Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Looking Back on Judy's Year

Almost a year ago the members of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn and guests were braving the cold at the Vulture Restaurant in the Magalieberg for the induction of Judy Sligcher as president of the club for 2019-2020.
     The venue and the occasion were the first of many highlights of a year that had its challenges, but has proved to be a giant step on the upward curve that RCJND has embarked on over the past five or so years.
President Judy Sligcher with some of her new board members in the Magaliesberg, all seemingly armed against the cold with good red wine. From left they are PDG Jankees Sligcher, myself, Carl Chemaly, Julian Nagy with Joan Donet peering over Judy's shoulder
     Who would have thought then that the world looks as it does now, after endless months of lockdown and coronavirus scare after scare, with the peak of infections always seeming to be a few months ahead. In May it would come in July, the scientists predicted. In June the prediction was for August. Now that we've hit July, the prediction is for the peak to be in September, with worse to come in November and December.
Julian Nagy and Carol Stier both became Paul Harris Fellows at the induction
     One of the first highlights of the Rotary year was the awarding of Paul Harris Fellowships to Julian Nagy and Carol Stier at the induction.
     This was followed by President Judy bestowing honorary membership of the club on Frayne Mathijs at her first club meeting as president at the Parkview Golf Club.
     At the meeting on 21 August Hannes Dressler and Adele Dabbs were inducted as members.
Dr Nobs Motjuwadi with the shattered wine glass
     Also in August Dr Nobs Motjuwadi of the NGO Copessa, made everybody sit up straight when she shattered a wine glass at the meeting, symbolising shattered lives when children get abused.
     She made such a great impact on Karlien Kruger that Kalien has been advising Copessa on how to run their operation more smoothly and has now even started the process of identifying a specific project with Copessa that can be used to leverage a Global Grant.
Steve du Plessis and Jankees Sligcher welcome Spring
     One thing the coronavirus crisis has proved, is that we are a club of Rotarians in action, but we also like to have fun on occasion and one such occasion was the Spring party we had at the home of Julian and Debby Nagy in Craighall Park. It's sad that a repeat this year will probably be unlikely.
     September is also the time for the annual Jozi Book Fair and as she had done for the past few years, Frayne Mathijs set up stall there to tell as many people as would listen, all about Rotary, about New Dawn and about the Humanitarian Distribution Centre in Bedfordview where she spent so many hours sorting and choosing books for those who need them the most.
DG Maurice Stander inducting Stella Dees during his official visit to the club, while President Judy looks on
     September also saw the official visit by District Governor Maurice Stander to the club, where he inducted Stella Dees as a member. She didn't last long as a member due to personal reasons, but the club has grown during this past year nevertheless.
Realema's Pier Myburgh, ex-CEO of Standard Bank Ben Kruger, Standard Bank head of compliance Ian Sinton and Carl Chemaly at the meeting
     The teacher training programme Realema took centre stage during the first meeting in October when Carl Chemaly hosted a large number of prominent Joburg business people at the golf club to explain how the programme works and to hear some of their students speak about what the experience has meant to them.
     It's an incredible programme, with Carl's sister-in-law Pier Myburgh as the driving force, and worthy of Rotary support.
Katya and Hannes Dressler at their home in Parktown West
     Also in October it was back to partying when Hannes and Katya Dressler hosted a pizza evening at their home. Hannes is German by birth and Katya Russian. He recently informed the club that Katya is pregnant with their second child, destined to be a child of Africa.
     A notable guest that evening was Paul Channon, who has since become a very valuable member.
     We also learnt from PDG David Grant that R5000 had been donated to the Polio Fund of The Rotary Foundation on behalf of New Dawn, following a very successful dinner and concert at the Balalaika Hotel in July. New Dawn took a table and Helene Bramwell another one that evening. The donation was over and above the $1000 that New Dawn donates to the Polio Fund annually.
Another anti-polio milestone
          24 October is World Polio Day and we marked it at the meeting on 23 October with a talk by Lucille Blumberg on polio and the news that the wild poliovirus type 3 has been eradicated worldwide, leaving only one poliovirus strain in existence.
The induction of the Interact Club at the National School of the Arts
     During the same week New Dawn attended the induction of the Interact Club at the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein under the guidance of Graham and Joan Donet. President-elect Ian Widdop announced that Tony Reddy had agreed to becoming president after him, for the Rotary year 2021-2022.
President Judy and PDG Jankees Sligcher at the annual Christmas dinner
Guests helping themselves to food prepared by New Dawn members
     December kicked off with the annual Christmas Dinner at Marks Park. Little did we realise when we broke up for the summer holidays that the reports of a new coronavirus outbreak in China would soon have such a devastating effect worldwide.
     The year 2020 kicked off with a different kind of tragedy, though. The death of Frayne Mathijs in a car accident on her way to do charity work, came as a profound shock. She was the best kind of Rotarian, always willing to help others.
     At our meeting at the end of January Lucille Blumberg spoke about Covid-19 and warned of things to come.
     The District Governor paid the club another visit to hand over the certificate that marked Johannesburg New Dawn as the club in District 9400 that contributed the most to The Rotary Foundation during the previous Rotary year. That was made up of the $1000 to the Polio Fund and $100 per member for the Every Rotarian Every Year effort.
     He also welcomed Jankees and Judy Sligcher as Major Donors to the Foundation for having donated a minimum of $10000.
     We also learned that after tireless effort by Julian Nagy, the club had been granted Public Benefit Organisations status and declared tax-exempt by the SA Revenue Service.
PDG Jankees and President Judy Sligcher at their function to see in the new year
     The first meeting of 2020 was followed by a gathering on the stoep at the Sligcher home in Craighall Park, one of the last social gatherings for quite some time.
Marja van Leeuwen, the Sligchers and Bert Ettekoven
     A few weeks later we had visitors from the Netherlands in the form of ex-member Bert Ettekoven and his wife, Marja van Leeuwen. Newer members won't know that Jankees Sligcher met Bert and Marja one day in the queue at Woolworths and heard them speaking Dutch. Bert then joined New Dawn and on their return to the Netherlands they have tackled joint projects with us.
Meeting on Zoom
     18 March marked the last physical meeting of the Rotary year at the Parkview Golf Club, followed a week later by the first meeting on Zoom.
     We've since had our first inductions on Zoom (Christoph Plate and Sarah de la Pasture), first speaker (Rudi Swanepoel) and first board meeting.
     New Dawn, under the leadership of President Judy Sligcher, has also tackled two major projects related to Covid-19. The first was helping the Alexander Education Committee, under the guidance of Paul Channon, to fund some of their students that have been hardest hit by the lockdown. The second is an inter-club effort to sanitise taxis and taxi ranks and to disseminate information on the coronavirus.
     There have also been countless smaller efforts by individual members, such as Joan Sainsbury's work at Leeuwkop Prison and now the seed procurement to help disadvantaged communities to grow their own vegetables.
     Coming up is the first virtual induction on Saturday, 4 July when Ian Widdop takes over the reins from Judy Sligcher.
     Remember that there is no meeting, Zoom or otherwise, tomorrow morning.
     It has been an eventful year and in many ways a difficult year to manage, but we'll all agree it has been done masterfully. Well done, Judy!
     Yours will be a hard act to follow.
     A Thought for the Week: History is a vast early warning system. - Norman Cousins (1915 - 1990)


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