On the first day of my first-ever paid journalism gig, I got taken out for a tour of the town.
This was Chilliwack in 1989 and the editor at the time – who kept calling me “Cliff” because I was too scared to correct him – thought it was good if I saw some of the sites and met some movers and shakers.
The best place to do the latter? A Rotary meeting.
If you don’t know what Rotary is, it’s an international service organization that brings business and professional leaders together to help make their communities a better place.
My first Rotary meeting was pretty dull to a 20-year-old who wasn’t even finished journalism school. In the nearly 30 years since then, I’ve come to see the power of Rotary in how its clubs are able to raise money for worthy causes.
But the meetings weren’t really my thing. Most of the ones I’ve attended were in Maple Ridge and they were smallish affairs.
Until I entered the Dragon.
Last Friday, a new Rotary club in Burnaby was christened with an event unlike any other Rotary function I’ve ever attended.
The new Rotary Club of Dragon was welcomed officially at an amazing event at the Hilton in Burnaby, with more than 400 people (400!) packing the ballroom.
The Dragon club is the first Rotary club in Metro Vancouver made up of local businesspeople who originated from China – with a main goal in mind.
“With the vision of promoting Rotary’s public spirit, our club encourages Chinese immigrants to participate in community services and integrate into Canadian multicultural societies.”
They also raise money. A lot of it.
The Dragons – despite not being an official club yet – raised more than $90,000 earlier this year for Burnaby Hospital.
That’s just in the first half of the year. Imagine how much money they will raise when they have a full year to work with.
The Dragons sure know how to throw a party. I’ve never even seen half that many people at any Rotary event I’ve attended. There were dancing dragons, live music and other performers. The energy in the room was electric. You could really feel the excitement at having their own Rotary club to do some good.
“We’re all about helping others,” said Chris Dong, a local writer and trustee on the Burnaby Public Library board.
Dong sat down with me for a few minutes to discuss the club and have a few quick bites before hitting the floor again to network.
He said the Dragons led a campaign to collect winter shoes last year that were distributed to those who need them.
He also said people should sign up and take part in the Burnaby Lake Run, Sept. 23. The NOW is a media sponsor.
Visit www.burnabylakerun.com for more details.
Follow Chris Campbell @shinebox44.