Presenting: The Beach Rotary Club – Service Above Self in the Beach
Barb explained that to support the landmines program, the “Night of a 1000 Dinners” was held last November at Quigley’s Pub and Bistro, a popular restaurant in the Beach and a strong supporter of local charities. Quigley’s generously donated a gourmet four-course dinner for 50 guests that was accompanied by local guitarist Tom Price. A keynote speech was given by Scott Fairweather, the CEO of The Canadian Landmine Foundation who is also a Rotarian. A Clear-a-Landmine Raffle was held, and the top prizes, a watercolour painting donated by generous community supporter Ann Francis Oakes, and a day of golfing fun at the Toronto Hunt donated by Graham Sanborn went to two lucky winners. In total $2500 were raised from this event and presented to the Canadian Landmine Foundation.
In addition to international causes the Toronto Beach Rotary Club
is very involved in supporting the local Beach neighbourhood. The Club’s annual
“Bowl for the Beach” Bowl-A-Thon provides funding to the Pegasus Community Project , as well as scholarships to local high school students and after school programs, and The Haig Family Resource Program. This year the Bowl-A-Thon will be held on April 21 at the Thorncliffe Bowlerama, and Barb indicated that the event is always great fun, and many different groups from the community participate.
Bowl-A-Thon suporters Brian Pape, Investors Group, and Tim Mowers, the Leprosy Mission with Rotarians Mike Major, Agnes Walkinshaw and Barb Dingle
Another popular initiative is the Free Movie for Seniors, a weekly free
movie night at the Fox Theatre, a real landmark in the Beach and the
oldest continuously running movie theatre in Toronto. In addition, a
Christmas lunch donated by Quigley’s Pub and Bistro was held for the
seniors at St. Aidan’s Church. More than 300 seniors enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner, and Quigley’s generosity was much appreciated
Barb also explained a major community effort that has left a lasting legacy in the Beach: during the late summer / early fall of 2005, renovations to the Gardener’s Cottage (the historic Kew Williams House) were undertaken as a joint project by the City of Toronto, spearheaded by City Councillor Sandra Bussin, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department and the Toronto Beach Rotary Club. The Gardener’s Cottage is a treasured landmark at the foot of Lee Avenue, and was in need of repair.
One of the major strengths of Rotary is that each club is comprised of a
cross-section of vocations. By drawing on the club members’ wide variety
of skills and connections, amazing good work is accomplished. As a
long-term collaborator with Canadian home décor queen Debbie Travis, and
a past associate editor for House and Home Magazine, Barbara Dingle had
the perfect idea: to restore this treasured Beach icon together with a
group of talented local designers who each took over one section of the
building. The verandah, the entrance hall, the parlour, the dining room,
the kitchen, the upper hallway, the girl’s and boy’s bedrooms, the
bathroom and the master bedroom were all authentically restored and
decorated by different designers to reflect the Queen Anne period. A
large number of merchants and business people donated everything from
labour, paint and lumber to fabrics, draperies, lighting, plants,
accessories and furniture for the project. More than $70,000 worth of
goods and services were donated, and the entire Beach community came
together to restore a beloved neighbourhood icon. The results are
For the beautiful results of the renovation visit www.torontobeachrotary.org
For three weeks in September and October of 2005, Barbara and her team put together the “Dream Tour” which provided the public with an exceptional opportunity to view the designs and the contributions of the local designers and merchants. A beautiful full-colour magazine was put together to showcase the project, the history of the Kew Williams House and each section of the building that had been so lovingly restored. Funds from tour ticket sales were donated to Toronto East General Hospital’s Mental Health Program for Children and Adolescents. In total a donation of $15,000 was raised and passed along to the Mental Health Crisis Unit at Toronto East General Hospital – a true demonstration of an entire community coming together to make positive things happen.
Another big event in the works is an Annual Rotary Lobsterfest in the Beach. The Toronto Beach Rotary Club together with the East York Rotary Club is planning a fundraiser where people can feast on a fresh lobster dinner with all the fixings, listen to some great music and play games. The event will be fun for the whole family. Proceeds from this fundraiser will be donated to the Woodgreen Community Services Homeward Bound Program – a program dedicated toward helping women acquire life skills, computer skills, a community college education and employment training so they can learn to provide for themselves and their children.
Santa’s annual visit to the historic Gardener’s Cottage
Barbara added that the Toronto Beach Rotary Club is a small club, but it has done huge things for the entire neighbourhood. The club has many volunteers, loosely referred to as “Friends of Rotary” who are not full-fledged members, but who love to donate their time to help out. At the moment the club is looking for new members and has started advertisements with the headline “Do you need Rotary? Rotary needs you.” Barbara describes her volunteer work with the Rotary Club as an extremely rewarding experience.
She explained that joining is quite simple: a prospective member would come out to the breakfast meetings for several weeks in a row to assess the fit with the Rotary organization. At the end of this trial period they can officially join and become a regular member. The reasons for joining are many: not only does the Rotary Club provide the opportunity to serve and support local and international causes; it also provides a great realm for friendships and business development. The special events run by the club offer an opportunity for personal growth, leadership and ethics development. In addition, exposure to community and global programs provides learning opportunities for greater cultural awareness. All in all it’s a win-win situation, for the individual, for the club and for the communities, locally and abroad, that are supported by the Rotary Club.
Christmas dinner, donated by Quigleys and served by 55 Division police officers
Naturally I also needed to inquire into Barbara Dingle’s connection with the Beach. Together with her husband John she moved into this area in the fall of 1975 because they saw the Beach as a great place to bring up children. Their children Geremy and Emily attended local schools where their love for music and drama was fostered along with strong academics. She added that the Beach today is an area on the move, similar to 30 years ago. Everyone is renovating and “a spurt of youth” is being injected into the neighbourhood. The Beach is an eclectic mix of teachers, artists, professionals and people from all other walks of life, “a great tapestry of people and a very egalitarian place”, to use Barb’s words.
Barbara obviously loves the neighbourhood, and together with her friends at the Toronto Beach Rotary Club she has chosen to give back to organizations in her own community and to needy people around the world.