Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of our Charter (July 31, 2001)
20 weeks of "TBT" memories
Week #6 (September 2, 2021)
   In 2006 we became aware of a situation in northern Ontario, at a Pikangikum First Nations community, where there was a lack of clean drinking water for the students at the Eenchokay Birchstick School there.  There was a permanent boil water advisory in the community, 90% of homes did not have running water and many families had to fetch water in pails from the lake.  The school had often been closed to students because there was no potable water for them to drink.  The lack of fresh water had been seen by the District Health Unit as a cause of disease within the community.  A volunteer group in Guelph, called Friends of Tikinagan, had been making donations of clothing and sports equipment every year since 2001, and in 2006 it and other voluntary organizations came together to form the North-South Partnership, as a way to expand their ability to direct voluntary resources to serve the desperate needs in the remote First Nation communities.
   Our first Rotary Foundation District grant of $6,000 in 2006 was matched by donations, and the $12,000 was donated to the Tikinagan Child and Family Services, by way of Friends of Tikinagan, to be used for the purchase of a reverse osmosis water purification system for the school.  This system provided for up to 20 – 19 litre (5 gal) jugs of purified water per day and was delivered and installed in February 2007.  It was also set up so that families in the community could also have access to fresh water there.  We received a final report on the project, photos and a thank you letter from the school in March 2007.  The good news is that the long-term drinking water advisory was lifted for Pikangikum First Nation in 2018 when the necessary drinking water system upgrades were completed.
   In 2006, having looked at options for our own signature fundraising event, the decision was made to hold an adult spelling bee.  Having become familiar with a model used by Ontario literacy organizations, and after getting permission to use the copyrighted name, we launched our first “Grate Groan-Up Spelling Bee” in October 2006.  We decided to use the Hallowe’en time frame so as not to conflict with other fundraisers, and it was a time of year when costumes were plentiful and top of mind for participants.  Teams of 3 adults, either corporate teams or teams sponsored by businesses, were signed up and did fundraising to win prizes. They were encouraged to come up with fun team names and costumes for the event which included a sit-down dinner before the competition.  The event included an MC (e.g. local radio host Lisa Richards), an Honourary Chair, a Pronouncer (for the words to be spelled) and 3 judges, local personalities, to score the event.  The teams were given 60 seconds to confer among themselves and spell the word properly, being eliminated from the competition if they didn’t, with the winning team receiving prizes and a trophy. The goal was to have a professionally run and fun event and it did not disappoint!  For the 10 years that the event was held it raised more than $123,000, allowing our club to make significant donations towards local organizations such as Hopewell Homes and Michael House, along with international projects in Haiti and Nicaragua.
Students + teacher happy to now have potable water (Eenchokay Birchstick School, Pikangikum First Nations)
Rotarians Frank Oudesluys + Margaret Nixon, with MC Lisa Richards (2006 Grate Groan-Up Spelling Bee)
Rotary Club of Guelph Trillium's "Ribfest Rckademics" team (2006  Grate Groan-Up Spelling Bee)
Russell Hampton
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