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District Recognition

Bill Richwa District Award

Biography: Bill Richwa 1974 – 2005

Bill Richwa was born on November 8th, 1930, in Saskatoon and passed away in 2005. He was a graduate of the Saskatoon School of Business and spent the major part of his working career with Intercontinental Packers and managing his own business. He was married to Gerry for 56 years and is survived by his wife and four daughters Barb, Judy, Leslie and Pat, their husbands and his grandchildren. Bill left a legacy of love, devotion, strength and honor to his family.

The concept for the Rotary World Help Network (RWHN) started in 1992, when a group of Vancouver Club Rotarians visited Kiev Ukraine, helping to set up a club charter. This group saw the poor state of the medical facilities in Kiev and decided they had to find a way to help.

In 1993, Bill Richwa and two other Rotarians, Ralph Towsley and Ted Segodnia, organized the first shipment of medical supplies and equipment to Kiev. By 1997, the project was so successful it became too large and complex for one club to handle. A group of dedicated Rotarians from the Province of British Columbia established the RWHN, under the leadership of its founding President Bill Richwa.

A non-profit, registered charitable organization whose mission is “Helping Communities to Help Themselves”, the membership of RWHN is made up of numerous Rotary clubs and it coordinates the shipment of used and donated educational, humanitarian and medical supplies to countries in need throughout the world.

Since its incorporation, the RWHN annually sends 25-30 container shipments to 20 different countries throughout the world. To make certain the shipments are properly distributed, the RWHN only ships to countries where there is a Rotary Club willing to act as receiver and distributor. This ensures that the goods get into the right hands and helps build a worldwide supporting network. The value of the average container is approximately $300,000. The Rotary World Help Network is a wonderful example of the power of Rotary and how an individual Rotarian can make a difference.

Bill Richwa was honored by being awarded the “Service Above Self Award” from Rotary International. This is Rotary International’s highest honor for individual Rotarians. He was also the recipient of a Paul Harris fellowship award.

Award Criteria and Selection

The Bill Richwa Award of Excellence Rotaractors is presented once yearly to a Rotaractor in District 5040 who has demonstrated outstanding service and leadership. The award is selected by a committee based on nomination letters sent in from Rotaractors within the district. This prestigious designation recognizes youth leaders who are partnering with Rotarians to make a better community and world together.

Past Recipients

2017 – Maryam Bee (Rotaract Club of Richmond)

In May 2017, the Bill Richwa Award of Excellence was presented to Maryam Bawa. Maryam has been president of the Rotaract Club of Richmond for not one, but instead for the past three years, as well as co-District Rotaract Representitive for 2016/2017. On the club level, she has continually taken the time to listen to all the member’s opinions and does what she can to actively incorporate them in club activities. She is supportive of everyone involved and has a welcoming, personable character that allows us to approach her right away with any issues or difficulties we may have – working together to grow the club. Maryam has a large part to play in leading the Richmond Club’s first International project and it would not have come to fruition without her. With her positive, go-getter attitude, she inspires us to step up in our club and get more involved within, as well as outside the community. She demonstrates first hand her commitment to service and clearly delivers a genuine passion for Rotary. As a respected member of the Richmond community, she always takes the time to introduce the rest of the members of our club to Rotarians and people she knows to share and create connections. She not only goes above and beyond as a leader in the Richmond club but as well as on a district level. Her continual support of Rotaract is evident in her constant involvement at district events, including attending conferences within District 5040 and Rotary International. Not stopping short of only committing and attending an abundance of Rotary events, she is constantly looking to have an active role in being a leader, always speaking up and sharing opinions and inviting all those around her to do the same. Maryam is constantly sharing with us the events and activities of other clubs across the district, encouraging us to see outside our club and participate on a district level as well. She inspires us to put service before self!

2016 – Thomas Turniawan (Rotaract Club of Burnaby)

In May 2016, the Bill Richwa Award of Excellence was presented to Thomas Turniawan, the President of the Rotaract Club of Burnaby for 2015-16. Thomas joined the Burnaby Club in early 2014, moving from Nova Scotia. He was interested in making a difference in his community. Through his high school friend Dekker, he was connected with the Burnaby Rotaract. His thorough involvement from the get-go demonstrated his commitment to Rotaract. In his first year, he took on chairing our District’s flagship project, the PACE roundtrip. He enjoyed it so much that he chaired it again in 2015 and will be co-leading it once again this summer.

This year as president, he set the foundation of the Burnaby Club by organizing its first strategic planning meeting. This was with the help of Rotarian, Don Evans. Thomas worked with the team on tackling a variety of identified opportunities including:
• Pushing for a clearer membership guidelines and new membership process
• Developing sub-committees to tackle projects
• Hosting regular social gatherings at his home to develop fellowship
• Connecting with our sponsor Clubs and motivating both Rotaractors and Rotarians to come out to events
His organization and taskmaster skills were valuable to the Club and his dedication is evident. The transformation over his brief two-years in Rotaract is clear, and his impact within Rotaract even clearer. He has proven to have the mentality and character of a true Rotaractor and future Rotarian, and is deserving of this award.

2015 – Matthew Saunders (Rotaract Club of Vancouver-UBC)

In May 2015, The Bill Richwa Award was presented to Matthew Saunders, the President of the Rotaract Club of Vancouver–UBC for 2014-15. Since joining the UBC Rotaract Club in 2011, Matthew has demonstrated tremendous service towards all areas of Rotary. Within the district, Matthew has served with the Rotary World Help Network on many occasions, namely with the loading of shipping containers with medical supplies. He has helped each year with the planning of the UBC’s annual Professional Development conference which is geared towards informing high school students on leadership and life choices. Matthew has volunteered countless hours in community service with organizations such as Kiwassa Neighborhood House, Variety – The Children’s Charity, Mission Possible Coffee House, First United and environmental cleanup initiatives. Furthermore, Matthew has been a significant part of UBC Rotaract’s fundraising projects over the years. Most recently, Matthew oversaw the committee that planned one of the most successful events in District 5040. The event, which featured traditional Greek food and live entertainment, raised over $2,500 to help initiate UBC Rotaract’s Weekend Community Meal Program at The First United Church on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Matthew demonstrates outstanding altruism and leads with compassion, excitement, and always with others’ interests at heart. Through his passionate engagement with Rotaract, he has inspired members to serve and lead in their community. In Matthew’s year as president, the UBC Club has grown to the largest Rotaract club in District 5040 with over 45 active members. Matthew personifies Rotaract’s ideals of Service above Self.

2014 – Mike Peabody (Rotaract Club of Burnaby)

2013 – Stephanie McEwan (Rotaract Club of Burnaby)

2012 to 2008 – Names Unavailable

2007 – Serena Siow

The first award winner was Serena Siow.  Serena was born in Edmonton, Alberta and grew up in Port Moody, BC.

Her first involvement with Rotary programs was in 1998, through the Interact Club at Raffles Girls’ Secondary School in Singapore. While a student at University of British Columbia, positive experiences with Interact inspired her involvement with the Rotaract Club of Vancouver UBC. After serving the club in capacities which include Vice President 2002-2004 and President 2004-2005, Serena served Rotaract at the district level as District Rotaract Representative 2005-2006.

Serena graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Science – Life Sciences in May 2005 and has since been working in paediatric research at BC Childrens’ & Womens’ Hospital. She intends to pursue further studies in health services, administration, and research.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.rotaract5040.org/about/recognition/