Graeme's Message, 7 May 2015

Dear Rotarians and friends,

This week I am attending a conference in Perth and send my apologies for Thursday’s evening meeting.

May is has been designated by Rotary International as Community Service month. This is an area of service where our club has good credentials and evidenced by the current project at the Community Bike Shed.

Des Stayches was the initiator of the Bike Shed and has provided the following account of how it all happened.

“I was visiting a client in Eltham one night when I noticed three very good bikes amongst the dry collection on the nature strip. It struck me as a waste as I know there are needy children who would love a bike to experience the fun I had when I grew up with a bike.

"The next day I was visiting a skin specialist to check out some spots when I heard the receptionist talking about a bike shed the Whittlesea Council was establishing in Epping. I introduced myself and asked for more information. She explained the shed was part of an outreach by Bicycle Victoria. The brain started to whirl into gear and I surmised it is something our club could get involved in, in our locality. I googled “bike sheds” and learned of many projects throughout Australia.

"At the same time my band was employed to play at the Brimbank Australia Day Festival organised by Joanna Attard. Joanna was looking for a project. I explained the DIK Shed and how it was operating and took her and another Council person to inspect it. She was impressed and rang me to say she had identified a Council property that could be used and her husband and others could be involved.

"About this time the shingles hit followed by neuralgia. I spoke with Rodney Johnstone and Ron Hunt who I felt would be ideal in setting up and working with Joanna. I stressed the bike shed should be seen as a Community Bike Shed with input from Council and local schools and unemployed men who would otherwise be “lost” to the community. I still stress that the program is a community program initiated by Rotary. That is why it should not be seen as a Rotary project but something that has been initiated and supported by Rotary.” 

The community and particularly those refugees, asylum seekers, and children associated with “Shine for Kids” who have received bikes can thank Des for starting the ball rolling. The success of the program has depended on Joanna, now a member of the club, and Rodney Johnstone along with a band of volunteer mechanics.

This is a great example of how Rotarians can see an opportunity, develop the idea and “make a difference”.

Don’t forget the Anniversary Dinner on May 29th when we will take the opportunity to present Community Service Awards.