by Latoya Burnham
The Rotary Club of Barbados West is seeing more requests for aid than ever before.
And as they inducted the first women into the club this week, president Joe Steinbok said the club was coping as well as it could.
Speaking on the sidelines of the induction, he said: “It’s been more challenging in recent times than in the past years, but we have a core group of people who support us year in, year out. But it still has been challenging for everyone. We have a lot more requests of the club than we had in past times, and I guess that is a sign of the times. We are trying to do our best with what we have to try and help as many as we can.”
Steinbok added: “We get so many requests and we know we have a major role to play in society in trying to bridge the gap among those who are in need and those who are struggling to get where they need to go.
“Our club focuses a lot on youth and also on health. We do a lot of work at the QEH. We are in the process of refurbishing the MICU, and we do a lot with education and try our best with what we can. But we have a lot more requests now than we ever had in the past. We just try to stretch as far as we can.”
He noted that the club had been founded in 1975, as the second such on the island, and since then it had concentrated largely on helping the community.
There were a number of projects, including a golf classic, a polo event and other fund-raisers throughout the year that they used to get the much needed money. It was then used for Easter and Christmas hampers, an annual scholarship, the breakfast club at Good Shepherd Primary, as well as the Interact Club at The Alexandra School and the soon to be formed Rotaract Club for young businesspersons.
Steinbok said finding new members was not a problem for the club, as this year alone it had inducted two males and now two females.
“Our club is pretty special in that we have a pretty high retention of members. We still have members who are founding members that are still present in the club. So we have a good mix of older members and younger members.”
About the induction of the first females – Janelle Ward and Sherry-Ann Griffith, the president stated: “Any president that is sitting here will know that it is always a privilege when as a president you get the honour to induct new members into your clubs. However, obviously tonight it is even more special for me as I am inducting the very first ladies into Rotary West.
“Many . . . will probably [say it is] well overdue, but all I will say is all good things come to those that wait, and as much as we all would like to have ladies in our club for many years, we have to ensure that the environment into which they are coming is welcoming and such that they can perform to their fullest as Rotarians, and we have to wait till the time is right, and I am pleased to say that the time was right.
“We also have to wait until we find the prospective members that will fit the uniqueness of this club and with Janelle and Sherry-Ann I know that we have found the right members. The two of you have worked with us for months . . . and participated in all of our Rotary West projects for a long time, so it was indeed really heart-warming when the membership committee received the proposal for you to become members and we look forward to your helping us to take Rotary West to new heights and I am sure you will be a fantastic addition to the club.
“We have seen how you perform before; so continue, and we look forward to working hard with you over the next many years. I am sure you will set an example for all those to follow –– male or female.”
Griffith expressed pleasure at the faith placed in her by the club to have been selected as one of the first women there.
Ward told the club: “I believe it is the aspiration of many of us as children to aspire to something great. We start wanting to be superheroes and ballerinas and other strange things, but certainly the message is that we want to leave our mark on history.
“It is certainly my honour that this will be one of the ones that I leave, and I look forward as I work with you to leave many more,” she said.