Brentwood Rotary makes a difference

Brentwood Bay Rotary club literary chair Wendy Halliday flips through a children
Brentwood Bay Rotary club literary chair Wendy Halliday flips through a children's book containing print and braille with School District 61 vision teacher Daphne Hitchcock of Early Learning for the Visually Impaired.
— image credit: Emma Prestwich/News staff

For a small club of only 20 people, the Brentwood Bay Rotary is making some big contributions to their community.

The club donated a total of $5,500 at their monthly meeting Aug. 24 to two very different causes: one to support a village in Zambia and the other to teach a visually-impaired child to read.

“When club members have a passion, it’s amazing what we can do,” said club president Jock Halliday, addressing the group at the Waddling Dog Pub in Central Saanich.

Garry Brooks heads up the African Community Project, a social development initiative that educates communities in Zambia about the importance of their environment.

He said the $5,000 Rotary donation will go towards buying mosquito nets, tree seedlings and school equipment for the community of Lusaka, Zambia, so they can develop their own forest industry and improve education and sanitation.

“I don’t like to call it a charity. It’s a combined effort, by the community, for the community.”

That kind of peer partnership suits Rotary’s mandate.

“From a Rotary point of view, we like to work with participating organizations like Garry’s. They have particular experience we don’t have,” said Darrell Jolly, club international chair and a longtime friend of Brooks.

The second donation of $500 will support learning on a smaller scale. A small table in the pub was spread with braille and print books, toys and electronics, all part of a $500 “literacy kit” designed for a visually-impaired child who is just beginning school.

Daphne Hitchcock, a vision teacher with School District 61, said the few vision teachers on the Island have limited resources and the kit allows a child to explore auditory, tactile and print styles of reading on their own.

“The kit is about promoting literacy and making sure the (child) has options. It also gives parents ideas.”

This is the second year Brentwood Bay Rotary has funded a kit. The club has been recognized at the district level for its literacy work.

To follow the African Community Project, go to

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