De Rock

Governor’s Update, January 2022

Feb 14, 2022

January has been a truly strange month to be your Governor. With the continued spread of the Delta variant and the rapid progression of Omicron, many of our communities and clubs have returned to significant restrictions. Across the district, many of our clubs ceased meeting in person and resumed virtual meetings. The Governor’s of the 10 districts that host PNWPETS also host a governor training event called Blue Denim. The 10 Governor’s had to meet and delay this event due to Covid. A few days later, the Rotary Board decided to cancel the in-person, International Assembly and later in the month, the Governor’s Elect decided to cancel the “in-person” President’s Elect Training Seminar (PETS). These cancelations brought back the emotions and feelings of last year as these events were canceled for the first time. The specter of a second year without our Rotary in-person training, networking and celebrations seemed some-how overwhelming.

In early January, we began seeing the impacts of Omicron in our district. Business began to have unexpected staff shortages due to Omicron. Fear of Covid across our district was palpable. Rapid tests were essentially unavailable and PCR tests were in short supply. In mid-January when our health district opened a drive-through testing facility at the location my club meets, the line of cars waiting was over two hours long. It was during this strange time that I had to accept the resignation of my friend and colleague Jordana LaPorte from the role of District Governor Designee.

By the third week of January, the lines for covid tests were much shorter and while people were still being cautious, there seemed to be a bit of normalcy. I attended several “in-person” Rotary meetings, staffed our club’s concession stand and traveled to Washington DC for the first time in over two years. Upon my return to the office, I had visitor from the East Coast and Rotary announced that they had formally decided to permit a return of “in-person” Youth Exchange. On Tuesday the 25th, the Governor’s from our Zone all met on Zoom with our Rotary Director Valarie Wafer and shared updates from across North America. The variability in our situations was truly astonishing.

On Wednesday, I received an email announcing that the Rotary Foundation had approved our District encouraged grant for $490,000 US for a water and sanitation project in Haiti as part of the Haiti Hanwash effort. This was extraordinary news, and I was pleased to congratulate Past District Governor Sherry Chamberlain of Kamloops West and Carin Smith of the Wenatchee Rotary Club on their success. Later that day we met with our Assistant Governors to discuss the coming months and on Thursday we met with this year’s President’s and President’s Elect to update them on coming events and discus our plans for training and our commitment to deliver in-person training at our District Conference this May.

On Saturday evening, I attended the “in-person” Wenatchee Rotary live auction. I am really pleased to report that this event went off very well and Wenatchee Club was successful in this difficult environment raising funds for their youth-oriented events. I was also greatly heartened by the presentation of this event. The auction was held at the Wenatchee Convention Center (where we will be hosting our District Conference) and I was very impressed with the success of the event and commitment and compliance to Covid protocols. Even with over 400 people in the ballroom, spacing was appropriate, masking was generally honored, and the overall environment felt appropriate. I spoke to several participates who care about Covid compliance and they felt that they event was well done and appropriately safe. This reality made me feel much more positive about our ability to deliver a safe and wonderful conference this May. I certainly hope that Covid has abated further by then and that crossing the border is substantially easier, but I am confident we can deliver a great conference. Expect registration materials to be available this month. If there is a theme to my time as your Governor, it has been unpredictability. Here’s to a bit more predictability, a very successful Foundation Gala on February 23rd and an engaging and informative virtual PETS for our President’s Elect and an inspiring and memorable virtual International Assembly for our Governor Elect, Karl.

Let’s have a great February and make 2022 a year to remember.

Yours in Rotary Service

Richard DeRock