Reported by Simran Gill
One of the North Shore’s most active service groups that has raised millions over the years for low-income families is dwindling away.
Participants in the Rotary Club of North Vancouver, which started in 1951 and was a thriving presence for decades, say that the club is losing members and it is increasingly difficult to get new members to join.
Rotary Club seeks younger members
Kamyar Filsoofi, who has many friends in the club, said he has become so concerned about the decline that he is now planning to participate in order to ensure that the group’s community activities can continue.
“They are losing members and not many new people will join anymore,” said Fisoofi. “Members are retiring. It is sad to see how young people are not interested in joining a community group to help others. People who move here don’t seem to care enough about community and don’t want to get involved.”
Members of the club said that, with the influx of new citizens entering the North Shore, they expected many people to volunteer but that was not the case.
Youth not likely to join
A typical non-joiner is someone like Leslie Hendrick, a student who has recently moved from Victoria to the North Shore and who is familiar with the Rotary Club.
“I think the Rotary Club has done great things but I would not join it simply because I feel like it’s not something common for youth to participate in,” said Hendrick.
Service clubs have been seeing a decline throughout North America, after hitting a peak in their membership and activities in the 1950s and ‘60s. Locally, places like Squamish have seen their Lions Club decline to 25 members, while the Vancouver Rotary Club has only about 130 members.
But the North Vancouver Rotary Club’s current president, Kevin Evans, is hopeful about the future.
“The North Vancouver Rotary Club remains extremely vital and we continue to make a difference in our community,” said Evans.
Service club helps families in need
The club focuses mainly on raising money for struggling families in the North Shore. Many years ago, club members helped build an apartment complex for families by the Lions Gate Bridge. The club was best known for running the Great Capilano Duck Race. In the 12 years it existed, the race brought in money for a variety of community projects.
Evans said that most clubs go through a decline in membership and it eventually increases.
“All service clubs go through these cycles. I’m involved with Rotary because I am optimistic that one of the constants in our ever-changing world is that, as humans, we all have a need and a desire to give back. And Rotary provides that avenue,” said Evans.