Our Stories


Rotary's Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup

To mark Earth Day in April 2021, Rotary District 7070 issued a challenge to all its clubs to participate in the Rotary Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup during the week of April 17 - 24, 2021. Rotary Toronto West continued the project this year by focusing cleanup efforts in Tom Riley Park.  With the assistance of members of the Etobicoke Collegiate Institute Interact Club, Rotarians worked to remove trash throughout the park.
Families Find Security at Women's Habitat in Etobicoke: Since 1978, Women's Habitat Etobicoke (WHE) has been offering shelter, outreach and resources to families in crisis.  The shelter accommodates 25 people and operates around the clock, every day of the week.  While the pandemic has changed the way staff connect with clients and how some services are delivered, Women's Habitat has expanded its outreach, feeding nearly 1700 people from March to November, 2020.  Manager Lina Almanzan told us more about how WHE is accomplishing these incredible results.

To Preserve and Protect

Joseph Atkinson was the editor, publisher and owner of the newspaper known today as the Toronto Star.  His wife Elmina Elliot was, like her husband, a journalist, activist, and civic leader, fighting for social and economic justice.  They established the philanthropic organization, the Atkinson Foundation, to ensure the fight for equity, decent work in safe conditions and fair pay would continue.
Nora Cole told us more about the Foundation's history and brought us up to speed on the work they are doing now.  

Courtney Doldron: Rotary Is Refocusing On Core Values

The Rotary International presidential theme for this year is "Rotary Opens Opportunities".  In recognizing that opportunities might not always be open to all, this theme has inspired a renewed emphasis on some core values: integrity, service, leadership, fellowship and diversity, with the intention of creating inclusion and equity in all that we do.

Moi?  Faux pas?

Video meetings have become a daily event for most people, but not everyone is aware of the expectations for proper etiquette in these circumstances.  These tips will help you avoid making the most common faux pas.

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto Helps Indigenous Youth Claim Their Place

Toronto has an indigenous population estimated to be approximately 69,000 people.  Within this substantial group are vulnerable youth (up to 30 years of age), who need culturally sensitive assistance to find their place in metropolitan Toronto.  Darren Wilson, Manager for Youth Services, told us how Native Child and Family Services of Toronto works to bridge gaps.

7070 District Governor Mark Chipman Celebrates RTW's "Superheroes"

The Rotary Clubs of Toronto West, Ajax and Uxbridge spent an enjoyable time together learning about the clubs' activities and contributions to their communities.  District Governor Mark Chipman joined in to share a motivational vision for the unusual times in which we find ourselves:
What if 2020 wasn't cancelled?
What if 2020 became Rotary's most important year yet?
What if 2020 becomes the year when Rotary evolves into an organization that is more accessible, recognized and community-involved than ever before?
What if the District's strategy and the Clubs' efforts prove to be exactly what is needed now?

2020 Heralds New Approaches to Online Events

Zoom.  Skype.  Webex.
Most of us have had a chance to experience the new version of face-to-face interactions, pandemic-style.  The requirements for social distancing have created a whole new landscape for event planners, as technology now enables them to create virtual spaces that can be as fun and stimulating as physical ones.  
Courtney McNamara from King Events explained how this works in the presentation featured here.

Pottery Making Sets the Focus on New Futures for Women

For more than 20 years, Inspirations Studio has been assisting women in need of a transition to a more satisfying and secure life by teaching them the skills and art of making pottery.  Women also learn to be teachers themselves as well as entrepreneurs.  Gudrun Olafsdottir and Isabella Tatar (in picture on the left) shared the vision of the organization with us.

RTW Helps Protect and Support Our Community

From masks and other types of personal protective equipment to spreading cheer with cookies, RTW's Covid-19 Committee has been taking on projects to support and protect people in our community during the pandemic.  We've accomplished a lot in a short time - read on to see what we've done, or click to make a donation.  We could use your support.

“We will not leave you. We will watch with you. We will be there.”  ~ Dr. Dorothy Ley

Dorothy Ley was an oncologist with a vision for the care of people with terminal conditions.  She wanted to create a comfortable, comforting space in which people could experience the end of life with dignity and compassion.  This led to her pioneering efforts in hospice care in Ontario, and the eventual construction of the hospice facility which bears her name and stands as a tribute to her legacy.  Julie Brown shared this inspiring story with us.

RTW Just Keeps Zooming Along!

Like many others doing Covid-19 huddles, RTW is continuing its tradition of weekly meetings - virtually! We are still here doing the work needed to provide support and comfort in trying times. Speakers are still making honoured appearances as able - check out our stories to learn more.

ECI Interact Supports Days For Girls

Maria Pollieri, Toronto team leader for the Toronto Chapter of Days for Girls, provides an introduction of how today's sewing party will help girls stay in school and live a better life.

Water for Fruit Trees Transformed a Town in Uganda

Ongutoi is a village in central east Uganda that had a languishing local economy and poor access to healthcare until Rotary-sponsored projects created a medical centre and transformed barren ground into a grove of Valencia orange trees.  Richard Mewhinney from the Rotary Club of Newmarket, who has led this project for several years, explained how this near-miracle unfolded.

Hockey Girls: Gender Equality in Afghanistan and Beyond

Petite, courageous and focussed, Zarmina Nekzai has made it her life's work to advance gender equality in Afghanistan and internationally by promoting education for girls and women.  As an embodiment of the spirit of Rotary, Zarmina's personal story is a triumphant illustration of what can happen when people take action.

Changing Young Lives in Ukraine

Rivne, Ukraine is not what you might think.  The bustling city seems to be thriving and yet healthcare and other forms of support for children with disabilities are sadly lacking.  Being handicapped is the 4th leading cause of death in Ukraine and children with disabilities are often abandoned by their families.  Over the past four years, RTW has sponsored several projects directed to supporting these kids and Patti Wright visited in September to see first hand the difference they've made.

RTW Hosts Sold Out Scotch Nosing Event
The Rotary Club of Toronto West held it's annual Scotch Nosing fundraiser at the Lambton Golf and Country Club on the evening of November 14th. The event had sold-out quickly and lived up to its own superlative standards, featuring a five course gourmet meal, each course paired with a premium scotch whiskey. What was on the menu? Read more to find out!

Three Years in Nepal Changed His Life

At 22, Willis Rudy felt adrift: his career in music seemed at a dead-end, he was struggling financially and wasn't sure what to do next.  So, of course, he went to Nepal.  Willis shared some of the highlights of his new book, My Life in Nepal, 1958 - 1961 with us.
Rotary Toronto West was privileged to welcome professional engineer Sean Cragg to speak to us about the history of the Avro Arrow, one of Canada's greatest aeronautics achievements. Sean described the Arrow as setting the gold medal standard for its era.   Initially designed in 1953 by A.V. Roe Canada, it took 4 years of work to bring it to roll-out status, which occurred on October 4, 1957.  The period during which the Arrow was being designed, built, tested and launched constituted a "perfect storm" of design issues and politics.  The original Rolls Royce engine proved to have problems so a new engine was designed by Orenda, with a 5:1 thrust ratio.  This made it one of the most powerful engines for its time and enabled the plane to fly at speeds exceeding Mach 1.98.

Restoring Connections In Vulnerable Families

Jessica Reid understands a child's heartbreak when a parent is absent.  Her own experience with this and her subsequent joy at being reunited with her dad, Derek Reid, is what led them to found FEAT in 2011, now a registered charity with a challenging mandate, as encapsulated by the acronym in their name.  Derek was visibly moved as he told us about how FEAT for Children of Incarcerated Parents was founded and why it is committed to tackling these challenges day by day.

Building Connections To Prevent Gun Violence

Gun violence exists in a complex social context that draws on other determinants of health such as poverty, hunger and lack of access to Toronto's civic resources.  Toronto Police Services representative Isabelle Cotton and entertainment mogul Farley Flex spoke about a project to create a cell phone app in connection with the iIMPACT Wraparound initiative to help families and youth who are vulnerable to gun violence find support.  

Using hemp to fight climate change

Green house gas emissions contribute to global warming and climate change.  The air pollution they cause is associated with increases in dementia and respiratory problems.  The issues connected with green house gases are costing the economy billions of dollars.
Imagine being so moved to act on these issues that you would put your career in law on hold to devote yourself fully to this cause - using hemp as the medium for change.  That's what Akeem Gardner did, and he told us why.