Canadian Rotary members assist with COVID-19 vaccinations and feeding families

Moore contacted KFL&A Public Health officials to offer two volunteers for each of the three, three-hour shifts every day. The 42 total volunteers are from the four Rotary clubs and two Rotaract clubs in the greater Kingston area, and some are friends of Rotary. Their work has consisted mostly of greeting, ushering, and screening clients.

Moore went further and compiled a longer list of volunteers who are on standby for when the clinic expands its hours. The list includes Sarah Beech, a member of the Rotaract Club of Kingston, whose schedule has prevented her from filling a daytime or weekend shift.

“I’ve been a part of Rotary for more than 10 years now, starting with Interact and now Rotaract,” she says. “We have a huge network of people willing to coordinate and make things happen. The fact that we could jump into action and assist this large clinic and get the vaccination process going has been exciting.”

Alternate centennial plans

Local Rotary members were making plans to celebrate 100 years of Rotary in Kingston when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Paul Elsley, a member of the Rotary Club of Kingston, said members quickly shifted focus from planning centennial celebrations to filling a huge service gap they saw emerging as other service groups and government agencies went into emergency mode.

“It became clear to us that Kingston was in great need,” says Elsley. “If ever there was a time for Rotary to step up and take initiative, this was certainly it.”

Elsley runs a local chapter of the nonprofit Blessings in a Backpack, which provides food to schoolchildren who otherwise might go hungry on weekends. During the week, the kids received food at school. But when the schools closed, Elsley and his team partnered with the in-school meal program run by the Food Sharing Project to deliver large boxes of food directly to the families’ homes.