Rotary reinvents itself

Rouse Hill Rotary is throwing a baby shower for member Natalie Conway. While some Rotary clubs are men-only like Windsor or literally "dying" like Winston Hills, this club is flourishing and hoping to increase its numbers by 50 per cent this next Rotary year. Picture: Natalie Roberts.

Rouse Hill Rotary is throwing a baby shower for member Natalie Conway. While some Rotary clubs are men-only like Windsor or literally "dying" like Winston Hills, this club is flourishing and hoping to increase its numbers by 50 per cent this next Rotary year. Picture: Natalie Roberts.

You don’t normally associate Rotary with baby showers.

That’s because the typical Rotarian is a 60-year-old man.

But not at the Rotary Club of Rouse Hill. Their gender mix is 50-50 and members are 40 on average.

‘‘Where else in District 9685 would be a Rotarian be having a baby?’’ the club’s president Robert Bredin joked in their weekly bulletin, titled ‘‘Baby shower souvenir edition’’.

It was distributed at a Friday 6.45am-start meeting at The Mean Fiddler, which doubled as a baby shower for founding member Natalie Conway, 34.

Members played baby bingo, ‘‘name the movie’’ and ‘‘guess the nursery rhymes’’ and Mr Bredin slipped in his best idea of the morning: that they could introduce a new Rotary category, Rotary Nippers.

The club’s project director Peter Casey of Kellyville loved the idea. So did Ms Conway.

Her involvement with Rotary began in high school when she joined Interact, an arm of Rotary for people ages 12 to 18.

‘‘It’s about feeling part of the community and that you’re making a difference,’’ Ms Conway said.

Recent projects of the four-year-old Rouse Hill club have included raising $5000 for a humidicrib for a teaching hospital in Kathmandu and $7000 towards Sustain Our Students, a program providing needy kids with uniforms and breakfasts.

They will launch a sister club at Rouse Hill Town Centre. .

Mr Casey said the district goal is to grow its membership by 4per cent this Rotary year (from June 30).

Mr Bredin is quietly optimistic his club can grow by 50per cent.

In contrast, the Winston Hills club may need to merge or, even worse, fold, if it can’t attract new members.

‘‘At the end of this Rotary year, we will have nine members .... they are getting more elderly and retiring,’’ administration director Joan van den Burg, 66, said.

She joined Rotary in 1999, the year women were first allowed to join in District 9685. Her husband John, 68, is a charter member of the 25-year-old club.

The Rotary Club of Windsor is still a men-only club.

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