New Rotary Club President to focus on disadvantaged schoolchildren
By Linda Rutherford
July 2, 2002
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In his maiden speech at the Club’s annual installation ceremony, held on June 18 at Le Meridien Pegasus, Piggott said: “It is my desire to concentrate on the less fortunate children of primary school age, this being the most formative years of a child’s development.”
“I do feel as Rotarians, we can make a difference by getting more involved and playing the role of ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Big Sister’, or using ourselves as role models for them to emulate,” he urged fellow club members at the gala, which featured a sumptuous buffet-style dinner.
This ‘difference’ Piggott proposes making in the lives of impoverished children, could best be achieved, he feels, “by going to select primary schools and interacting with the teachers, who will be in a better position to identify the child or children who have the greatest need of guidance and help.”
Noting the age-old adage that the children of today may well be the leaders of tomorrow, Piggott said it was therefore incumbent upon them as a service-oriented organisation to give the underprivileged in the society the opportunity to equip themselves to take on the challenges that come with leadership.
The new President touched on what he referred to as “the unusual and alarming state of affairs that is emerging in our society,” this being the current spate of violence and crime, which occurrence he contends is making it all the “more difficult and challenging for our young children to remain focused and stay on the right path”. He asserted that Rotarians can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the situation.
Piggott cited as being among those children who would be especially vulnerable at this juncture, “the ones who are victims of weak circumstances in their homes and environments.” They are the ones, he stressed, who may be more likely to fall into the trap of juvenile delinquency, which is fast-growing in the society.
He conceded that the task ahead would be fraught with many difficulties. However, “as Rotarians, we must remember that it is part of our motto to serve, and we are equipped in making this venture a reality.”
Turning his attention to the group’s programme of activities for the year ahead, Piggott said the Board was “very meticulous” in its planning, in that it ensured it was “manageable enough” to be completed within the Rotary year.
Among them are some projects that were begun the year previous but for one reason or the other could not have been completed. Two such schemes are the East Ruimveldt and Hope/Greenfield Community Projects.
Outgoing President, Mr Sydney Robinson, mentioned in his report that the organisation had established links with the suburban community of East Ruimveldt several years ago by donating sports gear and assisting with the upkeep of its sports ground.
Following consultations with the community, this link was later expanded to include skills training, adult education and cultural activities. Permission was also sought from the City Council to use part of an existing building to house the Inner Wheelers Children’s Library and to hold computer classes, to which latter a Washington-based Guyanese group has pledged a number of computers.
Their ultimate goal, however, Robinson said, is to join forces with the Lions Club of D’Urban Park, which also has an interest in the community, in establishing a full civic centre there. The proposal for this centre has already been submitted to City Hall.
In the case of Hope/Greenfield, Robinson said their specific interest is in helping this East Coast Demerara community with its efforts at erecting a building for community development activities.
Piggott noted, however, that the group will soon have to source local funding to support the Dental Outreach Programme, which is one of its most successful projects to date, if it is to continue functioning as effectively as it has been over the years.
According to Robinson, through this programme, a record 8,973 patients were attended to between July 2001 and May 2002, thanks in no small measure to the “tangible support” it has received from Colgate Palmolive Guyana Limited.
And, in the area of fundraising, Piggott said the group will have to be a bit more aggressive in its approach; the Club can no longer depend on a single major activity, this being their annual International Fair first held in 1991, to support the many community service projects it hopes to execute and complete in the coming year.
Robinson, who is now Immediate Past President (IPP), had also alluded to this in his report saying that they had fallen down badly in this area in the last financial year (2001-2002), owing to other organisations having similar functions. This, he said, had resulted in their not being able to realise the funds they needed to complete all the projects they had planned for the year.
Robinson said he would be tasking the already taxed Fundraising Committee with coming up with new and innovative ideas for improving the Club’s finances “to a more solid and healthy position.”
In closing, the Immediate Past President urged his fellow Rotarians “to give of your fullest support, involvement and cooperation, for, without that, we will not be able to achieve our goals and ideals, ever remembering there are so many ways to realise the ultimate joy of service.”
The new Board comprises Piggott, who served as President Elect of the previous Board; Mr Keith Williams, who served two terms (1999-2001) as Secretary is now the new President Elect; Mr Ivor O’Brien who served two terms prior as Secretary and one as President and has been retained as Secretary from the last Board; and Mr Ian McDavid who succeeds namesake Mr Ian McDonald as Treasurer.
Other Directors are Dr Veronica Broomes, Mr Conrad Plummer, Mr Ted French, and Mr Ashni Singh, who copped this year’s Rotary Public Image Award. This Award goes to that Rotarian who, “by virtue of the significant advances made in his or her vocation during the year, clearly demonstrates to the general public the quality of person who joins Rotary.”
The handing over of the Club’s Charter and installation of the new Board was officiated by Assistant District Governor, Mr Dunstan Barrow.
The feature address was delivered by President of the International University of Guyana, Dr Godfrey Sears, who spoke primarily on the art of delegating authority.
Among Rotarians honoured for achieving 100 per cent attendance during the past Rotary year (2001-2002) were Piggott, Lance Atherly, Andy Boyle, Anand Chand, Bram Prashad, Past Presidents John Bart, Richard Hing, Terry Holder, Ivor O’Brien, and IPP Robinson.
Atherly was also cited for having given ten years “of devoted and unselfish service to our club and community.” He shared this honour with fellow Rotarians Moti Saywack and Shameer Hosein.
The title of ‘Rotarian of the Year’ went to Community Service Director, Mr Bram Prashad, who, according to IPP Robinson, not only completed his programme but was able to carry out additional projects, spending less money than was budgeted.