster. Immediate relief is provided with the Disaster Relief Kit.  It includes a 3 room tent, a tool kit, Hygiene Kits, warmth & comfort products and a water filtration system that will provide a family of 10, a year’s worth of drinkable water.
Our Soap for Hope program collects soap & hygiene amenities from hotels which would have ended up in our landfills. These products are re-processed, packaged and distributed to local shelters, transitional homes, food banks, Emergency Shelters, vulnerable seniors and kids. We also send Hygiene products internationally.  Many illnesses can be prevented simply by washing with soap.
The Garden Tour was revived in 2019 after missing a year. Garden devotees arrived in bunches to the eight plus one gardens on May 26. Many attendees came from Vancouver Island; Victoria, Mill Bay, Campbell River, Port Alberni, Saltspring Island and Ontario. The furthest away came from London, England. Gardens ranged from small pocket gardens on city lots to large sprawling gardens on waterfront properties. Most of the gardens also featured an artist or a master gardener available to discuss their art or answer gardening questions. 
New President Sandra Milne believes in the Rotary Motto of Service Above Self. “It sounds like a cliche, but it’s truly why I joined,” said Milne, a retired teacher. “That is why I commit the time that I do to the projects in our community. As a working teacher, it was the same...a commitment to the students and school. Rotary brought opportunities for the school, students and me to connect with the community.”
When asked about her year, the new president said: “My main goal is Community Connections! We have started on an important path of working with other Rotary clubs in the area to fulfill the need for hospice services in the Cowichan Valley; with other local service clubs to create a fitness trail to foster healthy living; toward reconciliation with our First Nations through supporting youth leadership; and to enhance the lives of Mayan families with water, cooking and sanitation projects in Guatemala through Mid Island Rotary Clubs.” 
When asked if others should consider Rotary she said, “If you have it in you to get involved in bettering your community or world, join Rotary. Rotary has the reputation of doing what it does without political, cultural or social agendas.” 
The Rotary Club of Ladysmith now has 32 active members, 4 Honourary and many Friends of Rotary. For more information contact a local Rotarian, visit the web site or visit the Facebook Page