by Stephen Dafoe

Rotary Club of Morinville President Sheldon Fingler has enjoyed his year of wielding the club’s gavel but says he is looking forward to getting back to being a rank-and-file member.

“I feel that when you sit up at the front, you sometimes lose touch with everything else that’s going on in the club,” Figler said, adding the Morinville club is an active one. “When you are sitting at the front you are more worried about following the rules and keeping things in line and covering all the bases. I don’t get to have as much fun as I like to.”

And for Fingler and many of the region’s residents, Rotary is a place to have fun while doing some important work.
Fingler was drawn to the club not only for the good work and good times but because many of his role models growing up were Rotarians.

“When I was a kid, I remember Rotary, and Rotary for me was the place to be,” he recalled. “I saw Rotary as the real movers and shakers in the community, the true leaders of the community. They were the business leaders, the community leaders, and I always saw those people in Rotary.”

After years of thinking about it, Fingler received an invitation to join and took the opportunity. He’s never looked back.

But looking back over the last year as the club’s president, Fingler said the highlight for him has been the people, bringing in an exchange student, having a second exchange student coming in the near future, and sending a local student to Bolivia. Additionally, Rotary’s recent success with their Johnny Cash tribute show was a highlight for Fingler.

“That [show] was motivated by the fact that last year we lost one of our fundraisers due to some constraints that were beyond our control,” Fingler said. “I had this desire to replace what we missed last year. I wanted to figure out a way to do it.”

That desire, combined with club confidence and efforts, resulted in two performances in front of 750 people generating a rough profit of $10,000 for the club, monies Fingler said will go back into the communities Rotary serves.

Some of that local effort will go into a new washroom for Rotary Park, a spot that carries the club’s name and commitment to beautifying and looking after the park.

“Rotary has always been about kids,” Fingler said. One of the things that came up is a mom goes to the park and is having fun with the kids, but if you have to go to the washroom, you end up leaving, and you don’t come back. We wanted to put in something to allow the moms and the families to stay there longer by providing a decent washroom.”
Fingler said the club checked with neighbouring residents and believed the new washroom will enhance Rotary Park.
It’s the hands-on involvement like the upcoming park project that Fingler said has him looking forward to jumping back into the fray when incoming president Simon Boersma takes over next month.

“I cannot wait to get back into the rank-and-file of Rotary,” he said. “The person at the front is only one member of the team, and I’ve always believed that I’m no more important than any Rotarian. In a lot of ways, I feel I’m less important because Rotary is the members. I want to get back to being one of the members and feel you’ve got more opportunities for doing things when you are not involved with overseeing things.

But whether the president of just a regular member, it is the feeling he gets at the weekly meetings that Fingler enjoys most. Even though they start early in the morning, they make up an opportunity for fellowship and camaraderie that he and the others try not to miss.

“Sometimes you don’t want to get up early in the morning, and you don’t want to get going to that meeting,” Fingler said of the club’s 7:15 a.m. start. “But then you get into the room, and immediately you feel invigorated. I feel so much better. I leave Wednesday morning feeling a thousand times better about the rest of the week than when I got there. That group of people, the attitudes, the friendliness, the handshakes, hugs, and smiles – everything about it and you cannot help but leave happier than when you started.”

For more info on Rotary, visit www.rotary.org.

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