Local Rotarians pass the gavel

Outgoing President Sheldon Fingler passes the Rotary Club of Morinville gavel to new President Simon Boersma during the President’s Dinner held at the cultural centre July 6. -Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

Local Rotarians gathered at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre July 6 to celebrate President Sheldon Fingler’s year at the service club’s helm and to welcome their new President Simon Boersma.

In addition to enjoying a meal together, and applauding individual club member’s efforts over the past year, the event was an opportunity for Fingler to thank the membership for rowing the boat over the past 12 months.
“I see the position of president as the same as a caller on a rowing team. You get that big group of people in the boat, and there’s one guy up front standing there just talking. And everybody else on the team is doing all the work,” Fingler said. “That’s what the position of president is. I just stand here, and you guys truly are the team. This club would be nothing without all of you, and I thank you for the honour and privilege of being able to serve as your president for the past year.”

web-bannerAfter the awards were handed out, including top awards to Linda Killian — recipient of the President’s Award, and Gordon Boddez and Danielle Reed, both of whom received Rotarian of the Year, the club’s gavel was officially passed from Fingler’s hand to Boersma’s.

Boersma said he was attracted to Rotary through his involvement in humanitarian efforts with the Flying Doctors of Canada, a non-governmental, non-profit registered charity made up of general volunteers, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, each committed to helping those most in need. Boersma has made seven trips with the group to date and was asked to speak to Rotary about the initiative two years before he joined. He quickly learned Rotarians were also involved in humanitarian work around the globe.

Boersma was asked to join twice before getting a chance to check the service club out. “I saw the impact that Rotary had in the world and in the community, which I really liked,” he said. “I love the fact we are doing projects inside our community, but we are joining other groups.”

It is that partnering with Rotarians from around the world that resonates with the new president, largely because of his experience doing the same in Central America with the Flying Doctors of Canada.

His rise to the top was rapid. Three years after joining, Boersma assumed the gavel.

“I certainly did not expect this to go as quickly as it was,” he said. “I look up to the people that are there, and they put my name forward. It was tough to accept it because I thought, ‘Well, I really don’t know enough about Rotary.’

But over the two years from being next-in-line to president-elect and on to club president, Boersma has acquainted himself with Rotary and its ways, attending two conventions and being an active member of the Morinville club and in the broader district.

Boersma will serve in the Rotary Club of Morinville’s 20th year and at a time when the international theme is Rotary Serving Humanity, a concept that is near and dear to the local business owner’s heart.

“That is an amazing thing. I didn’t know that was the theme this year, but it is something that stands out to me right away,” the president said. “It’s doing everything to pass that torch on to others.”

And passing the torch is what has happened with Fingler last year and Boersma July 6 as has been the case for two decades.

“We have all of those people that were here 20 years ago, and most of them are still in our club,” Boersma said. “To work with them is just amazing. I’m just a young punk, a newcomer. It’s a real honour.”

It is the second honour bestowed on Boersma in the past month. The recent Chamber Annual General Meeting saw him taking on another but probably final term as president. Wearing both presidency hats is something he realizes will be a tough job. Boersma said he would rely on Chamber Vice President Samantha Olson and Chamber Manager Diane Mineault as well as his team of Chamber directors.

“Looking after both will be a big chore, and running a business on top of that. But if we don’t challenge ourselves, we’ll never go anywhere,” he said.


Should the two roles come into a conflict situation, he said he would have no problem stepping aside while a decision is made. “I try as much as possible to divide those two up and wear different hats,” he said.

Boersma praised outgoing President Sheldon Fingler on a job well done, and presented him with a gavel during the July 6 event.

“Sheldon’s done a geat job this year, and I’ve got boots to fill,” he said. “I’ve got 20 years before me of guys that have done great jobs in our community. It’s amazing what Rotary does in our community. It’s to continue on and leave a legacy.”


President’s Award recipient Linda Killian.


Rotarian of the Year Gordon Boddez.


2nd Rotarian of the Year Danielle Reed.

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