Thursday, 31 March 2016

Rotary partners with Rotaract to celebrate women’s achievements

Principal of Riverhills School, Sarah Allen and Brittany Lemi
Words:  Peter Woodcock, of Rotary Club of Pakuranga, NZ
How can a Rotary club capitalise on special ‘International  Day of …’ occasions, provide opportunity for networking, strengthen ties with Rotaract, support a local charity, promote membership as well as give everyone a very entertaining night out?
Rotary Club of Pakuranga’s Community Director Sylvie Wilkinson found the answer. International Women’s Day was the ‘excuse’. Getting Pakuranga Rotaract Club on the organising team, engaging two prominent Auckland women as MC and speaker, inviting local professional women to take part and encouraging fellow members and  partners to join in, provided all the ingredients for a very significant occasion.
The Waipuna Convention Centre in Auckland, New Zealand provided the setting for the special event held on Monday February 29.  About 40% of the 140 participants had no connection with Rotary. With stunning wall  panels and table runners, designed and painted by  local school children brightening up the room, the scene was set for an evening in which the achievements of women, both in New Zealand and overseas were acknowledged and celebrated.
Celebrity chef and radio host, Helen Jackson, provided continuity as MC. She interspersed her duties with heart-warming but also challenging stories related to the Guardian Angels Charitable Trust which she co-founded in 2004.  This trust provides practical assistance to needy families struggling with the care of terminally ill child. Referrals come from Starship Children’s Hospital, Auckland. Through sale of the art work,  along with donations delightfully solicited by Rotaractors,  Sylvie presented  the Trust  with a cheque for $3000.
The buzz of conversation during the carefully planned networking spells testified to the value of bringing motivated and successful people together in a fun filled setting. There were substantial prizes for the best dressed ethnic and historical woman, as well as spot prizes personally presented by the various corporate women guests. Business cards collected  for a prize draw (cleverly designed to capture potential members) showed a huge range of occupations and services.
Highlight of the evening was the address by Diane Foreman who gave a very personal account of her life experiences from solo-parent in a receptionist job to CEO of one of New Zealand’s largest companies, the title of NZ Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011, and No. 11 in Forbes’ magazine list of Power Business Women in Asia in 2014. Her story, together with her expressed desire to promote women in business, could not help but make an impact on all present. As one seasoned Rotarian remarked,” That was the best Rotary function  I have attended in all my years in the club”. Yes, with a little imagination, Rotary can capitalise on special days, promoting our local community, Rotaract and our Rotary organisation.