Service Above Self

There are many times as a politician that I wish I had the ability to be in two places at once, but in the absence of having a doppelganger, I will often miss a terrific event because I am attending another. Saturday night the Rotary Clubs of Port Perry and Courtice held their annual dinners; bringing together Rotarians, business and civic leaders to raise funds and awareness for great causes. Given that I am a member of the Courtice Club, I attended that event. Since I would be missing the Port Perry dinner, I tried to lend my support by sending along an auction prize for the event. Some people might suggest that Port Perry got the better end of the deal because I sent a prize and did not deliver a speech.

Port Perry Rotary

I have long described service clubs as the backbone of our communities in Durham. Every interaction I have with these clubs and their passionate members reinforces this impression. Rotary, Lions, Kinsmen, Oddfellows, Optimists, Shriners, Knights of Columbus, the Masons and all other Clubs unite citizens in common cause towards positive goals in our community. Whether it is working with young or old, fundraising for a new project, or enhancing our natural environment, virtually no new initiative could get off the ground in our community without these clubs and their members. These clubs are the backbone because they often provide the structure that allows all volunteers to combine their efforts in the community. I think we often take for granted how the 2% of our population helps make our community a better place for the 100%. Even when I am not at events or festivals, I see their good work in action. This winter, our four year old son Jack learned how to skate and play the basics of hockey through the ever-patient Kinsmen who ran the Timbit program he was a part of.

The Port Perry Rotary Club lives up to the expression of Rotary’s founder; that great things happen when good people come together. They presented a $25,000 cheque to Lakeridge Health as part of their multi-year $100,000 pledge to the Port Perry Hospital. This major gift is the centerpiece touch heir community work, which over the years has touched every part of Scugog. From their work with youth, Durham College, literacy and recreation facilities, to the natural environment and the beautification of the Lake Scugog area through the gazebo and Boardwalk, their good work is all around us.

The annual dinner I was a part of in Clarington celebrates youth and community leaders by presenting awards to some deserving members of the community. Young people are selected for special recognition that recognizes their early signs of community leadership with the hope that such recognition inspires others in their school or in the community to follow their lead. Lifetime volunteers in the community are also recognized at the dinner and thanked for their often unrecognized dedication to the community. The motto of Rotary is Service Above Self and recognizing volunteers in the community is a way to demonstrate that many people do indeed put their community first.

The keynote speaker at our event is the embodiment of service to Canada and an inspirational figure to many. Jody Mitic is an Ottawa City Councillor, author, Veteran and was a runner up on Amazing Race Canada. He is also a former Canadian Armed Forces sniper who stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan and lost both legs below the knee.

Watch: CTV Canada AM Interview with Jody Mitic

From an elite soldier to a seriously disabled Veteran with just one step. Rather than wallowing in the sadness and regret of a traumatic incident, Jody became the first Veteran double amputee to run a half marathon and he threw himself into helping others. Using his motto of “Never Quit”, Jody transformed himself; he took on new challenges and evolved into a public servant, and most importantly a great friend, strong husband and father to his two young girls. Jody told the audience that his Never Quit philosophy can help someone tackle overwhelming challenges like those that he faced. He added that the same mantra, however, can also be used by each one of us in our daily lives. We can strive to get up each morning and pledge to be a better person and do more for our family and community. If that philosophy appeals to you, I urge you to become part of the 2% in our community and consider joining a service club or volunteering to make our community strong.