David Strongman, being the Fun and Fellowship Director, was the MC for our social evening. Since our night at the Strongman property in January had to be postponed due to smoke from bushfires, David and Gay organised a wonderful evening of Christmas food, frozen since December, and fresh salads and sweets. Dressed in sparkling hat and braces, David was a picture of fun and frivolity. Gay organised all the food and supervised the kitchen borrowed from the Golf Club for the evening.
Melinda Jackson asked for reports from those who had been involved with bushfire relief in the last few weeks.
David Dimech began by telling us about the trips he and Cinamon had made to Corryong, Canberra, Dinner Plains and Bairndale. Both belong to their local CFA and took it in turns to fight fires and look after their home and Jayden. David described some of the devastation but emphasised the progress made. They both committed a huge amount of time and physical effort on the frontline, and assisted locals with the fear and grief they suffer.
John Cannon talked about the trip he and Gaby had made to Corryong to assist the Corryong Secondary College with their first day back. They, along with Ian Gibb, DGN Anne Reid and AG Margaret Crisp, met with the principal Fran Heath and presented a Rotary cheque for the purchase of computers. John and Gaby also spent the day helping with any necessary tasks.
Ian Gibb then spoke about his week fencing with Bruce Walker and the Benalla Rotary team.
Rotary District 9790 is making a major contribution to recovery at Corryong.
The bushfire in the Corryong area burned a number of houses, many animals, multiple farm buildings, a huge area of pasture and bush and many kilometres of fencing and caused great distress to many residents of the area. A team from Rotary District 9790 led by the Belvoir Wodonga Club is leading a magnificent effort towards recovery. The work teams have come from a wide area, and include other service clubs (e.g. Lions), sporting clubs (Yarroweyah Football/Netball Club, Cross Fit Australia and others) and individuals who have seen the need to volunteer. The effort is also being supported by the Australian Army which has sent heavy machinery and a large group of Army Reserves to help with the task of cleaning up. As well as fencing, the Army crews are also cleaning up dangerous trees and burned out buildings.. 
 At 5th February, the 9790 team had erected around 60 km of replacement boundary fencing and was still going strong. The task involves cleaning up fire-damaged fences and replacing them with new fences, often in difficult terrain.
The efforts of the volunteers is a step towards recovery for the fire-affected residents of the area, some of whom have lost almost everything. Over a week in the area we saw people change from being in a state of shock, in tears and unable to make decisions, to starting to smile again and see a positive future as the result of the help they have been given.
Many great stories have come out of the recovery effort already.
  • The Army Reserves, who generally don't have much practical experience, have been assigned to crews with an experienced civilian leader. The Reserves are all fit and able young men and women. They are providing plenty of muscle and enthusiasm. 
  • The Yarroweyah Football/Netball Club sent up a big crew of young people who worked solidly over the weekend.
  • The CrossFit crew of 8 turned up with a cheque for $37,500 that they collected through social media, as well as spending the weekend working.
  • One crew of 10, friends in their early 70's, who were graduates of Dookie College in 1967, turned up with tractors, a bobcat, an excavator and other machinery and got stuck into the task of ripping out old burned out fencing. 
Rob Chaffe added stories about Harrietville gleaned from a friend of his who owns a business there. The effect of the fires reaches every person, family, business and organisation because they all suffer from direct damage, loss of revenue or emotional upheaval. He thanked everyone who had put so much effort into volunteer activity and represented Rotary so well.
A wonderful dinner followed and much happy chatter. In fact it was hard to encourage members to play the games David had brought! They were thoroughly enjoying the chance to catch up with friends and discuss Christmas and New Year. Many thanks David and Gay for such a great evening!
  1. Music in the Park (Saturday March 14th 4pm Rotary Park)
  2. Cycle Dindi (Saturday April 4th)
  3. Easter Art Show (opens Friday 10th April 6.30pm)